Wednesday, February 17, 2016

A Charlotte Mason Day in the Life

Today I am joining a roundup! Learning Mama is hosting "A Day in the Life of a Classical Homeschooler." While we are not Classical in the "ages and stages" sense, we do consider ourselves to be providing a Classical education using Charlotte Mason's philosophy and methods.

I start the day shortly after 7:00 am. No need for alarm clocks at our house --our four boys always wake us up on time! As usual, SA(7) is the first one out of bed, followed by MM(3), then JJ(5). Baby AJ(1) often sleeps a little longer than the rest, but not this morning. I start the coffee, the oatmeal, and my husband's lunch.

8:00 My husband is gone to work. The boys and I are eating our oatmeal with blueberries and cantaloupe. I finish eating a little earlier than the boys, so I pull out Pilgrim's Progress and read an episode from Part 2 (Christiana's journey). Then I grab a piece of paper and a pencil and start drawing as SA(7) and JJ(5) tell me what happened in the story. Sadly, I am no artist, and the boys are soon laughing at my work. "It looks like a girl with a beaver tail," giggles SA. I, of course, am highly insulted. It was supposed to be Mercy, asking the porter why he kept that horrible dog that was always scaring the pilgrims.

By this time, everyone is done eating and we go on with our morning circle time. I read the story of Jacob's ladder from Genesis, and SA narrates. He does this Very Slowly, and with many pauses.
SA: "Isaac called Jacob, and then he said, 'Go to [long pause... I can't remember the place. Me: 'Paddan-Aram']. Take a wife from one of her brothers. [long pause. Me: 'Anything else?'] Then when Esau saw that Rebekah was not pleased with them, he went and got another person not like the ones he had." 
SA: "Jacob left, then he slept there because the sun went down. He dreamed that there was a ladder leading up to heaven and angels going up and down the ladder."
JJ(5): "And the Lord at the top of it!"
SA: "Then the Lord said, [long pause. Me: "Then the Lord said what?"}
JJ: "Can I go play outside?"
Me: "No. But you can get socks on while you wait for SA to finish narrating."
SA: "He woke up and said 'The Lord is here, and I didn't know it.' The Lord said he would bless him and multiply his offspring." (long pause)
Me: "Was there anything else? I think I remember something about a rock."
SA: "He put up the rock and he poured oil upon the rock for a pillar."
Meanwhile, JJ(5) and MM(3) have started racing dump trucks on the piano, and AJ(1) has started climbing onto the table. I try to gather them in again by asking MM what he'd like to sing. SA wants to sing "How Firm a Foundation," but MM doesn't want to. "That's OK," I say. "We'll sing what you choose first, and then we'll sing his choice. Which song would you like?" "When We Walk With the Lord." So we sing one verse of both hymns, then recite our Bible memory passage (Colossians 3:12-17). Finally, we pray.

9:00 We get started on chores, then I send the two big boys outside to play. I am busy folding laundry upstairs when I realize that SA has not gone out with JJ. He has been reading, but he has finished his book now. This is a big deal. He has been reading his first chapter book for a couple of weeks now. I record The Akimbo Adventures as the first step on his "Chapter Books" chart and shoo him out to play in the snow.

It is a beautiful day --sunny, minus 5 Celcius, and mountains of snow to play in. They use their shovels and work on digging holes to hide in when the bad guys come, and eight boats made of snow. JJ makes a cannon at the top of a snow mountain.

I wash dishes and shower and fold laundry and clean under the breakfast table. Then I nurse the baby and put him to bed.

MM decides to go out and play in the snow, too, so I help him with his snowsuit.

10:30 Everyone is back inside and wanting hot chocolate. I put on the kettle and set the table. As I finish my preparations, I ask the boys to get out some poetry books for us to read. They do.

When I arrive at the table they already have their favourites picked out. MM chooses "Box Car Racer" from Anne Isaacs' Cat Up a Tree. He chooses this every time. If for any reason he ever chooses something else, JJ chooses it. I have read this poem at least three times a week for the last three years. This time JJ chooses "I had a little nut tree" from Lavender's Blue, and SA chooses "The Telephone" by Robert Frost. This one was new to us, and everyone enjoyed the image of a flower being used as a telephone for thoughts. I also read several poems by Christina Rossetti, since she is our poetry focus this term.

