I’ve always really enjoyed having the ability to be relaxed as teacher to my kids. But I have to make some changes as we begin this new school year because everything has changed so much! At least for the moment, I don’t have the luxury of being as relaxed if I want to have any hope of getting things accomplished. Housework, school lessons, baby and child care – these things take time! With a newborn, a Kindergartener, a seventh grader, and an eleventh grader, things are getting a bit complicated! But with some planning and will power, everybody can thrive – I know we can!
The purpose of this post is to help me focus and evaluate the routine we have, which things need to change and which don’t. Please share your thoughts and experiences in the comments!
Waking up in the morning
In theory, I think children should be able to sleep until they wake, for optimum health, which is why I’ve rarely woken my kids up in the morning. Believe it or not, this hasn’t resulted in lazy lie ins. When they go to bed at a decent hour, they get up at a reasonable time in the morning. But I want to streamline their mornings if possible, and I think choosing a wake up time for the older two would help a lot.
I still plan on letting Samuel sleep until he wakes, which is currently somewhere between 7:30 and 8:30. I can’t decide if I want Stephen to wake me in the morning so I can be up before all of them…by the time I start implementing these changes, Elizabeth will be five weeks old, so I miiiiggghhhtt be able to start getting up at 6am instead of whenever Samuel comes to wake me.
Snacks work best when pre-measured out. We can grab and go, without having to make decisions about what to eat or the appropriate serving size. I’m thinking of asking Maggie to take over part of the job because I’ve been falling behind. She could make five days’ worth of snacks on Mondays so that they’re ready for her and her brothers for the school week. I can still make mine.
Since baby Elizabeth’s arrival, our grocery shopping day has changed from mid-week to weekend so that Stephen can either a) do the shopping for me, b) go with me for support, or c) stay with the kids at home while I shop. I don’t plan on changing this new arrangement for a long time.
We also go to a handful of other stores at various times throughout the month, based on sales, what we’re out of, etc. Again, no change needed.
Both big kids have certain household chores that they are responsible for each day (in addition to their rooms and taking care of personal hygiene) but in the last few weeks I’ve thought of some additional jobs that they could be helping with. I’m sure they’ll be thrilled, lol. And I’m also going to add Samuel in on the fun! I’m thinking of making a little chore chart for him. Any online suggestions?
Combined School Subjects
For the first time in a long time, I’m considering combining a few of the kids’ subjects. This will reduce my workload a little bit and hopefully bring the kids closer together. World geography is one I’m definitely going to have Maggie and Joshua do together. Read alouds I’m going to begin doing with all of them (we had to stop a few years ago simply because of Samuel’s rowdiness and lack of naps, lol). And I’m also thinking of having the big kids each do something with Samuel each day (like reading and/or crafts).
We use a wide variety of resources to teach the kids. Library books, textbooks, videos, etc. It takes a lot of time to plan lessons because most of the resources aren’t designed to be broken down into individual lessons. As tempting as it is to look for an easier (less time-consuming) way to teach, I’m still happily eclectic at this time.
Maggie is sixteen years old and has always been a great student. She is internally motivated and enjoys doing schoolwork, making my job easy and fun.
Joshua is twelve and has no desire to do schoolwork, lol. He has far more interesting things to do with his time, like play games, watch videos, and ride his bike. And while I’ve been trying my hardest to find ways to make school enjoyable for him, my attempts have failed to impress. Lately, I’ve felt really frustrated because he is behind in a few subjects and I know it’s because I haven’t required as much as I should from him. Well, that’s changing as of August 1st! I am willing myself to stop caring whether or not he’s okay with what I’m giving him to do. *sigh*
Samuel is almost five years old and has been showing a readiness and willingness to begin learning to read lately. I’m planning to start Hooked on Phonics with him this fall. I also want to begin doing more seasonally themed arts and crafts with him.
Before having Elizabeth, we generally weren’t leaving the house to go anywhere until the afternoon, unless I had a doctor’s appointment in the morning (which was pretty frequent). But even “afternoon” was typically early, like shortly after lunch. Months ago, it was more like 3pm or so when we’d go out but during my pregnancy I started having very little energy in the afternoon and evening, so we had to make it earlier. But Hallelujah! I’m no longer pregnant, lol! So, we need to get it back to 3 or 4pm unless there’s something special going on (like a day trip or an event at the library).
My kids sometimes can’t tell the difference between school days and weekends because they have so much freedom every day. This is both a good and not-so-good thing, in my mind. While it’s lovely that homeschooling really is just a way of life for us (and always has been), their lessons should at least make them feel like they’ve done their work for the day – which they don’t have on the weekend. I’m going to be changing this, too! I’m not going to punish them for feeling that sense of freedom, but I do want them to have more structure and perhaps a heftier workload during the week. I hope this doesn’t sound awful! I think it could be good for them to really appreciate the weekends. I have the opposite problem – I work just as hard on the weekend as I do during the week, which isn’t good either! :P
Let me know if you have any experience making any of these changes, and/or if you have any suggestions! Thanks!!