The One Where I Actually Answer Your Questions

I really do read the comments. I don’t always respond to them and that makes me a bad blogger. Sometimes comments don’t really need response – it can become rather circular, you know with the blogger saying something and someone commenting with, “Great idea! I think I’ll try that!” And the blogger commenting with, “So glad to hear you are going to give it a shot!” And the commenter saying, “Yep – I’m glad too. Thanks again!” And the blogger saying, “Sure thing, thanks thanks thanks!” And the commenter… okay, I’m becoming stupid now.

But anyway, the whole point of this was to say that sometimes I actually do get some comments here. And sometimes those comments are questions. Questions that need answers. Answers I may or may not be able to provide. I’m either going to or not going to provide those answers right now.

The post in question is the very long boring homeschool post I wrote the other day in which a few of you came out and claimed it wasn’t. That was kind of you. After writing that post, Craig said, “That’s the kind you write best.” And I said, “What, long and boring homeschool posts?” I don’t think that’s what he meant, so I’ll take it for the compliment he meant it to be. I’m so good at word twisting, don’t you see?

Anyway, will I get to the point?

The first question came from Catherine in Australia (Hi, Catherine!):

So how DO you get your chores done as well as homeschool? I really want to know that, because I can’t even imagine how that can happen. I can’t get mine done even without homeschooling!
I thought I’d answer this one with pictures to show how far I’ve come in this area. One of my daily chores is to clear off the dining room table AND the adjoining round table next to it twice each day. Here it is now, 10:26pm. Check my progress:

IMG_0440.JPG

Oh, guess what I’ve been doing for the past 45 minutes? Clipping coupons, making a Walgreens list for tomorrow, paying a bill to our own personal electrician, writing a blog post, all those really important list shattering activities.

Another one of my daily chores is to clear off the kitchen counters (remember, I have trouble with flat surfaces):

Kitchen

And here we see I went to Penzey’s today. And spoon fed Craig some Nyquil yesterday. And never unpacked the remains of a picnic lunch, still in that Whole Foods bag. That’s what that bag means, you know – you keep whole foods in there for days at a time. Plastic plates too.

And the point of all that is to say this – nothing is perfect. The trick for me is to come up with an effective system and keep trying with it. My new system is mostly working, but we have my parents in town this week which has changed the schedule completely. We’re glad they are here. It also just means the routine is off. I’m still convinced the routine I set last week will work for us, though, so next week we will jump back in where we left off. And if all else fails, try the FlyLady. I hear she works for some people. I know she doesn’t work for me. *sheepish grin*
Next, from Jennifer:

We are gone middle of the day on Tuesday and Thursday this year for classes the girls take and so far aren’t getting much other schooling done those days and it’s killing me.

So tell me, in the individual work time, how are you doing the teaching of math, spelling, and English? How do you work those? I am really struggling with the independent school times…

This is actually one of the very reasons we really scaled back what we’re doing outside our home this year. The exceptions to this include our Classical Conversations Foundations class which meets on Monday mornings and the Classical Conversations Essentials class which meets on Wednesday afternoons. My temptation for days like that has always been to let those other events stand alone as school on those days, but I simply can’t do that this year. I mapped out the things I considered to be the daily non-negotiables for those days and make sure we get them done. On Mondays, it is one hour of Sonlight reading and one hour of grammar and writing. On Wednesdays it is pretty much a full school day compacted into the morning before the Essentials class meets. If I let it slide, we get too far behind.

For math we’re using Math-U-See again. I never thought I’d be a mom who let a video teach her kids, but I’m doing that for math. Steve Demme gives the lessons, and I follow up after they’ve started their work to see if they understand it or have any questions. This is working well for us this year.

For spelling we’re using Spelling Workout books. This is partly on their own, partly with me – I give them the pretests and post tests and guide them through the instructions of the daily exercises. But they do the exercises on their own.

