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How long is your K5’s day?


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I have a kindergartener that needs a lot of structure in his day or there are lots of meltdowns and behaviors. That said, I feel like he might be over structured right now. I’m trying to readjust our homeschool day. Part of our issue is that the all in one box curriculum I bought is too easy. I feel like I’m stuck with it because of the money spent, so I’m trying to supplement like crazy.  
 

How long does your kinder spend in homeschool? Do you plan activities in addition to homeschool? Are you also completely exhausted by the end of every day? Lol! 
 

 

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Last year my kindergartner spent probably 20-30 minutes doing worksheet type things (math and handwriting), another 10 minutes doing reading practice with me, and maybe another hour on planned learning activities, like listening to read alouds or playing a planned game. A lot of the rest of the time he was doing things some might call school for kindergarten and some might not (educational games, Legos, outdoor play, imaginative play, etc) but it was of his own choosing. My school day is much longer and I'm always exhausted, but that's because he's the second of four. I don't know how to deal with an only child because that's not my experience, but I give my kids loads of unstructured time and then try for high standards during the structured portions of the day. 

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This is helpful, thank you! I like the idea of only an hour spent on the activities.
I don’t know what my issue is. It’s kindergarten, I shouldn’t be this stressed over it! 

 

 

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On 7/18/2020 at 5:09 PM, AnneGG said:

This is helpful, thank you! I like the idea of only an hour spent on the activities.
I don’t know what my issue is. It’s kindergarten, I shouldn’t be this stressed over it! 

 

 

You're not alone. Especially with child #1-EVERYTHING was stressful.  It still is to some extent.  So don't think there's something wrong with you. 😊

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My current kindergartner is kiddo #4.  I would LOVE her to spend more time on unstructured play, but she, like all her older brothers, is on the ADHD side of the spectrum and thrives on structure.  So I end up structuring most of her day...even the parts that are "structured" as free play time.

Over the course of the day I read aloud to the kids for about 2 hours...most of it while they are eating meals and snacks.

The K'er does about ~15 minutes of reading, ~15 minutes of math, and 5 minutes of poetry memorization with me each day.  She spends about 10 minutes working on speech therapy homework (overseen by one of her brothers), 10 minutes working on handwriting (overseen by another brother), and 15 minutes practicing piano (overseen by another brother).

She spends about 20 minutes helping me with chores.

Once all her morning tasks are done, she normally has about 45 minutes to fill until her next older brother is free to play with her.  She is welcome to play (inside or outside), do art, watch her boys' lessons, etc.  Sometimes I can fit in a board game with her.  Sometimes she listens to visual "audiobooks" - picture books read aloud to her online.

After snack she plays with the 2nd grader until lunch.  Then rest time from 1 to 3pm.

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We typically start our school day late compared to most people.  (Around 2PMish which is a lot different compared to when my oldest was 5! ). I use the morning to get some work stuff finished, workout, help my older kids, etc.  The late start time is not ideal for a kid this age, but it is where we are in this crazy covid world.  🙂

 Up until that point, my kindergartner just free plays ALL day.  He loves to build with Legos, do self-directed craft things, foam stickers, etc.  If he ever gets board (which is rarely) he listens to audiobooks using audible or "Libby" or "Hoopla" on an old iPad that he carries around.    He also has some small chores that break up his day and add to the structure.  I feel like those teach him a lot of things too.   Like in the morning, he does some self-care/hygiene things and after lunch all of my kids and I do a quick clean/tidy of the whole house.  (He has some specific chores like wiping the chairs and sweeping the stairs with a small hand broom, etc.)  After clean up time, all of the kids do their private bible study.  And my youngest listens to an audio bible storybook.   Then he plays some more.

Our day looks something like this around 2PM:

Me:  "OK, it’s time to start your school!  Let's head to the trampoline!"   It is hard for a child this age to transition from free play to school, so I have found that inviting him to bounce on the trampoline is a great way for my particular child to get started.  

