This year's official Not-Back-to-School photo, taken on our morning walk. After I took it, J said "Ok, now I'm excited about getting back to schoolwork!" I guess it's just not official until you pose for a photo!
Well, we're off and running! Or, actually, it's a bit more like a crawl. It's much better to ease into the school routine again rather than drop it on the kids like a bomb (especially for Zoo Boy who is not entirely convinced that summer should be coming to a close).
I've had a lot of questions from family, friends, and readers about how I manage to fit everything that we do into our day. I sort of approach the day in a series of "blocks".
First there is the early morning wake-up and breakfast block, which is from about 6:00am (when I get up, and when The Map Man leaves for work) until about 9:00 am (at which point we're all fed and dressed). During that block we arise, I take care of morning farm chores, and J gets up and gets going with his Sensory Integration work. While he's finishing that up, I get Zoo Boy up and moving, and after he's adjusted to being awake and present with us, I get him working on his SI work (as seen above) while I cook breakfast and get it on the table. Then we eat and the boys get dressed while I sneak a quick peek at my email if I haven't already found a minute to do that. That wraps up our early morning block.
We start our next block, the "schoolwork block" which last from about 9:00 to noon, by going for our morning walk, which also constitutes a large portion of our science program, in addition to providing some much-appreciated exercise. There's always something to discover. Today we found out that our vernal frog pool has gone completely dry (inspiring an interesting discussion about what happened to the frogs), we found a hawk feather (then heard a red-shouldered hawk calling nearby as we debated over what sort of bird it was from), and stopped to watch some tiny ants working together on the stalk of a plank as they chewed off a bit of leaf and carried it away to their nest.
When we get home from our walk, we do a spin-and-fold type activity to sort of ground all that exercise in our bodies. This fall, I'm singing a seasonal song called "Leaf Journey," modifying the words a bit so that it goes along with the actions the boys are doing -- they spin down the hall, then come back hopping, rolling, and crawling, depending on the verse. Then we finish out our movement portion of the schoolwork block by doing a cultural dance -- for this first two weeks we're working with the song "Go In and Out the Window" and doing a weaving sort of folk dance. (This is from the Enki Education Grade 2 cultural activities.)
We then move to our seat work. Since Tuesdays is the start of our curriculum work for the week, it's Journals day, so the boys work on an entry in their journals. The rest of the week, this time will be spent recalling the previous day's story, composing a summary of the story (which I'll write on a large pad of newsprint and post for us all to see), and drawing a picture from the story. (This is J's journal entry from today.)
(Here's Zoo Boy's journal entry. He's planning to continue it next week on the next page.)
Then we have a snack, and then, the rest of the week, we'll move on to writing out the summaries and doing math practice work. Today we just did the practice work, both boys had a math worksheet to fill out. They both really enjoy doing worksheets, and these were particularly easy since they were just review work. So they were done much quicker today than they will be in the future.
The last part of our schoolwork block is reading a new story and then the kids get to play for an hour or more, depending on how fast they got through the rest of the work. We're starting an African American cultural block, so we're reading trickster tales from that culture, which are the Uncle Remus stories. The boys have never heard stories about Brer Rabbit and Brer Fox before, and they were absolutely delighted by today's story. They immediately began acting the story out when I was finished telling it, transitioning very nicely into their play time.
Since we had such an easy schedule today, the boys had plenty of time to both play, and to do some reading, before we broke for lunch. Our afternoon activity block consists of classes and activities outside of our home, so the kids are resting in the car on the way to our afternoon location. Tuesdays they've got OT (Occupational Therapy), which we'll be leaving for shortly. Wednesdays we're checking out a new local homeschool group which has activities and field trips schedule all year. Thursdays it's Spanish class. And Fridays is gym class. We wrap up our afternoon activity block, which lasts from about 1:00 until about 4:00 by heading home, eating snack, and doing our evening farm chores together.
Then there's one more block -- the evening activities block, which lasts anywhere from about 4:00 on some days until bedtime on others. For Zoo Boy this is mostly just a free time to do whatever he wants, but for J it's dance classes and other organized activities. Mondays is Jazz class, Wednesdays is cooking the evening family meal, Thursdays is Modern Dance, Fridays is Ballet, Saturdays is Family Movie Night, and Sundays is Chorus.
In addition to the above, Saturday is a dance day (so more free time for Zoo Boy), Sunday is Family Day, and Monday is Homeschool Classes (our co-op day).
And that's how the fall will be going for us, in a nutshell! Not everything is starting this week, which is nice -- the start dates are all staggered so we won't have a full schedule until the last week of September. That will help ease us all into our new fall schedule, and help us really get back into the swing of things!