Friday, February 19, 2010

Short Days

Yesterday, I wrote about how we are currently over-scheduled, leaving little time school. Sure computer club, swimming, art, and taekwondo all count as school credit, but the work we call "school" consists of spelling, grammar, vocabulary, poetry, literature, writing, penmanship, math, logic, history, science, etc. This is what we have to fit into those 16 hours a week we have left.

How do I manage to home school a 3rd grader and a 5th grader in just 16 hours a week? It has little to do with me, little to do with our curricula, and a lot to do with my kids. They are fast!

Yesterday, I wrote on our white board a list of work I wanted them to work on while I was gone. Knowing that I would only be gone for two hours, I told my husband that they had more than enough work to do. When I returned home, two hours later, both kids were done and reading quietly on their beds. Here's what I assigned them to do, in order:

Read a 4 page section of our history book about Henry V and write a paragraph about what they read using what we've learned in our writing curriculum. The writing curriculum requires that they include 4 (for Sam) or 6 (for Mika) "dress ups". Adding these dress ups can be tricky.

Read two subtitled sections (2 1/2 pages) in our science textbook about echolocation.

Analyze one sentence using the four-part analysis we've been learning. This means they had to identify the part of speech for each word in the sentence, all parts of the sentence, all phrases, and the type of sentence. It's challenging, at times, because some of Sam's sentences include direct and indirect objects, subject complements, and prepositional phrases. Mika's sometimes include those and gerunds, appositive phrases, and participial phrases. So, I only assign one sentence at a time.

Complete one page of math. Each page usually has 18 or 20 problems. Mika's working on fractions, sometimes doing ok, sometimes struggling. Sam is working on prealgebra...negative numbers with exponents right now.

One side of a penmanship worksheet.

One Venn Perplexor logic puzzle.

Complete another math page.

Do the other side of the penmanship page.

Complete a second logic puzzle.

Read a 4 page chapter about Joan of Arc in our history book and write a paragraph from the reading using our writing techniques.

Read a two page section in our science text book about microbats and bat ears. Complete a math exercise in the science book demonstrating the importance of bats. If a brown bat eats 600 insects on hour and eats 10 hours a night, how many mosquitoes will it eat in a night (assuming all it eats is mosquitoes and not other insects)? How many will it eat in a week? How many would 100 bats eat in a night? Week? If your city had a colony of 50,000 bats, how many would they eat in a night? Week? Year? It was a staggering amount, by the way.

Read through your current vocabulary chapter. Choose 5 vocabulary words and write appropriate sentences for each.

So, they finished all of that, in two hours, completely on their own. I never expected them to get all that done. I was shocked. When I got home, I looked over their work and we discussed and reworked anything that they missed. That took a grand total of 10 minutes for Sam and about 20 minutes for Mika (she missed more math problems).

The subjects that they didn't cover are ones that I wanted to work together with them. We'll focus on those today.

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