1). Trampoline School in the back yard:  Memoria Press Recitation. (I made flashcards and he answers them while jumping on the trampoline) These include basic "life skill" things like, "What is your address?  what is your full name?  How many cents in a nickel?  Who’s the current president? "  and also, other basic facts like, "name the planets, name the continents, etc."

(Transition) - Me:  [While he finishes jumping] "OK, let's do your read aloud. I can't wait to see what happens."  I leave while he finishes jumping to get our supplies.  I always grab both the book I am reading to him -and- the books he is reading to me.  We always do these at the same time so he knows what to expect.   Also, notice that we switch locations again to refocus his attention.  Physical location transitions help him a lot to switch gears.    I try to keep this time very positive since I want to associate positive feelings with reading and books.   There is usually lots of tea, some yummy snacks, and lots of cozy snuggling!   If it is nice out, we snuggle together on the hammock in our backyard.  If he is hungry, I might make him a snack or some tea and do this at the dining room table.   And if it is raining, sometimes we go up to my bed since he LOVES to get read to in our master bedroom in the middle of the day.

2) Hammock School in the back yard (or in my bedroom if it’s raining):  "Build Your Own Library Grade 1 Read Alouds". -  (I read to him....)   and then I jokingly say, "OK, it’s my story time!!"  And he reads one or two of his "I See Sam" readers.   We use a clipboard that has a sticker incentive chart I've made for reading books which REALLY motivates him.  It looks a bit like the Candyland board and has a spot for each reader.   I keep stickers behind the chart on the clipboard.  He puts a sticker for each book he reads and earns things like ice cream night, a small toy, a movie night, a "sleep over" with his siblings, a camp out in the backyard....things like that.

3). Next we do what my kindergartner calls "Dragon School". - It is actually Logic of English Foundations, but he calls it "dragon school" because one of the books has a dragon on the cover.   Again, this curriculum includes LOTS of movement and games scheduled in  (Kangaroo hop phonogram review, slapjack, racing around the room and writing things on a white board) but also includes a few small things done at a table or desk (spelling words each day, copy work starting at the end of level B, colorful worksheets, etc.).  So, this provides a nice transition from games & movement to desk work.

4). Next, while he is sitting at his desk, he does a Singapore Primary Math Lesson.  These are very short and sweet.   If he is ever resistant to math, we do some RightStart games and work on the abacus, etc.

5).  He reviews his math facts using Time4MathFacts.com:   We transition from his little desk to the kitchen table and I can start prepping dinner while he does this.  It is basically just video games that review math facts.  

---As far as whining goes, we really don't have a problem with it with any of my kids.  Whether it comes to school or chores.    And that makes my school days so much nicer...for everyone!     This doesn't happen overnight, but I work on this intentionally from an early age and keep working at it as the years go by.  I feel strongly that this is a very important habit to establish early on in a homeschool.   I have seen countless friends throw in the towel on homeschooling just because their kids have learned to complain about every little thing and eventually the mom just can't take it.  So,  I have learned to nip whining and complaining in the bud at an early age!  

Whining and complaining are contagious.  If one person does it, it starts to spread through the whole house.  Soon everyone is complaining about chores or complaining about school or whatever.... and we are all a lot less happy.   Also, have you never noticed that complaining about something makes the job feel harder and take longer?   (Seriously, try going for a run and complain about it the entire time in your head or aloud.  It will feel MISERABLE.   Now, try reframing your thoughts positively.  Play some fun music, listen to a good audiobook, try to have some fun, and remind yourself how strong you are.  The run will actually feel easier.  The same thing goes for chores or school work.). 

Plus, I've done a lot of reading which says that the more we "practice" whining/complaining/negative thinking, our brains become more conditioned to immediately go there every time.  We are basically strengthening neural pathways which make this negative behavior or thought cycle our default response.   On the other hand, prating thinking positively can also become a conditioned response.  Habits, both good and bad, are powerful!   

