Behind the Scenes – Communal Lunch

Communal Lunch

If you have followed my blog for awhile, you probably know that I really do not like lunch time.  We have tried a few lunch time solutions and they all work, my favorite being pre-making the lunches the night before.  However, I found a new way that is seeming to get my 2 picky eaters to eat better!  The Communal Lunch!  Instead of giving each child their own plate {which usually results in “I’m not eating that” and other whining} I put a ton of healthy food on a tray and give them each a toothpick and let them eat!IMG_3218

On the tray above: tomatoes, avocado, pretzels, Naked pita chips, mango, kiwi, carrots, broccoli and hummus.  I often will give ranch also-my oldest prefers it over hummus, but thankfully the picky 2 actually prefer hummus!

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As hands dive in, it seems to cause other hands to be a bit more willing to try different foods.IMG_3232

 

Ladybug and Krash are my picky two-I m constantly exposing them to a variety of foods in hopes that they will develop new tastes!  So far, Ladybug still hasn’t touched any veggies on our communal trays, but in time I bet she will!IMG_3234

 

This is my summer plan.  Communal Lunch served after Lunch in a Cup

The kids are having nutritionally packed smoothies from our Vitamix {I have been waiting for years and finally the guy came back to Costco with the Vitamix display!}  for their mid morning “snack” and then I am busting out the communal lunch tray about an hour later.  When it has been warm, I have served it all outside!  Sometimes I serve it on a plate, depending on how much and the variety,image

Their smoothies usually consist of random combinations of: baby spinach, plain/vanilla yogurt, bananas, apples, carrots, cucumbers, celery, broccoli, berries, mango, pineapple,  Vega, and ice. I have other stuff I put in them and have no special recipe, just whatever I have and think would go well together.  Almost 100% of the time they happily drink whatever I give them.

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ps-I have NO clue where we got the green divided tray, we have had it for many years!!!  It even has a top so I can put the uneaten portion back in the fridge and pull it out later in the day for snack!

A Day in Our Homeschool Life Part 3

Homeschool Life Button Afternoon School

It has been awhile since I wrote the Minute by Minute Tot School post, and have since been asked to update with a detailed post of what our homeschool time looks like now with a 4th grader, Kindergartner and Tot Schooler. I am breaking this idea into 4 parts, probably 5 when all is said and done, but 4 planned parts for now!  If you missed any other parts, see links below…

  1. Before the Homeschool Day
  2. Our Homeschool Morning
  3. Our Homeschool Afternoon {that’s this post}
  4. After the Homeschool Day

How I recorded our day……

I kept a notebook with me, my iPod {camera}, and my good camera.  I took TONS of pictures and jotted down notes throughout the day.  It isn’t easy, but makes for a very true-to-life account for you all.  Good news – the day we recorded – March 7, 2012, was a very typical day for us!  I was hoping it would give a good look at what is “normal” for us and it does! 


For details about each child’s curriculum, see: Our Current Curriculum

12:25 pm

I am done with kitchen cleaning and head back into the schoolroom to find the boys reading together I told them to do this when they finished their lunch}.IMG_2266

I spend 10 minutes on the computer-email, Twitter, Facebook, Comments, Pinterest.

12:35

Our upstairs neighbor and my friend comes down to check on our school status {they live in the apartment owned by my parents above our schoolroom, their 5 kids are nieces and nephews they care for}.  Her kids have a half day of public school and are wanting to play with my kids.  This give the boys great motivation to get school work done.  I estimate an hour and a half and tell her I will text her.

12:40

Start school with the boys after they clean up the books.

PacMan has this today…

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I get Krash started on some independent Calvert work, a phonics sheet and a math sheet-both which are easy work for him.

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Pac sits with me at my desk and we dive into grammar, math, and a special math review for his standardized state testing coming up.

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I turn around and bust Krash petting the cat and not doing his work {it’s cute but distracting}.IMG_0657

1:00

Pac and I gather Science and SS and head into the living room to read, he likes to cuddle on the couch together while I read to him. Another perk of Homeschooling, couch school.

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1:10

Pac heads to do his independent work {grammar, math, science}, I switch to working with Krash.  First I move him along in completing his independent work, as he was supposed to be done by now.

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1:15

We move to the floor for his All About Reading lesson.  He isn’t thrilled since we are repeating lesson 16, since he doesn’t have a solid grasp on the “th” sound.  But he likes the egg-flipping game so he’s OK. 

