Q & A Day

Today’s blog post is brought to you by the punctuation mark – ?

What this translates to is me answering questions that I’ve been asked by some online friends.  (Thanks for helping out with NaBloPoMo material guys.)

What does a “typical” day look like?

Well, I’m sure that everyone – no matter what they do with their kids – will say that there is no such thing as typical.  But we do have routines.  Currently they look something like this.

Three days a week (Monday, Wednesday & Friday) both Oh Waily kids head off to the gym daycare for two hours of other-kiddie and adult interaction*.  This starts at 9:15 and finishes at 11am.  Most days this pretty much tuckers them out, so they have some food when they get home and one of them usually takes a nap.  If Miss Oh is particularly tired I sometimes sacrifice a regular bedtime that night for daytime sanity – hers and mine – by ‘encouraging’ her to have a rest by having snuggles in her bed together.

On Tuesdays, just after lunch this term, we drive to the not-so-local swimming pool and Miss Oh has lessons with a small class (4 other kids) of home educators.  Master Oh plays on the other side of the littlies swimming pool – sometimes on his own and sometimes with other HE kids.  This takes up the entire afternoon.

Those are the anchor activities currently for us.  Everything else is fluid around these.

As for subjects and teaching style, this is pretty fluid at the moment too.  We’re basically just feeling around to find the right way to go about all of this grand learning we hope to do.  A little while ago we would do more formal, sit down learning in the Classical Education style.  This was okay, but a bit stifling for a physically active 5 year old.  So we are trying out a more laid-back approach, with much shorter bursts of information and learning.  But the information and coverage of CE is still going to be trotted out when it will work for us.

I am currently trying out the Khan Academy website for keeping Miss Oh’s hand in with the more formal written side of maths.  I have found that if we go back to simple conversational methods of teaching addition that she loses confidence when she sees written equations.  Right now we are working on the first and simplest maths practice options there – Representing numbers, Number Line 1, 1-digit addition and 1-digit subtraction.  My current goal is to grow her confidence and have her feel able to tackle new ideas.  Oh, and I’m waiting for my Singapore Maths books so I can get some inspiration for other things we can do (without the computer).  I have been asking her to do these four activities (there are 8 exercises per activity) each morning.  It would take her 15 minutes or so, although she is finding the subtraction a difficult concept at the moment and that has made it a little longer.

The other biggie is working on reading.  She has had access to Reading Eggs for a while now, and we have always had letter identification and sound related games (I Spy) previously.  I have always encouraged her to do the lessons there whenever she has wanted to – and since it is computer related, she is usually happy to spend 30 minutes or more pottering away.  It is obvious though that while it has helped stimulate her interest, we also need to revise and revisit the basics to help her settle to reading.  She, I think, does remarkably well with her reading but just (again) requires confidence in her ability.  So along with regular (daily or every other day, it varies) access to Reading Eggs, we also have been doing reading together and sound revision using my little white board and some magnetic letters most days lately.  (Thanks Pete’s Emporium for the very cheap, but usable minuscules.)
And it goes without saying that we read stories each night together as this is one of our routines.

Just a note here about the reading.  As I am not “buying in” a curriculum to teach reading** and do not have access to the graded books found in schools, I have found that identifying the appropriate level of reading book from the library to be a bit of a trial.  They may say “Stage 1” or “Beginner” or some such other terms, but they vary wildly in readability.  So I have worked out my own very simple system.  I now have a small hardback notebook in which I write down the title of the book, the publisher’s name, and where on their sliding scale (P, PP, or PPP for example) the particular book sits.  Then I get Miss Oh to read it to me.  If she needs help with too many words, that grade of book goes on the “future” list.  If it’s just right or a bit of a stretch, then it goes on the “look for more of this level” list.   I know.  It’s not rocket science, but it has made my library visits considerably easier and less fraught with concern that I’m going to get something that puts her right off trying.

As for other subjects, well they just turn up based on our newest planning device – the monthly theme.  I try to make sure that a number of different aspects are touched on when we do our themes.  Last month was Gardening, and since Miss Oh loves to be outside in the garden, clipping and digging and weeding with me, it will be a continuous theme.  We count seeds, talk about what plants need to grow.    Discuss the weather and what makes up the clouds and why it rains.   Daily conversations often provide the most amazing opportunities to impart information and seems to be the most welcome way to learn currently.
I also have a gardening related science lesson on our living room window ledge at the moment.  It will be an upcoming post, when the shoots finally grow big enough to photograph.

I guess if you wanted to pin down or name our style of learning it would be part unit studies (the monthly theme idea plays in to that), part unschooling (or natural learning – that which comes from daily life and conversation) and part structured (like at school – exercises to do).  We’re a bit of a mongrel really.

Eclectic learning will do me for a name.  And our days reflect that.  Some days I have planned activities ready to go, other days we head to the beach or get out into the garden.  Other days I let them go wild with their imaginations and they get to play^ or build things for most of the day.

I’m not sure if that answered the question, but I hope you get a better feel for how we spend our days.  Eclectically.

If you have any questions about what or how we do things, feel free to leave a comment.  There will be more Q & A days this November so, if you’re interested in this bit of our journey, stay tuned.

* Theoretically I am exercising during that time, but this past three weeks – not so much.
** As though you really need to !
^  I’ve just got an interesting looking book from the library – Play: How it shapes the brain, opens the imagination, and invigorates the soul by Stuart Brown.  I’m looking forward to reading all about the benefits of play.


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