So, how do you encourage positive thinking?  Well, there is no magic solution.  I use both modeling, positive reinforcement, and sometimes consequences.    (If you whine about wiping the chairs for example, you might get a harder job.  Now you have to wipe all of the counters and bathroom sinks.  If you whine about that, you get an even harder job.   Suddenly, wiping the chairs doesn't seem like such a big deal).    And at the same time, I praise the kids when they work with a good attitude and especially if they find a way to make the chore more fun.   I notice and comment on specific behavior.   My kids have come up with all sorts of fun things to make jobs more pleasant.   (Playing games to see who can get the biggest dirt pile while sweeping, or listening to fun music, etc.).   Again, I am just trying to build the habit of approaching work with a good attitude since it is really a part of life.  

When it comes to school, I try to keep that as positive as possible.  Especially at this age.  I think a 5-year-old should look forward to school.   If they are complaining a lot, I first try to make sure that what I am asking from them is reasonable.  Sometimes we can expect too much. And I try to make sure the learning feels fun and positive.  (Reading a book should feel good!  Working on a math puzzle should feel fun!   If it isn't, I try to figure out how to make it more fun or enjoyable). And I also acknowledge that sometimes we have to do hard things.  When we have to do hard things, I praise them for their work ethic and for having a good attitude.  I comment on specific things I notice they are doing well.  (Wow! Look at you!  You wrote all 5 spelling words.  You are such a hard worker! "  And I gently correct when I notice negative behavior.  Sort of like watering the flowers and pulling the weeds in a garden.  

 ETA:  And yes, I am usually exhausted at the end of the day!  But that is VERY normal when you have young children.   Parenting and homeschooling is hard work.   You are giving a lot of yourself to these precious children!  I've found that taking care of my basic physical needs helps me to feel better.   I work out everyday so I am physically stronger which gives me more energy every day.  (Sweat is magic!)  I drink a gallon of water every day.  I eat well and avoid or limit sugar/alchol.  I get enough sleep.  I take tea breaks and read a lot so I can take care of my mental health and re-fill my "patience bank".  Basically the same things we try to encourage in our children.  

Edited by TheAttachedMama
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On 7/22/2020 at 8:44 AM, TheAttachedMama said:

 

We typically start our school day late compared to most people.  (Around 2PMish which is a lot different compared to when my oldest was 5! ). I use the morning to get some work stuff finished, workout, help my older kids, etc.  The late start time is not ideal for a kid this age, but it is where we are in this crazy covid world.  🙂


Thank you for sharing with me! I love all of this information. My son doesn’t have a negative attitude towards school work per say, but he does occasionally say he doesn’t like something. I am definitely going to start complimenting him on his positive attitude. Thank you for pointing out how important that is. Logic of English sounds amazing!  I’m going to look into it. 

I see many homeschool moms (here and elsewhere) saying their kinders spend less than an hour on school and I thought, ok, I’m doing it wrong. 
 

Can you tell me what you think about our day? (All these times are approx. I’m not a super strict schedule person.)
8:30- start school with something fun. Thursday we built a space ship and read books about space in it.

9:00- Fine Motor Activity (like scissor practice.) move into handwriting practice. We do build it, trace it, write it method. This usually takes at least 30 minutes. 

9:30- Phonics. I set a 20 minute timer. Then he reads a simple book to me. 
 

10:00- independent work/center type activity. Today he built space ships with legos using color pattern cards and did a solar system puzzle. I set a 30 minute timer. This is my reading time. 
 

10:30- Math. We are  trying out Horizons. Right now, I only do formal written math two days a week. The other three days are strictly play based. Formal days we spend maybe 15 minutes, play days 30 minutes.
 

Snack

11:00- MFW kindergarten. We don’t use the LA/Math unless it something I think he needs to review. This curriculum is so much gentler than I expected. We should’ve used it last year! We are usually done with bible and activities In about 30 minutes. 

While lunch Is cooking we do Memoria Press K recitation (love your index card idea!) and I read some MP books that correspond with MFW theme. We do the art/music/poetry enrichment on Wednesday after lunch with a special yummy treat. 
 

