Monday, April 25, 2011

Not Just Cute

Not Just Cute has been so helpful to me lately! I really needed a reminder about what I learned in college as an Early Childhood Education major. She has many, many ideas which are developmentally appropriate for young children and are flexible enough to be meaningful for both my 3 year old and my 6 year old.

Friday, January 14, 2011

a day in the life

If  you are visiting from Simple Homeschool's A Day in the Life week, hi and welcome. My name is Carrie and my husband and I have two little boys, ages 6 and 2. This is our second semester homeschooling. Most often, you can find me at jamesrivergirl...and her boys.

The following gives a glimpse of what an ordinary day looks like for us. Because I'm not really a time-managing kind of girl, I haven't specified times, but rather blocks of time: Morning, Afternoon, Late Afternoon, and Evening.

Breakfast with Daddy (literally, I'm still in bed asleep while Brandon has breakfast with the boys.)
Jump and crawl on Momma and snuggle with parents until Daddy says we need to have family prayer and then leaves for the day.
The boys watch PBS while I very reluctantly leave my bed.

Once I'm up, I have breakfast,
often sitting beside Luke while he does his

Piano practice.

Sometimes we look at a To Do list for the day, but not usually.

Jobs - usually with help, between 1 and 3 jobs I want Luke to do while Pete tags along and helps...sometimes.

Playtime (Often while I do my own jobs and "The Essentials" - personal prayer and scripture reading )

This morning playtime could include: running errands, visiting the library, getting together with friends, playing at the park, a morning walk/bike ride, making up tunes on the piano, looking at books, or listening to books on tape, listening to Johnny Cash or Coldplay, Music and Movement time with me, writing or drawing-sometimes with me, baking with me, Creative time (with paper, scissors, glue, tape, and markers, crayons, paints, play-doh, etc.), and playing outside with bikes, scooters, shovels, balls, and bags to collect pecans. 

I would also like this time, or late afternoon to include serving others, but we haven't started yet.

Storytime and Lunch
Usually, we have story time first, reading about 6 storybooks together on the couch and then the boys sit at the table and demand "honey!" or "jam!" while I make lunch. Also, generally we have storytime a little bit after 12 noon and Pete goes down for his nap after 1 o'clock. He usually sleeps a couple of hours.

Pete's Nap.
While Pete sleeps:
Reading time with Luke, including longer storybooks, novels, chapter books, science books, etc. And sometimes we do more directed learning with phonics, but mostly he gets that with all of his drawings that he wants help labeling.
Math time: Singapore and made up word problems by me.
Science: currently we're learning about the Human Body mostly through books, but we'll do other more hands-on types of things too. After Human Body, we want to learn about trees and plants and then ocean and water.
Independent time: write and draw, ride bike, dig and play outside, legos, Dado squares, blocks, trains, cars, PBS kids online games, or play on the Friend site, etc. Also, I find movies to stream from Netflix for him to watch about all sorts of things: dolphins, weather, coral reefs, the human body...
(I spend independent time reading or doing laundry or making lists and planning. And this is when I read blogs, check email. If I haven't already showered when the boys were watching pbs in the morning, this is when I do that. And sometimes I start dinner.)

Late Afternoon
Pete wakes up.
Then the boys play together again. Or we get together with a friend. Or we have piano lessons. We'll be starting soccer and another PE class soon. And on some afternoons we invite others over for special story times with accompanying activities.

Make dinner while boys play with next door neighbors who are home from school now.

Daddy comes home, plays with boys, helps with dinner, and/or picks up the front room.
Family Dinner. (If we remember this is also when we read scriptures as a family, but only one page each night.)
Sometimes do dishes, sometimes leave them for tomorrow. (Often, Luke is back at his desk, drawing a picture to slip under one of our pillows around this time of day.)
Read to boys, help them get ready for bed. (Most often Brandon does this while I either clean up the kitchen or hole up in our bedroom alone.)
Family prayer.
Little boys go to bed.

Friday, December 10, 2010


I started out with one routine, then when that routine wasn't working, we had no routine for a while. I've spent a lot of time thinking about what I want our days to look like, and I don't think our normal schedule yet reflects what I'd like our days to be. But in order to both feel that Luke is accomplishing things, and feel that we are not spending time fighting about it, Luke and I had a good conversation cross-legged on my bed one morning. I explained that everyone is important to somebody, and important people have responsibilities. I must have repeated that ten times in the course of the conversation, "Important people have responsibilities." Then Luke told me what he thinks some of his responsibilities are, and I contributed some ideas, too. He wrote them all down on a piece of paper as we discussed. I have a photo of that picture, but I'll post it later.

Luke's daily responsibilities are as follows:

Reading time - when we sit together and I read aloud to him.
Writing time - Variable, sometimes independent, sometimes with me, when he draws pictures, and uses creative spelling to label things in them, or when he asks me how to spell various words and he lists them on a page, when he "writes" stories, or draws pictures and dictates stories to me.
Piano practice - Luke started lessons this fall.
Brush teeth.
Putting away things when he's finished with them. (We're making progress, but it doesn't come naturally to me either. If he doesn't put things away, then this responsibility changes to be "help clean room--a big job.")
Chore - 1 or 2 jobs that Momma needs him to do, Momma chooses.

