Sunday, February 28, 2016

A day in our life

The day I made notes on for this post was actually a while ago: it was Thursday, January 7th. Why Thursday, January 7th? Well, because I actually managed to wake up before the kids and exercise a bit, while listening to NPR. This has been a goal of mine for some time, and as the baby gets better at this whole sleeping-at-nighttime thing, I'm actually managing to do it once in a while... but it's rare enough that I thought I'd seize the chance to make myself look like a productive and efficient homeschool mom by choosing that day to share for this post. And just as well I did, too, because it has only happened one more time since, and it's almost March! Oh well, some day... :) 

My eldest, who goes by Basbusa on this blog, was seven and a quarter and in 2nd grade; my middle child, Kunafa, was five, and I guess would technically be in pre-K; the baby, Qatayf, was 20 months. 

So, after bounding energetically out of bed at 6:30, and catching up with what's going on in the world while I ran two miles.... hmmm, yeah, I can see why this doesn't happen very often... I heard the kids waking up, around 7:15. I nursed the baby while spending about ten minutes memorizing Quran with each of the girls. The routine is that one girl gets dressed while the other does Quran, so we're theoretically all ready to start the day afterwards. 

Today, that actually happened, so we were upstairs having breakfast by about 7:45. The kids played with each other and with my mom until 9:00, and then we headed to our project room. We more-or-less unschool, so I give the most wide-awake part of our day to whatever the kids might want to spend time on. Today, Basbusa wanted to work on sewing a doll for her best friend, one of the two on the cover of this book:

This book is fantastic, by the way - all kinds of projects, explained so clearly that children can follow them without help, and using fabrics and techniques that mean almost no time spent on hemming and prep-work. 

Kunafa, meanwhile, wanted to make a puppet theater for the puppet she had made a few days earlier. 
There was quite a bit of problem-solving in getting this to come out the way she wanted. First of all, we didn't have paper big enough, so she stuck four pieces of paper together before painting it with water colors. Then she changed her mind on the color of the door, so she cut it out, carefully measured around it, painted a new, blue one, and stuck it back into place. In order to reinforce the "windows" where the puppet would appear, she used the plastic frame that had enclosed our new insurance cards, and added another layer of paper behind that section of her stage. I don't know exactly how I would categorize all this in terms of academics, but all that thinking has to be a good thing.

Meanwhile, in addition to helping out every so often when the girls needed me, I was entertaining Qatayf. We read about nineteen thousand truck books. and played with blocks for a while, before he got involved in exploring our "inventing supplies" and reorganizing those drawers as he saw fit. 

We went back to the kitchen for a snack and to chat with Grandma for a while around 11, and then I went downstairs to put the baby down for his nap. Basbusa had her nose buried deep in a book by the time I came back upstairs - she's currently absorbed in the Septimus Heap series, among others - so  I took Kunafa back to the project room to do some formal academics. 

We did a little bit of Arabic phonics (literally five minutes of it), and then moved on to math, which she loves. I'm having a bit of trouble finding the best way to approach it with her, though. When her older sister was this age, we started off with Right Start Level A, and did half a lesson at a time, twice a week. It worked out very well for her, and we continued on methodically, spending about 30 minutes per week, up to Level C, which she's doing now. Easy for me, thorough for Basbusa, and quite adaptable, especially as I've gotten more confident about skipping a bit of repetition here and there if she's finding it boring. 

With Kunafa, though, Level A was just too easy. I think it's partly because math is something that really interests her; partly because she has been overhearing her sister's math lessons for years; and partly because, as I've gotten more experienced with this curriculum, I've become more comfortable skipping bits of it (in Level A, for example, I don't really bother with the months of the year, or with telling time, because I've found that kids figure that stuff out by themselves eventually, just by living in the world). So about a month into the school year, I found that we had already finished Level A, and I was a bit stumped as to what to do next. I tried going right on to Level B, but found that the lessons were too long for a just-turned-five-year-old. Since then, we've been dipping in and out of things, playing games of Rat-a-tat-cat, Sum Swamp, and Sleeping Queens, and every so often, as a special treat, I give her a ... drum roll please... worksheet!! Just a random, colorful, perforated worksheet from a book she spotted at the dollar store and begged me to buy, and which is apparently the most fun thing in the entire universe...?? It's mystifying. But so be it. 

When Kunafa was finished, I went back to the kitchen to try to drag Basbusa away from her book. This is the kind of situation which makes me doubt, all over again, whether I should delete the "-ish" from our unschool-ish homeschooling, and just go ahead and unschool. Basbusa isn't vehemently opposed to math, and can do it fine when required to, but given the choice, there's no way she would choose arithmetic over Septimus Heap, at least not at this particular point in her life. And as for Arabic phonics, well, she thinks it's pure torture. We only get through the lesson with constant reminders of how little she actually has to do, and how soon she would be finished with it if only she would just co-operate and read her eight or nine words. (Basbusa started reading chapter books in English before she turned 4, but however it was that she taught herself, it definitely wasn't by using phonics! Phonics make no kind of intuitive sense to her. But we just don't see enough Arabic in the world around us for her to figure it out by herself, by whatever method she used for English. So we struggle on. Sigh.)

With lessons finished and the baby awake again, we had lunch, and then headed to our local ice rink for a skating playdate with some friends. Afterwards, we stopped by the library to return one teetering stack of books and check out about twenty new ones, and got home again around 4pm. Basbusa plunged into her books while Grandma (bless her!) read to Kunafa and Qatayf, and I made dinner. Then the kids and I headed out the door again, for Basbusa's Irish dancing class, which runs from 5:45-6:30. 

Home, dinner; the kids played with Baba for a while as I tidied up; then twenty minutes of cartoons in Arabic (my only concession to screen time, most days); then a chapter each from their current read-alouds, and bed, by about 8:45. 

That's our day! Hope you found it interesting, and I'm looking forward to reading about everybody else's, on Simple Homeschool's blog hop!


  1. Games always inspire us, too! I have to check out Sleeping Queens, for certain. Thanks for sharing!

  2. My oldest daughter loved Rat-a-tat cat when she was younger. Don't you just love unschooling?

  3. I love to follow the kids lead in what they learn - but I am realizing I need to invest a small fortune in the supplies they require :-) We spend our days doing a lot of reading, and baking. Mine are 7, 5 and 1 as well :-)

  4. I think one consistent thing I've been reading on so many of these homeschooliing day in the life posts is the towering stack of books from the library! I know we do that several times a week.

  5. We started using Right Start Math this year, too, although we're taking a break right now due to time constraints. Enjoyed reading about your day!