The rest of the day is a balancing act of me doing household tasks, & him begging me to play.  I usually end up orchestrating more activities out of MFW or Pinterest ideas that correspond with MFW. 

 

 

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22 hours ago, AnneGG said:


...Logic of English sounds amazing!  I’m going to look into it. 

I see many homeschool moms (here and elsewhere) saying their kinders spend less than an hour on school and I thought, ok, I’m doing it wrong. 
 

Can you tell me what you think about our day? (All these times are approx. I’m not a super strict schedule person.)....

 

Logic of English foundations IS amazing.  My son and I love it very much.  

Concerning your second point (bolded above).   I have been homeschooling for 10 years now.   And this question that you are asking yourself will NEVER go away.   Most homeschoolers are always waffling between feeling like they are doing too much or not enough.   We never feel just right.   It is like we are trapped in some sort of Goldilock's syndrome!    So don't ever let it keep you up at nights. OK?  🙂  Trust me.   I've wasted a lot of time over the years comparing my homeschool to others, and it was rarely fruitful.   Even today, I am still dealing with this question with my oldest children.   Some people say that they are able to get 8th grade finished by lunch time....meanwhile we are taking ALL day over here.    And I spend way too much time thinking I am doing something wrong.

So, I always choose my words carefully when I answer the question about what is too long or too short of a day.   Goodness knows that homeschooling is hard enough, so I don't ever want another homeschooling mom thinking I am critical of *her* or *his* particular methods.   I hope that I am able to build others up and encourage, and I don't want another mom (or dad) questioning their day based on my reply.    I honestly could care less what others do or don't do or don't do with their families.  And I honestly feel like parents know what is best for their particular children and their particular family situations.  Who am I to say what is too little or too much?     But here is what I have to say to you:   a quality classical education takes a lot of time.   There!  I said it!   And you can't magically pull time out of a hat.   I know people on Facebook who say they are able to to get their 9th grade student homeschooled by lunch, and then I feel guilt when my 9th grade student is working until 5PM.  And really I shouldn't.   It is wonderful that they are able to work so quickly.   Maybe their kids are super human.  Or, often I have found that their idea of a 9th grade Chemistry class just isn't the same thing as my idea of a Chemistry class. .  And maybe their idea of a literature discussion may not be what I have in mind when I say "literature discussion".     Either way, some things done right just take time.   

Also, there is some gray area about what counts as school.  Some people might might read aloud to their child for 2 hours ever day, play educational games for an hour, do an hour long craft project.....but only do 30 minutes worth of "desk work" then they say their kindergarten day takes 30 minutes.   When in reality they are doing a lot more.  Personally, I count anything I am doing.  So that might make my numbers a bit higher.

So my answer is that I think your day looks absolutely FABULOUS!   I think it sounds very fun, and it reminds me very much of what my day looked like when my oldest was K5.   (Things have changed now, and that is why I don't even start my youngest's day until 2PM.).    But really, you should be mostly looking at your child.   Do they seem to be enjoying themselves?  Are they looking forward to the activities you have planned?   Wtih my oldest I fell into a trap of, "Mama planned this Pinterest idea so you are going to do it and like it."   Looking back, that was just plain silly.   My "fun" things became "to do" things.    (I am an ENTJ and that is often what I do with "fun".  lol)

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I will be the odd person out and say that we unschool kindergarten. I have phonics, handwriting, math, etc workbooks if they *ask* to do school, which they do sometimes, but I don't expect them to do anything schoolish on any given day. So far, with DS8 & DS6, they have listened in on read-alouds, science & history lessons, watched videos, etc, with the older brothers, but I don't schedule for them or expect it.

Once 1st grade starts, we schedule all the usual subjects of a classical education, but kindy is very much free play here. 

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  • 1 month later...

Update: I dropped MFW and all of the planned extras. And it’s AMAZING!
 

We’ve finally settled into the routine of being home more/socially distant. Accepting our new rhythm has made our homeschool more pleasant. 

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