Typical Home School Day with 6 Kids

typical

Typical Homeschool Day With 6 Kids

We are frequently asked “How do you do it?”

Most of the time I answer “Day by Day.” 

 

Each of our children is so unique and they each learn in such different ways. One day of homeschooling in detail… this is going to be tough. Our home school days vary from the “sit down” school days to the “doing things” home school days. I am guessing that most people want to know about the “sit down” home school days when they ask, so that is what I will write about today.

 

Our “Sit Down” School Day Schedule:

 

6:00 am – I am a morning person. So this is the time I am awake and start setting the school day up. I love the quiet of the morning. Even when the kids start getting up, about 6:30, they will see me working at the dining room table and will understand two things:

  1. Today is a “sit down” school day
  2. Mom needs some time to get it set up

My setting up of the school day works pretty easily in the morning. What they will be studying for the year has already been prepared in the summer. What I plan on finishing this year I planned in the summer. What I know I need them to accomplish this week I have noted from the previous week’s work and so it’s pretty straight forward.

I write up the days work on a 5″ x 8″ sheet of notebook paper, I love these little notebooks. Each child has one of these written up by me that morning for a check off sheet. I list each subject and what I expect the child to accomplish for that day in that subject. At the end of the day I expect the work finished and the check off sheet returned.

Our “sit down” school day is always finished by noon. We have a life and doing “school” is only part of it. Here is a sample of what one of the lists would look like:

 

lesson

 

 

7:00 am – I am usually done getting things set up by now. Each child’s pile of books for the day is in a stack on the dining room table along with their assignment list on top for them to check off as they do each thing. I will usually review each list with each child and highlight anything I feel may be unusual or they might find interesting.

An example might be if I usually have a child only do 1/2 hour of reading and there is 1 hour listed on their sheet. The explanation might be that the child needs to finish up the reading book he is working through so his book report can be started the following day or week.

breakfast

 

8:00 am – noon – School starts around 8:00 or 8:30 on a “sit down” school day. Some kids will take their lists before that and start on maybe their reading so that their school work is finished up faster.

Chores and breakfast has been finished up before we sit down. Plans for lunch have been discussed. Kids are all dressed and have pencils and their piles of books and their lists.

 

We each take a spot at the table. Mind you it’s a BIG table.

Side note: Usually my two oldest girls do their school upstairs in their room. One is a freshman in college so she does all her work online and we review anything that she wants review at night. The other is a junior in high school and is doing courses for college online and also has a list made up for homeschool but it is a monthly list of things to accomplish. That’s the way she likes her work laid out for her and it has worked well for her for years.

At the table I usually sit at the end of the table with my 2 youngest children on either side of me. After them on either side are the next 2 older children.

They do not do all of their work sitting at the table. Their reading they usually take into the living room on a comfortable chair, whether it’s their history reading or whatever.

I don’t think they love doing “sit down” school but it’s a necessary part of our lives. We do not do sit down school 5 days a week. I think it is more like 3 days a week. The other days they are working on projects or writing plays or building drones or something that does not involve mom making a list to follow. So, when we go to do a “sit down” school day it’s not so bad, since they had their break of a day or more.

 

I do not believe that all learning comes from textbooks.

I do believe that textbooks are a tool and I use them like a tool. They do not control our lives but add something to it. They are useful but not necessarily how my children learn best.

As we are sitting around the table the children will ask questions and I will read lessons to my 7yo and we try not to be too loud so that those reading can concentrate. Everyone is trying to get finished so they can do something else. I only schedule enough work as to fill 3-4 hours.

10:00 – The kids are looking for a snack about now so I usually have them each do their spelling tests, one at a time, and once finished they grab themselves a snack. We use Spelling Power for spelling, so there is a test each day. Each word the child spells incorrectly he/she writes the word 10 times, like I said, I don’t use curriculum “as written”. When they are done writing their words, it’s off for a snack, kind of an incentive to finish up quickly.

While snacking they are still working. Snack and drink on the table at their right with books and pencils in hand. Sometimes I will ask that the drinks get finished up quickly so they don’t spill on the school books.

