Monday, January 16, 2012

What are we going to do today?

I used to get such a kick out of the show "Pinky and the Brain."  And I admit that often when one of my kids asks the inevitable question, "Mom, what are we gonna do today?" I answer (at least in my head) with Brain's classic line: "The same thing we do every day, Pinky.  Try to take over the world!"

It occurred to me that we could tweak this a little, and make it our homeschool theme!  What are we gonna do today in our homeschool?  The same thing we do every day, kids.  Try to change our world!

Sure, Brain was a flawed character and had all the wrong motives for his continued quest to take over the world, but you've got to hand it to him - he was nothing if not persistent.  No matter how many times he failed, he never wavered in his goal, and he was back at it again the next day.

I would hope that our goals are a bit more charitable, and our plans and methods are more practical and successful, but there's something to be said for getting up each day with the goal in view and continuing to work towards it even if there were setbacks and disappointments the day before.  Sometimes I feel like that is the only thing that ties together all the variations of what could be considered a "typical" schoolday at our house.  I love lesson planning, but I'm not good at sticking to a schedule and staying regulated that way.  I did find out years ago that my kids (at least two of them) have a real need to know what will be happening next, and want the security of knowing how long it will be until we move to that next activity.  So even though we don't follow a strict daily schedule, we do have enough structure to (hopefully) keep us on track and help everyone know the deadlines and expectations.

It's hard to find a truly typical day, but most often our schooldays look a little like this:
  • 8:30 is the time I tell the kids to be up on most schooldays, and school is supposed to start at 9.  The truth is - they often feel that sleep is preferable to breakfast, until 9 o'clock rolls around and they are supposed to be working on school but they're hungry.  So I'm not as strict on this as I should be.  Or as I used to be.  But school does start at 9 on most days. 
  • Spencer works on all his subjects independently, so it's up to him what order he works on things. 
  • Landon and Kennady usually start the day with one of the subjects they do together with me - Science, Social Studies, or Music.  We generally do Science two or three times a week, and a lesson might be about half an hour long.  Social Studies is two or three times a week, for about an hour.  And Music is also two or three times a week, but only about 15 minutes or so.  If it works out, I try to do some of the music listening while we are driving.
  • After that first hour or so, I expect Landon and Kennady to work on their independent subjects until lunchtime, which is about 11:30.
  • After lunch, we might work on something together again, or the kids might go back to working on their own.  It just depends on the day and on what we did that morning.
  • The schoolday is usually over by 3 o'clock, but that changes too, depending on how the day has gone.  When needed, the kids do homework after dinner.
We don't always get up and get started on time.  We don't always stick to the same schedule.  Mondays are different because the boys are up late the night before working the hockey game.  Tuesdays are different because Spencer has Chemistry class in the morning, and in the fall semester, we have gym class in the afternoon.  Thursdays are different because we do a co-op class in the spring. 

But the goal is (or should be) the same each day.  Learning how to fulfill our responsibilities and growing in the Lord.  Math and Science remind us that God is a God of order, and that logic and reason comes from him.  Social Studies remind us that God is present throughout history, and that all people need a Saviour.  Language Arts helps us communicate well and clearly, using one of God's great gifts to us - language.  Music and Literature and the Arts remind us that we are created in God's image, and that's why we can participate in creating, and why we can appreciate beauty.  Do we consciously think about these things every day?  No, not even close.  But we choose curriculum that reflects these values, and we don't try to separate God or faith from the things we study.  So even when we sleep in, or plans go by the wayside, or we forget our math facts, or get bored or frustrated with our studies, or bicker or get distracted, or fall behind our deadlines...  the goal doesn't change. 

So when my kids get up in the next couple minutes and ask "Mom, what are we gonna do today?" the answer will still be, "the same thing we do every day, kids.  Try to get our schoolwork done so we can change the world!"

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Mozi Esme said...

Love this focus! That's really what it's all about!

I can so relate to the "love lesson planning but not always sticking to the schedule" thing... I've been blessed with a kiddo who gets super-bored with routine, which can be annoying, but really works out pretty well.

Our Peculiar Lives said...

Such a neat way of thinking - love it! I have a son who always has to know what's happening next too so I can relate. I struggle with finding a balance between teaching him to be content with what's going on right now and meeting his "need to know the schedule for the next six days hour by hour" when I don't even know it!

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