Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Homeschooling in a Three Ring Circus

Kendra at Catholic All Year has a fun post entitled "Homeschooling: One Room Schoolhouse Meets Three Ring Circus" in which she shares a little bit about her homeschooling approach.  She also has a link-up for others of us to share what a day of homeschooling looks like in our home.  I've found one that I wrote in 2008, but I think it's time for an update!

So to help me get back into blogging more than weekly, and to have some fun on an always-manic Monday, I decided to document our day with my iPhone and join her link-up.  Our life definitely feels more "Three Ring Circus" than "One Room Schoolhouse."  See for yourself...

7:40am--Oldest comes in wondering why Daddy hasn't left for work.  He had a dentist appointment at 9am, so I had some company while getting the day started.  Nice!

7:50--I decide to go ahead and take a shower while he was here, although I probably should've made him a nice breakfast.  Everyone just found food for themselves, so most of the kids ate graham crackers and milk for breakfast.  Oh well.

8:30--I am slow moving in the morning, but I also have a potty-training toddler, and get very easily distracted with things like a load of laundry.  So I finally got dressed, as you can see here...

And then I think this was when we were sitting on the couch reading a few bible stories.  We're really enjoying the "Jesus Storybook Bible" these days.

Almost everyone is dressed, except the princess here who wanted her picture taken...
I am slow-moving, but Ellie is sloooooow-moving.

9:00am--I am ready to print their homeschool checklists and start getting them to work!  Except the computer is threatening that Microsoft Word won't work anymore (our 30-day trial in '06 is over, it says).  I guess it was just a glitch, and I finally open up Word and print the checklists!  Hooray!  Last week our computer crashed, so we didn't have checklists.  They keep us on track, so I am grateful to have the checklists for them again this week.

And to share a bit of why I get distracted.  You can see why my husband has been asking for a closet clean-out for awhile now.  I am trying my hardest to not be jealous of Kendra's 5-morning-a-week housekeeper.  I'm quite sure I would be a truly sane woman if we could afford something like that, but housekeepers here run $100/DAY!

I can get the clothes washed, but NEVER all put away.  And now we have a tiny laundry room, so it becomes a problem.  This was before another load was finished.  And this is all clean laundry.

Okay, so back to school.  Steven Joseph gets started on his writing with this fun new Crayola Dry Erase board.

I think this was before they started fighting over the dry erase board and Thomas decided to color on the couch with the marker.  See?  The Three Ring Circus begins!

We turn on the Memory Work CD (for our Classically Catholic Memory co-op) for all the kids to practice.  It's a new morning routine that I hope will stick.

And here it looks like Steven is listening to the CD while Mary Clare and Thomas are starting on their work in the schoolroom!  (Thomas will draw for 1 minute and then say, "I finished my schoolwork!  Can I watch a movie now?")  Ellie of course is nowhere to be found because I sent her to get dressed and her room is like a black hole.

Ah yes, my friend the Baby Bjorn potty.  This is an all-day distraction, because each time I have to come and dump it and give Tommy a Skittle for his success.  I will say that the candy is working and he stayed dry ALL DAY!  Oh and this is the best kid potty ever; the only one we've tried that is easy to clean!

Graham crackers and strawberries.  Not sure if this was breakfast or a snack.  But he is not screaming and is sitting in a chair, so that's good.

9:30--Make toast for myself and then sit with Ellie to read her History.
9:40--Mary Clare finds my burnt toast.  I try again and burn it again, then finally make one that isn't totally burned.
10:00--I finally eat breakfast.  If you'd call it that.

More Three Ring Circus.  Boys wrestling.

Steven Joseph reads a BOB book to me.

Thomas was first screaming because he wanted to turn off their memory work CD.  Then he wanted to get into the girls' dollhouse closet.  Nothing would appease him, until I let him watch a movie.  Pushover.

10:30--SJ and his phonics.  He requires quite a bit of one-on-one, and it's best if I take the time with him first while the girls do their independent workbooks.  Then I work with them late morning and early afternoon.  We do SJ's reading lesson and he sobs about not being able to cut out leaves to paste on his letter page.  We skip that activity.  Ellie had some kind of fit around this time too, but I can't remember what it was about.  Mary Clare's fits were saved until Tuesday.  Don't you all want to homeschool now???

11:00--SJ finishes all his work and I let him watch Netflix with Thomas.

