Frustrated with Morning Routines?

Schedules. I know. As a parent of small children or even school age children, we cringe when we hear the word. It seems impossible to bend those little wills to co-operate and stay on a schedule. And then, we all know, we feel like failures, slaves to this impossible task master, Schedule.  As a homeschooling parent you may not think we use a schedule, but a good working routine is key to homeschool.  So how do we do we get everything done before we have to leave or start school?

First of all, after reading Positive Discipline: The Classic Guide to Helping Children Develop Self-Discipline, Responsibility, Cooperation, and Problem-Solving Skills I learned that Children need to do something to contribute to the household before breakfast. So a morning act of kindness or morning job was added to our routine. We also have our children say prayers, make their beds, get dressed, pick up their room, and have a ten minute scrpiture-study. Then we have breakfast and do the dishes. Thus we have the house mostly in order before we start our lessons. 

I quickly saw the benefits of  requiring jobs before breakfast.  Breakfast was at a set time and only available for a certain amount of time. Then we just had to say “When your routine is done you may eat breakfast.”  This helped a lot, but I had a hard time dealing with the sadness of  someone not getting breakfast. I saw a lot of time being wasted still.  So how could I eliminate the waste of such a precious asset?

As I observed my children I realized that they were getting distracted while picking up their room, or while walking from job to job. Now some parents don’t want to remind their children to get jobs done and then just let them suffer the consequences.  But I for one appreciate a reminder when I get distracted, and believe that we help our children succeed when they have an occasional, appropriate reminder. So how could I remind and refocus my children without nagging?

I tried timers, but children have no concept of time. If they are too hot or bored and you have them wait for something, a minute feels like an hour. If they are having fun being distracted, they are shocked when their timer rings. So they needed something that helped them know how quickly time was passing.

A neighbor friend gave me the answer. She had come across a musical morning routine. Check it out here:

This “game” really changed how my kids got through each morning.  After a couple years the music became old, and we also had some other things we wanted done in the morning, so we decided to try making our own.  We made a list of things we wanted to have accomplished in the morning.  Then we took a few days and timed how long it took for each thing to get done. Then we found songs that the kids liked listening to and assigned a task or two to each song.  Then we let the kids listen to it and told them what each song was for. The next morning we turned it on after prayer and they started their jobs! They would come running in occasionally to ask what they were supposed to be doing in this song.  When we gathered for breakfast we took a minute and inspected all their work, and asked what they read in scriptures. Wow! In roughly thirty minutes they had all their work done and were ready to eat! We kept the musical routine going through breakfast and dishes.

Now, it doesn’t always work like that. I have to do an inspection everyday and make sure they are done before they get breakfast. If they aren’t, they have to go finish while we start eating. But it is a great tool for getting the day started on a good foot!

I hope this helps you in your Daily Life!