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1:22

Pac wanders over for help with his grammar, silly kid just didn’t read the directions well and once I read them he gets it and goes back to do his work.

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1:30

Krash and I are done with All About Reading, and move onto some Skylanders school work!  I made a digraph activity for him to work on the same thing he’s learning in AAR. He loves it.IMG_2288

1:35

Krash and I read his Morning Message together, he LOVES this!  I read, then he reads-highlighting any words he can read by himself.  Then we count together!IMG_2290

1:40

Krash moves to iPad school, he can choose form a selection of “school games’” he chooses ABCs of God.

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1:45

Pac announces that he is finished with his schoolwork.  I remind him that today is trash day {his chore that he hates}.  He goes off to do it, complaining mildly {probably since he knows I am recording the day}. I begin to scan our recent set of Calvert assessments in to our cyber school.

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1:55

Pac is done with his chores, and runs to get his friends.  They all head outside to play!  The official school day is done! I can still hear Ladybug through the monitor reading to herself.  She stays up there until Daddy gets her at 3.  With the boys I continued “room time” after naps wore out.  I am doing this with her too, so I can continue to have quieter school time with the boys.  She seems to really enjoy her quiet time.


Notes about the Day…

We normally end our school day anywhere between 2:00-3:00, sometimes later if it is a writing day.  This was an easier day for Pac, mostly because he didn’t have writing and because math was VERY easy.  On harder math days, school goes much longer!  Attitudes were a bit more in check than usual since they knew I was recording the day.  Figure in a few more attitude issues and then you’d have a more normal day. My husband comes home from work at 3:00 and then is home through dinner before he goes back out to work for the evening {ministry stuff-teaching Bible studies, and such}. 

Part 4 of this series will share what a normal after school and evening time looks like for us!

If any of you are inspired to write your own, “A Day in Our Homeschool Life” series, I would love it!  Be sure to send me the links if you do!

Behind the Scenes – Storing Printables

Storing Theme Printables

It took me years to develop a method of storing our theme printables.   Many of these themes are used again, and a lot of work goes into prepping many of the printables.  The worst thing is knowing you have already prepped and laminated something and then not be able to find it.  I no longer have that problem, and haven’t had it for over a year since we have been using this method!

 

Here’s what you need if you’d like to copy my method

  • Canvas Storage Box ~ Target {ClosetMaid Cubicles}
  • Poly Envelopes {5 pack, buy a bunch!} ~ Target {Up & Up Brand}
  • Label maker, got this exact one at Costco a couple of years ago and it is still going strong!

Edited to add ~ I see Target no longer carries the exact poly envelopes I use.  I searched on Amazon and found a couple of alternatives.  These are not the exact ones we have but look like they would work similarly.  Here is one set, and here is another

The poly envelopes fit perfectly inside of the canvas box, and stand up nicely so you can see your labels in a top corner.IMG_2707

I make one envelope for each theme we do, and put all age level {tot-early elementary} work together in one envelope.  The envelopes have snaps on them, so nothing falls out.  Here’s a shot of our Pirates folder, showing the contents also…

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The canvas box sits up on a shelf above my desk so I can get to it easily.  Sometimes we find stray pieces of printables, and it makes it easy to just toss a theme piece in the box and store it.IMG_2699

I also have a smaller plastic box {got this one at Target in the $2.50 section}, you could use a magazine holder or similar box.  I keep current and upcoming themes in this one. This helps me as I am planning and printing, I can just put things straight into this box.  Right now you see 2 empty envelopes, one for Rainbows {L’s theme this week}, one for Star Wars {K’s current theme}.

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A bit of advice, if you get your hands on the Poly Envelope 5 packs from Target, buy them all!  They have the best price I have ever seen for this type of envelope.  I bought some and then my Target stopped carrying them.  If you can’t find them, ask an employee, they will scan the blank spot and then it will auto reorder.  Show them the item on the website if you can’t find where it would be in the store.  Ours are located in the office supply section.  Recently I went to a different Target and they had tons, I bought almost all of them!

I also use these envelopes for our current curriculums, such as Animal ABC.  I prep units in advance and put them in the envelope so I can just pull it out when it is time to do that unit. I don’t label these envelopes, they are rotated out once a unit is done.

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This is another section on a shelf above my desk, we have graduated from You Can Read, so the yellow box has since been replaced by the Upcoming and Current Themes box.

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There you have it, my tried and true theme printable storage method!  We have stored things this way for over a year and it is the best method I have used!  I wish I would have started this way!