Towards the end of our teatime, things fall apart. Hot chocolate is spilled, AJ wakes up, MM has an accident and wants a bath...

11:30 I rally and get the school day going. We start with a reading and narration from Trial and Triumph, a church history book. We are reading about Francis of Assisi.

SA: "I don't like this book very much."
Me: "Well, not all our school books can be our favourites. Which one is your favourite?"
SA: "I like Wind in the Willows."
Me: "We're reading Wind in the Willows today, too. Would you like to start with that instead?"
SA: "No, that's okay."
JJ: "When we're done, can you come out and build a snow fort with us?"
Me: "We'll see. I can't think about that right now."

Finally I manage to start the lesson(!) and SA narrates.

"That Francis once told a flock of birds to praise your father, who clothed you in feathers and wings. Once he said to a cricket, 'Cricket my sister, praise the Lord your God who created you."
"He said to the Lesser Brothers to go to the four corners of the earth. Maybe he was talking this place and this place and this place is what he meant by the four corners. (pointing) That he, dying at the age of 54, he said, 'Hello, sister death.'"

We are behind our regular routine so I decide to move right into the next reading, Wind in the Willows. SA narrates:

"She said that he might be fake. (long pause, "And then what?") He unfastened the tow rope and left the tow path. He saw the barge woman shouting, 'Stop, stop, stop!'" Toad didn't stop, and soon he had slowed down to a trot, then a walk. He fell asleep and then woke up with a jolt. Then he saw a gipsy smoking a pipe. He put the pipe out of his mouth."
SA:"Where's the timer?" (standing on his head. We always set the timer so we don't go overtime on our lessons.)
Me: "I have it. Now sit down beside me in 'narration posture.'"

"He said, 'one shilling for each leg.' Toad wanted three shillings for each leg. Then he said he wanted six shillings for the whole horse and as much food as he wanted for one sitting. And that's all I remember. Oh, and the food was made out of the finest hares and chicken."

By this time it is already far past noon. Normally we have two readings and our math done before lunch, but today we are going very slowly. I decide that SA can do his math while I prepare lunch. We get out his Singapore Math book. Today's exercise is only one page, something he can finish in five minutes. I set the timer for 20 minutes, telling him he can do math on the computer (We just got a free trial of DreamBox Learning) with the time he has left. 

While lunch is in the oven, I sit down and read MM(3) and JJ(5) a story. We start with The Little Engine That Could, MM's current favourite. I read it to him yesterday, and the day before, and the day before that... Thankfully, JJ picks a new book, Castles in the Sea, a nonfiction picture book by Lawrence Jackson about icebergs. It is surprisingly good, with many living ideas, not just dry facts.

1:00 We have our lunch. I read to all of them after I've finished eating. We've just started Mary Poppins. I have never read this book before, and I find it a little silly. The boys don't seem to be too impressed, either, because they wander off before I'm finished the chapter.

2:00 We all go outside. Sadly, I cannot help them with a snow fort because I am lugging a heavy one-year-old, but I admire the snow staircases and the holes they have made. After half an hour, I go in with the baby and nurse him. He eventually falls asleep.
3:00 The other boys come in from outside. JJ(5) comes to me. "What can I do?" Normally this is code for "What can you do with me?" "How about a reading lesson?" I say. He is keen, so we pull out the Alpha Phonics and do a lesson.

3:30 Almost 4:00 and SA still needs to do his copywork and one more narration. The copywork is always done in five minutes, and this narration from the Burgess Animal Book is always a short one, as he reads it on his own. We normally set the timer for seven minutes, and he comes to me and tells me about it when the timer rings. So this is no more than fifteen minutes of work, but he is not settling down to it. He is allowed to have some screen time at 4:00 if the day's lessons are done, but that is not motivating him today. He and the other boys are upstairs playing with a new radio Papa has brought home yesterday. I decide to let it be for now and get some cleaning up done while they are entertaining themselves. He finally finishes his lessons at around 4:15, then they all go and have some Minecraft screen time.

And that's the end of our school day! I rest a little, then start supper. 

Click on over for more days in the lives of Classical homeschoolers!