Tuesday, 22 February 2011

A typical day, or is it?

Yesterday I printed of some pages on honey bees because M and I are doing the letter B' this week. What better way to hear the 'B' sound than bees? So M started on her lapbook today on that and will more than likely finish it by Thursday.

L did some workbook pages and read a chapter of our Geography story, The Story of David Livingstone by Vautier Golding, which can be found here online: http://www.mainlesson.com/display.php?author=golding&book=livingstone&story=_contents

This week is half-term break in many places in the UK, but in our household we are not observing it because we are going to be operating on a schedule similar to the Canadian school schedule, which means we will finish in June. We will have a week long break in March though instead (which is what the Canadians do). L chose this because last June we found it difficult to motivate ourselves to get up and study. I gave her the choice of either following the terms as they do here, or a slightly adapted Canadian schedule, she of course chose the slightly adapted Canadian schedule.

We are not taking Easter Holidays or any other school breaks, but then we will finish by the end of May. The curriculum that I follow has three terms and each term consists of 12 weeks. We will finish our 36 weeks of academia when it is the Whitsun Half Term here (Pentecost). The other activities that the girls do such as drama, dance lessons, piano lessons etc will will continue on until the end of July.

Those are of course important aspects of the girls' education, learning how to build friendships, work as part of a team and the discipline of working independently (piano or instrument practice for instance).

L will still be able to see her school friends because her lessons are always finished early in the morning, when most of her friends are just getting out of their beds during this half term week. L is very self-disciplined and gets up and does her work and then gets to enjoy the rest of the day doing other things. Sometimes I surprise them and take them swimming when they aren't expecting it.

I need to have lessons done early in the day because I work from home providing administrative support to clients. I also am trying to find the time to set up my therapies practice. I need to know that the lessons are done early in the day, so that I can still connect with my clients during regular working hours. They know that I am not available up until a certain point of the day, and they respect that.

I sometimes must work late into the night, and then get up early in the morning and work some more when the need arises so that I can ensure that the time set aside for lessons is adhered to. This might make me sound like a Drill Sargent Major but I promise you I'm not! I am firm and flexible at the same time. In other words, my children can negotiate with me and make bargains on their work schedule but they know that there are expectations and that we have to learn to work toward the expectations as goals.

I have to be fairly regimented because of my work schedule and this means that we split a lot of chores up. Some people might think that I am being cruel to the girls expecting them to tidy up after themselves and put their belongings away but I think I'm being reasonable and realistic. If we don't learn to put our things away, the house falls into a state of chaos and I can't have that with my work schedule and everything else.

It is a division of labour split as evenly as possible. I tend to take more of the cleaning workload on simply because I'm faster but L is a willing helper and she understands the importance of learning these skills. When M is older, she will take on some chores as well. I think having a four year old clean the toilet is unreasonable, but she does like to 'help' with sweeping the floor and cooking/baking. She makes a mean chocolate cake!

What is a typical day? The short answer is there is no 'typical' day but the most common day is doing our education work from 8 am until 11 am and that includes the life skills work such as learning to cook and clean and meal plan. No, I am not raising my girls to be 'housewife' material, if I had boys, they'd be getting exactly the same life skills because everyone needs to know how to look after themselves.

But wait! Kids are in school for six hours a day, surely three hours of education is not enough! Yes, actually three hours of education per day is plenty because in school they aren't actually doing academics for the entire six hours they are in the building.

They have one hour off for lunch, 20 minutes off for 'register', let's take off 45 minutes for daily assemblies (including time to get to and from and back to classes again), so I have just knocked off two hours and five minutes from the school time table. There is a morning break and in some cases an afternoon break so that is 10-15 minutes long but in actuality allowing time for getting ready to go out and then back in again to their classes afterwards you need to add on an extra 5 minutes, so again an extra 40 minutes gone! So now we are at 6 hours less 2 hours and 45 minutes which leaves us with 3 hours and 15 minutes.

I think that my three hours of one to one time or two to one time is worth at least double the time that they have in school so in actuality, my children are getting two days worth of education at home. I usually divide this down even further; typically a child in school gets about seven minutes of one to one attention/help from their teacher or teaching assistant. If you look at that, that means that a child in school gets 35 minutes a week of one to one time with their teacher or teaching assistant. Mine have more than that in a day of lessons with me.

So I digressed again, sorry about that. Typically our days go 8-11 with education, then after that, they are free to do what they want either reading, computer work or watching a film. If there are afternoon things on, we try and go to those, such as a monthly book group, L goes to a monthly history group and has to do work in between sessions and then we have monthly swim sessions.

L is also involved in a radio show, which again I think is wonderful. Once a month, she and two other home educated people go to a local radio station and have either a 30 minute segment or a 60 minute segment.

That is a wonderful opportunity for her I think!

Sorry I seem to keep avoiding this 'typical' theme. I guess really and truly there is no 'typical' day for us we have some general patterns, but by and large no two days are really ever completely alike.