“Where is your pencil?” she asked, every single day of her life. Somehow kids in all of the grades are always missing a writing apparatus.
After asking this silly question way too many times, I decided I needed to be smarter with how this would all work; and since work spaces are always changing at our house, we needed some sort of portable school system.
The boys don’t have their own desks, most of our work is done at the tables in the kitchen and the living room, a desk in the bedroom, the floor, or on a clipboard.
But every boy does have his own bin. A tiny IKEA one with a lid, that holds a book for math, handwriting, paragraph writing, phonics, etc. and also pencils, pens, an eraser, and a white board and marker that they might need for that week.
So every time there’s a, “I can’t find my…” it’s met with a quick, “Check your bin!”
I have toddlers climbing onto the stove top trying to eat vitamins out of the cupboard, I don’t have time to be finding pencils.
I ALSO have a bin and a shelf, that serves as overflow for the stuff we need that week. It holds the books that I need to go through WITH them and it also stores the computer used for all typing lessons.
Important stuff is placed up high, because again, at any given moment there will be two toddlers “learning” stuff with whatever we accidentally left out for them.
Somehow toddlers learn by dumping everything that’s inside a bin, out onto the floor… so there’s a generally repeated and hoped for rule of, “Please watch your stuff and don’t leave it out!” It’s the good old ants to the picnic principle.
Find a work space, and get your supplies. Also translated as, “Pick a spot and get your bin,” and then we can start the day.
We don’t have a daily schedule, it’s more like a constantly interrupted rhythm.
I have a chalkboard decal stuck to my wall in the kitchen and it has four subjects written on it to remind the boys what they need to get done, before they come and ask me for something to eat.
Boys are always hungry, and I’ve found it to be a powerful motivator.
“I don’t want to do my math……”
“Ok, I hear what you’re saying; but do you want to eat this warm, freshly spread with jam, piece of toast I’m holding 3 inches from my own face this very second?”
They now get through their Reading, Typing, Math, and Handwriting within that first hour like professionals.
I’ll usually be very close by (please refer back to the 800 sq feet reference at the top, everybody is always close by) answering questions and checking for backwards 3’s, while loading the dishwasher and wiping the noses of the two little guys playing trains at my feet.
It’s a rhythm, and perhaps the interruptions in the rhythm, are actually part of the rhythm itself.
We work for 10 minutes, somebody needs to use the bathroom.
We start the science experiment, and somebody falls off a chair and needs a band-aid.
We’re watching a video on how the space station even got all the way up to space in the first place, and somebody spots a rainbow outside of my bedroom window.
So we obviously stop and look at it and sing the cat in the hat song about rainbows, since incidentally, he knows a LOT about that… and now the toddlers do too.
I suppose that’s what a regular morning looks like over here. We try our best to get the basic subjects covered first thing in the morning.
Their subjects are the classic reading, writing, and arithmetic, and mine are the classic, laundry, dishes, and get the little guys dressed. Home-schooling over here is whole family, and everybody plays a part in this little rhythm of ours.