We’re still tweaking this year’s schedule; some elements are working nicely, others are still in the development phase. The objective is to integrate school with family. Obviously the little ones can’t be quarantined during school hours; the trick is to find ways to incorporate them into the schedule and develop routines for them, too.

One of the best things we’re doing is one-on-one time for the older and younger kids. My eleven-year-old son is an early riser. Since he tends to get ready in plenty of time for our 9 a.m. school start time, I’ve scheduled time for him from 8:30 a.m. – 9 a.m. with our two youngest girls. At 8:30 he yells, “It’s Lily and Felicity time!” and he jumps in with whatever they’re doing. That can mean helping them with breakfast; getting them dressed; and brushing their teeth when necessary. Their favorite times are going to his room and playing with his guinea pig, Joe Cool. They treasure this time together, and it’s a big help for me. I can concentrate on getting myself ready, which is much faster without Lily there emptying my make-up drawers.

My nine-year-old daughter has struggled with reading, although she is improving rapidly. Obviously, the more she reads, the faster she progresses. Part of her problem is a confidence (in reading) issue. She doesn’t like to get up in front of other people and do things – a sort of performance anxiety (although she is improving in this area, too). In our old co-op science classes, she didn’t want to be called on to read in front of the class, so she would always say she couldn’t read. It became a sort of self-fulfilling prophecy. Being able to read well meant having to read aloud in class, and she didn’t want any part of that. I only wish I had realized what was going on sooner.

Felicity goes down for her nap after lunch. I tuck her in bed, and her big sister is now scheduled to read to her. It’s a win-win situation. One gets a bedtime story in the middle of the afternoon, the other gets reading time with an adoring, pressure-free audience. Sometimes these story times last forty-five minutes or more!

Schooling with three preschoolers has its challenges, but we’re rising to meet them. What I’m having trouble wrapping my mind around is that we are three years away from having six school age children and a preschooler. OH.MY!

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