Sunday, February 23, 2014

School & Sickness

What a crazy few weeks! My family has decided to go out and catch every bug they could and pass it around the past 3-4 weeks. First Big Boy, then Big Girl, myself, the three oldest, my husband, and then Baby Girl! We are still not 100% here, but we are hopefully getting over our last round of this stuff.

School has pretty much been a joke through all of this, but we were able to get some stuff done here and there. Plus, I learned one disadvantage to the set up I have had for the past couple of years.

As I've mentioned several times, we use and love Tapestry of Grace for most of our subjects. I love the approach that they (and several other curricula) take in using with multiple age groups. It makes planning so much easier on me, allows the kids to learn from each other since they are covering the same topics, and helps dad (or the non-teaching parent) to keep up with what is happening in school.

The problem comes when one child gets sick. What then do you do? I could keep going and just have the sick child miss those days but then what happens when new lessons depend on the knowledge gained in the missed lessons. Plus, I could be back to planning separate lessons for each of my children. I could just give everyone the day off of school, but what if said sickness lasts for much longer than anticipated? Now, I'm having to scramble to get all of our allotted days in according to state law. Do I say forget the curriculum and do a separate unit study to pass the time with healthy kids? I could but then the library gets cranky because now all my school books are well past due.

So what did I do these last few weeks when we had pretty much every non-serious bug imaginable hit our house? A bit of a combination of all of the above.

I was blessed by the fact that the Winter Olympics were on when my kids all came down sick - instant unit study! Yay! We did really easy lapbooks (which I'll blog on when get all wrapped up with those), and the kids got the afternoons off to watch the competition. They loved the break from our usual routine and the fact that they got to watch lots of TV!

But then what about all those library books? Well, as I said, the lapbooks we did were super easy and had enough flexibility to be able to get caught up on when said sick child felt better. That allowed for all of the regularly schedule reading to take place on schedule. Sick kids can still hear read-alouds after all, and the healthy kids get out of the regular assignments since we're doing Olympics unit. Plus, I can return those library books on time, so the librarians stay happy with me! Win-win for everyone!

Now I just have to figure out how to convince the kids to happily return to their normal routine of full lessons and assignments. Hmmmm.....thoughts on this one?

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Life Skills Day

One of the great things about homeschooling is that in addition to the academic stuff, my kids really get to learn about life out in the real world, and they do it my living it right alongside me day in and day out!

I'm not the best housekeeper normally, so when you add in the extra duties of homeschooling and consider that my kids are here to help mess up the place all day long, you can probably imagine the task I have ahead of me feels pretty daunting. This really is my biggest weakness as a mom and wife.

So, how do I combat that? Every so often, we take a break from the books and have a "life skills day". The great thing is that it still counts as a school day because it is not just the kids doing their daily chores. I'm spending the day teaching them the skills needed to manage a household. Yes, they are doing chores as part of it, and yes, the advantage for me is that I can get caught up on housework.

For a life skills day, we'd be working on your typical housework, like laundry. Here is what it looks like after Big Girl has emptied the chute. (Yes, we have a laundry chute! Coolest thing ever!)

This is one of her weekly chores, so I don't get to count this as school since she already has the skills to independently complete the task. The plan today is to teach her how to pre-treat stains, so that when I ask her to load the washing machine, she knows to look for stains and how to take care of them when they're found.

Big Boy's task for the day is running the dishwasher. He already handles the silverware tray, while I load everything else. I'm a little OCD when it comes to loading the dishwasher. Today, I'll take a few minutes to show him how to add soap (We use the packets, so no pouring.) and show him all the settings discussing how/why we use each one.

These two tasks won't take up our whole day. We will be doing and learning other tasks under supervision along with the two continuing to work on independent tasks. Baby Boy will practice picking up after himself (something that is a constant battle with my very strong willed little guy).

Here's a quick list of things that are being taught/mastered at the moment:
  • Using the ShopVac to clean the kitchen/laundry room floor
  • Putting away laundry appropriately
  • Cleaning the lint trap on the dryer
  • Bulk cooking (homemade oatmeal packets & breakfast burritos)
I'll be completely honest in saying that while these days are a break from our normal routine, they are in no way easy days. Training my kids in home management is hard, especially since I don't enjoy the work, but it is absolutely necessary.

What life skills are you teaching your children? How do you manage to stay caught up on all those tasks it takes to run a successful home? I'd love to know!