Well, we're starting the second week of homeschooling, and so far...it has been alright. I am not on top of things as much as I'd like, but we're getting there, and we have established at least a few basic school routines. We have started a daily Circle Time in the morning, after we all get dressed, clean up the upstairs, do hair, have breakfast, and brush teeth (in that order). I wanted to have them all up by 7 to get started on the day, and that has been working fairly well, as they've been up by 6:30 on many days! (I'm not quite ready for them then).
Circle Time the first two days consisted of my trying to teach them a song and a poem, and a short prayer time...it was mostly a flop. Janie wanted to sit RIGHT next to me, but then also move around a whole lot. She was also very noisy, and yet wanted to participate and wasn't interested in playing by herself! Lucy was mostly bored and didn't want to sing, and Gene was mostly interested but annoyed by the girls. So, after this same thing the second morning (while also dealing with a potty accident on the kitchen floor and a 2 year old slipping and falling on her back in it!) I was a little frustrated! But after thinking for a while, I came up with this:
New and Revised Circle Time-
Pray decade of rosary (everyone picked their Rosaries ahead of time, and we'll keep them without trading for at least a month...last year there were a lot of tears over Rosaries!)
Pray a short prayer for each person in our "close extended" family- immediate family, grandparents, aunts and uncles (only those who aren't married in) and the priests we know by name. We put the name of each person on a popsicle stick, and we divide them up and each pray for a few each morning. I hope to add "married in's", cousins, friends and special intentions, but we are starting with these.
Work on filling in our "Songs We Know" notebook. I thought an incentive for learning a new song would be being able to write it down. So, we have a list of songs we're working on, and the kids and I brainstormed and came up with a few that we all know ("know" meaning know ALL the words). It was really fun, because they were actually trying, and realizing which songs we all knew was enlightening. Janie knew all the words to Take Me Out to the Ballgame, and a few others. But mostly we count just myself and the 2 big kids.
Work on filling in our "Poems We Know" notebook. I asked them the first day of our new routine what poems they knew, and there were blank stares! So, we started learning A Little Shadow (don't know who wrote it). I taught them the first line, and once they could recite it a couple times, I wrote it down. We're up to four lines now, and it is fun to do it all together. And again, the notebook is a good incentive. It's not just Mama wanting them to learn a poem, it's learning a poem together so we can write it down and say we know it. Much better!
Then, I read a Bible story from my Bible. I decided to do this instead of reading from their Children's Bibles, though we haven't put those away, it's just that they know the basic stories and I want to introduce them to the language of the Bible. However, we haven't quite figured this out yet. Gene is interested, and wants to sit next to me and follow along with the story. Lucy and Janie want to be there, to "see" but can't sit still, can't stop touching the Bible or each other, and can't BE QUIET. I may just start reading to him during quiet time...at least he appreciates it!
That's the routine. I decided to try and stick with it for a few weeks before changing anything, to wait till they get adjusted. I think I usually try to change my mind too soon on things, and the kids get confused about what we're doing.
As for other schoolwork, Gene has a chart of things to work on every day, and a few things to work on for each week. Daily- writing, math, art and spelling test. Spelling is a favorite (we're doing it phonetically so he learns a few spelling rules and can spell many, many words). And art is becoming so. I gave each of the kids a "story book" and they dictate a story to me and draw pictures. The art part comes in here, with the illustrations. Gene hasn't drawn much before this year, and now I'm strongly encouraging him to draw people, animals and whatever else from his stories. It's going well, and he's quickly building his confidence. For writing, it counts for now that he dictates a story (yesterday he dictated 4 pages double spaced) and we'll soon move into journal and letter writing.
I'll keep this updated as much as possible. We're just getting our bearings again:)