Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Finding Our Flow

One of the things I've come to love most about homeschooling my child, is that we get to change things up however we want, whenever we need to. We can listen to ourselves and to each other, and flow with the situations that life brings forth, as we figure out how to best fulfill our needs and wants, and how to achieve our general well-being.

One thing that was very much lacking for ME last year was my own physical exercise time. And I really needed it. Another thing lacking was "Sanity Time" for both of us. We both have... strong opinions. We spend pretty much all day together. We are fire and water. And we have the ability to drive each other CRAZY if we don't get some Sanity Time.

Being more aware of this, with our now two years of experience, we've started 5th grade with a flow that seems to be working very well for us.

Sanity Time 1:
I wake up at 6am to get my first 40-min workout in (mostly interval training). Lu usually gets himself up before I'm done, and gets himself ready for the day. We make breakfast and eat together. Lu washes the dishes, while I get my coffee break - a very important time for me to review my plan for the day.

1st Period:
We start with some singing, which also usually involves some dancing. Our repertory includes 60's rock, 80's pop, reggae, soul, trova, and salsa. Ideally, we start at 8:00 and go for 30 minutes, to really wake us up and get our blood pumping. Starting our day singing gets us in a good mood.

Then we cuddle up for a read-aloud. Right now we're reading about magicians, and later on in the year, we'll be reading more mythology from around the world.

Sanity Time 2: 
After reading, it's time for writing. 
The assignment is "a few sentences",  
but Lu usually ends up with a paragraph or two.

This also counts as Sanity Time
because it is something he does independently,
while I can check emails or make another coffee.

When he's done,
he reads me what he wrote, and edits along the way.
Then, we do a second edit together.

By now, it's around 9:15 - 
and we're 75 minutes into our school morning.

2nd Period: 
Time for Math.

Our math sessions usually last an hour. Lu works on his own for the review/practice part of it, and then we work on new concepts together. When the work is easier and we finish sooner, we use the rest of the time for online math games.

Sanity Time 3: We both start getting antsy toward the end of Math - 10am-ish. We've been schooling for two hours, and it is most definitely time for a break. For me, it's time for my second workout (something more dancey / cardio). I can't tell you what a difference this has made. I'm more relaxed, more patient, and more creative when I get my mid-morning sweat and stretch. 

For Lu, break time is for pretty much whatever he feels like doing - like going to pick a basket of oranges at our neighbor's house, making yogurt with the yogurt maker his grandmother recently gave us, or working on his clubhouse.

 freshly picked oranges

 making yogurt

 putting down the floor of the clubhouse

At 11am we reconvene.

3rd Period:
Our first mid-morning class will change through the year.
We will learn about religions of the world, 
famous scientists and evolution.

We read, take notes, draw cartoons,
and make posters about what we're learning.

This year, there is a new emphasis on written
and graphic note-taking.

4th Period:
The second mid-morning class alternates between
Physics twice a week, 
and Geography and Typing twice a week.

We're really enjoying the Eureka Physics videos.

Again, lots of note-taking and poster-making

 (weird extended arm pic to get us both in - 
but this is what our Physics class looks like)

*   *   *   *   *   *   *   *

It's around noon now, and time to make lunch!

Lu wants to be a chef, among other things,
and is always more than happy to help out in the kitchen.

Here he's making his famous salad dressing with
raspberry vinegar and mustard (but the rest is secret...shhh).

 (notice the smiley face tomato and cucumber salad)

Sanity Time 4:
After lunch, we each take an hour to do our own thing.

Lu gets some screen time during this time,
which means permission to get on his email,
or use a design program.

I pretty much do the same, but with coffee :)

5th Period:
At around 2pm, we get back together for 
History three times a week,
and Art twice a week.

These are longer classes. Sometimes up to two hours.

6th and Last Period:
At around 4pm, it's time to wrap things up and get some Khan math practice for about 20 minutes.

At 5:30pm Lu comes back in, after playing outside for about an hour, for chapter-book reading. Right now he's reading the Narnia series, Prince Caspian, and he plans to read all the books this year.

Then it's time for dinner-making, shower-taking, eating, and hanging out with Cha who's back from work. We might watch an episode of something together, or Lu might watch something on his own with dessert, before washing the dinner dishes and getting ready for bed.

So, as you can see, we had six class periods, and four Sanity Times. Almost one for one, and it is well worth it. I can't go for more than two activities without a break, so how should I expect a child to?

Our "school day" runs from 8am-4:30pm, which is a long school day by normal standards, but we have lots of breathing space in between, and that's what works best for us. 

And that is pretty much our day for now. In February things will change when our art school starts up again, taking four half-days a week of our schedule. Our year will vary between the two: one month just us, two months with art school activities and lots of socialization with other kids. 

So, flow. 
It's important to feel it out and find the one that feels right.

And really, I don't know anymore, if we adapt our homeschool to life, or if we adapt life to our homeschool... but it has to fit, like the perfect pair of jeans - not too loose, not too tight.

Just right.


  1. Sounds great, and I'm envious of being able to structure a day around the needs of 'just' two people! Do you have a different schedule for days when there are arts activities happening ? I LOVE the idea of sanity breaks...

    1. Not so much a "different" schedule, just fewer subjects during those months.

  2. I like your days! You must get so much done, but I love that Lu seems to enjoy them too.

    Totally get where you are coming from with the exercise thing - loving mine too (mostly) at the moment.

    I really love that you are in some of the photos :-)

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  4. Gabriela- What a beautiful rhythm. We are still trying to find ours here. I too am a homeschooling mom to one. I am totally envious of your warmth and green that surrounds you. We are on an island in the middle of the Bering Sea surround by white right now....and we never warm up in the summer much beyond sweater weather. I think I will come escape to your blog :) LOL