My word for '08. The sum of my New Year's resolutions. I need it. I hate it. But I've got to have it. My kids thrive on it.
I find it humorous that God granted me the opportunity to mother three wonderful daughters. But He truly has stretched my earthly abilities in the structure department. I'm a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants kind of gal. But my children need to know the whens and whys and hows before they can even start a project.
So, here's what we are doing as far as school is concerned:
We start MATH at 9am. We've always kind of started at this time, but I've been way to lenient in the past because I'd let them play a little longer in the morning. If they want to play, which they always do, they have to do it before 9am. They also have to have their pencils sharpened and I will not tolerate a bathroom break after this time (my kids love to hang-out in the powder room!)
Now, here's where I'm flexible. They don't have to eat breakfast before we start. We sit at the kitchen table anyway so they can eat it while they are doing math. Besides, dry cheerios or fruit loops make excellent manipulatives for addition and subtraction, don't you think? ;) And muffins are much more enjoyable if they have to buy them from me using what they know about dollars and cents. :)
Then the girls divide. CG reads her Day by Day Bible and writes a summary. M and K review phonics and read out loud to me from their Bible reader. After all of this, M and K, with their short attention span, need a break, so off they go outside to play with BB or explore the woods or find some unidentified bug.
Most of the time CG joins them because I usually need to attend to Micah.
I gather them inside again by bribing them with a snack. M&Ms or freshly-made chocolate chip cookies work best work best, but they'll come for cheese crackers, chex mix or carrots (as long as there is ample ranch dressing available).
I then sit on the couch with K and M to read our book of the week. This week it's Owl Moon by Jane Yolen. Our reading is followed by a corresponding science, social studies or language activity or two. (Once a week we have an art project during this time.) CG sometimes sits with us, sometimes she just updates her blog, checks her email or practices typing. It's up to her really--her official learning time is next. When I'm finished with the twins, I set them up on Starfall or a math drill website.
CG and I sit down and take turns reading her selection for study. This week we began Betsy Ross. We read together for a couple of reasons: 1) to help her read and retain longer passages and 2) to help her develop more enthusiastic character voices while reading. Then we have a few science, language or history projects to complete.
At this point we are officially done with school. Most of the time we finish around lunch time or shortly after. But there's still a lot more to be done: chores, silent reading, free play, errands, etc.
A simple structure with set expections like this still gives me the flexibility that I thrive on. I'll never be able to be structured by the clock, but just knowing a simple start time and an order of events helps greatly.