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A day at our house...

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Posted on : 12:14 PM | By : Nic | In : , ,

We've finally worked ourselves into our school year rhythm.  I don't like to call it a routine or a schedule, because it doesn't depend on time or a task list at all.  It revolves around the seasons, how much sleep we need, and the current needs of everyone in the family.  It is imperfect (I wish I could help meet everyone's needs every day!) but with practice it's getting better to tune in.  


We tend to be night owls, all of us, but we put the girls to bed on the floor of our room around 8pm.  Other times it doesn't happen until 10pm because we're out so there are lots of times we get up at 9am or 9:30.

The first thing we do is make breakfast.  Annie needs more sleep than Autumn (which may be part of that sensory integration issue) so sometimes we get it made before she's up, but other times we all try to work together.  This morning it was scrambled eggs made with rice milk and toast.  Autumn dealt out the plates, and Annie made the toast and stirred the eggs.
Then we clean up the house.  This means making beds, starting laundry, cleaning up the kitchen, folding laundry from the day before, and tidying up.  Usually this takes no longer than 20 minutes.  Annie's jobs are folding laundry and vacuuming, Autumn helps me operate the dryer, and they both tidy up.  Don't think this is all willingly done... it is not an option.  They are clearly told to do it because they are part of our family team, and if they refuse they lose out on privileges like video games.  Autumn is usually willing, Annie not so much.  They do have choices in the manner in which they are do these things... there is no wrong way to do it, as long as they do their best and take pride in it.  This means our clothes are wrinkled and folded in crazy ways, but that's ok.

Then we start school time.  I don't like calling it school time, but it helps Annie get into a mindset that now she's going to concentrate her mind on something.  We start out memorizing a Bible verse using a chalkboard.  I draw pictograms for some of the words, and now that she is starting to read, some of the words are simply written out for her to sound out.  She also repeats a Latin word and its definition.  There is one Bible verse and Latin word for the week.  She really enjoys this part of the day, and it's a game so it's fun... like figuring out a puzzle.
Since we still haven't gotten the rest of our books for school (like Konos and Math Wizardry), we are working a lot on reading and writing.  This has actually been a big bonus to us, because although Annie has an amazing memory and an even more amazing vocabulary, she can't express her thoughts and feelings.  I didn't realize how much this was a problem until we tried dictation .

So we start out reading an easy reader, such as Dr. Seuss beginning readers, just a few pages and I ask her when she's done.  Sometimes she wants to push herself but ends of up getting tired and frustrated so I have to actually stop her and say she's done enough.  I have to mention that last year in preschool I made phonics flashcards for her because she was ready for them and liked it, so she hasn't had to do that and is simply reading.  After reading is done, she has one of those newsprint writing books (I got all of her notebooks at the dollar store) and practices writing individuals letters (a whole row of h's for example), and two words from the pages she just read.  The words I pick are usually ones that don't follow the phonics rules, like 'the' or 'one', or are more complex like compound words.  This is because I want her to memorize those and writing them down helps that.  It's all memorization.  When she is reading a word she doesn't know, I repeat the phonics rule the same way every time.  For example, in the word 'chose', I would say, "'Ch' together sounds like a train, and the 'o' says his name because of the silent 'e' at the end."  She usually gets the clue well enough to sound it out on her own without me having to say it for her.

Then on some days we do dictation.  Right now we're dictating tiny essays about a recent topic, and haven't done any creative writing because Annie just doesn't know how to make up a story from her imagination.  Sometimes we'll play a game where I'll start a made-up story and she has to fill it in, or we'll do a Round Robin type story, but she can't just fantasize one herself.  So since we just read The Magic School Bus Blows It's Top, her essay today was about how volcanoes can make islands.  Right now I have to start some of the sentences, and then she has to try to express her thought to complete the sentence, which is tough for her.  She wants to use one word only.  I'll say, "The melted or molten rock...."  and she'll just say, "Magma."  I'll ask her what it does but she can't tell me - not because she doesn't know but just can't express it.  When we finally get to the point of expressing a complete thought and writing a whole paragraph she's very proud of her story and she loves it.

The only other thing we're doing is an art lesson on Thursday's and Fridays (the beginning of the week is Science).  I teach them perspective and shapes used in drawing like the ellipse, and shading.  Autumn gets in on those lessons more than anything because her favorite thing is art.

Then school is done.  I go on the computer and blog and work and get that stuff done.  Then we make lunch.  Today we're having sandwiches and fruit.  After lunch we either go run errands, hang out and have some quiet time, or go to the library.  Sometimes they go out to play in the backyard or play with friends.  

After school they each get an hour of computer time, which they use for Noggin or PBS kids, or a Dora game we have.  I'm trying to limit my computer time each day too.  I need to do some knitting and sewing, but at the same time I have computer responsibilities, and I have writing projects so I have to schedule myself or I get too absorbed in what I'm doing.  I try to keep it for the evening.  The only reason we limit this is because it's an antisocial and addictive activity, much the same as television (which we don't have), but only marginally better.  I've seen families ruined by computer games, and since it is a privilege to even have a computer, it is something that can be taken away.  It's the only thing they care about losing, lol.

Before bed we often watch a movie with the girls.  We don't always watch kid's movies... they both really liked The Matrix the other day.  We try to keep it pretty open what they can be exposed to... if it's something we watch, they can too.  This means that we have to be careful what we keep around and watch ourselves, lol.  The philosophy behind this is that if they can understand something enough to ask a question, they can ask and we'll answer it, no matter what it is.  If they are too young to understand it, then it's either going to roll right off their back, or we can explain why they don't have to be afraid of it.  Our kids have very few fears.  They don't like sleeping in the dark, but it's more of an uneasiness that if they needed to get up they would be blind and alone.  When we come to bed they don't mind because we are in the room.  Annie used to get night terrors because of her sensory integration problems, but they never have nightmares about movies or stories they read.  And we read the original fairytales sometimes too (the one where Red Riding Hood gets eaten!  lol), and they watch nature documentaries when the little antelope gets eaten by the lion and ripped to pieces.  They only have nightmares when they get sick, and it's always about mom or dad, lol.

So after the movie they brush teeth and get pajamas on (or Sunday dresses, whatever they really want to wear that is comfortable), and we read from a chapter book.  Right now it's Hurry Home, Candy by Meindert deJong.  His books are excellent for bedtime and a multiple of ages because he has an unusual writing style which repeats phrases in a soothing way, but still telling a compelling and serious story with heavy subjects, such as war, disability, and hunger.

Then they each have books in their beds that they can read quietly to themselves until they decide to fall asleep.  Sometimes Annie wants us to bring her into bed after we come to bed, which we'll do, and sometimes Autumn (being a lighter sleeper) will climb in later.  They climb in late enough though that we have our own time in the bed as well. ;)

And that's our day. :)

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