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Friday, November 30, 2012

homeschool life thus far

So, I have had it in my head to write abour our schooling efforts. And the main word that comes to mind about the reality of homeschool (after EFFORT, Ha!) is JUGGLING.

It is a juggling act.

And an exercise in patience and other virtues which I greatly lack on many days.

But, as dada pointed out the other day "I know you are saying today feels terrible and you can't do it, but you know you are having fewer and fewer days you are saying this to me. Pretty soon it will be once a month, instead of once a week, [or every other day like it was]" HA.

So. Back up. I am in one of those moods. You know those moods where the normal "kids-pretending-to-be-puppies-drooling-and-barking-around-the-house" is not amusing but rather super duper annoying. "Seriously STOP DROOLING!"

Mama has lost her playful vibe.

I just had to cancel a date with my sister to the mall to take the kids to see Santa because little miss was running a fever again last night.

And this makes me crabby.

And little man has taken to being super emotional 6 yr old being. Do they do this? Do yours? I need to read that wonder of boys book everyone raves about. I did look up 6 yr old development phase on my favorite parenting blog and she said yes, 6 yr olds are super emotional and yes, you need to be the "calm wall" that they can bounce off of. Yesterday I told him "go play outside! Play! Be happy!" And he litterally burst into tears. "BUT I AM HAPPY!!!"

lordhavemercy. I AM A CALM WALL. I AM A CALM WALL.

And we are sick again which means weird sleep and a clingy baby and me up till midnight every night so I can have a moment of peace on the internets.

But its Friday. And I made it through the week.

[Ohmygosh. Now they are playing "kitty" with a ball of string, which I strongly suspect little man is hoping to use to tie up his sister.

Lets ignore this and brew more coffee and keep typing, shall we?]

I hardly sound like the ideal candidate for homeschooling children huh? Much too selfish and crabby and tired and coffee-dependent.


But, dada is right, the days are getting easier. We are finding a rhythm. And planning geek that I am I am actually having fun coming up with ideas, especially for the holiday season.

I clearly miss working life on some level. A spreadheet?? Why yes! I'd LOVE to devise a spreadsheet for lesson planning!

In any case, this is what works for us, on the good days, when it seems to work.


We have established these days, which happens on top of lessons which I will describe in a minute. It is helpful for me because when we get to that 3 o'clock point in the afternoon where everyone is bored and grumpy and restless I can say "Hey, its Painting Day! LETS PAINT!" etc.

Monday, WASH DAY, where I try to involve the kiddies in chores around the house and make an effort to wash the kitchen floor (really needs done more than this but c'est la vie) and wash and put away ALL THE CLOTHES (a monumental effort as you all know)

Tuesday, CRAFT DAY, where I let myself craft (the beast is unleashed!!) and try to do some craft with the kiddies that is fun for them.

Wednesday, BAKING DAY, cookies, bread, etc.

Thursday, PAINTING DAY, only because they love it so much. I tried to do the artsy Waldorfy wet on wet painting with them several times now and it makes them frustrated and they DONT have fun, so we got out the regular old paints and painted pine cones as mini Christmas trees this week, much more fun for them.

[Interrupt this to say little man just left dots of red paint I left out from yesterday, all over the counter in the bathroom trying to convince me he was bleeding...]

Friday, this is a new one, GAME DAY, this is trying to force myself to engage in Candyland, and etc. because they love it (and I have NEVER been a game person...)

SO the actual school routine. Most everything is pulled from the fab website Seriously, go look at it. Amazing. And all free!

We are doing mostly Grimm Brothers tales, old school style, for his alphabet journey. Also the Red Fairy Book has all the classic tales like The Three Little Pigs and so on for the preschool/kindy set like little miss.

Ok. The routine.

We do this Monday through Thursday. Friday is my off (breathe, breathe) day.

Around 9:30 after watering and feeding chickens and watering and feeding kids (ha) and coffeeing up mama, we go down to our school room which is toasty warm now with our new stove.

Around 9:33 toddler starts pulling all the toys down off the shelves and wreaking havoc, as per her role in the house these days.

At 9:36 mama is finally sitting after putting away most toys up high where baby cant get them.

9:37 baby spills mama's giant travel mug of coffee. It leaks a bit but there is still some left. PHEW.

9:40 mama grabs Iphone where I have a notepad note of our "morning circle" which I then start. Its ideal, so they say, to have the whole routine memorize. I am getting there but not quite yet.

As soon as I start chanting "Follow me! Follow me! To the ring of fairies follow me!" which is our opening verse, the kids, even destructo-toddler, come running over to grab hands and make a circle. We do several of these verses and rhymes, some I have found online, some we all grew up with (I'm a little teapot, ring around a rosie, etc) I change these out with the season a bit. We just started our "winter circle". I am happy to share those here if people are interested.