See theme printable packs we have here!Printable Theme Packs

A Day in Our Homeschool Life ~ Part 2

Homeschool Life Button Morning School

It has been awhile since I wrote the Minute by Minute Tot School post, and have since been asked to update with a detailed post of what our homeschool time looks like now with a 4th grader, Kindergartner and Tot Schooler. I am breaking this idea into 4 parts, probably 5 when all is said and done, but 4 planned parts for now!  If you missed any other parts, see links below…

  1. Before the Homeschool Day
  2. Our Homeschool Morning {that’s this post!}
  3. Our Homeschool Afternoon
  4. After the Homeschool Day

How I recorded our day……

I kept a notebook with me, my iPod {camera}, and my good camera.  I took TONS of pictures and jotted down notes throughout the day.  It isn’t easy, but makes for a very true-to-life account for you all.  Good news – the day we recorded – March 7, 2012, was a very typical day for us!  I was hoping it would give a good look at what is “normal” for us and it does! 


9:00am

Family Prayer Time ends, PacMan heads off to finish his morning chores {with a gentle reminder}. Ladybug clings to me and my “fuzzy Mickey pants” that she loves.  She follows me into the schoolroom and wanders over to the computer to play Starfall.  I set her up and she plays independently.

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I wander back into the kitchen where Pac is unloading the dishes while chatting with Daddy. Krash announces that he has poop on his face and is freaking out.  The dog licked him in the face and Daddy teased him about the fact that the dog eats his poop. Oh my men, always something new.IMG_0496

Next I am asked to cut the butt tag off of the stuffed animal, important business.IMG_0504

Meanwhile, Krash comes into the schoolroom first bugs L-bug on the computer, she whines for him to go away, a common occurrence.  She has major personal space issues. IMG_0507

He then selects Wedgits to play with.  Ladybug joins him which results in some possessiveness. You can see him pull the box away and direct her back to the computer ;-) We have a quick “be nice” talk and then add Construct Its to their play and all is well.  They play together.

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9:10am

I make myself some coffee, clean the island off from breakfast.

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I come back into the schoolroom and Ladybug announces that she is sitting criss-cross, and is very proud.  We are working on getting her out of her W sitting lifestyle-but it is hard, she chooses to W sit 100% of the time!IMG_1994

She wanders over and dumps over the South America puzzle, then wanders away again.IMG_1997

9:15am

Pac is done with the dishes and comes into the schoolroom to begin his independent work at his desk. IMG_0559

The little two play. Ladybug with the rainbow balancer, Krash with Construct-Its, then Ladybug with the iPad {Build a Bug is her choice}.

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Jolanthe calls, we chat for about 10 minutes.IMG_0555

 

9:25am

Daddy goes around and gives good-bye kisses as he heads off to work.  Wednesday is his later day, he normally leaves by 9am.IMG_0551

I notice PacMan isn’t at his desk, I yell for him-he was feeding the cat, a morning chore he forgot.  He comes back and gets back to work on his phonics.

I check email, Facebook, and sip on my coffee for about 5 minutes total.

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9:35am

Ladybug asks for her gorilla notebook {Animal ABC-letter G}, she chooses the Gg play dough mat.  Krash jumps on the iPad.

I sit with her and make her “snakes” so she can make the letters. I can’t remember why I was high-fiving her, but am so glad Pac caught this pic!

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He is playing Toca Doctor and calls me over to hear the stinker sound, on the right he is making the sound for me.IMG_2025

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I notice he hasn’t cleaned up the Construct-Its, and ask him to do that, he does.

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Meanwhile, Pac is playing First in Math on his computer…IMG_2033

Ladybug switches to making play doh balls on the Gorilla dot fun mat.  After balls, she presses jewels into the dots. I am playing with her.

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She then goes to get Wrecking Ball and makes him…IMG_2039

9:45am

A full room view, showing them all in action…IMG_0569

The little two switch to Magneatos after cleaning up Play Doh…they play nicely together.  IMG_2042

I run in the kitchen to load breakfast dishes in the dishwasher, also answer a phone call from our college “daughter” Kirsten…IMG_2045

9:55am

Krash asks to make a house for his stuffed dog {the one I cut the butt tag off of earlier}.  He makes a house out of rainbow blocks with my help.IMG_2054

Ladybug makes a house for her 2 favorite Skylanders; Cynder and Wrecking Ball.IMG_2057

10:00am

I run over to my desk and write K’s morning message, which I forgot to do the night before.  He LOVES these and gets disappointed if I forget.  I write it and slip it in his Morning Message notebook while he plays!IMG_2059

Krash runs over to watch PacMan work for a few minutes…IMG_2061

10:05am

Ladybug accidentally knocks her house over and throws a little fit.

