Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Not so Organized Chaos - Our Homeschooling Day in the Life

Big thanks to for this great link up, and the chance to share our crazy days!

Homeschool for us looks different every day. And since we are in the midst of trying to hammer out a new family routine, our schedule is often precarious, but some things are starting to smooth out. I'll do my best to give you a general idea of how our routine is kind of supposed to go, if everything goes smoothly, which in reality rarely ever fully happens. Life here is crazy, and we just ride the waves as best we can!

The Kiddos:

Zak - 11, 6th grade, our in-house cartoonist, and amazing sketch artist, he is especially into making his own movies these days, and is quite good at it. Especially since it is really a one man show, he does everything from plot to acting to filming and editing all on his iphone. Zak also has some super powers thanks to his Autism Spectrum Disorder, like a crazy awesome memory, his art, and a very curious and scientific mind, but he has some struggles because of it also, such as not being able to read other people's body language or tone very well, getting very exhausted during extended writing projects, and trouble with transitions. He also has Sensory Processing Disorder that makes his body and his mind not always cooperate together, and this can be frustrating for him and for us, so he does a lot of little things throughout the days and weeks to help him keep himself regulated and balanced.

Grace - 7, 2nd grade, our painter and little chef. She loves science and geography right now, is very proud of her new-found reading independence, and is trying out dance this year, which she has a very natural talent for. She loves to do puzzles and play ''office''. She has super powers also, her most amazing is her extraordinary amount of patience, considering the demands and chaos of having two siblings on the Autism Spectrum. She is herself a matter-of-fact, tell-it-like-it-is personality who tends to make us chuckle with her very grown up way of saying things. She gets easily overwhelmed by too many demands, so we tend to break her work, especially brand new concepts, into very small easily understood steps, but once she understands, BOOM! She's off like a rocket!

Kit - 2, our little tornado! She LOVES circles. Playing with them, lining them up, stacking them, running or spinning in them too! She also loves to jump, swing, play with any kind of water, and move the cat from room to room, a lot. She also LOVES her ABCs! She sings them, signs them, shouts them, and wants everyone to do it with her over and over and over again! Her amazing ability to take in and remember everything is one of her super powers thanks to her Autism. She is super smart, and ultra huggable, but she has a lot of Sensory Processing issues as well that make some things very hard for her some days, including talking at times. When she can't use her voice, she uses her hands, and tells us with sign language. Much of her daily activities revolve around play therapy. Someday, it won't have to be "therapy" and it will just be play, we are getting there, and she is learning fast!

Grandpa - 76, with Dementia and Autism himself. He keeps to his own routine for the most part. Coming out just long enough to turn on all the lights in the kitchen, make as much noise as possible with his newspaper, eat nothing but salads for three months in a row and then instantly in one day decide that he can't stand them and won't eat them anymore. But, he lays out the comics every day for Zak, and ignores, in large part, the craziness that constantly buzzes around here all day. As long as he stays away from my coffee pot in the mornings, we usually get along just fine. (He can have as much as he wants, just stop turning it off!!!)

An (Almost) Average Day:

8:00-ish: While everyday here can be totally different, they always start off with a nice hot cup of coffee for me (or two, or four)...and sometimes Kit helps me finish it off.

8-8:30: Kit's occupational therapy with me. We do hands, feet and back to get her ready for the day!

After coffee:  Breakfast. We are not fancy and I am not a morning person so this usually is cereal, yogurt, and fruit.

Mid- Morning: Outside time, rain or shine! Or depending on the day, swimming, park, museum, bowling, or whatever other activity we have planned for the day. (we're still working on making this happen everyday and every week, sometimes we're all still in pjs and playing ;) Tuesdays Kit has dance/gym class, and Wednesdays, The Incredible Miss V comes to teach me more Occupational Therapy for Kit.

Locker hide-n-seek at the pool!

Checking out the "snow" which was really just dusted ice. They loved it anyway.
Lunch Time: While I make lunch and the big kids do chores, Kit has some tablet time, or plays toys or games.Then it's lunch time!

Three at once is way better than one at a time!

My little rabbit loves a good salad for lunch!

Early Afternoon: Quiet time! I put music on in the living room for Grandpa. Kit attempts to fight taking a nap. The big kids do a variety of quiet activities. It changes from day to day. 

This is when we do our major school time. Right now that means geography games, research and projects. Then they can do independent activities. These include writing, poems or letters to pen pals. Book work if they want. Art, reading, games, building, science experiments, putty, play dough... anything that engages their brains, makes them think and problem solve, or be creative. 

No electronics are allowed at this time for kids. (This is where I have my quiet time to catch up on email, blog a little, and just let my mind take a few minutes.) 

Zak likes to make his own games.

Zak's poems always make me laugh!

Our under the counter chalk wall!

Reading in the bathroom is always a favorite. There is usually several books or graphic history novels left in the bathroom on any given day.

Our newest geography tool. World Map shower curtains rock!

4:00-ish - Wed - Fri the kids can do electronics now. Grace usually picks a movie to watch, or watches SuperNanny on the tablet. Zak usually makes videos on his phone, or watches videos on how to make videos. Kit plays toys, or with her sensory bin. If dinner is easy, I get to play with her, otherwise she usually plays near me while I make dinner. And by near me, I mean mostly trying to climb me. So sometimes she gets to play on the phone or tablet while I cook. Monday (me-orchestra, Zak-gymnastics, Grace-dance, Daddy-chauffeur) and Tuesday (weekly congregation bible meeting) evenings are very busy here, and everyone's focus needs to be on the tasks at hand, so, no electronics on those days.  

Just got this out again for Kit. The little metal balls pull to the top when you trace the letters with a magnet. It's a big hit, she loves it!

Evening time: It's not as soothing as it sounds. This is often our most challenging time of day. After dinner, we try to give the kids, free time. Weekends it's usually family time. 

Then we enter the stress stretch...

6:30 - Kit's second OT session focusing on deep pressure and relaxing. During this the big kids have a couple evening chores each.

7:00 - Family Bible reading

7:30 - Kit's bath. Big kids snack, pjs, brush teeth, collect all their bedtime stuff (water bottles, sharpen pencils, notebooks, the cat)

8:00 - Bedtime!!! Daddy settles Kit in. The big kids give hugs and kisses, and then have an hour to read or draw. Then it's lights out! (And coming out for potty again, and other forgotten things.)

9:00 - Time for Mommy and Daddy to decompress and reconnect. Sometimes we play cards or watch a movie, but sometimes we just sit in the quiet and revel in nobody needing anything.

This routine is our ideal. Our days often deviate, get derailed, take the scenic route. As, I type this, I'm sitting on the floor of the bathroom while the kids watch a movie. We go with it. Try to regroup, and smile. We laugh a lot. There's plenty of tears too. When you live in the spectrum, you learn to expect the unexpected, and stay alert to the amazing.

And, amazing, is something we see a lot of around here!

Thanks for dropping by!  Come visit regularly!

Happy Homeschooling!

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