1) Morning TimeI. Love. Morning Time.
This dedicated time of day has allowed us to fit in more of the "extra" stuff that I've always wanted to get to, but have struggled to add consistenly into our homeschool day. Our Morning Time currently consists of:
-Poetry. We read a poem or two from this book each morning.
-Hymn memorization. The hymn changes each month. For November we are learning Count Your Blessings. Scripture memorization: We're trying something new this term: Memorizing a passage of scripture rather than verses. We are about halfway through memorizing the story of the birth of Christ in Luke 2: 1-20.
-Religious Studies Loop (see below for more details)
-History Read Aloud
I try to start around 8:00am because the earlier in the day we get started with Morning Time, the better our entire day flows. Sometimes we start as late as 9:00 or 9:30, though. It is what it is.
2) Loop Schedules
This is a great place to start if you want to learn about loop schedules. Basically, we rotate (or "loop") reading from different books or studying different topics rather than assigning different topics to set days. When it's time for Religious Studies, for example, I pull out the book that's next on the loop rather than having a certain book assigned to a certain day of the week. This term we are looping two different subjects: Science and Religious Studies.
Science. For science alternate reading Ellie's Physics and Ethan's. They both do a page in their science notebooks for each day, regardless of whose reading is done that day. I think we'll add in a nature study day to the schedule for our winter term.
Religious Studies Loop. We alternate between reading one of three different things: an article from The Friend, a chapter from New Testament Stories or something from The Children's Book of Virtues.
I love the freedom I feel because of the loop schedule. I don't feel like we're behind when the inevitable disturbance arises in our homeschool morning. And I feel like we're covering more quality material at the same time.
3) Draw the USA
I recently discovered Draw the USA and we began using it for Geography a few weeks ago. My kids love (LOVE!) it. I use it as the reward for finishing the rest of our Morning Time in peace because they are so excited to add a state or two or three to their maps each day. They are already begging to do Draw Africa, Draw Europe, Draw Canada and Greenland. I also just learned that the same author also wrote Drawing American Art and I'm dying to give that a try, too. Can't recommend it highly enough.
4) Reading at Bedtime
For the past couple of years I've combined our bedtime read aloud with my two oldest kiddos. Just recently I've been frustrated with this system because I have been struggling to get to all the books I want to read with each child and instead I've been focusing on books that will be of interest to both of them. I felt like I was skipping over books with Ethan (7) because Ellie (11) had already read them. Just within the past week or two, I started reading with my big kids separeately at bedtime.
Ethan and I are reading Charlotte's Web and Ellie and I are reading Elephant in the Garden. We read a chapter or so each night and it's been so completely lovely. I recognize that the fact that there are big gaps in between my kids' ages and the fact that we only have three kids makes this practice much easier. It would be much harder to make it work if we had many children close together.
5) Moving our Supplies Upstairs
We have a beautiful homeschool room/ playroom in the basement but for the homeschool stage we're in right now it's just not practical for us to be down there. I love to get started with Morning Time while the kids are eating breakfast. Full mouths= quiet mouths. Also, Elijah is loud and disruptive (and did I mention loud?) when we're trying to do school. The one activity he will do for more than 30 seconds is play in the sink. The only way we can get through school while he's awake is to be somewhere he can make a giant mess with water.
So, the kitchen it is for now. Once I decided to make the move, our school time has been much more streamlined. It's funny how guilty I felt for moving out of the schoolroom, but now that it's done I can see it was definitely the right choice.
Do you homeschool? What are you loving right now?