Wednesday, April 16, 2014

A Day in the Life of My One Room Schoolhouse

I’ll try to stay on track here.  This is about my one room schoolhouse not teaching styles, learning styles, the teachable child, or Sonlight curriculum. Stay on track, Rachel.  Stay on track.

 I like to think of my teaching job like a delivery service.  I’m the UPS guy and I am here to deliver this awesome box of information to my awesome students.  There are three things that I want them to get out of my awesome box:

I want them to RETAIN the information.

I want them to ENJOY the information.

I want them to COPREHEND the information.

Of course they are not going to RETAIN everything, nor are they going to COMPRENHEND everything, and they certainly aren’t going to ENJOY every single second of it but we’re going for mostly.  For laziness sake we’ll call this goal our REC.

If you don’t REC then it will be a WRECK.  I kill myself.
You best REC yourself before you WRECK yourself. Anyway…

Keeping REC in mind, how am I going to deliver this information to my children?  I have chosen to do that in a one room school house fashion which makes me as cool as Laura Ingalls Wilder which is really the point, am I right?  Instead of delivering the information in four separate boxes, we all get one box and we open it together and the awesome explodes in our faces at the same time. 

I have a daughter who is 9 and my sons are 8, 6, and 4.  My four-year-old isn’t quite there yet but he hangs out with us most of the time.  He plays toys quietly on the floor, he watches the kids do their math, he listens to the read-aloud or I tell him to go play in his room because he is being obnoxious. 

Math: My older three do the same math grade.  My older two have always been in the same grade.  They are 13 months a part so they started the same year because their teacher is a genius.  My third child just catches on to concepts very quickly thus they
are all doing 4th grade math with Teaching Textbooks.  This is a computer based program that includes the lecture.  They all take turns doing their lesson on our desktop. This takes them between 10-20min.

Spelling: When it isn’t their turn on the computer, they are writing out their spelling words.  This takes care of writing practice and spelling.  We use Sequential Spelling.  This multi tasks as writing practice as well.  The older two have to write their spelling words in cursive.  During snack time I quiz them on their spelling list.  I go around the table and ask them to spell a word and when it’s Ben’s turn I ask him his phonics sounds.  I haven’t figured out if they are really retaining their spelling yet.  This is something I’m still working out.  I have yet to see REC from this program translate into REC in their compositions.  I might switch back to Explode the Code.  I’m open to your opinion.  This takes them between 15-20min.

Grammar: Honestly, this is an area that I have yet to really find something where I see REC happening.  I’m not a big fan of the Sonlight LA work pages so I’ve never really done them.  A friend, who is a high school English teacher, recommended a book to me called The Grammar Bible.  I just go it in the mail and started reading it to my kids like it’s just another one of our read-alouds.  They love it and I see a lot of REC happening.  I also made a grammar game for them, kind of like a movable adlib game, which they pull out every now and again.  I see them getting the structure of grammar but it hasn’t all come together in their heads yet.  I read the book to them while they eat lunch for maybe about 10min.  I know I can do better in this area.  There’s always room to improve.

Writing Composition: We started Institute of Excellence in Writing about a month ago.  It’s a DVD set of a very humorous and talented homeschool dad who just gets how to teach kids to understand and love writing.  I am so impressed with his concepts.  My kids think he’s funny and that’s a big deal since he’s competing with how funny their main teacher is.  The three older ones watch the lectures and I do their writing with them.  My 6-year-old dictates while I write for him.  This takes about 45min and we do this about twice a week.

Reading:  My preschooler and I are making our way through “Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Lessons.”  We make time for it maybe 2-3 times a week.  The other three are reading on by themselves.  They read a chapter a day out of their Sonlight readers.  Sometimes they read in the afternoon and sometimes it’s their bed time reading.  We all know that the Sonlight book list is the bomb.  I just love all the amazing stories they get to experience.  They each read for about 30min a day.

Science: I’m taking a break from Science right now so I can be more hands on with it during the summer.  Sonlight gives you a plethora of Science material that is very hard for me to make time for.  My kids get a lot of hands on stuff at our homeschool co-op and they do a lot of digging in the dirt so we’re covered right?

History and Read-Alouds: Sonlight…I love thee.  You are the Spring breeze to my cold Wintery foggy day.  Sonlight integrates their read-alouds with their history cycle.  Right now we are in early American history, my favorite!  I read to all four of my kids at any of these times…while they eat craft, play quietly on the floor, and right before bed time.  I rarely have them sit and do nothing while I read unless it’s more of a picture book.  We talk about life and read and talk and snuggle and read and my kids are my BEST FRIENDS.  I just love how our books have made us close and made the world open and made learning a complete REC.

Bible: We have devotionals together every morning.  We’ve done devotionals a million different ways over the years.  A lot of the time, I write a little devotional for their bed time reading.  Those are the ones I Instagram that always include my left thumb.  In the morning, we follow the stories in my four-year-olds Bible.  We read the Bible story in the storybook and then the older three take turns reading the verses straight out of their Bibles.  We each have prayer cards that we write out every couple of months that include a thank you, a prayer for someone else, and a prayer for ourselves.  After we read and pray, the kids draw a picture of the Bible story and the older two journal a sentence or two.  I want to start including something daily that has to do with missions.  I need your missionary ideas.  Devotionals take about 30min. 

Classical Conversations IPad app:  I love this program.  What a wealth of well-thought out structured information.  I see tons of REC coming out of this program.  We listen to the memory work while we fold our giant mountain of laundry.  The memory work is a perfect background of information that combines all the subjects they are learning.  They are skip counting for math, memorizing science facts, History sentences (my six-year-old was playing Legos the other day and perfectly quoted the 7 wonders of the ancient world in a conversation between two Lego guys), and memorizing grammar structure.  We take out each item of information from our box and then CC builds every item together into one awesome tower.  Dude, that’s a lot of REC.

Throughout all of this, the kids get their chores done and go outside and wiggle for a bit and eat.  They are always eating.  Always.  I don’t have us all sit down at the table and not move until everything is done.  Even I’m to hyper for that!  Most of their school takes place on the couch and sometimes I send a kid to finish on their bed because they get distracted by siblings and dust specks floating through the air.  This is what works for us because I’m Rachel Cook and that’s how I roll.  They get a lot of extra curricular fun time our our Friday homeschool co-op.

You can look up homeschool teaching styles and get an idea of what you might be.  I’m Charlotte Mason/Classical.  This makes me cool but not cooler than you.

We are together most of the day, laughing at the same stories, giving pointers on the same math lesson, writing the same composition story.  It’s my one room school house.  It’s my pride and joy.  Life is good.  It’s not perfect but it’s good.  

You guys stay cool.  God has big plans for your day and it’s doesn’t include freak outs.  Go hug a kid.

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