How do you start your homeschool day? Is it at 2 o’clock in the afternoon shrieking “We HAVE to do school!” Meanwhile, your kids are pelting each other with Nerf darts and screaming spells they learned from Harry Potter. One is wearing a bunny costume for no apparent reason and somehow your house still isn’t clean even though you’ve literally been cleaning the entire day. Ok, that was a little specific (blush). I think we’ve probably all had a variation of this day, right?
So, how do we begin our day so that it doesn’t spin into a bunny suit/Nerf nightmare?
Well, a big help for us is the “no screens til school is over” rule. I feel like, if cartoons or DanTDM (God help you if you know who this is) are turned on while my kids are having their Cheerios, we are setting ourselves up for failure. It will be a fight when it’s time to turn off the tablet and get started our schoolwork.
The problem is, early in the morning, no one really feels like doing subtraction drills or correcting punctuation. We want to chill. So, we ease in to our day with something we all like: read aloud.
Whether your kids are toddlers, struggling readers, or leaving for college next year, everyone benefits from read aloud. I’m also willing to bet that if you homeschool your kids, you probably enjoy a good book. So, why torture yourself? Ease in with a chapter book.
We always have a stack of chapter books that we are working our way through. I’ve been reading chapter books to my kids since they were in the womb. They love it. I love it. We grab cereal, strong coffee, blankies, etc. and head to the schoolroom. As the breakfasts are finished and the coffee dwindles down, we start to wake up a bit. At this point, my son starts pulling out Lego minifigures or paint. My daughter is busy cutting paper or doodling in a notebook. This is my cue, I put down our chapter book (right now we’re reading Island of the Blue Dolphin) and pick up our history book. We are working through Story of the World by Susan Bauer. They continue to busy themselves on the floor, couch, at the table, etc. while I read about the middle ages. I pause here and there to ask a comprehension question or start dialogue (“Would you want to live in Constantinople?” “Why?”) We continue until I notice that they are losing interest. With my daughter, she starts singing to herself. With my son, this might mean that the minifigures have reached a turning point in their battle and it’s getting loud. I quietly close the book, and begin pulling out handwriting books, spelling lists, and math manipulatives. I tell them that they have a few more minutes to play and then we’re moving on. If they are really not ready yet, we’ll do First Language Lessons next because it’s mostly oral and not a lot of writing yet (we’re on Vol. 1). After that, we move on to pencil and paper type work.
They’ve had a chance to play, we’ve gotten something accomplished, and we’ve allowed ourselves wake up gently.
Most adults don’t roll out of bed and immediatly start working. We commute, we check email, we drink coffee or chat with a coworker for a few minutes before we get started right? At the same time, we’ve all fallen down the Facebook click bait rabbit hole. It’s easy to waste the first 20 minutes of our morning reading something we’re not even that interested in. Am I the only one?
So, turn off the screens and ease into your day with something worthwhile but not horribly painful (long division). In fact, get your second cup of coffee before you even attempt long division with your kid. Trust me, you both will benefit from the caffeine therapy.