Last week, I gave you a tour of our hectic house and “home office.” That was important because it gave you a good idea about how our surroundings can affect our productivity (and creativity!).
This week, I’m going to share how we manage to homeschool Max while we work more than full-time on our business.
Max is in first grade. He is currently enrolled at a fully-accredited private school in Vermont that provides distance learning to its students. This type of school caters to homeschooling families and students who don’t want to, or can’t, obtain a normal education (like Olympic athletes, children of traveling diplomats, etc.). At Oak Meadow, there is a real curriculum and each child also has a real teacher they communicate with via email and/or mail. We started homeschooling Ali and Frank a few years ago. Ali was bullied in junior high and we then moved her to a private school (very expensive). We later bought an RV and decided to start homeschooling the children so we could traveling whenever we wanted. After a year and a half of being on the road with Mom and Dad, Ali and Frank grew tired of the gypsy lifestyle (how many Civil War battlegrounds can you visit before you’ve seen too many?) and wanted to go back to school with their friends. By this time, Ali was in high school and Frank was in junior high. After just a year and a half of homeschooling, they were both ahead of their peers and had become excellent students because part of Oak Meadow’s philosophy is to teach children how to teach themselves.
Anyway, we are now homeschooling Max. He was supposed to start Kindergarten this year. But, when we reviewed the Kindergarten curriculum, we discovered he already knew everything they were going to teach him (shapes, colors, capital letters, etc.). So, we enrolled him in first grade (though he already knew a lot of that curriculum, too).
At the very beginning, I said to Richard, “You take Science, Social Studies, English and Math and I’ll take Art and Music. Okee dokee?” He laughed.
While Max has a real “teacher”, we are his primary teachers as he does need one-on-one instruction at this age. Richard teaches Max on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays. On those days, Max learns Science and Math. They attend the local homeschooling club meeting two times each month and they attend a local science program for homeschooled youngsters every Thursday. Richard also has Mason during these times. Mason likes to sit at the table and pretend to play school, too. And, he’s made great progress! He now actually colors with crayons instead of eating them.
On Wednesdays and Fridays, I have Max and Mason and we work on Language Arts, Social Studies, Art and Music. Max is really coming along well with his reading and he loves studying seasons and holidays (what we’re doing in social studies right now). As with a regular first grade curriculum, there is a heavy emphasis on coloring and painting and other crafts, which we love. Just last week, Max made a cotton ball ghost and we added a torso, arms and hands to our milk jug skeleton. We also have lots of outdoors time and exercise. Max is learning to play the recorder (I had to learn how to play it, too!), is learning lots of new songs (he thinks the farmer’s wife in Three Blind Mice should be in jail), and has mastered finger knitting.
I could go on and on but, needless to say, Max is a very busy boy.
We follow the first grade syllabus offered by Oak Meadow but we supplement a lot, too. The milk jug skeleton was an additional project that Max wanted to do and the homeschooling club and science programs aren’t required by Oak Meadow but are things that we feel are important for Max’s social development.
Here’s our schedule: Monday, Tuesday and Thursday – Richard has the boys; I work all day; Richard cooks dinner and then works in the evening. Wednesday and Friday – I have the boys; Richard works all day; I cook dinner and then work in the evening. Saturdays – We both work while the boys play in our room and Max’s room (which is connected to ours). We try to take off earlier than regular work days. Sundays – I always take Sundays off. This is required for my sanity. I don’t even turn on my computer unless I absolutely have to for some reason (like our quarterly 24-hour short story contest). Richard checks his email on Sundays and makes sure things are up and running, but generally also takes the day off.
Richard does the grocery shopping, helps Alyssa with laundry, and is in charge of other things, like orthodontist appointments, because my workload is a bit heavier than his. Zach and Ali both drive so they run errands, too. Just today, I had Zach take Frank to an appointment, pick up a prescription at the drug store, print some pictures at Target, and go to the bank and post office.
The best part about homeschooling and working at home is that we can pretty much take off and do whatever we want, whenever we want. We can pile into the RV on a moment’s notice and hit the road if wanderlust hits us. If I wake up in the morning and say, “Hey, let’s go to Bar Harbor for lunch!”, we can. If we are burned out and want to take off some weird, obscure holiday, like National Bittersweet Chocolate with Almonds Day (which is TODAY, by the way!), we can!
It may seem a bit chaotic, but this schedule is working out really well for all of us (we had to change it three times to get it right) and especially for the children. Max is learning a lot and he loves “Mommy School” and “Daddy School.”
Over the past few weeks, our business really boomed and I was about at the end of my limit. But, we’ve made some changes that aren’t costing us anymore money in the long-run, but that are saving me time and stress. Next week, I’ll discuss Delegation (something I’ve always had a hard time with!) and Automation.