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She gets over it and cleans up her blocks when I ask her to.IMG_2073

10:10am

She moves on to pom pom transferring, she loves this.IMG_2074

 

Pac is ready for his spelling test, and I sit at my desk to give him his test.  Krash is still playing First in Math on his computer.IMG_2081

Spelling test…

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We get all of 3-4 minutes before Ladybug joins us.  She chooses Scrabble ABCs and wants me to play with her.  She sits at my desk.  I play with her and give the spelling test, thankfully Pac is used to this!

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Full room shot…IMG_0580

10:20am

I grade his test, he updates his daily task list { a school to-do list and chore list I made for him in Excel}.

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He is done with his independent work for the morning {screen shot from his lesson plan blog}…1020 am updated blog

He sits to play with his siblings.  They play together for a few minutes before snack time. I put on Seeds in the background…

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10:25am

I ask Ladybug if she wants to clean up the South America puzzle with me {the one she dumped this morning}.  She says yes and we name the countries together.  She plays with this puzzle at least 3-5 times per day. Pac takes a few pictures…

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10:30am

Snack Time!  Ladybug gets to choose a tv show at this time, these days it is usually Octonauts.  The boys can either watch with her or go play in their room.  They ate their snack and went upstairs.

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I run upstairs to see the boys, Pac is showing Krash his sports pendants that Baba gave him.  I fold a load of laundry and start a new load.

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10:45 am

I come back downstairs, do some computer time, check in and answer 2 Facebook comments, and reply to 4 comments on the blog…

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10:55am

Octonauts is over, Ladybug comes to my desk to play with her rainbow balancer, she loves to “spinny round.”IMG_2150

I set up trays {trays are from Michaels} for Calendar Notebook time, then call the boys down for Calendar time.IMG_0588

11:00 am

Ladybug chooses not to sit with us at first, and plays Starfall for awhile.  IMG_0590

The boys and I get busy on our group task list.  Calendar, We Choose Virtues, Little Passports/Brazil, and PowerPointsIMG_2152

Pac is starting a new drawing for his drawing page in his Calendar Notebook, he is choosing from our Draw, Write, Now books.IMG_2156

11:10 am

After the boys finish Calendar Notebooks, we review the 3 virtues {We Choose Virtues} we have studied so far: Obedient, Self-Controlled, and Diligent.IMG_2157

We move on to Little Passports and find animals from the Amazon Rainforest.  By this time Ladybug has joined us and has been working a bit in her Tot Time Notebook.  She comes over to find animals with the boys.IMG_2161

We all see what our next baby animal is.  Baby Animals is our calendar theme for this month {they will be released next month on the blog}.IMG_2164

11:15am

Time for PowerPoints!  The kids all get in a bean bag

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We do USA first, going through our F-I states.  We then do Counting 1-10.  Our PP shows are shown up on our wall with our projector.

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11:25am

Outside Time!  I get Ladybug dressed and all of the kids head outside to enjoy a warm winter day.IMG_2174

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Meanwhile, I make lunch in our Easy Lunchboxes, warm my coffee up and drink the rest.

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The lunch mess.  I wish I had a school cafeteria lady.  That’s my wildest dream.IMG_2186

I jump on Facebook for a second, answer a comment, set up All About Reading for K’s afternoon school and pick up the schoolroom. IMG_0633

12:00 pm

I call the kids in to wash hands for lunch. IMG_0637

The phone rings, it is my husband calling to say I Love You.  I joke with him that he just wanted to make it into this post {he knew I was recording this day}.  He laughs and tells me he totally forgot about that but yes, I can add his call to the blog post. ;-).

I LOVE this shot.  Krash was a TOTAL whiney grump because I made him a peanut butter sandwich and made Pac a meat sandwich.  Someone always complains about lunch.  He would have complained about meat yesterday. ugh.  Pac was thrilled with his lunch as you can see.IMG_0639

Ladybug is a finicky eater, but today she enjoyed most of her lunch: peanut butter sandwich, pretzels and hummus, & mango. She tells me she made a bread chair.

