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Thursday, November 01, 2007


A Day In The Life

People have asked me what a typical day of homeschooling is like for my fourth-grade son. Here's what we did today.

9am We start school with something easy, spelling. Today's lesson was a unit assessment, where I dictate the words that he's been studying over the past four lessons. My son is a good speller, and he aces this as usual.

A few of the words are: interrupting, underneath, calendar, erode, subscribe

9:20am We move on to vocabulary, which also happened to have a scheduled unit assessment. This is a four-page printed test, covering meanings, word usage, synonyms, and antonyms.

A few of the words are: gallant, trudge, lukewarm, smolder, reserve, weary

9:40am Now that my son's brain is suitably warmed up, we move on to something that he has to think more about - math. Today's lesson is a continuation of a unit on solving multi-step word problems using addition and subtraction. The lesson is built around the concept of the student being the manager of a hardware store.

My son knows this stuff, but sometimes works too quickly and makes little mistakes. He complains sometimes about repetition, but I always tell him that the best way to learn it is to do it over and over until it's automatic.

10:30am The day is going by quickly, so there's extra time to read. My son spends the next half hour finishing the book A Wrinkle In Time. He'll write a report on it tomorrow. I empty the dishwasher and fill it back up again while he's reading.

11am Instead of taking a break or having recess, my son wants to watch another chapter of the PBS documentary Liberty! The American Revolution, a fascinating six-hour exploration of the build-up to the Declaration of Independence and the resulting war with Great Britain.

12noon Lunchtime. PB&J for my son, reheated Kung Pao chicken for me. It's a beautiful sunny day, with temps around 50, so we throw a frisbee in the backyard before doing some garden clean-up.

1pm Time for more of my son's favorite subject, history. We start with our continuing study of Idaho's history, looking at what drives our state economy. Idaho is dependent on agriculture, tourism, natural resources, and technology companies. My son knew all of this, so we move on to world history.

1:15pm The last few weeks we studied the American Revolution and the French Revolution. My son was most intrigued by "The Terror" and Robespierre's liberal use of the Guillotine. Why are boys fascinated by stuff like that? Anyway, today we move on to the spread of democracy, first to the French colony of Haiti, where Toussaint L'Ouverture led the slaves in revolt to help form the first black republic. We spent a good five minutes trying to properly pronounce L'Ouverture's name, but gave up without success.

Next we read about Father Miguel Hidalgo, the Spanish priest who led the natives of Mexico against the tyranny of Spain. Again, my son was most fascinated by the fact that Hidalgo was decapitated and his head was displayed for ten years in the city of Guanajuato, in Mexico. Hmmm... Must be some residual effects of Halloween.

2:15pm A brief review of weather and climate around the world. My son remembered all of the climate zones and weather terms from one of last year's science units, so we didn't spend much time on it today.

2:25pm Last lesson of the day, science. Today I introduced the subject of mixtures and solutions. We went over terminology, then jumped right into the fun stuff: experiments! These were done in the kitchen, mixing various materials to see the difference between a mixture and a solution. We used sand, water, oil, sugar, cocoa, food coloring, and salt. And made a huge mess.

3:00pm End of school. My son grabs a treat from his overflowing Halloween basket, then asks to play NeoPets for an hour. I realize I have a ton of things to do in the house, not to mention having to plan dinner.

Tomorrow we'll do it all again.



Anonymous Dan said...

An excellent book on the french revolution is Vive La Revolution by Mark Steel. It is both hilarious, informative, and gives you a different perspective on the whole thing.

I' not sure it would be suitable for your son though.

1:36 AM  
Blogger Stephanie said...

I'm so glad you posted this! I've been entertaining the idea of homeschool lately (though I still have several years before I have to do anything about it) because of some disturbing trends in our school districts as of late. I've always been interested in how home-school parents "do it," thinking I could never maintain the structure and discipline it would require, so it's great to see how a day is lined up, and it looks managable! :)

6:43 AM  
Blogger Melany aka Supermom said...

That sounds wonderful. I wish I could do that for my boys

10:57 PM  
Blogger Katrina said...

My memory of grade school may be a little blurry, but I'm sure we didn't get that much accomplished in a typical day. They say that low student-teacher ratios have a directly positive impact on student learning and achievement. How great it is for your son to get that kind of one-on-one attention every single day!

4:05 PM  
Blogger Shawna said...

I wish my day went so smoothly LOL My 2nd grader tends to fight me on most of the sit down stuff. We have yet to develop a routine, but not for lack of trying.

And I love how you fit it all in!

7:45 AM  

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