Can't you just hear Hayley Mills singing this little ditty? Most school mornings I gather my children for what I call "group time". So original, isn't it? This is the time that I do most of my "bulk" teaching. Just like bulk cooking I like to teach as much as possible to all my children at the same time. We usually gather around 9 o'clock in the den/school room. Before this time the children have done some chores and independent school work.
During our group time we read from the Proverbs for the day taking turns reading out loud and go over our memory verses in our memory box found here at Scripture Memory System. If we are studying a particular hymn we also sing it and then have a time of prayer.
We had a couple of chapters to complete in Mr. Pipes Comes to America so this week and next we are finishing that book and singing the corresponding hymns. After that our group music studies will come from A Young Scholar's Guide to Composers. We then read and discuss one chapter from Fallacy Detective. We have done this book before and will continue our logic studies with The Thinking Toolbox when we complete Fallacy Detective.
We are also studying Latin and Greek roots. We take one root per week and go over it every day. Aaron and Kaelan make a page for their notebooks of the root on Monday. Jordan has already done this, so he just gets the review time. Our source for this study is English from the Roots Up. I keep the roots cards in our scripture memory system box.
The children are working independently through Around the World in 180 Days for our geography studies. I have decided to take a continent per semester which would have us completing our world tour every 3 1/2 years. Much more doable for me and the little boys should have completed three world tours before their homeschooling days are over. Our group study of geography includes reading from a missionary biography, reading from a Ballentyne adventure book and from ABeka and/or Bob Jones text book. We do NOT do each of these every day!
Our group history study includes reading from All-American History, answering the accompanying questions and doing map work. We are also currently reading together from the Landmark The American Revolution and Charles Coffin's The Boys of '76. Again, we don't do all of this every day. Just reading from one book per day. The children do read MANY other historical books on their own and we watch a good many historical DVDs.
All of my children who are at home participate in this time. My 22 year old daughter is dismissed after our Bible and prayer time. She then does some chores, some reading assigned by her dad or takes 22 month old Caedmon for some play time. In a couple of weeks she will only be home two days a week. So Caedmon will be with us much more during this time. I am thinking of making him a special box of toys to play with only during our group time.
I will admit that this time together is not all sweet, calm and productive. There are times when I have to stop and adjust some attitudes, give direction, pull out additional resources or just nurse the little one. We try to continue amidst the disturbances! I sit in my glider/rocker with my stack of books sitting on the footstool. The older children are scattered on other chairs and on the couch. The little boys generally have puzzles and duplos scattered across the floor and Jackson usually has some drawing paper or a coloring page related to our history study. By the time we are finished with group time, my den looks like a train wreck. I sometimes wonder if they are learning anything, but they are!! One day Jackson came to me and said, "Mom, you know when we are all together in the den and you read to us about history? Well, that's my favorite time!" Not only are they learning, but we are creating memories!
I do try to always ask the younger children questions first before letting the older children reply. Even Jackson can answer questions from our history readings. A good bit of his one-on-one reading time with either Jeff or I or one of the older children is spent on biographies. His face lights up when I pause to let him answer a question about Paul Revere, George Washington, Ben Franklin or his current favorite, Ethan Allan.
Our group time takes us about 2 hours more or less. After this time the children continue with their independent studies which I will post about later. Two afternoons a week I gather Aaron, Kaelan and Jackson for KONOS activities related to our geography studies. Two other afternoons we gather for science activities. I devote 45 minutes to one hour for this time. Tuesday afternoons we have piano lessons and errands that keep us out from the noon hour until late afternoon.
Yes, it would be much easier to let the children study everything on their own. Jeff and I have discussed this issue MANY times throughout our 23 years of homeschooling, However, being able to have a family discussion about our studies, planning family trips relating to our studies, reading good books together and just SPENDING time together as we learn are all factors that make our family a family who learns together.