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12:10pm

Ladybug is done and we head upstairs to get her ready for nap {the boys stay down and finish eating}.  She insists on brushing her teeth every day before nap.

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We head into her room, she is in the “I do it” stage so she undresses herself so we can put her pull up on for nap.  She chooses Miss Spider ABC to read together. We read, sing and rock.

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After reading, she happily goes in her bed.  She always sleeps with books and most naps end up being 2 hours of her reading to herself.  She did this today, never actually slept but stayed in her bed happily until 3:00pm when Daddy comes to get her out.

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I head in to transfer laundry to the dryer and make sure our old dog is OK,  I shut our bedroom door so he won’t bark at the doorbell while Ladybug is “napping.”

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12:20pm

I am back down to clean up from lunch.  The boys are done and in the schoolroom reading.IMG_2261

 

There you have it, 3 hours and 20 minutes at our house!  Most days look very similar to this one.  This was a pretty good day for us, often we have more meltdowns and attitude problems.  The older two knew what was going on so they probably had better self control than normal!


Stay tuned, in my next post I will share what it looks like after lunch! Be sure to subscribe so you don’t miss it!


 

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A Day in our Homeschool Life ~ Part One

Homeschool Life Button Before School

It has been awhile since I wrote the Minute by Minute Tot School post, and have since been asked to update with a detailed post of what our homeschool time looks like now with a 4th grader, Kindergartner and Tot Schooler. I am breaking this idea into 4 parts, probably 5 when all is said and done, but 4 planned parts for now!

  1. Before the Homeschool Day
  2. Our Homeschool Morning
  3. Our Homeschool Afternoon
  4. After the Homeschool Day

A Typical Morning Before Homeschool Begins…

The boys usually wake up before us and will often be downstairs before us.  They know to complete their morning chores upon waking up and if they are hungry they can make their own breakfast, or they can wait for Daddy-he’s the breakfast guy

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Believe it or not, Krash is more responsible with his chores than Pac is!  After chores are complete, the boys are free to watch tv, or play video games if they got up early. 

Ladybug is a late sleeper most mornings, and loves to play in her bed.  We used to use her as an alarm clock, but she often gets us going too late now!  She usually begins talking and playing around 8:00.  My husband gets her out of bed and feeds her breakfast while I get ready upstairs.  We all meet together every morning at 8:30 for family Bible reading and prayer time.

IMG_0088-2I am not a morning person, so I don’t get up any earlier than needed.  I tried for awhile and was miserable.  My husband and I spend time together at night and decided that was more valuable than trying to force ourselves to get up early. 

Daddy reads from the Bible, right now we are in Matthew, and then we all pray together.  After this time, Daddy goes upstairs to get ready and then leaves for work.  I usually jump on the computer to check my email, my blogs, and a few other things while the kids play and finish up chores.  I make sure things are set up for the school day and sometimes will be on top of things and get the dishes/kitchen cleaned up early!

Notes about morning time in our home…

Morning time is my VERY LEAST favorite time of the day.  Of the 5 of us, 3 of us are NOT morning people.  Ladybug, my husband, and you guessed it-me!  I am one of those “don’t talk to me” types of people and have to force myself to be nice.  Ladybug is the most whiney in the mornings and sets my anxiety off in many fun ways.  The boys seem to be morning people and they tend to hang together.  Their behavior and moods seem no different in the morning hours.

I do NOT always start school on time like I should.  Sometimes I allow one more tv show, 30 more minutes of room play time, or some extra computer time.  This mostly depends on my own mood.  I have learned that if I am not in the proper mood, it is just better to give them 30 more minutes of free time.  This usually gives me time to settle myself if I woke up on the wrong side of the bed. Unfortunately a common problem for me.

Our “normal” school start time is between 9-9:30am. PacMan always starts first because he does his independent work in the morning and is free when it is complete, if he finishes before snack time at 10:30.  This is on the sidebar of his school blog, he looks for green and gets busy!imageSometimes he is gung-ho and will get it all done before I even get up!  I post his school blog the night before so it is ready for him to check whenever he gets up in the morning.  We have used the blog method for over a year and it works beautifully for both of us!  Here is a sample of one of his recent school days, I cross them off for him after he completes them throughout the day.image


Stay tuned, in my next post I will share what it looks like when we actually start our homeschool day!  I am planning to record a specific day in as much detail as possible, similar to how I did it in my Tot School Minute by Minute Post. Be sure to subscribe so you don’t miss it!

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