Not the best, most productive day of the week because apparently, those two out-of-the-routine weekend days throw my child wildly off course. When I reveal the first order of business for school on Monday morning, I am usually greeted with angst. It's the same reaction every week. Now that I recognize the pattern, what to do about it? Not sure. He thrives on routine; I'm more of the by-the-seat-of-your-pants kind of mom, so each day is different in my world. I let my moods and ambitions drive me and have never been able to stick to much of a routine. Weekends are generally carefree affairs where we go with the flow as a family and don't really plan things. We eat when we are hungry, sleep when we are tired - that kind of mentality. Mondays are the days when we become painfully aware of my inability to be disciplined with time-management and keep the days consistent. Monday is also the day when I secretly believe that I can change and that I CAN master the art of routine - I can do this! I can keep it together more or less for about five days, but even by Thursday I'm beginning to slip. Max would rather that I were more structured and predictable, I think. Will keep working on that. We always should have things to work on about ourselves.........and sticking to a routine is my monster to tame.
So......here's what Mondays usually look like as far as homeschooling subjects:
Grammar is a decent subject in Max's mind and he rather likes it. He's good at it, too. We usually start out with two sheets of Daily Grams - short and sweet daily reviews of capitalization, punctuation, grammar concepts and all kinds of nifty stuff. It's subtly repetitive, meaning once you learn a concept, it get's inserted into work that you'll tackle a few days down the line, so you're always solidifying what you learn. It gradually builds in its difficulty level and I think it is spot-on appropriate for his level of understanding at this point. I like it, too - it has helped remind me of all the details I used to be a whiz at out of Strunk and White. Big fan of Daily Grams. There is a teacher's manual that you can purchase, but you can have success just looking up terms on the Internet and helping your child over humps that way.
We did a unit on money at the beginning of the year and decided to expand upon the topic of money. Why not start teaching him real-world applications? I set him up with a mock checking account and a register that was made in Excel with really big spaces so he has plenty of room to write; he has another register to keep track of savings, and he has a credit card with a limit of $20 with simple interest of 5%. Each Monday he collects his allowance (payday) and has to figure out what to do with it. He can do extra chores to earn extra money, but has thus far avoided that opportunity. A minimum set amount has to be deposited into his savings account and he has to take care of any unpaid credit card bills along with the added interest. He does the math and by now has begun to realize that using his credit card on impulse purchases is not working out so well for his checking account (hooray!) If he learns nothing else all year, this realization is golden! At any rate, it causes him to stop and think before he decides to spend on something. I really try to take a natural consequences approach with this one - let him make choices and then........face the credit card bill.
Next comes the spelling and vocabulary words for the week, usually numbering from 15-20 words. These are taken from whatever unit study we happen to be focusing on. Some are challenging, some are a lot easier. He has a spelling notebook in which he writes down the new words. One week I let him choose his spelling words - words which he mastered the first day because they were too easy! I'm back in charge again, but will occasionally do that and let him make some decisions.
Whatever geography we'll be working on for the week gets introduced on Mondays too. I put up several large maps running down a hallway, so we'll go take a look at those or use blackline maps or the Brown Paper School book about geography (which is grand, by the way.)
Math - please see my post about a Living Math approach ('Heading Math-Induced Whining off at the Pass'). On Mondays we'll do some reading about math. No math worksheets, though.
History is covered in a unit study format, so it's broad and enjoyable. Whatever we might be in the mood for, be it a DVD, a site on the Internet, a library book or two or a game - Mondays always have a history component.
The day gets topped off with reading, either Max reading to himself or me reading aloud. He is reading the Harry Potter series and will get lost in that, or together we are reading a novel from the library that is specific to whatever unit study we're working on at the time. We've been able to cover about a book a week with me reading aloud.
Back into the rhythm by today, thank goodness. Tuesdays are always smoother than Mondays. We start out with Daily Grams, practice spelling words and go over definitions. Maybe a short stint with the cursive writing practice book.
In math I'm using a 'Living Math' approach which is one of the best decisions I've made thus far in our homeschooling curriculum. It is with a great sense of relief that I've been able to introduce Max to math concepts without frustration or force. We are reading books - lots of them. Math adventures, books about a cat named Penrose whose mistress is a mathematician, books by Marilyn Burns and her team that are engaging and royally entertaining, and others. Today we learned about the Pythagorean theorem and who conceived it and practiced Roman numerals up to 1,000. We play math games, do logic puzzles, or.....read!
Tuesdays and Thursdays are science days. Meaning we are either working from a kit, reading about a concept, or trying an experiment. Science is the area that needs more fine tuning, but it will get there. I am probably going to utilize Science Jim as a resource (see http://www.sciencejim.com/). He has video classes and workbooks that are organized around science and physics topics - he seems to be a lot more pulled together than I am when it comes to a homeschool science program, and he is a funny guy, which is a big plus. He likes to incorporate silly into his webclasses. I've downloaded his workbook on forces, but have not yet cracked it open. In January we will likely be joining a science co-op and will work with other families to teach science. For now I'm kind of shooting from the hip and listening to Max's interests.
This is the writing program I chose for this year. You can find it by clicking on the book - it's available at Currclick.com (which stands for Curriculum in a Click). So far it's been a good program. It's not boring drill work - it gets you thinking and imagining. There are three levels you can work under - startup, intermediate or advanced writer. Tuesdays are the day wherein writing is concentrated on. During other days Max might send an email to a friend or write a letter to his cousin or write down some thoughts about a book he's reading. Not structured writing. The best part is this is a downloadable program in PDF format, so you don't need to wait for the book to arrive in the mail. And it's super cheap!
By order of the homeschooling authority (um, that's me), Wednesdays have been declared FUN DAY!!!!!! This is Max's favorite day of the week. ArT, PaIntInG, fIeLD tRiPS, FrEE PlaY, ReADiNg, wAlKS, - whatever we are in the mood for. Trips to the zoo, to museums. Computer games that have at least some educational merit. We still practice spelling and do the Daily Grams, just out of habit. On Wednesday nights Max takes karate lessons at a studio just up the street. In the afternoon he either has a friend over or heads over to a friend's house for several hours - to get away from MOM! We spend an awful lot of time together :).
More math, science, literature, spelling, grammar and history. Drum lessons and another karate class round out the day.
First thing he gets a review of the week's work. It's non-intimidating and I try to provide silly multiple choice options for him to pick from, or creative/thoughtful ways to see whether he understands something we worked on. A spelling test and then vocabulary words are usually provided in a cross-word puzzle format. This way he has to spell the words correctly TWICE (once on the spelling test and again in the puzzle). Isn't that sneaky? So far he hasn't noticed what I'm doing. Plus I'll throw in questions about math concepts or what we might have learned in history or geography. It serves to pull the week together and let him see how much he picked up over the course of four days. Daily Grams, more math, literature and history usually round out the week. On Saturdays and Sundays we generally don't do any school work, unless he can't stand to wait to find out what happens in a book - then we'll read or watch a DVD pertinent to the unit study. As mentioned, these two free days serve to send him into a tail spin on Monday mornings. Argh.
That's the week, so far. I imagine it will morph as time goes by. We are already ten weeks into this school year and I can scarcely believe that much time has gone by already. I guess this must be working? I think it is!
I don't wig out if we have a slack day and don't get much accomplished. If that's the case, we'll incorporate some work into Saturday and Sunday to even it out.