Something funny: Most of the time they all do the same subjects at the same time. Like math, all of the older children use Saxon math and usually there are 3 different level Saxon math books open on the table at once, the three boys. My 7yo daughter  is still using ABeka Math but will switch over to Saxon this next year or so, but her math will be out also. Not really sure why they all seem to do the same subjects together but it usually works out that way.

Is there squabbling? Of course… One child will ask another “not to say numbers out loud” the other child will say “but you are” and the first child will say that “he is not as loud as the other child”. Whatever, I remind each of them to not say numbers out loud, or if they need to say a number out loud to me, to make sure they announce “i need to say a number out loud” just in case another child is doing a calculation in their head.

It’s pretty smooth going, the children are looking forward to being finished for the day. We do have rough days but not many. This is a way of life for us after 25 years. It’s just what we do so there is not much complaining because well, what would be the point?

That’s it….

Noon – lunch and the rest of the day is theirs.

 

lunch

 

I hope this was helpful in seeing part of what we do in a “sit down” school day.

Botany In A Homeschool Co-op

Crazy8 Homeschool Co-ops

botany

Botany In A Home School Co-op

Our text for the co-op will be Exploring Creation with Botany by Jeannie Fulbright. We won’t be using this text as written but will be picking and choosing activities and sections of text to read from it.

Our Co-op has many different age levels and abilities. The children who attend and actually participate are from ages 2-19. We meet for 3 hours each week.

botany Textbook we are using, picture links to purchasing info*

Why not use the entire text?

We only have from January 25th through June 14th, not enough time to work through the entire book. Maybe next year we can do a more thorough study but this year we are focusing on a few topics and experiments of interest and adding in a few projects I have done in the past that I just love to do.

About 7 years ago our family worked…

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Dual Enrollment: Homeschool & College

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Dual Enrollment: Home School and College

Over our 25 years homeschooling we have had 3 children use the Dual Enrollment option so far, we have had children who also chose not to use this option. Here are some of the problems we conquered and successes we enjoyed.

 

What is Dual Enrollment? 

Dual enrollment is a program that allows high school students to enroll in college courses for credit prior to high school graduation. The courses count for both college and high school credit.

As homeschoolers this option overall has been a very fun addition to our schooling.

 

Dual Enrollment has changed over the years…

When my oldest son took dual enrollment courses in 2005 all he had to do was take the college placement tests and then take one “Intro to College Studies” course and that was it,  he was free to take 2 college courses paid for by my tax dollars and by the State Dept of Education.

Honestly, in our state notifying the State Dept of Ed that we are homeschooling is only required until a child is 16yo. so he wasn’t even registered with the state during his Dual Enrollment courses.

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That has all changed…

Our challenges with Dual Enrollment:

When my latest graduate (2016) decided to use dual enrollment it was her senior year. She hadn’t been enrolled in home schooling with the state for almost 2 years (as it was only required till she turned 16). We had her take the placement tests and talked with the college about her starting in January and planning on taking both of her free Dual Enrollment courses that spring semester.

All is going well until… there is a glitch, Dual Enrollment is now it’s own agency and has denied her enrollment. Why? No one seemed to know until mid January just when classes are about to start. At this point she has pretty much decided that she wouldn’t be able to take her courses.

We receive a call from the Dual Enrollment office. My daughter is not a registered homeschooler so she is not eligible to use the Dual Enrollment funds.

 

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Man alive, seriously?

We aren’t required to register them after 16yo, but she won’t budge on this point. So I call up the Home Schooling office at the State Dept of Ed and talk with them about our dilemma. They are so quick to work with us. Over the years we have maintained an excellent relationship with that office and she knew who I was by name.

The woman at the Home School office states exactly what my daughter needs to send in and it’s emailed and taken care of in less than 3 days. Her Dual Enrollment goes through and she takes her 2 college courses for high school and college credit last spring.

 

Whew…

In the process of all of this I realize that my next daughter (2018 graduate) who will be a junior will want to take Dual Enrollment courses in the Fall. So, quickly I register her again for homeschooling so that she will be a “registered” homeschooler in the Fall since she is over 16 yo when she applies for the Dual Enrollment option.

It has been an interesting process.

 

What else have we learned through this Dual Enrollment time?

