Friday, 21 September 2012

How to Homeschool 4 Children at the Same Time, Part 2

My previous post was about the morning schedule I've devised in order to juggle the homeschooling of my four children, aged 12 to 5.

Now I'm going to look at some afternoon schedules.  One thing to notice is that I have more time with my Year 7 Ambleside Online student, that I've scheduled in some free time for the younger ones, and that we have instituted a new 4 o'clock tea-time session, where we share a pot of hot tea, some cookies, and a low-key learning experience like music appreciation or picture study.

All this is based on the Charlotte Mason method of education, and one which suits my humanities background really well.

First, let me show you the afternoon schedule for my Year 7 student.

Afternoon Schedule for Phoenix
(Ambleside Online Year 7)

One-on-One with Eldest Child

You will see that, after lunch and violin practice (and some chores which I haven't indicated), I spend some time reading with her.  She is someone who has always relished the chance to sit with me and listen to my reading aloud to her, audible learner that she is, so I tried to maintain this connection with her.  It's a lovely time to discuss things that aren't relevant to her younger siblings, which may include issues like whether I believe in Arianism or Athanasius' teachings (a topic that arose from the "Saints and Heroes" reading), or more personal issues like the coming of puberty and what she can expect as she gets older and her body changes (a discussion that came out of studying population control in Singapore).

Any chance to carve out some personal time for the eldest child is a real bonus in a too-busy homeschooling family.

Block 5: CM Live

You may also notice that, after our time together, she has another block on her own, doing something labeled "CM Live".  This is my newest venture into on-line tutoring, or as I like to call it, on-line co-operatives for homeschoolers.

I won't spend too much time on it, but basically, there seemed to be a call amongst AO Yr 7 students to get together to discuss their difficult literary selections like Beowulf and Chaucer and the like, yet to circumvent the issue that they live great distances from their peers.  Thus was born "CM Live".

Have a look to see if it's something for you and your children in the future.  You can be assured that your child is part of an on-line homeschooling community that's safe, stimulating, and scholarly because I'm a teacher who has taught to university-level in the past.  

Phoenix has three sessions in a week to work on CM Live because it involves reading a primary text, two secondary texts, an optional novel, and writing some narrations in the on-line environment, as well as keeping in touch socially with the other 18 students in her class. It's amazing to be able to interact with people all over the world, and though she's in England, she's making fast friends in Texas, Alabama, Massachusetts, and even Germany.

Block 6: Tea-Time Slot

Finally, she finishes her school day with the family-friendly wind-down time of hot tea and cookies, and painting flowers or listening to music or studying a Renoir painting.  Something together, and low-key.  The kids are enjoying this so much that they are keen to boil the kettle, pour the tea, set out the cups and milk and biscuits.  I can see they have really taken a liking to the routine, and are missing it the days when we cannot attend because something else has interrupted it, no matter how cool a field trip, or how special the friendship of someone who drops by.

Child Number 2

Now here's a glance at my second child's afternoon schedule:

Killer's afternoon schedule,
(approximately AO Yr 5)
Unlike Phoenix, Killer has only a half-hour slot with Mom in the afternoon, to read a variety of rock-solid medieval-based stories to go along with our history focus on Our Island Story.

Children number 3 and 4

Finally, the afternoon schedule of the youngest two.  Currently, I'm reading "Seabiscuit" to them after lunch, and then they are free to do as they like (whether it be their daily ration of computer games, playing outside, filming themselves on the camcorder, making good use of their toys, or whatever else they may choose -- today it was trying to shoot bubbles with the hose-gun, resulting in the sudden need for a hot bath).

Rocky and Timmy's afternoon schedule
(Ambleside Online Yr 2)
Again, you can see we finish the school day with our Block 6, Tea Time.

Free Reading

The last thing I'll say is that each student has a list of free reading to choose from.  For the younger two, that means books I read to them after lunch.  I haven't yet made the transition to reading on their own yet, though I'm sure that will be coming this year some time, particularly in the case of Rocky who's nearly 8.

The schedules aren't rigidly adhered to, but a useful guide, and just by using them over the past two weeks or so, I have noticed a vigorous attention to purpose, and a satisfaction that comes with being productive in our studies.

Phoenix was nearly in tears on Day One when she saw these multi-coloured charts, but within a day or two, she was singing their praises.

"I like the feeling that I'm getting so much done," she said. "And it's fun."

High praise indeed!

1 comment:

  1. I'm glad I found you...I'm a fellow AOer! And I'm following you now!


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