A friend recently asked me to share our schedule, so I took some notes about what we did today. Our homeschooling week is a little unusual because of parental work schedules. On Monday, Wednesday, and Friday we do what I think of as our “basic core,” because there is limited parental time at home. On Tuesday and Thursday there is a parent home all day, so those are the days we schedule things like projects and science experiments.
Here is an example of how much work Alex does in a “basic core” day.
7:45: I woke Alex up. Colin had already been up for a while, listening to stories. Everybody got dressed and had breakfast.
8:40-8:50: Writing With Ease 2. Right now she’s doing studied dictation. That means that yesterday she copied a written passage, and today she took the same passage as dictation. We talked about the writing conventions in the passage; today the focus was on punctuating interjections. The passage was from Robert Browning’s poem “The Pied Piper:” “Rats! They fought the dogs and killed the cats. Oh, how I wish we had a trap!”
8:55-9:35: Math. Alex did pages 86 and 87 in the Beast Academy 3b practice book, which involved more practice applying the distributive property. She was given a set of story problems about the game Beastball, which has oddly-named scoring events worth various numbers of points. When you stripped away the cute story, it was asking her to work problems like:
6 x 13 + 7 x 6 = 6 x (13 + 7) = 6 x 20 = 120.
She likes these problems and concentrated well, so math went really smoothly. I don’t have the book at hand right now, but I’m guessing that two pages worked out to about 14 problems. (Beast Academy has a “fewer, but harder, problems” philosophy.)
9:35: Ten-minute break for Alex while I read Colin Henry and Mudge.
9:45-10:15: Michael Clay Thompson’s Grammar Island. We read about indirect objects and how they operate in sentences, and also how the object of a preposition differs from direct and indirect objects. For four sentences, Alex identified all the parts of speech (noun, verb, etc.) and the parts of the sentence (subject, simple predicate, direct object, indirect object).
10:15-10:40: Lively Latin. After reviewing a handful of old vocabulary terms, she studied a new vocabulary set, listening to an .mp3 of the Magistra pronouncing the words and then repeating them after her. Afterward she did a vocabulary worksheet that involved giving the Latin words for a series of clip art pictures, and a Roman history review sheet that involved labeling a map with early Rome’s neighboring tribes and remembering which enemy tribe was involved in various historical incidents. (We had to look a lot of them up.)
10:45-11:05: All About Spelling 4. For each spelling lesson, we set the timer on my phone for 18 minutes and work wherever we happen to be in the book until the timer goes off. Today it was sentence dictation, so I read Alex sentences and she wrote them down in her spelling notebook. She had to make several corrections today, so we only got through four sentences in 18 minutes. Sample sentence: “This apple is the worst one of the bunch!”
When spelling is done, we’re done with “basic core.” I did ask Alex to pick the next book she’s planning to read from the “2nd grade reading” shelf, because she finished Nim’s Island on Friday and hadn’t started a new one yet. She chose A Lion to Guard Us by Clyde Robert Bulla and read the first few chapters – maybe 24 pages. It looks like a pretty easy read. In her free time she’s reading Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, so it feels a little funny to prod her to choose from the assigned shelf too. But I want to establish the habit that she reads our choices as well as her own choices, and I don’t want to judge her personal reading by saying that Harry Potter is a legitimate assigned-book replacement but, say, Zita the Spacegirl isn’t.
So, that’s it. That’s a school day at its most basic. Tomorrow I don’t go in to work at all, so we have a lot more time – among other things, I’ll do a 90-minute chemistry lesson with lab experiments for Alex and her friend Benji. Yesterday Michael didn’t work at all, so they read about the Ottoman Empire in Alex’s history book and did some map work and built a model cannon that shoots ping-pong balls out of cardboard tubes and rubber bands. Art and music and PE fill in all around the edges, often with our nanny in the afternoons; for example, so far this week there’s been some painting, a lot of origami, a trip to the swimming pool, and a playground visit.
If you have a 7-year-old or second grader in public or private school, I would be really interested to know how you think the volume of work compares. Obviously the day is much shorter; people say that homeschooling is much more efficient, but I wonder if Alex is also just doing a lot fewer assignments than the average school kid her age.