Saturday, September 6, 2014

Our Routine & Other Fun Stuff

The last two years of preschool at home have been a little all over the place.  When Lachlan would wake up we would eat breakfast, watch a show and play a bit before getting started with Mother Goose Time.  Sometimes we would start right away at breakfast and go right into school still in our pajamas.  This year, now that he is in Kindergarten, I thought it might be wise to come up with an actual routine.

I have always wondered if Lachlan and his personality would thrive under more order.  Of course the first week of official school is a good time to try.

So here is a brief synopsis of our routine:
  • 8:00 a.m. alarm sounds, I either wake Lachlan up OR we officially start our day
  • Eat breakfast/Circle Time
  • Go to and complete our morning visual checklist
  • Return to School Spots and complete first 2 lessons of the day
    • Book/Reading/Writing time with Lachlan
  • Break
  • Complete the last 2 lessons of the day
    • Some more one on one time with Lachlan if moods allow
Let me explain it in more detail.

8:00a.m. I have an alarm set on my phone.  This alarm means that it's either time to wake Lachlan up or time to get started with our school day, if he is already awake.  The alarm is not for me and my wake up time, that's what Peter is for. 

We start by sitting down to breakfast.  Once we have sat down, I invite one of the boys to do the calendar and weather.  It is right by the table, so it's pretty quick and easy for them to pop up, get it done and get back to eating.

While we are sitting down I do the rest of the Circle Time activities.  There is usually a discussion question that is an intro into the topic of the day and a rhyme or song.  Sometimes there is another activity that is meant to get them up and moving, usually I can adapt it a bit so we can do the same thing just at the table.

After we are done eating we get started on the rest of our morning checklist.

This is our visual checklist that we have hanging in the hallway just outside the bathroom.  This is our morning routine.  We also have one for bedtime.

First the sun rises and we wake up.  That's kind of a freebie.

Then we go potty.

Eat breakfast.

Get dressed.

Brush our teeth.

Then start Mother Goose Time.

Peter makes the circles and Lachlan has learned how to make a check mark.

Since we have already eaten before we make our way to the list, they get to automatically check off 2.  Then we move through the rest.  When we get to the end of the list and they check off Mother Goose Time, they know it's time for school and they head to their school spots.

School spots?  Yeah I just kind of randomly called them that one day and it works.  I call Lachlan's his Kindergarten spot and Peter his Preschool spot.

Other children going back to school have all sorts of things to be excited about, new teacher, new room, new friends.  So I like to come up with something for my boys to make school fresh and exciting to them.  This year, we had been watching Autumn, who is also starting Kindergarten.  She talked a lot about being in Kindergarten and that Kindergarteners can do this and Kindergarteners can do that.  I told Lachlan, you are in Kindergarten too and this got him really excited.  I had never really told him what the name of his grade before.

I used this new found excitement and told him that he gets to pick out any color paint he wants to paint his Kindergarten desk.  He was out with his Dad and brother and they stopped at Wal-mart.  His first color choice was gold, because he likes to paint things gold, like a trophy.  Jeff called me and said "gold?"  I said, how about you tell him to pick any color of the rainbow.  Sorry buddy, I didn't want a gold desk in my dining room.  So he picked yellow because it was the closest color to gold.  When he got home from the store, I had written his name on the name tag that MGT provided for us and used contact paper to stick it to his desk.  Just like I had on my desk as a kid.
Here is the finished product - his Kindergarten spot.  Thank goodness Jeff was on board and we got this done before the first day of school.

We started learning about the letter B this week so we took the Leap Frog magnet from the fridge and stuck it to his desk.  He thought that was super cool.  When he was working on the B page in his My Little Journal he kept pressing it for it to sing it's song.  B says /b/, B says /b/, every letter makes a sound, B says /b/.

You can also see his More Math & More Reading book out there that he had been working on, along with his special forth of July pencil he made at co-op.

Peter was a bit disappointed he didn't have a spot.  Why I didn't think of this ahead of time, I don't know.  Mommy fail.  But since I don't have 2 desk nor room for 2 desks I had to think fast.  Where to put Peter's spot?  I chose to put it at the counter at the top of the learning tower.  So on our kitchen counter, right in the middle, is Peter's name tag with his name written "colorful", just as he had requested.
You can see it here in the corner of this picture as he stands drawing a picture of his family on the front of his My Little Journal.  This spot is perfect for him, he can stand and wiggle and still do school.  If we are having company over, I can easily peal his name tag up and put it back when they leave, or just simply put something pretty over it.

Their two spots are close enough to make it easy for me to go between, but far enough a part to eliminate fights and arguments.  

After they get to their School Spots, we do the first 2 lessons of the day.  I have been following the recommendations in the Planning Journal provided by MGT this year.  So far, after finishing the first two lessons, I have been fitting in a more focused reading time with Lachlan.  One day we got out the site word flower and searched for it in books and on a few of the days, we got out the 1st in volume one of the Bob Books series.  I am proud to say, he read for the first time this week!  I love Bob Books.

Then we take a break.  We either play or watch a show.  No shows are allowed to be watched until the first break.  This is a bit of motivation for the boys.  This is the rule on school days.  I have started using that term with the boys too and they don't seem to mind it at all.  If they wake up and ask for a show I just say, well, today is a school day, so we can watch a show at our first break.  No fight or screaming, so far.

The breaks have lasted anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours.  If I have a lot to get done and they are having fun playing, break lasts 2 hours which usually brings us to lunch time.  When we sit down to lunch I start things up again at the table and we easily work back into our last 2 lessons.  So far we have finished our day anywhere from 11am to 1pm.

I have found this routine to be very beneficial.  Lachlan is much more willing to work with me in the mornings then in the early afternoon.  When we had no routine, it always seemed like we were getting to the tough stuff in that early afternoon time when he was starting to get tired and grumpy and I was a bit too.  We just kept butting heads.

We have had so much success!  I mean he can read the whole first Bob book by himself!

It is a bit tough on my housekeeping schedule and other chores.  I am for the most part, not available, until the day is done.  I even silenced my phone for a few of the mornings.  As far as chores, I can get a bit done before school and a bit at break.  But break is usually spent tending to baby Adam as well.  I found that today, Saturday, ended up being a chore catch up day.  Reminded me a lot of when I was working outside of the home full time.  

I do hope I can keep this up.

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