This circle time sometimes go really smoothly. Sometimes it doesnt. Baby dear inevitably whines to be held, demands to be nursed or starts crying because someone bumped her while performing row row row your boat too vigorously.

Around 10 or so we finish up circle time with this verse "Be quiet your faces, be still everyone, fix deeply on my your eyes, and out of my mind a story will come that is old and lovely and wise."

Its corny but signals to the kids that it is time to listen. We first do a little story for little miss. She is super fixated on The three little pigs right now. So we tell it. But we also act it out. I did it myself the first few times but now brother does it. Which is a great way to involve him. We use the toy snapping jaws dinosaur as the wolf and our little gnomes as the pigs with varying cups or boxes as the houses. Acting out stories is one of the Waldorfy things I love. Kids love it and they can then act it out later, encouraging their imaginative play. We do alter the story from the original, per their request. The piggies dont get eaten at first, they run away, and then at the end they all come over to the third pigs brick house, as well as their mama who is visiting, for turnips, applesauce and wolf stew. HA.

[Side note. I just turned on cartoons for the kids. Super Mommy no longer, ha! And with a second giant mug of coffee I can type in blissful quiet. For the next 3.5 minutes until someone yells for me. Better get cracking then, huh?]

So. Then we do the alphabet story on Monday and Wednesday, with supporting stories or other nature or seasonal stories on Tuesday and Thursday. For nature tales look up Burgess on the Main Lesson website above. He's an author who wrote this great stories about different animals in nature told by Mother Nature to other animals (so they can learn about their families) Super sweet and engaging. Yesterday I did a poem about tomten, the little Swedish gnome folk that live on farms to protect the animals and farmers. So cute. I plan on using a Christmas book I found on Main Lesson for the next few weeks, along with the Burgess tales. Ooh, I have great plans in store for advent. I am excited. More on that later.

Monday and Wednesday are our alphabet days. The Alphabet Journey story has been time consuming, I have to admit. I have written up to U and have a general idea about the other letters left. My word document (with Grimm stories and other poems pasted in) is more than 300 pages long!! And its NOT DONE! Yikes. If only my book were that long!

[3.5 minutes later sick snuffly toddler is on my lap tugging at my shirt for her "mee-mee". HA]

So back to our schedule.

At 10:02 I draw a picture of our letter on the chalkboard, turned into whatever character from our story, like an R with a head and arms, for example, as Rumplestiltskin, or an M turned into a mountain, etc.

At 10:05 toddler insists on sitting on my lap and nursing. I think she is jealous for my attention.

We read our tale then the Grimm Brothers story that is incorporated in - usually the "wise old woman" is telling a tale to the Prince to encourage him.

At 10:07 I tell little man to please put down his Ninjago figures and LISTEN.

At 10:09 little miss and little toddler go over to the toy area and proceed to dump out all the toys AGAIN.

When we finish with our story time I draw the picture in my main lesson book while little man draws in his. Then he copies a row of letters next to it.

Some days we follow this with the very un-Waldorfy practice of looking at sight word flash cards or we do a review of phonics, making sure he knows what all the letters we have gone over sound like, which have more than one sound, etc.

[Just jumped up to grab little toddler out of the bathroom where she was standing holding her brothers toothbrush over the toilet and smacking her lips. GRIMACE. Yes, I tossed it in the garbage]

Around 10:30 or 11ish, depending on how many interruptions we have had, we finish up and usually go outside to play or, lately with the sickos whining about the cold, we get out a game or they just go and play or draw or something.

And that is it. As far as the structured school-like thing. Its been nice to fill up our days and really I look forward to the older years or once we are done with the Alphabet Journey so we can do little blocks of main lessons (maybe 2 - 4 weeks) of things like "100 stories of American history" or "the fairy book of science" or "Greek gods and their myths" (ALL on we have done a few from each of these books and they were great. We are doing numbers next, in January, and basic math principles, and will add another main lesson block into the above routine, along with every other day of reading/phonics practice.

So. All in all its good.

Except for when it isnt. Then I break out the Ikea chocolate bar hiding in the freezer and call dada in tears. But. Then its good again the next day and you know, all things in life worth doing, well, they take some doing, right?

Dont you ALL want to homeschool now?????? HA.


  1. This sounds exactly like how I feel and how things happen around here!
    Thank you from the bottom of my heart for being genuine. So many home schooling blogs only tell the stuff that makes them look good and omit to mention destructor-toddlers and babies whining to nurse.
    I don't follow the same structure as you but I face the same challenges and also phone dh in tears at times.
    You're doing a wonderful job.
    And you're blessing me by blogging about it.

  2. hey Smile! so glad this resonates. makes me feel like less of a loser writing it out. HA. hoipe you are having a joyous holiday season. :)


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