Monday, January 30, 2012

Variety is the Spice of Life

If you read my earlier post A Day in the Life of our Homeschool, you will know that we have a fairly easygoing pattern...especially for the little kids. However, I don't like to get into too much of a rut, for both my sake and for the sake of the kids, so we came up with something to remind us of getting the fun stuff done, too, and not just the basics. 

We came up with the idea of doing one "focus" activity a day, along with the usual required Bible, math, spelling, and reading/English. This allows us some variety, as well as a bit of structure, so we don't always default to our favorite activities when there is extra time (such as art for Ladybug, games for Cowboy, or reading for Tex).

Here's the sign I made for our fridge:

Our "Special Activity of the Day" sign

As you can see, we have listed one specialized area of study for each day. I will be honest here and tell you that we do NOT do each of these each week. Some weeks are good if we manage to do two or three of them, and on others we have actually done all five. My attitude about not getting to the "fun" and "special stuff" every day is that while everyone needs goals to aim for, we should also be content in doing our best...and since we are trying pretty hard, I think our best (for the time being) is actually quite good...though there is always room for improvement.

A Fun Friday field trip to a farm...

We always do Fun Friday  (which is sometimes a field trip), though I do not always manage to blog about it (my camera is on the fritz and I have had computer trouble, so my participation has been sketchy recently). To facilitate this, we accomplish our "regular" work in four days, leaving Friday free for doing the more creative and exploratory activities...or just resting, playing, being crafty, gardening, etc. 

Tex has been trying to do everything but his science experiments earlier in the week, leaving them for Fridays. This works for him because I can be more involved on Fridays, and he can pound out the other book/computer work faster if he isn't stopping to do experiments throughout the week. I think families should talk about what needs they have, try a few things out, then settle in to whatever fits them best. I don't think there is a one-size-fits-all solution.

The Writing of the fun activities the kids like to do

Painting on Talented Tuesday

We also have extra-curricular activities that add fun to our homeschool days. Twice a month on a Wednesday, the Bookmobile comes to our house and the kids get to choose books, play with the stuffed animals on board (Mr. Mike collects animals in a basket and the kids love that), and collect any items we might have ordered from the regular library (delivered to our door, no less!). Usually once a month, our friends, Lady L. and her five kids, come over to join us for books and lunch (and playing, of course). That is a wonderful opportunity for the kids to have fun.

Reading on the Bookmobile

Also, on Wednesdays, we have supper at church and the kids do Awana. This is a recent addition, since we were still in the "church hunting" stage until recently. So far, the kids are LOVING the memory work (and the games, of course) and the chance to be around other children their own age. Hubby and I are enjoying the brief "break" we get by attending the women's and men's classes (and I love the grown up conversational opportunities!).

Twice a month on Friday, the kids attend 4-H at a local state park. This is mostly for Tex and Ladybug, and is currently a bit rough on me (trying to keep the others busy without disrupting the others when it is too cold to go outside and play), but it is worth it to give them the interaction with others and the chance to develop useful skills, such as public speaking and photography.

Nanny and Poppy...two of our favorite people!! 

Then, of course, sometimes our week gets a bit of fun added when Nanny and Poppy show up unexpectedly (or expectedly) and that is wonderful! My dad often helps out by working on something that needs fixing, and gets the boys to help him do whatever it is. Tex is a HUGE help, since he knows where to find all the stuff needed to do the repairs, and Cowboy just likes being able to watch or to hand tools to Poppy when he needs them. Tex and Poppy also like to chat about computers and sports, and maybe shoot some hoops. My mom will offer to help do any chores we are behind on, or to read with one of the little ones, or sew with the girls, or even give a piano lesson.

Bubba trimming Lily's feet

Sometimes we do just take the time off and enjoy a beautiful day outside, or take time to do something crafty, or get a visit from Bubba (usually to trim the horses' feet), or make something delicious to eat. All that is a lot of fun!! We also try to get out and ride the horses as often as possible. Once a week when it is cold, more often when the weather is good.

Ladybug sewing an apron for herself

After writing this, I think I will have to revise or add to my list, though. I think I will amend our art activity choices to include nature notebooks after a nature walk and also the art dvds that Ladybug received for Christmas and her birthday (See the Light and Inspiration Station...all the kids have art kits and like to do those dvds). For Thinking Thursday, I want to add "logic problems and word puzzles" (we have crossword and jumble books, and logic problems galore), as well as playing online thinking games (we have a listing of some on our homeschool-for-free site. For Fun Friday, I am also going to add "crafty things, like crocheting or sewing and baking (yum!)...or projects like building birdhouses and forts."

On a nature walk...

I know that we could (obviously) choose to do any of these things on ANY day of the week, but having the sign up on the fridge has been motivating for the kids and helps me focus on the fact that we need to add something a bit different to each of our days (as often as possible). It has also helped the kids focus on getting their other work done (so there is time for the "fun stuff"), and has helped them be more creative with their choices of fun learning activities (kids will get stuck in ruts of preference, just like us adults). 

One of our goals as homeschoolers is to raise creative, confident, and well-rounded individuals who are able to accomplish whatever the Lord calls them to do. Raising the children to have diverse interests and abilities (including interests beyond what I have as interests and abilities in) is one of the ways we can help make this happen... after all, variety is the spice of life (or one of them, anyway!).

To see what others do to add FUN to their homeschooling week,

I pray you have a blessed and FUN week.

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