English grammar is being handled two ways – for Maddie and Chloe, they are both in the Classical Conversations Essentials class this year. This isn’t something they do on their own, but something I spend a dedicated hour each day with them on. As we’re still at the beginning of the year on that (third class meets tomorrow), and I don’t know that program very well yet, I’m also doing First Language Lessons and Writing With Ease with them. I love, love, love the new First Language Lessons level 3 and am very sad that level 4 has been delayed in the shipping. Writing With Ease is wonderful too, but again, I’m sad that the workbooks for levels 2-4 have not been released yet. It is possible to do these without the student workbooks, but having used the student workbook for level 1, I really want the other workbooks! Now!!

So, in a nutshell, here’s the grammar story for each kid:
Millie, 4- Ordinary Parent’s Guide to Teaching Reading by Jessie Wise and Sara Buffington, Get Ready, Get Set, and Go for the Code!

Katie, 6 – Ordinary Parent’s Guide to Teaching Reading (review when E4 does her lesson), Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons, Getty & Dubay Handwriting B, Spelling Workout A, First Language Lessons Level 1, Writing With Ease Level 1

Chloe, 8 – Explode the Code 8, Spelling Workout C, Getty & Dubay Handwriting, First Language Lessons Level 3, Writing With Ease Level 2 (sometimes – really want that workbook!), CC Essentials

Maddie, 9 – Spelling Workout D, Getty & Dubay Handwriting, First Language Lessons Level 4 (using the sample pages right now, really want that workbook to arrive!), Writing With Ease Level 4 (sometimes – still really want that workbook!), CC Essentials

Okay, so that’s really the what. Here’s the how. There are certain things we simply have to do all together. Sonlight reading and CC review, science and art. Everything I’m having them do on an individual level is what I call individual work. They know the things they can do with very minimal instruction from me and they begin doing those things during the times I’ve slated for individual work time, but it doesn’t mean they are entirely on their own for that hour. Individual time also means time for me to work with each girl individually.

I don’t know if that’s helped or just raised more questions. Feel free to ask again. I’ll try to answer before the next school year.

Now then, a post or two before that someone asked for a recipe. I remember seeing that and I will try to remember to post that later this week. It might or might not be buried under that blank map of the United States on my table right now…

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6 thoughts on “The One Where I Actually Answer Your Questions

  1. Kara Tippetts says:

    Love it! I do love these. It’s my first year, and I’m feeling like such a failure. I see what you are doing, and I’m pretty close. I bought Ordinary…..you know, but I haven’t gotten going. I think I’m going to break down and buy the cards. Thank you. My life is far from perfect these days. I needed to hear from the voice of normal, but attempting the remarkable. I appreciate you Megan.

    Like

  2. Marcie says:

    Can K6 and E4 really do their work independently for an hour? My J6 needs continual redirection to do his work–even if it is copy work. Part of that is making me wonder about attention problems for him.

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  3. Megan says:

    Not really – I’m not using the individual time to mean independent work for them as much. During the individual time I’m primarily working individually with each girl with whatever she’s doing. This usually looks like this – getting the olders going on their math video/assignments and then turning to the youngers and working with them. E4 and K6 get the reading lessons at the same time, so they hear each other’s lessons. E4 can’t do her Code books alone, so I either give her instruction or ask a sister to do that. K6 needs me to do the Language Lessons with her, but she can do her Code books by herself with frequent instruction. She also does handwriting by herself and can do math alone too.
    This is the way it has to be for us since I’m teaching 4 at once. I wouldn’t expect J to do much on his own at all for the simple reason that he’s the oldest and hasn’t seen this modeled before, he’s a boy who is going to require more direct supervision over the work, and he’s still young and needs most things read to him.
    Hope that helps!

    Like

  4. Catherine says:

    Megan, thanks so much for taking the time to answer that question. Your photos were a real encouragement. I am glad someone else has benches that look like that at the end of the day! I’ve just got my house back now I like it to be after working solidly since dinner, and it’s now 10pm.
    “I needed to hear from the voice of normal, but attempting the remarkable. I appreciate you Megan” – so says another of your readers. I couldn’t have said it better.

    Like

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