We have some changes coming to our weekly schedule. I'll post about that soon.

Also, I just need to say that we were not fighting about reading or writing ever. But the picking up toys and other jobs can be contentious at our house.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Thoughts on Reading and Writing

I'm a novice and I'm still figuring out homeschooling. Luke's a kindergartner and I usually espouse a no-need-to-rush philosophy. It is possible that one of the reasons I cling to that no rush policy is because it alleviates guilt for my usually-benign negligent parenting practices. Anyway, the point is: I'm still figuring things out and I need to believe that that's okay.

When something is important to you, you make time for it.
This weekend I've been thinking about how reading is really, really important to me and so I make time for reading everyday. Pete, Luke, and I have storytime together every day, usually twice a day. And then Luke and I have another reading time for novels when Pete is napping.

Then, I try to give myself time to read. Sometimes I can read in front of the children, but often I lock myself in the bathroom with a book. I love books. I love words. I love the sounds of the words, especially the staccato consonate sounds. Brandon loves it when I read in bed...not really. Because I read silently for a spell and then break out whispering so I can hear those beautiful consonate sounds. He begs me to stop doing it, saying, "I'd rather you just read out loud than read like that!" But I'll keep reading this way until the day I die.

Because the words, "day I die" sound so good when spoken quietly. Ah! Spoken quietly. Two good words for whispering.

My grandchildren will think I'm terribly creepy and crazy with my not-so-silent reading.

Moving on.
To Writing.

Luke writes often. He draws pictures every day of his own accord and has been doing some invented spelling and labelling. (For example, he drew the same house that he often draws, with each of us in a window. But in the attic, there were suitcases, each labelled with a family member's initials. So, Brandon's was labelled, "BBBB." And there was one for the family, "LPCB." You get the picture. He sounded out "stop" and put up sticky note signs on the doors. He says I can unlock the art cabinet now because he'll see that sign and stop before opening it and allowing Pete to paint the bed. [I wish I was joking.]) 

So, Luke's drawings fill drawers, and paper the fridge, and find themselves folded into crazy shapes under my pillow. Little Boy Love Letters.

Even though Luke has been writing on his own, I think I should set aside a little bit of time when we can write side-by-side, so that I'm physically there to answer any questions if he has them, and so I'm making time to do my own writing.

This whole idea of making time for your priorities has got me thinking, "What do I think is important to me that I'm not really making time for?" It makes me think I really should be taking up the guitar, among other things.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

A day of interest-led learning for a kindergartner

Last night, as I planned for today, I listed:
For Luke: practice piano kindly, read aloud, and play with a friend.
For Pete: stories, play outside, a nap
For Carrie: exercise, the essentials (scriptures and prayer, I've just begun calling them "the essentials" so that I'll think of them as essential.)
For the family: return overdue books, empty dishwasher and keep the kitchen clean

So, I didn't plan any lessons. I just let nature take its course. Here is what we've (they've) done so far:
Piano Practice -when he dawdled, I sang quietly, "I will be kind, I will be kind." I think Luke liked it.
Play-doh (my only job was to pretend to eat something every now and then and avoid the kitchen where I would inevitably say, "No, you can't use that apple corer/lemon zester/pie server." I did take away the mesh strainer, though.)
Rhymes with lists of rhyming words. We were talking and one of us said, "box" or "fox," and Luke said, "Hey that rhymes!" He then made up a verse:
Fox box wearing socks.
Hawks flying overhead!
Then, I said, "Wait, I'll go get paper!" And we wrote down words that rhymed with fox, box, and hawks and had a mini-phonics lesson, made up of me saying, "Hey look--the ah sound is made by the letter O, and AW, and just an A sometimes. And then "x" says the same sound as "cks." But this had to be quick, but Luke was more interested in actually making up rhymes, of course. *Remember--Real and meaningful experiences yield skills, skills practice or teaching can, but doesn't necessarily, yield real and meaningful experiences.

Then we made up other rhyming verses together.
Trees bees in a hive
At the flowers they arrive.
When the sun is in its sky,
All the bees will buzz and fly.
To the flowers they will go
Carrying pollen to help them grow.
In this verse and the "Fox box" one, Luke's contributions are in blue. I was pleasantly surprised that his rhyme for hive was arrive.

In the next one, I wrote most of it, but when I paused, after pink, Luke piped up, "As pink as a rose!" What a cutie.
Up, up in the sky
Kites and balloons flying high.
The spring wind blows across my nose.
My cheeks are pink --as pink as a rose.
Outside all day in the sun
I'm so glad that Spring has come.

I pretended to be a witch and carried the boys on my broom to my gingerbread house where I wanted to fatten them up. "What can I tempt you with, my pretty? Will you eat icecream, chocolate chip cookies, a juicy steak?" It didn't matter what I said, Luke said, "No," because he understood that I was trying to make him plump for eating. but each time Luke said, "No" or "Uh-uh." Pete quietly and resolutely said, "Yes."

We read stories, had lunch, Pete took a nap, and Luke and I started another book, The Trumpet of the Swan. I adore that book. I read it to Luke when he was four, but he's forgotten it. Goody! That means we have to read it again.

Now Luke is playing at a friend's house.

From this former school teacher's perspective, we did something in each of these subjects: Reading and literacy, drama, social studies, music, and math. (Math-this book.)