After answering a post on my favorite homeschool discussion board, I decided that it would be great to put the time I spent writing to even more good use and share my response here:
Here's how things work at our home:
Q) How does a typical day go for your homeschool? Schedule? Do you wake at a certain time, do school at a certain time, eat together for dinner, etc?
A) We all wake up around 7AM (The baby usually wakes up at 6:30 and then nurses for 1/2 hr.) I get up and turn on our Morning "Miracle Music" CD. (www.childrensmiraclemusic.com) I love it, because it ensures that everybody is relatively clean and dressed for the day-- one less thing I have to stress about.
We eat breakfast around 8AM, and then the kids get the family room cleaned for homeschool while I shower. (Breakfast takes a while for me to make, because we usually have something from scratch-- cold cereal only happens on Sunday mornings. On Fridays, my 13yo dd practices her baking and math skills by making something yummy, like muffins, breakfast cake, etc.)
School starts around 10AM, and we have "Devotional," which includes a song, a prayer, the pledge, and then a Gospel story and discussion. My almost-2yo dd falls asleep on the floor or the couch during this time, and my preschoolers try to play quietly while I "shoosh" them. The baby is usually napping by the time we start, because I feed her before or after my shower-- she's the boss!After Devotional, I read something out of "The Book of Virtues"." and we discuss it. Then I read something about a period in history; we're on the American Revolution right now. Then I read aloud from our current classic. The kids take turns picking the next book. That way, only half of them whine at a time! But, truly, after we get started, everybody really gets into the story. Ah, the beauty of the classics!
As a side note, I let my kids do something quiet with their hands through all this reading. And the preschoolers are playing and dressing up, and continuing to get shooshed all the while!
After reading time, it is Free Study Time. The kids are supposed to report to me about what they'll be working on, and I'm okay with it if they move on to other things if they so choose. This time is when I study, as well. Usually that involves me getting on the computer because I'm writing a book, starting a web-business, and running a homeschooling organization. (Yes, I'm a bit busy these days!) I also listen to my learning-to-read kids read aloud sometime during Free Study. The kids can watch a Math-U-See DVD, or play a money game like Monopoly, cook something in the kitchen, catch bugs outside, draw or paint pictures, etc., and I consider that learning.
Q) Do you let your kids have friends everyday, once a week, etc?
A) My kids usually don't do a lot with friends, because they have each other to play with. They get to visit with friends at Mutual, Cub Scouts, and Activity Days, and sometimes one or two might call and ask to play on Saturday. We try to keep our schedule all summer long (too hot to play outside in the summer here, anyway), with the exception of swimming lessons twice a week during June and July. I don't mind having any number of kids here, because we already have a crowd, anyway, but I'm VERY picky about letting them go to a friend's house. I have to know the friend's parents VERY well.
Q) Rules? Rewards and consequences for children's behavior?A) I believe in having a few, strong rules, and ours revolve around the "9 Be's" in the book "Way to Be!" by Gordon B. Hinckley. We have kids sit in the corner, or on their beds, or give them an extra job if they intentionally hurt one another. For my boys, if they sneak on the computer (one of our biggest issues, at present) they lose computer privileges for that week.
Q) What kind of chores do your kids do, and how do work your chores system?A) Each of my children 6yo and up has a kitchen stewardship that lasts about a month. (Which is about how long it takes for them to figure out how to do it correctly.) Then, we have jobs that they choose from. I use Diann Jeppson's system for this. It's found in the book "A Thomas Jefferson Education Home Companion." I have tried just about every system you could think of, but this one has worked the best for us. Each child has to pick so many jobs-- if they don't pick any, then at the end of choosing time, they get what's left! They usually wise up pretty quickly. I help the little ones with their chores. Our house stays pretty darn clean this way! We also do a "Quick Pick-Up" around 4PM before my DH gets home, so he won't have to some home to "Disaster-City!"
Q) Do you allow TV, computer, and game time, and do you monitor how long or content? And how?
A) We don't do television at our house, but we do watch a movie every Tuesday evening. We take turns picking the movie. And I let the kids watch a movie when one of the big kids is babysitting. Just easier for everyone.
We don't have any video games, but we do allow computer games on Saturdays. Usually, it's only the boys who are interested in this. Again, I am very picky about what they play. I do allow strategy games, like Warcraft, or "Age of Empires." We set the timer for 30 minutes for each boy. Some Saturdays, if the boys have done an especially good job doing their chores, I let them each play a couple of rounds.
Q) Do you use any systems that I may want to look into, like chore helps, or teaching kids how to work, etc?A) The ones I listed above are my personal favorites: "Miracle Music" and Diann Jeppson's book listed above.
Q) How do you manage teaching multiple ages/grades while having a baby? My son is so used to me working next to him the whole time we do schoolwork, but now that I have to teach 3 this year, I need him to be more independent and not sure how to require this.
A) You can see how I homeschool multiple ages in the previous questions. I teach them what I feel is very MOST important all together, and then I let them follow their interests. Sometimes they need my help, sometimes they don't. But I try very hard to set a good example and study a lot myself.
There are constant interruptions, but that's just life! Honestly, people frequently ask me how I homeschool nine kids and still clean house and run a busy organization, and I just tell them "IMPERFECTLY!" As a life-long perfectionist, I have finally learned to just let go of the unimportant and the unnecessary and recognize the little victories with appreciation.
In everything I choose to do, I try to follow the promptings of the Holy Spirit. I figure that I can trust God and His plans for my children-- after all, He loves them, too.