I recently started reading the blog Nurtured By Love by a Canadian unschooler and Suzuki teacher. She started blogging before 2000 and blogs pretty regularly so I have been reading through from the start like a novel, and I’ve really enjoyed following the story of her family and their musical, unschooling lives.
It’s inspired me to start blogging again about our homeschooling life. I know that homeschooling is unique to each family. Although we may have children with similar characteristics that pose similar challenges, each family will respond in a different way that is suitable to their own situation. But.. .
So here’s a description of what our homeschooling day was like today. It was a quieter day than usual, because Drama King’s vocal coach and Reptile Boy’s drumming teacher were both on holiday. It’s good to have quiet days sometimes!
I got up late, at about 9 am, after the younger children had been up for at least two hours. Drama King had been watching the TV, then made an attempt to start his work, doing a bit of sight singing from an internet site, and ended up playing Minecraft. Reptile Boy had been doing something which involved loud noises (which was part of the reason I’d stayed in bed) but had not had breakfast. Both boys were half dressed.
I woke up Pokemon Boy at about 10 am. He usually tries to go to SHRIMPS on Thursdays. This is a homeschool meetup in the Inner West of Sydney. When he was the only one homeschooling in our family, he and I and Princess would go to SHRIMPS every week. Nowadays it doesn’t fit in with instrument lessons and drama for the younger boys, so Pokemon Boy goes on his own. Today when I woke him up he said he didn’t feel like going. This made sense as the weather prediction wasn’t great, and he seemed very tired.
I wanted to do some exercise but I couldn’t find any clean exercise bras. I decided to have a shower and get dressed in normal clothes instead. I made some late breakfast for myself and Princess and wrote the boys’ lists. Each weekday during term time I give them a list of work to do and if they get it done by 5 pm they can have an hour’s ‘screen time’. That’s the theory, anyway.
Drama King has recognised that he is not very good at managing his time, so he has asked me to turn his list into a timetable, with a time at which he should do each item on the list. I make a rough estimate of how long he will take to do everything and then write in the times to start. He rarely follows it but at least it has stopped him trying to fit everything in at 4 pm and then being upset he hasn’t had his screen time.
Today he admitted that he was very tired, so he was slow to get going, but he still wanted to get all his work done because he was looking forward to playing a new Minecraft mod with his dad (who has only just got back from 10 days in California).
Princess kept asking me to chop up tomatoes today. This is a change from capsicum, which has been her preferred snack for the previous few days.
I really want our days to involve more time outside, so I had written ‘Go out’ on each boy’s list. I suggested a walk in the park over the road before it started raining. Drama King argued with me that he was going to have to go out to walk to drama in any case, so he didn’t want to go out with me in the morning. I didn’t push it. I got Princess ready and Reptile Boy got himself ready and we wandered over to the Creative Art Space down the road. There is a new exhibition there every few weeks and today it was a group of ceramicists known as ‘Mudlark’. I took a few photos for my mum who loves ceramics.
Reptile Boy spent a while looking at the pots with a ‘crystal glaze’. The crystals are zinc silicate, formed by heating the pots to just the right temperature. I wondered how easy it was to predict the crystallisation pattern before you put the pots in the kiln. Some of the pots had crystals all over them and others a few, on a smooth shiny background. Princess was getting bored so we went outside the art space, picked a bit of rosemary from the garden and tried to get photos of the insects for my science group.
Once we were back home Pokemon Boy decided to go to Manly Library and asked me if I had anything I wanted him to take back. My husband said he was using the car today and so we swapped keys. Drama King and Princess were riding scooters in the car port and I warned them they’d have to come in when Daddy was driving the car.
I started to do my chores and noticed that my apple scrap vinegar had developed a terrible smell. Apple scrap vinegar is my favourite thing to ferment because we go through heaps of apples and I love making things from leftovers. Unfortunately the Sydney climate means I really have to keep an eye on the vinegar otherwise it develops mould. This one had only been started five days ago but it smelled disgusting. I drained the vinegar into the toilet and put the apple scraps in the rubbish, feeling guilty that I still don’t have a compost bin. I briefly played UNO with Princess. She didn’t want me to take a photo of her, but I was allowed to take one of the cards.
I made Greek Salad and cheese toasties for lunch and gently nagged the boys about getting the work done on their list. While I was making lunch Princess listened to her favourite songs on our SONOS system and shouted at anyone who dared to sing or dance along.