  • Homeschoolers are perfect candidates for Dual Enrollment

  • It requires a great deal of self discipline, which thankfully my kids have had, to keep to a schedule that they must make themselves and follow through with the assignments on time

  • Online courses are so much more convenient for the kids to have lives and still “DO” college, they have had time to make movies and go ice skating when the rest of the family does, etc

  • It is a great way for them to get a taste of college and what it will be like

  • It is a lot more work than they thought it was going to be, they sure are used to more flexibility in their schooling times and subjects

  • The kids are not used to having to deal with the different personalities of the teachers, some really good but a couple, well, not so nice 

  • Doing the courses online there is a lot on online interaction with other classmates which seemed strange at first since they are used to doing all of their coursework alone but they easily adapted and developed an “online school person” that they were while doing the courses, it is a careful balance in learning what the limits are in sharing information online an answering the teachers questions honestly

  • The course is covered but NOT the cost of the books, so we are more careful now to look at the price of the textbook when we pick a course

  • These homeschoolers are skilled: They ACED their courses!! Homeschooling has given them the skills they needed to succeed with college courses (and in life which is another topic but way more important)

 

What courses have they taken with Dual Enrollment?

  • Intro to College Studies – 1 credit

  • English Composition 1 – 3 credits

  • Applied Math / College Math – 3 credits

  • Anatomy and Physiology – 4 credits

  • Psychology – 3 credits

  • ALL FREE

dual

 

Hope this was useful 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

Scheduling Our Homeschool Year: Part 1

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There have been lots of questions lately about how we schedule our homeschool day. With 6 kids schooling at home now it could be rather hectic, but its not. The grades I am leading this year are: 11th, 9th, 7th, 5th, 1st, and 1 is a freshman in college.

 

Here is how we do it, both ways…

Most of the calmness comes from my planning for the year in the summer. I make up a plan of study for each child before school begins and then use that to set up a hanging folder with the work I will require of them each month for the year.

If you have been following this blog then you may remember the post about how I plan out my year. Here is a link to that post.

That truly helps when I am getting the papers reading to go into the hanging folders.

 

Handling Paperwork to Send to the State…

Using the plans of study that I created for the state office, I collect all the papers I will have them do for the year in… let’s try MATH for an example.

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If I was going to have my 1st grader to the following topics for the year:

  • Counting
  • Beginning Addition
  • Subtraction Facts
  • Measurement
  • Money

Then I would print up a page for each of these topics from the internet. I would collect each one of these pages and put a paperclip on them and put them in that childs hanging folder.

On the counting worksheet I would write September, and write October on the Basic addition worksheet, November on the Subtraction facts worksheet, December in the Measurement worksheet, and January on the Money worksheet.

When the month of December comes my 1st grader will do the Measurement worksheet (along with the worksheets for each of the other subject areas).

Each of the subject areas also have packets of pages printed up for them and I just have the children do the collection of pages that say December during the month of December.

This was I would have pages dated from throughout the year that correspond directly to the list of topic I stated I would do this year.

 

What do I do the rest of the month?

So when planning out my actual year for what the children will do from day to day my planning is different.

I still have the different subject areas and lets stick with MATH again just to keep things simple. We will also stay with the discussion of my First grader.

So, my First grader has done her packet for the month of December and now has the rest of the month do work on what?

During the summer I looked at what she had accomplished in her previous years math book and found that she was just under halfway through it. (In her case she had started the 1st grade ABeka Arithmetic book during her Kindergarten year so I had not planned on her being able to finish it.)

math

I know I want her to continue working on this workbook to completion. She has about 200 pages left. I plan on her doing about 20 pages a month to complete the book by the spring.

On my notes for her schoolwork I write: Math 20 pages a month

If she did not do well in math I would have her do less, but she loves math, math comes easy to her, and she loves working in workbooks. So, the plan stands.

 

What about an older child or one that has a tough time in Math…

Lets take another child. This child does not find that math comes as easy to him. He did not finish his 6th grade math book last year. This year the goal for him was to finish that book and then start the 7th grade book.

This would normally mean doing about 5 lessons a week but it takes him longer to complete a lesson due to math being not a subject he finds easy. So for him I have him do 3-4 lessons a week but sometimes less if he seems to be having a difficult time.