A Day With Us in Homeschool

How do you homeschool all your kids?
I hear this question once in a while. So I decided to give you a realistic view of what our homeschool day looks like in general. We have a flow we try to reach for everyday. Sometimes it gets done early, sometimes it takes longer. Sometimes there is problems, and sometimes things flow smoothly. And always we are felxible to meet the needs of those around us.
My day starts fairly early. Between 5 and 5:30 A.M. I get up, usually with a crying baby who needs a bottle. After he gets his bottle, he is usually ok to go back to sleep alone, but sometimes he just is wakeful and fusses unless I am holdong him. On those mornings I may go back to sleep, or read for a bit while he cuddles. Other times I use that time to shower, dress, and excersize. I then go make food for my husband before he goes to work.
I start some music by John Williams because he is the composer we are studying this term. I like this time to give the kids to just lay in their beds and relax before starting the day. Sometimes one or two willl come out for a good morning talk, which is always nice too.
Around 6:45 I get the kids up by playing our “Call” song. I play it on the piano, and when they hear it they know the family is being summoned into the living room. Once there, we have a family prayer, read an encouraging thought, recite memorized scripture and sing either a folk song or hymn we are learning. It all takes about twenty minutes, but it starts our day on a good foot. We then start our “Morning Routine” music. In about twenty or thirty minutes the children are dressed with prayers said, beds made, hair combed, a morning job called a family blessing, done, and sciptures read (that one is for children over eight). They are at that point welcome to come eat breakfast which their sister made as her family blessing. We also have assigned buddies for the children over eight. If they can, the big brother/sister helps the younger one get their routine done. I fill in as necessary. This particular morning, I start asking who has their routine done find that my five year old and nine year old aren’t done with everything. So after the blessing I take them back to finish. I help my five year old sort her laundry while my nine year old follows me reading her scriptures out loud so I can help her understand them.
After breakfast, everyone helps clean up. “Many hands make light work” is one of our favorite sayings (except my five year old says “Many hands make lots of work!” Haha.
As they get done we pull out violins and practice for half an hour. Even Mom! We are all learning from an online program.
Most days they get done and still have time for a small break before lesson start. We start a family history or science lesson at nine o’clock, or as close to that as possible. This morning we are about fifteen minutes late. The good weather held everyone outside as long as they could. In fact, we only started then because I take the reading book outside, and start reading. There is inside actvities too, but by the time we get there they are engaged and ready to come in. The youngest children usually color a picture while we read, but this morning they wanted to stay outisde. So every few minutes I peek outside to check on them. This way I was able to rescue the poor cats who were getting sat on.
We get done with our focus lesson, and get a snack out to eat while we read our historical novel that correlates with the history we are covering. This is everyones favorite part of the day. Afterwards, the older two get out sentences they need me to dictate them, and I corral my five year old for a short phonics game. This morning we put all the phonics cards on the floor, and put a pretzel stick on each one. The ones she sstruggles with we put two or three sticks on them. She chooses which ones to jump to, say the sounds, and eat one stick until all the sticks are gone.
After her games, I read a book from my preschool list to her. Today it was Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel. She has also been enjoying working through The Good and The Beautiful Pre-K book.  So she does some of that while I start helping my seven year old with language arts. We decided to do The Good and Beautiful language arts this year to hellp us get out of the rut we were in. It has definetly been fun! So Today my son dictates me a story. He does a good job! He dictated two pages! We did get interupted once because the two youngest girls fought over some playdoh (their choice of activity while I helped the others). So I stopped writing long enough to help them talk to each other and communicate through their problem. I was pretty proud of my seven-year-old’s story in the end! It had dialog, and sensory sentences (yes I prompted him some but the majority of the words were his.)
Well, because his story took so long I don’t have time to read him his math chapter out of Life Of Fred: Cats. So he takes it into his own corner to read alone -he is an extraordinarily good reader for his age, and I don’t worry about him. So I move on to help his nine-year-old sister.
She would like help reading her Life of Fred: Goldfish, so we move into the living room to do so in the comfort of the couch. Before we go, I quick look at what she has in Language arts. A spelling rule, which means dictation. So I just grab along a boogie-board and her book to dictate after out math. We sit on the couch, read, write some words that use the spelling rule we learned, and read some poetry out of language arts.