I went through Reptile Boy’s spelling lesson. At about an hour before they had to go to drama class, Drama King took himself off into my bedroom to try a practice General Knowledge test. He is entering the Selective Schools Examination this March. This reminded me that I still needed to enter him online, so I did this and then got distracted by Facebook and e-mails.
I then had a look at Drama King’s musicianship book and realised that he hadn’t been going through as quickly as I’d planned (in fact, he’s only done six pages since August) and that it is highly unlikely he will be ready to take the online exam before the audition for Sydney Children’s Choir in December. Passing a music theory or musicianship exam might have meant being placed in a more advanced choir. But it looks like neither of these are going to happen. We had a small argument about this. I tried not to sound too accusatory. I was aiming to simply state the problem and say that we needed to talk together to work out a solution. Drama King said he didn’t want to spend an hour listening to me telling him I was disappointed. We’ll talk about it sometime tomorrow. Maybe he won’t be so tired and we will be able to discuss things without shouting at each other.
After this Drama King had a long shower and washed his hair (both overdue occurrences) and Reptile Boy hung around in the bathroom playing some shouting game with Drama King. They left a little late but said they would jog there. Just as drama was due to start, the heavens opened, so I hope they managed to get there in time.
Princess had fun out in the garden with her brother’s umbrella and her other brother’s welly boots and persuaded me to come out with her for a while. This time I was allowed to take a photo.
I checked up on Pokemon Boy who had been working through his physics course online, but decided he was ready for a break to do his chores and English. While he loaded the dishwasher I washed up the things that can’t go in. Every day we have quite a pile of things waiting to be washed up by hand. Then he disappeared back into his room.
Princess asked if she could use the whiteboard pens to do some drawing. She announced that she was drawing a wedding and my heart sank. I noticed a wedding in a My Little Pony video she was watching the other day. Why is it that weddings occur so frequently in stories aimed at little girls, and hardly ever in stories aimed at little boys? (This is somewhat of a rhetorical question. I can venture several reasons but all of them sadden me.) I told her that it’s not really such a big deal to be married. She got upset and marched into her room.
A friend phoned to discuss the situation with my science classes. I only recently discovered I can’t run them in our house as it is not covered by my landlord’s insurance. We also discussed music-related stuff. Her son has the same vocal coach as mine, and he was in The Magic Flute last year with Opera Australia. My son has just found out that he has a part in The Magic Flute this year.
While I was on the phone Princess shouted and screamed because she wanted me to read a book to her. Eventually I cut the phone conversation short. I read her new book to her several times (‘Yellow Dress Day’ by Michelle Worthington) and then we played a few games on the computer together.
My husband sent a text to say he had picked up the boys from drama and was going shopping. I find it amusing that whenever I think I have stocked up for the whole week he always seems to find plenty to buy in the supermarket. I expect he will come back laden with boxes of cereal and other items that I rarely buy.
Princess nagged me for some capsicum. I had some chicken cooking in the slow cooker for tacos and I decided to chop up some more capsicum and onions to go with the chicken. I looked at her ‘wedding’ picture and told her how beautiful it looked. I think she forgave me for being negative earlier.
The boys and my husband came back. Until they returned, I hadn’t noticed how quiet the house had been.
I cooked the capsicum and onions and we collectively got the table ready for dinner. Over dinner Princess told a few Knock-Knock jokes and the rest of us discussed idioms (because Drama King had not understood the one in his General Knowledge test).
After dinner Reptile Boy wanted to show Pokemon Boy the game he’s just finished using the Game Design 1 course from Youth Digital, and Princess wanted to go to bed early but then noticed the mince pies and sat back down to eat a mince pie before bed. Drama King finished watching Heroes Reborn and read aloud another chapter of ‘The Wee Free Men’ to Reptile Boy as their bedtime story. I put Princess to bed. She told me she was upset that I had been negative about her wedding picture before even seeing it. I apologised. I read her ‘My Many Coloured Days’ by Dr Seuss and ‘Yellow Dress Day’ again. By the end of the second book she was asleep.
I have to prepare for tomorrow’s science lesson. Since we will be outside in the park, instead of inside, I need to make sure I have everything packed. I also still have some maths to do with Pokemon Boy. I need to show him how to draw scatter graphs correctly. I’ve been putting this off because it’s hard to get a quiet chunk of time with him. He has been quite happy to let his maths slip each day but I really want to make sure we have this covered.