Thursday, March 10, 2016

Further honing

I've been tweaking our homeschool schedule in recent weeks with hugely beneficial results.

The revised morning flow
  • Eat earlier (me)
  • Breakfast at 8:00 AM
  • Preschool Circle Time / Lego Time
  • Circle Time
  • Table Time
  • Free Time
  • Clean-up
  • Lunch
Instead of a lackadaisical approach to breakfast, I am gunning for an earlier eating time.  Our mornings were getting squeezed out by eating too late.  Enough.  We are eating our evening meal earlier - we will eat our morning meal earlier as well.

Secondly, I've realized that too much free-time with the ages, stages and personalities of my children degenerates into CHAOS.  Enough.  Every morning it was the same thing: 20 minutes of freedom after breakfast comprised of frenzied battle play that resulted in the complete loss of control of the day.  From boys rampaging around the house completely naked to tears and shrieking from over-wrought younger sibs.  It was hard to reel them back in from that.

Furthermore, I was noticing a pattern: the older boys were finally settling down for focused play in the Lego Room just 5-10 minutes before Morning Chores or Before Lunch Clean-up.  I hated tearing them away from it, but the day must move on or we will be swimming in a cesspit of chaos.

Finally, I've been feeling an important urge to give my younger two boys time to themselves, to play their imaginative Little Kid games and not have to be running around the house in full battle gear.  To be baby bunnies or go fishing for crocodiles off the loveseat without brudders coming in and dominating the play.  And I've been wanting to read to them more, feeling that urgency of time pressing down upon me, wanting to share special books and really settle in and focus on them. 

Enough.  Combine the all the issues, add a dose of insight from a homeschooling post on a favorite blog, and I realized the answer lay before me.

Further structure. More order.  (Duh, Shawna.)

I've implemented Preschool Circle Time right after breakfast.  (In order to make that work I have to ensure that I eat before they do, as I read to them while they eat.)  So while the Littles are with me downstairs, the Bigs are upstairs in the Lego Room.

The result?  A quiet morning.  No AM battle play.  No rampaging around the house.  No bellowing, hollering, screaming and crying.  No spiraling out of control.  Focused attention.  Peace.  It has been AMAZING.

I am loving the quiet time in the morning with the little guys - we are reading stories, poems, Mother Goose, singing songs, snuggling and usually ending with a bit of make-believe.  Today we took a little detour and made meringues.  And all the while, the older boys are able to have a lengthy time for focused attention on Lego play.  It has been amazing.  I am absolutely reveling in it.

So we are building the habit.  It takes vigilance and perseverance to keep any good habit on track for the long-term.  And it is all on my shoulders.

Now a quick run-down on Circle Time.

  • My Book House: Story Time - Olive Beaupre Miller
  • Poems to Read to the Very Young - Josette Frank
  • The Mother Goose Book - Alice & Martin Provenson
  • Clap Your Hands: Finger Rhymes - Sarah Hayes

  • OT/NT Bible Stories
  • Elementary Geography - Charlotte Mason
  • The Life of Marcus Cato the Censor - Plutarch
  • George Washington's World - Genevieve Foster
  • The Young Brahms - Sybil Deucher
  • The Adventures of Reddy Fox - Thornton W. Burgess
  • Black Beauty - Anna Sewell
  • Othello - William Shakespeare
  • The Arnold Lobel Book of Mother Goose

Lest you think that I am super woman because you are unfamiliar with the lay-out of Circle Time, I am not reading all these books in one day, nor I am reading full chapters or lengthy passages.  The boys can't take much more than a paragraph from Plutarch and we get through perhaps a quarter of a scene from Shakespeare before I've lost them.  It is quick-quick-quick, with the idea of a cumulative effect over time.  I am a builder.  We also sing, recite poetry, and practice our memory work.

Oftentimes, the boys are flopping around on the floor while I am reading to them or Jamie is up on my shoulders while I am hunched over the book and trying to keep my eye on the line.  It isn't pretty, but it sure is beautiful.


Catie said...

Hi! Found you at Mystie Winckler's blog. :)

Looks like we have a few things in common!

I enjoyed reading over your Circle Time plans. I, too, have a toddler who can be a *tiny* bit distracting. HA!

I really like your idea of eating BEFORE the kids--genius! I think I'm going to start doing that! That way I can focus on getting their food ready and maybe get more than the Bible reading in!

Love your blog!

mschirber said...

This is so great to read. I've been thinking I need to call you to talk some time about school, but then another day goes by, so I thought - check out her blog to catch up a bit first! This is such a great post - and just what we are finding too, especially now that we are back home. A more prompt breakfast kicks off the day. Shorter passing time between breakfast clean up and book work does work better than letting them play for a longer time (I agree, it is soooo hard to break up that morning play time!) Thanks so much for sharing!