From there I am almost done. The little girls are getting hungry, and it is lunchtime. My ten year-old son is all I have left. Today he only has some reading and a page of sentences to diagram. He loves the diagraming and is good at it. So I look at the reading for him, and quick help him with some vocabulary excersizes. Then he finishes his work as I find some lunch for everyone. Today it looks like sandwiches and chips are the winner. Often there is leftovers, but anymore there isn’t enough left from a dinner to feed everyone for another meal. So sandwiches and sometimes soups are my go to for a quick lunch.
As everyone finishes up eating, about ten minutes after we started, I remind them to quick sweep their areas. Within a few minutes the front porch, the entry, the family bathroom, the hallway, and the kitchen cupboards are straightened amd clean. I work with the little girls to clean up the playdoh mess that I forgot to follow through on earlier, and clean up lunch. From here, in the past I had quiet time, but we got out of that routine. I would like to reinstate it, but haven’t yet. So it is pretty much free time. I use this time to do laundry, clean places that need a “mom” cleaning, and whatever else needs done. If I am lucky I get a few minutes to blog! At four o’clock the alarm on my phone reminds us it is time to start dinner. My ten-year-old is on dinner tonight. He likes to make baked beans. So I cut some of the sausages for him while he mixes the pork and beans and other ingredients. It bakes for forty minutes and dinner is ready. My husband gets home from school, and we gather everyone to eat.
After we eat everyone helps clean up. Tonight, since dinner was so early, the kids have time to go play for a bit before our bedtime routine. But at seven I put the youngest three in the tub, and tell the others to get ready for bed as bedtime snack will be served in ten minutes.
Tonight bedtime snack is just graham crackers and a little milk. The kids love dipping them! While we eat we read a chapter out of the New Testament. Tonight we read Luke chapter 6. One of my favorites. Each child has their own New Testament/Psalms and Proverbs book. They are handed out free at our local festival every year. We just found a good use for them. I keep them in a basket on the cupboard and put the basket on the table when it is time to use them.
When our chapter is done, we have a family prayer, brush teeth, and I read out loud while everyone listens from their beds. I hold the yearling on my lap while he drinks a bottle and listens.
Another day is done! I tuck the last kids in, and have a few minutes to call my own before another day starts rolling again! Its just Daily life!

Preschool at home?

I have been asked often about how I start my youngest children’s education.  Truth is many are afraid of teaching their own children at home because they don’t know how to give them a good education. But I personally believe that anyone can teach their own children, especially the younger grades. More than that. I believe that we, as parents, can be their best teachers. Why? Because small children only learn from people they feel connected to. They have to feel a personal connection  with their teacher before they can open their mind and heart to learn from them. Trying to succeed can be scary. They need to be able to trust this person asking them to try, trust that if they fail they will be loved and supported still. Charlotte Mason (author of The Original Home Schooling Series by Charlotte Mason ) called a child’s education “A parent’s sacred duty to God and to that child. That said a preschool education is a fairly easy one to give.

Preschoolers are naturally curious, and always trying new things. Some that amaze us, some that require our patience. We want to cultivate this natural curiosity, and give it direction. We want to celebrate every accomplishment. At this tender age we want to cultivate the love of learning. Learning must mean at least three things: –
– Connection (Positive attention and connection from the teacher)
– Fun (Hands-on, fun experiences)
– Success (enough chances to feel succeeful)
The most important goal at this age is to help them fall in love with learning. So when a child does something wrong, it helps to use gentle language and say “Almost, try again”, or “That is a good try! Lets try it this way.”
The skills I expose them to at this age are, cutting with scissors, gluing, sorting, recognizing numbers and letters, counting, tracing, listening to a story, finding things in pictures, identifying colors, and some physical skills such as crawling, catching a ball, jumping a rope, and skipping.
Here are some things I like to have that help the children discover these skills.

This fun game gives the children a chance to sort, recognize and corelate numbers, find and identify shapes and numbers, and match them up! It is a great favorite at my house.

Lacing cards are great for helping children coordinate their little hands and fingers. Even toddlers love to try to get the lace through the holes. This can also help teach patterns.

These are a great way to intrduce puzzles. At only twelve peices they are not too long that the child wants to give up, but not so easy that they get easily bored. And four come in one box! One of my two year olds used to pack this box around every where he went. Then he would sit for two or three hours ptting them together, tearing them apart, putting them back together!

With these wipe off dice you can make up endless games. Just write a letter, number, or dot of color on each side and toss it! Whatever it lands on have the child identify. Super fun!

These blocks are so much fun! They help the child match, and think creatively about spaces. These and other skills they teach, are important for math success later.
As for tracing and writing, I teach cursive first, and have my preschoolers make sandpaper letters. But other options are

The other thing I do for scissor skills  is give them the ads from the grocery store, and have them cut their favorite things out. Or one day we will cut all the red things, another all the blue. We even fold papers in half and glue ( the things we have cut out on to pages labeled with the right color.
One more thing: collect lots of good literature! Good stories and beautifully illustrated books to read them. Have a great time incorporating learning into your Daily Life! Check out our post on favorite bunny books!

Just thought I would share my favorite treat to keep on hand!