And I escape to the bathroom to curl my hair and put on some jeans instead of cut-off capris.  Bathroom still a wreck here, but I tidy that up next.

12:30--We eat a "healthy" lunch of chicken nuggets and a baked potato for me.  Yep.
Then Daddy arrives unexpectedly for about 20 minutes to get his computer.  That's always a nice pick-me-up.
1:00--I take a little break with some ice cream and Words With Friends (Scrabble) on my iPhone. 

2:00--After lunch and some break time, we move onto Spelling for the girls.

Ellie is still out of sorts and is trying to do a workbook under the table.

Tommy puts on shin guards and cowboy boots to play outside (yeah, he has no pants...much easier to just have him in underwear with the whole potty training thing).

3:00--I tell the boys they can have ice cream if they play out in the backyard for 30 minutes while I finish working with the girls.  Here he is with his reward!  (Reminder--don't let 5yr old serve his own ice cream; that's a big bowl!)

3:45--The girls have finished all their necessary work (some subjects are only done 2-3 times a week, so they can be saved for another day).  I freshen up to get ready for ballet.  It's nice to have something in the afternoons to get dressed for, and some other moms to talk to.  It's getting increasingly hard to dress these days.  Belly is getting bigger here at 18 weeks, and most of my fall/winter maternity clothes are for a full-term mom (my winter babies were born in December).  These are regular jeans with a belly band, and my stomach hurt when I took them off at night.

A pretty bun for Ellie.  Now she's all smiles!  Ballet is much more fun than schoolwork.

4:25--Arrive at ballet.  The big kids all run inside while Thomas waits for me to carry him.  He is always so tired when we arrive.  But no naps for the weary!  If he naps, he'll be awake until midnight.

Ellie's class is 45 minutes, and Mary Clare's follows for an hour.  Daddy picks up the boys on his way home, so the last 30 minutes I get to visit without worrying about the boys fighting over toys or my phone.  Mary Clare is on the far right in the picture below.  I'm so glad we're now at a studio where I can watch them dance!

6:30--The girls and I arrive home to find the boys outside riding bikes.

Relaxing in the front yard.

I am way too wiped out to make dinner, so we're considering going out for Mexican food. Thomas is not interested.  He just wants to ride his bike and take a bath with his 4-wheeler toy.  This should have been the sign to go and get take-out and keep the kids at home, but we're gluttons for punishment, so....

7:15--Off we go to the Mexican restaurant, once again bribing Thomas with a movie on my iPhone.  I really don't like to be "one of THOSE moms" who lets her kids on electronics all the time.  But this kid is giving us a run for our money.  He just turned 3, and his fits can turn our days upside-down.  He's still kind of left out of a lot of the big kids' play, and of course they are busy with schoolwork, so he doesn't really know how to play by himself for more than 5-10 minutes at a time.  I'm hoping we're out of this stage before the baby arrives!

The kids were loud and antsy during dinner; a sit-down restaurant probably wasn't the best choice.  Especially when we're put in a 4-person booth.  But we had a lot of leftovers for lunch, so that was good! 

My favorite thing after a long day...a good soak in the tub.  I think I was soaking for over an hour, hence the wrinkled toes.

So yes, it's a circus.  Yes, it's demanding and exhausting.  Yes, we often think we must be insane for having all these children and homeschooling.  But yes, we'd do it again.  Yes, it's very rewarding.  As I look out my back window at 5:30 in the evening and see all the kids playing together in the backyard, my heart is filled with gratefulness at these amazing gifts.  Each of these precious souls cannot be replaced.  The effort it takes to educate, form, and raise them is a sacrifice that is well worth the sweat and tears, and I know one day we will be able to look back and say that this crazy circus was all worth it.


Unknown said...

This was beyond wonderful!! Thank you for keeping it real.

Kendra Tierney said...

Thanks for linking up! I do love a soak at the end of the day . . .

Kiley said...

Love it Blair! Your 3 Ring Circus is just perfect :-)

Anonymous said...

I can so relate to the laundry everywhere!!

Kristen said...

That was great! Thanks for sharing. ;) And I find myself thinking the same thing about Anastasia...hoping she gets a little easier before our new one arrives. She is quite a handful too!

Rebekah Es said...

You are an amazing mom, Blair! Glad to see you back on here more regularly, too.

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