We are two and a half weeks into our school year and we have settled nicely into our routine. We quickly figured out what doesn’t work, like the math book I mistakenly ordered in the wrong level for my 7 year old so that when we sat down to do it on the first day we realized it was way too hard and ended up spending two weeks working on “Calculadder” drills and flashcards as we waited for the correct book to show up in the mail. And the shelves I had so carefully set up but had to re-organize a few times to make room for the bin of math manipulatives, which had been housed in the hall closet but really needed to be close at hand, and the plastic office organizer that had to be added to hold all our loose leaf paper so it wouldn’t get wrinkled and ruined just sitting on the shelf. And, we have figured out what does work- the older kids love the Apologia Science (by Jeannie Fulbright) I ordered on “swimming creatures of the fifth day” and the younger kids love the Five in a Row (by Jane Claire Lambert) books and lessons which always include story time followed by fun activities. I have figured out that by starting with something relatively easy (after our morning prayers, of course), like hand writing and story time then moving into math while it is still early in our school day the lessons progress smoothly. But, after doing kindergarten, second grade, fourth grade, and sixth grade math in very quick succession I have also discovered that my brain is completely overloaded and I feel mentally fried by 10:30 am most days. And so, with endless streams of numbers floating through my head and a complete and total inability to think clearly without a break, we have added an unplanned activity into our morning routine. Each day this week upon finishing our arithmetic lessons, we have all set out for a short morning walk. Instead of putting the baby in her stroller I have put on her socks and shoes and let her toddle along with us. And so, walking at a pace set by chubby little toddler legs, we meander down to the corner and back in the lovely Florida sunshine letting our brains recover from our hard work of the morning. Our conversations seem to center around the work we have already completed, making it an impromptu review without the children even realizing it. This morning we talked about our Five in a Row lesson from The Story about Ping (by Marjorie Flack) when we discussed the sun rising in the east and setting in the west and as we walked we observed the sun, still in the eastern sky, casting our shadows westward on the sidewalk.
It is these moments when I most enjoy home schooling, the unexpected times when the kids and I are talking and sharing our thoughts and taking pleasure in the time we get to spend together. And it is these precious moments that give me the strength to come home and tackle the rest of our day…the phonics, and religion, and history, and science, and writing, and so on, and so on... that are always waiting for us when we get home from our walk.