Frugal Urban Homeschool: September Report

Greetings! It’s now four weeks in and I must say homeschooling is going very well. Of course we have grouchy, tired days, days with meltdowns and false starts, and days where the dishes don’t get done and we order pizza again. But there are also the joys of waking up slowly, snuggly moments reading books on the couch, hours of romping outside and swimming at the Y, and millions of chances to get to know each other better.

So, what do we do all day? We are working on our daily and weekly rhythms, a balance of “in- and out-breath”, of inside time and outside time, of high energy and rest. Basically, we wake up, eat breakfast, tidy up and get dressed, and then meet in the living room for our circle time. We go through a selection of seasonal rhymes, finger plays and songs, after which we’re ready for our morning adventure.

We’ve been up to a lot, even though we don’t leave before 10 most days (some days not till 11!). We’ve been to our favourite playgroup several times, as well as swimming at the YMCA, the library, parks, and even our own back yard.

After our morning adventure, we head home for lunch, the little guy’s nap, and quiet time for me and my girl. And, if I’m good and organized I will also start dinner during this time. I’ve been trying to include my girl in the dinner prep more often, though she is not always interested in helping out. I’m working on this!

During this time we also do our daily theme activity: baking on Monday, washing the floor and bodily care (clipping nails, etc.) on Tuesday, sewing, hand-work and mending on Wednesday, garden-related activities on Thursday (though I’m still working on this one), and wet-on-wet watercolour painting on Friday. That’s our weekly rhythm.

Once the little guy wakes up we finish up our theme activity and then head out again for our afternoon adventure, which is most often to a park or sometimes our backyard. When we get back, the kids jump in the tub, while I try to get dinner on the table.

I like our rhythm and feel lost on weekends when the rhythm is disrupted. It seems like we are quite busy, and I’m working on slowing down and sticking around home more often, but there is also tonnes of time for the kids to just play together as well as separately and build their interior worlds.

Some people ask about what they’re learning, and although we are not doing “lessons”, I am amazed at how much learning takes place around everyday things. There is so much physical learning like how to use a sharp knife, how to ride a bike, kick a ball, do a summersault, etc., but there is also a lot of basic learning like numbers, math and even fractions (baking), as well as days of the week, some spelling, lots of seasonal stuff, and more.

But more than any of that, we are learning about the world and the systems that sustain us. Also, how to be nice to each other and care for others. And what interesting things adults do in their lives.

This week we’re going to start going to the French story time at the library, and I’m going to start learning new French songs to do at our circle time. And with the coming of Fall there will probably be lots of leaf art and talk about pumpkins. Not to mention harvests and baking and delicious Fall smells filling the house.

That’s about all to report for our first month. And now to take on October!

The Rhythm of Days/Slowing the Pace

I’ve been reading the wonderful Waldorf homeschooling blog,¬†The Parenting Passageway recently, and at the same time reading¬†Sleepless in America: Is Your Child Misbehaving or Missing Sleep. Both resources (not to mention my beloved Flylady) are telling me the same thing: find your rhythm and get your waking, eating, outside time, playing and housework on a schedule.

I’ve never been good at keeping a schedule. For some reason, even though I do some things ritualistically every day, I almost always do them in a slightly different order. These resources say that setting a schedule is even more essential and beneficial for someone like me who resists it. It sounds sortof counterintuitive, though when I look at the¬†benefits, I can see the point.

The book also highlights many benefits of maintaining a regular schedule and thereby setting the body’s clock to know when to sleep, when to wake, when to eat and so on. When a kid’s body clock is “set”, they are more likely to fall asleep easily, stay relaxed and focused throughout the day.

So we’re giving this a try. Right now we’re in observation mode to see what rhythm out days already have, though I’m finding that simply by recording what we’re doing, I’m already nudging us toward a better schedule.

Two major changes are that we’ve stopped preschool, which is allowing us to make the second change work: having both kids nap at the same time. So far my girl (who is now “officially four”) has napped two days in a row. After a year and a half of not napping. Now, this could be because she has a cold, but I’m hoping we can use the cold to help set her body clock so she keeps napping even after her cold is all better.

In any case, a frugal change: replacing preschool with sleep! From what I’ve read, it might even grow her brain more than a structured activity!

As a part of figuring out our rhythm, we’ve been keeping our days much calmer and more home based. I’m seeing the benefits already. Fewer meltdowns, more happy minutes of the kids playing quietly together, and as a bonus, I’m feeling more relaxed.

So, this is officially day 1 of 40 days of our family rhythm project. What rhythms guide your days?