We use Saxon math for the older children and the 1st grader will eventually be doing Saxon math also. My 7th grader is working through Saxon 6/5  right now and thankfully is almost finished. (affiliate link)

math

So on his plan I wrote: Finish Saxon 6/5 start Saxon 7/6 try to get to lesson 60 (which is halfway through the book). For him no number of lessons are listed but maybe this year math will click with him and he will whizz right through the book, you never know.

For me it’s not that they finish a certain book in a certain year, but that the child understands the material. He will make it into Algebra 2 and complete it but it may just take a while.

Hoping that was a bit helpful. It really is just taking the child from where they are and looking ahead to see what you think they are able to accomplish in a year and writing it down. Around the middle of the year, evaluate and see, is your child going to accomplish what you have on your list. If not, was your list to huge or is the child having trouble with a concept and you should slow down for a bit.

 

Middle Ages in A Homeschool Co-op

Crazy8 Homeschool Co-ops

middle-ages

So the first subject I  decided on for this Winter Spring Home school Co-op is the Middle Ages. We have done this subject previously about 3 years ago. I am using some of my previous lesson plans but I am also adding in some new stuff from the book: The Story of The World Volume 2: Middle Ages.

Our plans include studying:

  • Castles: which will also lead into studying the castles in our state and sketching them

  • Medieval Life: we will learn how to juggle as the jesters did

  • Mapping: we will be mapping out how different parts of the Middle Ages developed, such as the Roman Empire and the Spread of Islam

  • Building Castles: this is one thing we have done previously, we take lots of cardboard tubes and long boxes and create castles

  • Manuscripts: we will study what these are and then using tea we…

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Science: Woolly Bear Zombies

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Woolly Bear Zombies or

Science in a Relaxed Home School 

My kids love science, they just don’t know it.

If you were to ask them if they like science they would tell you a flat out NO. It is so funny to me because we do so many fun experiments but the kids do not consider it science.

Their latest science activity was collecting Woolly Bear caterpillars to see if they would form cocoons. My 13yo son had found a free aquarium and decided he would use it to collect creatures from outside and put them in it.

1st science activity’s related to this topic?

  1. Ask a question
  2. Do background research
  3. Construct a hypothesis.

He had done the first 3 steps in the Scientific Method without even knowing it.

1. First he asked a question, “Can I have Woolly Bear caterpillars live and form cocoons in my terrarium?”

2. Second he did some research by looking up what a Woolly Bear caterpillar eats and how often. He also looked up what else they needed to live.

3. From these 2 points above he constructed a hypothesis. His hypothesis was, “I believe that Woolly Bear caterpillars can live in my terrarium. But there are things I must do. If I feed them fresh leaves everyday and moisten the terrarium everyday they should live and form cocoons.”

At any point in time did he verbalize this hypothesis? NOPE

The quote marks above are for example only. We did talk about his project a lot but he never thought of it as science work. He is an average 13yo boy and just did these thing without even knowing he was working through the scientific method.

What are the next steps of the Scientific Method and did he continue to work through them?

Here they are:

  1. Test Your Hypothesis by Doing an Experiment.
  2. Analyze Your Data and Draw a Conclusion.
  3. Communicate Your Results.

So, yes, he continued with the steps of the scientific method.

4. He collected a square of sod to place in the bottom of the terrarium. Next he started collecting Woolly Bear caterpillars and placing them in the terrarium. He added the leaves that they like along with some moisture.

We watched as they moved and lived and had a great time in the terrarium. We had a great time and had so much watching them just live in there. The terrarium was right in the dining room so conversations at the dinner table were always about those fuzzy guys.

Each day he added some new leaves and moistened the terrarium, except when he forgot… 😉 They ate and ate each day. He continued to learn more about them through books and online.

He found out they need sticks to climb up on in order to hang and form cocoons from. He collected sticks and placed them in various spots in the terrarium. He now had 7 or 8 caterpillars but no cocoons.

5. The next step of the scientific process started to take place. Honestly, at this point it was starting to look like the caterpillars were just going to die and well that would be that. His 17yo sister decided the caterpillars were dead and planted some corn seeds in the terrarium sod. We all watched as the corn grew and the caterpillars died. The corn grew to about 10 inches tall and then it decided to die also. The experiment seemed like a flop.

