09 January 2013

Unofficially Beginning Homeschool

On Monday of this week we began unofficially 'homeschooling'.  Well that doesn't really make sense because we've been homeschooling from when we brought Possum (4yr 10mo) home from the hospital.  Really.  I sat with Possum on my knees at a week old singing 'Play School' songs, thanks to our Aussie Granny.  

Now Possum just seems ready for ... well, something more.

Last week I prepared a  "Circle Time" schedule for our girls. I envision "Circle Time" to be a time that all three, and eventually four, children can participate in.  Over the years it will expand to include more of "anything homeschooling" that we can do together, as our official homeschooling journey grows and develops.  This is a most wonderful part of homeschooling; doing things together as a family.  Of course, I copied the idea of "Circle Time" from my friend.  Why reinvent the wheel?  Although I must confess, I'm not sure this is what Circle Time is supposed to be, but it works for us for now, in these pre-school years.  I want something that is easy and a little carefree but with structure (and guidance) for me, getting both me and Possum (4yr 10mo) ready for the official leap into homeschool.

And so our day on Monday began.  My girls loved it.  All it did for me was schedule the time in to sing with them, read with them, and have fun with them.  We have, in the past, had "Bible Time" where we learned a new song or hymn and sang it for the entire month and read from The Big Picture Story Bible.  When we began family devotions at the breakfast table (about 3 months ago), somehow our morning "Bible Time" which happened anytime after brekkie but before lunch (when Daddy was working) got dropped.  Even though I was missing us singing together, I couldn't get us back in the groove of "Bible Time".  Perhaps it was because I was a little more preoccupied with Handsome (4mo) since his arrival in September.  Even so, to set aside time each day to spend with my girls is a treasured time.  I'm loving it just as much as they are!

I plan to do six weeks on and take the seventh week off.  (Another idea copied from my friend.) During the week off we'll still do our family devotion time around the table at breakfast but we will just take a break from Circle Time for the week.  Just to see what happens.

Our morning schedule currently looks like this:
7:30- devotion at the table (we are currently using Long Story Short and loving it!)
7:45- set the table (see our weekly chore chart)
8:30- finish breakfast; Dad & Mum do their devotion together (we feel it is so important for our children to see us doing what we require of them- having time in the Word of God and praying together). At the same time, the girls are to get dressed/brush teeth/brush hair/chore of the day (see weekly chore chart)
9:00- Dad to work; Mum to help with finishing touches of chores
9:15- Circle Time begins. I have an ending time of 10:30. Our Circle Time takes us a little less time than an hour fifteen minutes, however, we didn't end til 10:30 as I  am getting Handsome up from his morning nap just before 10, as well as feeding him, thus stretching out the time. (I must say my girls are so very patient.)

I would label these mornings thus far as successful.  I was very pleased with how it flowed and the girls seemed engaged from beginning to end.  The two older girls, at least.  Sweetness (2yr) joined in from time to time and then would get down and go off and play. This was fine and without seeming like it was interrupting us any.  My goal is to aim at Possum (4yr 10mo) and cater to her growing and maturing.  While Twinkle (3yr 5mo) doesn't quite take in everything I'm saying, she's eager to sit and participate at her own level.

My girls refer to our Circle Time as Homeschool!  They are excited to learn, and excited to be doing Homeschool, for real.

I have been very surprised at how fairly easily Possum (4yr 10mo) has been able to memorise Psalm 23.  On Tuesday I did add in "Lesson One" in teaching Possum to read but it was not part of my original schedule.  I will make it part of the schedule for next week though.   She is wanting to read on her own so badly; it is almost painful for me to watch her agonise over not being able to read yet, and knowing it takes some time to be able to.

The wonderful concept of this Circle Time is that on any given day we can skip if we had company or something else we wanted to do outside the home.  But for now, it feels like a wonderfully perfect addition to our mornings.  And, especially this time of year, it gives us a little extra time for the cold, nippy air to warm up slightly (if at all) before the girls go outdoors to play.  Also, in the hotter months, we may change our "Circle Time" to the afternoon when it is too hot to be outdoors anyway.  Who knows?  This, I am quickly (and joyfully) realising, is the art of homeschooling.