Tuesday, May 14, 2013

What Our School Days Look Like Now

Due to my astonishing lack of energy, our highly structured school days had to change.  I have shifted from a very Mason inspired structured day to a much looser and freeform checklist for Emma (11 - 5th grade) and Gregory (7 - 1st grade).  Lessons are definitely taking longer, as they no longer have the schedule and the momentum of the day keeping them moving reasonably smoothly through their various subjects.  The school day is also more scattered, a little school here, a little running around, a little more school, some time outside, and back to the schoolwork.  For the most part the work is being completed, although sometimes things bleed into the next day(s).  I have continued to leave Friday without a checklist (it used to be our Fine Arts and Nature Day, but that has gone by the wayside too) and we tend to take on a garden project, finish up lingering checklist items, and I do math and reading practice with Gregory.

The biggest difference in our school day is the lack of read-alouds.  For whatever reason, reading aloud makes me extremely nauseous.  I've never had this happen before, and I'm not sure how to adjust.  I'm making a supreme effort to still read Gregory's school assignments with him, but I'm not even able to do that twenty minutes or so every day.  We bought the kids inexpensive MP3 players so they could still hear good literature, but it has thrown a monkey-wrench in many of our family studies.  They generally listen to their players for awhile after lunch, and again in the evening as they are doing their after dinner chores.  We were in the midst of a number of good books together, and they have all been put aside for the last month and a half while I've been in the throes of the first trimester.  We've also had to stop our morning time, because if I do morning time with the kids, I then have to go back to bed and cannot help Gregory with his math or anything else.  Seriously.  Since I'm generally going to bed hours earlier than the kids, I'm no longer available for evening prayer either.   My husband is generally reading the kids a bedtime story, so at least they are getting a little bit of reading aloud around here!

Thankfully, it is spring and the kids are having a wonderful time with all their time available outside.  Now that I'm not reading out loud for about two hours a day and we're no longer involved in any outside activities, the hours out of doors, while never skimpy around here, are now vast.  They've built forts, planted seeds, fought the Hessians and the British (many times - they alternate between watching an episode of the Magic School Bus or Liberty's Kids during lunch), learned about new insects and plants, and just generally had a marvelous time running around.

My hope is that in another couple of weeks I'll be feeling stronger and less nauseous (please, Lord?) and we'll pick up morning time and our read alouds again.  The kids will largely be done with their other studies, but I think they'll enjoy spending an hour or so together in the morning and maybe another half an hour in the afternoon, reading, listening to music, and praying as a family.  I think it will   be nice to bring the kids together like that, even during the summer, and it will help relieve my conscience regarding my dereliction of duty this spring.

And moving forward?  Will I stay like this or go back to our daily schedules?  Really, I don't know.  I can't see myself going back to schedules until at least next spring.  I have a feeling I'll continue with checklists for the next school year and re-evaluate next summer.


  1. Obviously I hope your nausea goes away (like, yesterday!) but it really sounds to me like what you're doing is working. Your kids are bright and well-educated already, and they won't suffer for this time of less structure. It may even be good for them!

    I wanted to mention that my boys have majorly benefitted from their time up with your kids. They came home far more likely to disappear outside and build forts, grab Daddy's hammer to creat something, and generally just play hard! That is something that I want for them, and it is great to see some of that great outdoor creativity rub off on them!

    1. Thanks, Emily! My kids had a great time when you all were up (so did I!!) and you are welcome to come back and spend time with us whenever! And it will be great when you have the bigger yard and more room for forts and such. You might want to have a supply of plywood sheets (cut in half), melamine/plastic shower board, and some random 2x4s and such stashed in a corner... it is amazing how many times they have been used and reused around here! Sure, it does make sections of the property look a little shanty-townish, but the kids don't see it that way and it sure feeds their creativity and problem-solving abilities!

      My biggest reason for going back to a schedule is that at least it makes sure the work is done in a timely manner. Otherwise I have to remember to keep asking to see the checklists in the afternoon and such to see if I need to redirect children. I probably need some other mechanism to make sure work keeps getting done, but I haven't really figured out what would be effective without being too carrot and stick-ish, if you know what I mean. But perhaps in the long run the checklists might make them more self-motivated and self-driven???? I can only hope????