Monday, September 15, 2014

A Home School Day with Just One Child

This year, as I mentioned in my last post, My Ideal Plan for Elementary Home Education, I am only home schooling one child, my nine year old daughter Melody, who is in third grade. While home schooling and juggling my other responsibilities is still quite a challenge, I have to say it is so much less complicated with only one to teach.

We usually start school around 9 AM with math flash cards. I have found this is the ideal way to get her brain turned on for the day. She thinks it's fun, and it is a fairly easy review of what she already knows: addition and subtraction facts up to 20. We each take half of the deck of cards and take turns answering the problems. Then we switch piles. When she gets to the problems in her math workbook, she's got the facts fresh on her mind. If we start in straight with the workbook, she is likely to moan that she can't do it. So the math flash cards are a great way to start the day. 

Unfortunately, I found when I opened my flash card box that our subtraction facts cards only had the easiest facts. So I got out stack of index cards and a marker and completed the set, just like I made the addition set many years ago for a different child.  I keep the sets of math fact cards in a zip lock bag.

She knocked out her math workbook - part of a test and one lesson - pretty quickly. We would normally move right on to Daily Grams, Wordly Wise and other language arts skills after that, but she asked if we could read next. I like to be somewhat flexible with our schedule to keep her interested.

So we gathered up a stack of history and science books from the shelf on her desk, and headed into the living room. We started school a month ago with unit studies on explorers and the oceans (they went together splendidly!), and now we are working on the Early Colonial Era and weather. We have a lot of books on our own shelves, and we find even more at the library. 

We read several books about subjects like Pocahontas, colonial homes, and hurricanes that morning. We usually take turns reading, usually by page. I often remind her to read the words just as they are written, since sometimes she's in a hurry and leaves out or changed them. We don't just read for our unit studies. The hands on activity in our weather unit this day was learning about the water cycle by boiling ice cubes until they turned into water vapor. I also have some colonial and weather activity books that we will be using this week.

I took a few quick breaks to do laundry and other small tasks while she got out her Asus tablet, which was a birthday present from her siblings and me. She has games and educational apps on it, and it's great for all the times we're in the car running errands or picking up the other kids from after school activities.

Lake Lily
Melody asked if we could go somewhere. I've been planning to get a family membership at the Orlando Science Center and went on the web to check that out. I decided to wait on that a bit longer.  She suggested going to Lake Lily, and that sounded good to me since there are not only water birds to feed, but a lovely Victorian era home tour at the Waterhouse Residence Museum. 

Instead of taking a picnic, we decided to eat lunch at home. A day or so before, I had fixed several containers of ready-to-eat salad with chunks of chicken, bacon bits, and hard-boiled egg. That was easy enough to grab.

We also had a few errands to run - the bank, library, Redbox to return a DVD. I like to make the best use of teachable moments, so I asked her what route we should take based on all of our stops. We also talked about why people use the library book drop, how the book drop works (there is a cart inside that they can roll out), why they were building an overpass, what the big crane was doing, and all sorts of other ideas.

We finally arrived at Lake Lily and decided to feed the birds first in case it started raining. The egrets were much more aggressive than the ducks at lunging for the bread bits we brought.

Then we went to the museum and found that the tour started around 1:45. 

We had a wait a little bit on the porch and she took the time to read the informational placard.

I was delighted to see that many of the items in the home were similar to ones we had seen in our colonial homes book. Since both eras were pre-electricity, butter churns and other tools were pretty much the same. She paid attention during the tour and asked a lot of questions, which was fine since there were only two other people. We also went over to the adjacent carpentry shop before we left.

Kitchen with butter churn

Sewing and darning basket
By the time we finished up, I knew we weren't going to get any more school work done at home. I did have her try to recall some of the things she had seen. Maybe we'll write about them this week.

All in all it was a great day of school! I liked the mix of skill drill, seat work, unit study reading, and activity.

You might also like to read: How to Plan a Unit Study

I took a lot more pictures at the museum that you can see here: The Waterhouse Residence Museum at Lake Lily.

In February 2015, I followed up with this post: A Week of Home School Third Grade

Virginia Knowles

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