What a fascinating thing to watch a child learn to read. I doubt there is anything more engaging than walking beside a child who is sorting out the sounds and the letters that make up their language and begin to unlock the mystery of the written word.
I have a passive and informal approach when it comes to teaching reading. Teaching anything. While unschool purists would be unlikely to have me in their camp, I would probably fit nicely into a camp of let’s-do-some-sit-down-work-daily-and-keep-it-short-and-fun-and-see-how-everything-unfolds-in-its-own-lovely-way. Formal curriculum finds its way late into the life of my children. In fact, not usually until they start asking for it.
Many homeschoolers that I know love the planning out the year process and experience joy in hammering out the day to day and week to week details. I do not enjoy that. So I don’t actually do it. I have a big picture idea of what I’d like to accomplish, and then a Let’s See Where This Takes Us approach.
While this may seem a little too laissez faire to others, it seems to be working out in our personal Great Experiment. I like not knowing.
Now all this said, I don’t operate using A Plan, I do operate using A Method. I find myself always looking for ways to improve the method. So the method has gone through some changes, adjustments, allowances and addenda over the years, trying to work with the varying ages, strengths and personalities of the children involved. But overall, it has remained a remarkably stable entity, this method.
So what does the typical day of educating my kids look like in my house?
- We get up, get dressed except sometimes the little people who don’t want to.
- Usually around 8 30 we make a morning offering and have breakfast.
- While the kids eat, I read to them. And usually I have Three Sisters coffee by Kicking Horse. It’s yummy. And it makes me want to read longer. If the kids really, really want me to read longer, they offer to massage my back. I am a sucker for that.
- Then we take five minutes to tidy up the table/kitchen area together. Everybody does one small job, like unload half a dishwasher, clear and wipe the table, sweep underneath the table, clear the island, put the food away. The more kids you have, the smaller the jobs can be. That is why having lots of kids is such a great idea.
- Then I usually throw a load of laundry in.
- Then I start sit down work, youngest to oldest. The older ones do the things they can do on their own, such as music and reading and barn chores. Or helping me by entertaining toddlers.
- Sit down work is the biggest variable in the Great Experiment equation. The average five year old can do sit down work for three minutes to two hours. I would say, on average, I spend about one hour of sit down time with kids until they get to high school age. What? You say, how can that be? Well. It has become clear to me after homeschooling all these kids, that the younger they are, the more I am right beside them for everything they do. As they become more independent learners, however, I just hang about, making myself available to them if necessary. But they then usually have a greater workload. They have the capacity to work longer in more areas, but they do not require my commentary, guidance or direction as much.
- So the upshot of all that is that I am usually done by around noon. And sometimes an hour or so after lunch.
- Then it is lunch time, and I read to them again. When do I eat, most people ask. Well sometimes I just fast. Sometimes I eat around 10:30, kind of a brunch thingy because that is when I feel like eating. Or I have something before I read. And if I have been pregnant, I eat pretty much the entire day, except when I take a short break to read to the children or breathe.
- Then we do another tidy up after lunch.
- Afternoons are spent doing fun things or projects or laundry. I devote some time every afternoon to working for short periods on various aspects of housework and in the nice weather I spend a great deal of time in the garden. The high school age kids usually still have some formal education to gain, so I am around to help them with writing or biology or not help them with algebra.
- Then we have dinner when Daddy gets home.
- Then we do a variety of things in the evening including, but not limited to, soccer practices, catechism, date nights, gym night and movies or nothing at all but hanging out.
- Then we do bed time. Which I have dealt with in another post which I will share with you here.