Monday, April 27, 2020

Eight o’clock in the morning. I promised myself a cup of coffee in solitude. I’ve committed to carving out a few minutes of alone time for a while now, but today it was “for real”.  As my three little angels peacefully ate breakfast in the kitchen, I was reflecting on my homeschooling life in our living room. Within five minutes my first born five year old discovered me and happily hollered to his sisters, “Girls, I found Mommy. She’s here!”
I smiled at them and started observing their actions.

I welcome you to read further on our daily routine.

Miss V, my eldest three year old daughter,  was wearing a pink dress with bunnies and flowers. She came to me with a sad face and said, “Mom, Rodion said I can’t be a Ninjago and I’m sad about that”. I asked why she needs to ask his permission to be a Ninjago. Her response was very logical, “because he is older than me!”
Next, comes Miss A, our youngest who is just shy of turning two. She was a bit tardy after her brother’s announcement as she stayed back at the kitchen table and made sure to finish everything on her plate and her siblings plates. She quietly came up to me, sat on my lap and started to eat from my plate. She looked into my eyes, smiled and said, “I’m still hungry”.
Rodion started playing the piano, but as dad works from home, we all gave him the look and he immediately stopped. As he’s a bit older than the rest of our tribe, he understands not to interfere with dad’s conference calls. Unfortunately, at the same moment Miss A realizes that piano is her favorite instrument on this planet and playing the notes at a forte decibel makes her really happy. This time we ALL gave her the look!
It didn’t work.
Eventually, she played a few more keys and stopped. Rodion then asked if I can help him find an evil guy’s  lego head. Miss V also jumped to assist with this ‘important task’.

Nine o’clock. Time to get ready for school. If dad has a break between conference calls, we try to slide in a fifteen minute piano repetition. This transition time is for us to get out of our pj’s and get focused on school. It makes a huge difference and mentally prepares us to be focused and learn. We don’t have a formal school every day, but at least three days a week we dress up, go to our homeschool classroom  and enjoy our world of discoveries, stories, projects, and quiet time.
Our homeschool can take anywhere from twenty minutes to three hours.
On the days, when we don’t have formal school lessons, our activities include gardening, cooking, lego building, free play, nature walks, house cleaning, arts and crafts, reading, backyard painting and anything in between.

Twelve o’clock. Everyone is ready for a break. Kids are free to do whatever they want while I fix lunch. Often, Miss V helps me with washing and cutting the vegetables, and setting the table. These days, we’re fortunate to have dad pop out of the office and lunch with us. This gives me a short break and we transition to my favorite time of the day - nap time.

One to four in the afternoon. Between one and two o’clock, I put down my girls for a nap. From two to four  my son and I enjoy quiet time. Occasionally, he naps, but more often than not, we read together, play board games, build Legos, catch up on homeschooling assignments or just relax. Some activities, my five year old manages to do himself, some require my assistance.

During shelter-in-place, I proposed to him to write letters to his friends. Surprisingly, he really got into it. We made a list of friends and relatives to whom he’d like to send a letter. Then day after day, we create cards, write short notes, draw pictures, and include stickers or bookmarks. Rodion became so creative that he even started to pack small lego parts to his friends. Our “nap time” is a perfect quiet time without distractions where Rodion can write his letters. You can’t imagine his excitement when he began checking the mail each day after receiving his first response.

Four to six. Kids free play time among themselves.  I have a few areas in the home with prepared activities on the shelves, including their favorite little library. My girls like to hang out there and “read” to each other. I consciously try not to be by their side at this hour because it makes them dependent on me. The moment I leave them alone, they start learning how to share, solve conflicts, take turns, calm down,  and communicate their needs. When they run to me and say, “he …” or “ she's yelling at me”, I often send them back and say, “talk to each other about it” or “explain to her/him why you don’t like it”. Children can only learn how to solve their conflicts from trial and error.

Every one to two weeks, I rotate the toys and activities on their shelves. For example, one week the art area may include coloring pages and crayons, while the next it will be stocked with markers and play dough. The following week it may be reshuffled with paints and brushes, rocks and wooden blocks, and canvases. Every month our library books are rotated to include seasonal favorites. In the springtime, I make sure there are several books on bugs, plants and gardens.  See my list of our favorite books below from Amazon:
Every month several subscription kits arrive at our doorstep. They don’t require prep time and are perfect for busy parents. You can pick & choose what fits your child’s interests. We’re subscribed to the following:
Ivy Kids Kit - a book and about ten hands-on educational projects and crafts
KiwiCo Kit - a science and physics magazine with hands-on projects
Annie’s Young Woodworkers Kit Club - My son’s favorite. Each month he receives a real tool and monthly woodworking projects such as gluing and nailing together a simple sailboat
Mommy and Me Art - perfect for young artists. Has everything your kid needs to get started and paint!
Little Passports - geography based subscription for 3 years and up. Introduces young children to other cultures.

Six to eight o’clock. Dinner time and our routine "after dinner stroll". Sometimes it’s just dad and children, other times all five of us.
If the adults are exhausted after the walk, a good old classic movie based on a fable can’t hurt, so long as it’s teaching children some good values.

As a homeschool mom, I found the most important task to teach my family is that our kitchen can be “closed” at certain hours of the day such as right after lunch and dinner. You can place a chair or other mental marker barring the entrance as a sign that  Mom needs to have a cup of coffee, or it’s time for children to play by themselves. Is it easy for my two year old to comprehend, why the kitchen just closed? No!  Teaching is a process. It doesn’t stop today. It won’t stop tomorrow. That’s the beauty of continual learning and parenthood.

A few days ago, I was reading to my son the chapter from “The Little Prince” by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, where he describes adults as human beings that sometimes miss the real meaning of pictures, the importance of friends, and people in our lives. My son turned to me and quietly said, “But not you. Mom, you’re different, you get it!” At that moment, I realized, at the end of the day our children just want us to truly understand them from their perception of the world. So, let's just try "to get" them... That's all they really need.

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