Friday, September 4, 2009

What does school look like for the middle kids....

Lets see if I can share this info and it not be an entire book...LOL

My middle grades (older grades later) I tend to do school only 4 days a week about 3 hours each day (if they are diligent and not wasting time). We also work on a 6 week schedule with this group. Having a free day in my week allows me a day I can put all my errands, doctor appointments, etc. I find when I leave home not much gets accomplished by this age group. So I finally found a routine that works for us. On my day I run around they are great babysitters for whatever children I leave here which keeps the day clear for my older ones to work. I often try to take 1-3 younger ones with me when I can. But if it is close to naps or one is too tired I LOVE this stage of having sitters!!!!!!!!! Took a few years to get here. I remember taking 5 kids 7 and under grocery shopping, doctor appointments and so on. Can I say tiring and stressful! And they actually behaved pretty good. The truth is if you have young ones it is just flat physically draining! Hang in there moms!!!

I still find my curriculum will change and adjust somewhat depending on what season of life we are in at the time. Last year after having a baby I did practically everything on computer. I knew nursing and keeping track of the other young ones I would absolutely NOT get school done otherwise.

This year I have a balance of some books and some computer. I like this mix the best. Gives me some hands on (because I actually like it and they do to) and yet some freedom that they can work school if mom is not available by doing computer work.

Science and History (which includes Bible, writing, reading, and history) you can see previous shares what we are doing. With these two subjects it is easier to teach more than just one child. Some subjects just don't work well with multiples (like math) I like that this gives me the opportunity to work with several kids at one time. We actually all enjoy this time together. I would love for my older two to do this but it just gets too chaotic. (and frankly, the teens see this as kiddy work...even though they are doing the same just doesn't settle well with them doing work with the younger ones). I allow them to do it later and they help me by juggling the baby while I work with this group.

With 5th & 6th grader we can dig in a little deeper than the younger ones. They get the opportunity to feel like the big kids and share their knowledge. (all kids like to share their knowledge..LOL) The younger ones get the benefit of hearing more information and watching their older siblings work. What tends to happen is they run off to play the story time and then they show back up about 30 minutes later checking out what the 5th-6th grader are doing.

Math and Language Arts we do on computer.

Math we do Teaching Textbook. They can do their work on computer and it GRADES! LOVE this! I can easily see with one click who needs help. Or I find that they are moving right along! They like the independence and so do I.

Language Arts we use Switched on Schoolhouse (SOS) This is computer work that will grade and gives me total access to how I want things graded. I have full control over all the settings. I plug in beginning date and ending date of school and it lesson plans my year with one click! Many times this was a life saver for me! This is typically what I result to when we have babies arriving or we are in a move...basically when we know life will get chaotic (if we have warning) back to SOS I go! Last year each of the kids did 4-5 subjects each through this curriculum and I could network all the computers and check their work from one location. When you are talking 20 plus subjects this was an amazing blessing! They could leave me a message when stuck with a problem and I was able to check their work late at night. I could leave a message back with helps on what they needed to do so in the morning if I was busy with other kids they could continue their work. I love this curriculum. But I do like to change it up from time to time so they get some book work in there. I find most of my kids like change anyways...makes things fresh and new. Not all...I have one that would prefer computer work and we keep it that way for her. She does why change!

Writing... although they get this some in history I do also ask them to journal about 3-4 days a week. Most of my kids live in writers block:/ So I have a book I picked up at Mardels that gives them prompts. (because mom is brain dead too...I need help) About once a week I have them take one of the 3-4 journals they have done and fix it...using proper grammar, spelling, punctuation, and written more neatly! Then every few weeks I might have them turn one journal into an entire paper. They go back and touch it up, make it more interesting. Most the time I just want them to learn to be free in their thoughts. I have found (after learning from my older kids) at this age they are not going to master this (proably because this isn't my strong subject either...math is more my thing:). It has definitely been evident in our family that if you are strong in writing you will NOT be in math. If you are strong in math you will NOT be in writing. Apparently the two do not cross the same brain waves! Learning this has helped me with my expectations of the kids. They may not be great at something but we CAN continue to improve! I don't expect them to master this at this age we are still into them enjoying the process of learning and expressing themselves! We can master this later.

For activities....all my kids are into tennis! A secret into a moms simple persuasion to get them all going the same direction for her own sanity! (a story to share later...but it worked) I love that they are interested in the same thing!!!! A true blessing. Not for everyone, but somehow it has worked for our family. Pretty sure God knew I needed a little grace and gave them the same desire! Life with this many at different stages from college student to takes work to keep our schedule limited if possible. If we don't say 'no' we would never see our children or each other. So it takes team work for Barry and I to work together to keep this family moving in the same direction. Not always the exact same activity but at least we block our a family day and monitor that we get time together with them from time to time. We try to say 'yes' a lot...but there are times we just have to time!

Well, I wrote another book....sorry!
Just trying to answer all the questions I can think of that others have asked me
or that I myself had when I was just beginning! Best day at a time! If something doesn't work...ask other moms and try something else. You will eventually find your groove. Would it help if I said it took nearly 8 years before I started realizing how the family and I function....LOL Would love to hear what you are using or doing with your kids. I am still learning too!

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