We talked about how maybe he had watered it too much or had forgotten to feed them too many times. Everyone had an opinion…

Then one day his 17yo sister saw movement. Under the ground at the edge of the glass wall there was a Woolly Bear alive.

My 13yo son said, “It’s the Woolly Bear Zombie Apocalypse!”

6. Communicate your results. Boy did he do that. Everyone who would listen he would tell them about how he had made this terrarium and thought for sure all the Woolly Bears had died and then… had come back to life. Well at least 2 of them.

These little guys are still alive, not sure how or why but they are.

Science is lifelong learning in real life not from a textbook or a teacher but what a kid sees that he or she wants to know more about. Those are the experiences the child will remember, that is true science.

Do I use textbooks for science, YUP, but not how they are written, we tweak them to fit our own way of learning. More on that another time…

 

 

Art: Relaxed Homeschool Style

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Art as a separate subject always has seemed strange to me. This week we finished painting a backdrop for our church’s Christmas performance. We were not asked to do it, but volunteered for the job cuz it sounded like fun!

The idea is that the performers will be standing in a mall. This is a painting by my 17yo daughter. The snowman is a joke as he is eating in a Pizza shop.

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This is one by my 15yo son. He had so much fun figuring out how to make this look 3D.

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Did I force them to learn a special style of painting? Did I even tell them anything once they decided on what they were going to paint? NOPE, they just had fun. I said to them to find  picture or an idea and draw it out and then paint it. They were free to paint what they wanted within the ideas we had come up with.

The backdrop is supposed to be the inside of a shopping mall. We sat and brain stormed about what should be there. We decided to add cute jokes here and there to make kids laugh and our friends in the audience laugh.

Here is another funny one that we did together. After doing this one we thought “Oh No, are people going to be bothered by the Grinch in church.” But the Pastor showed up the next day and said that “No, The Grinch is a Christmas Classic.” Whew, we knew we had freedom in what we painted but had worried if we had crossed the line. My 17yo daughter and I did this one.

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This backdrop storefront has a few more things added since this picture, like a sad Christmas tree in the left window and a present in the window on the right. We just loved the TJ Naxx sign as the only store in our small town is a TJ Maxx store.

What did we learn from this experience?

  • Working together to figure out a huge project is really fun.
  • We like to listen to music while we work. Though we definitely prefer upbeat music after 2 or more hours of painting in a day.
  • Artists crack lame jokes.
  • Painting the tops of walls really tires out your arms.
  • Adding the lines on the ATM really made it POP like it was from a graphic novel.
  • The colors that we had was limited but you can combine latex and oil based paint to get some pretty strange colors.
  • Spray paint can be sprayed onto a plate and painted on a wall.
  • My kids are awesome!

Now some of these things, like the last one on the list, I have known for years. But if I had asked my kids to use an Art Curriculum book and work through it for 30 hours in 3 and a half weeks they would about pass out. Relaxed Art is the way to go for sure. Finding ways to allow their creative and artistic juices to flow and have it appreciated by others is just the way to do it for us.

Here is another picture from the set. This is by my 15yo son, my 17yo daughter, my 13 yo son, and myself. Haha the ATNT store, this will actually get a cellphone painted on it tomorrow morning early.

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I was trying to figure out how many hours we worked on this backdrop and I believe it is about 30 hours. This is the time from thinking up the ideas of the different storefronts to finding out we had limited paint to use to us actually painting.

Here is another store front. This was done by my 17yo daughter and myself. This is a funny store front to us because there is a member of our congregation that actually is a clock repairman and his nickname is Tick-Tock.

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This performance of the musical “God Speaking” will be performed Sunday morning. The choir (which includes my kids singing and myself as narrator) have been practicing this musical since the end of September.

This is another store front as a joke. There is a friend in the congregation that has a security business that is named 4security and so we did this one for him.

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I hope you have enjoyed seeing how we over the years have found that Art can easily be part of a relaxed home school without ever calling it ART. Without having to use an Art Curriculum. We do use an Art Curriculum if the child is interested in it. We also have used classes for a child interested in a special topic like pottery on a wheel. But for the most part, like 90%, our ART time is what we make for others and ourselves just for fun.

Have a great week.