Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Learning that Recess is Essential for Homeschoolers

Recently, I noticed that home school goes better if the kids get to play outside first thing in the day.  When I planned out our home school schedule over the summer, I planned that we would have P.E. right after morning prayers and our religion lesson.  The first week of school trying to execute this plan was a disaster.  The kids were soo squirrely, giggly, silly and playful.  I essentially live with the biggest giggle monsters on the planet.  The sillier and more giggly they got, the more I would try to "discipline" them into behaving appropriately/respectfully.  My authoritative commands never worked and my temper boiled until I was yelling at them trying to gain order.  Clearly I was losing the battle for good behavior.

As a result I would cut out P.E. because we had wasted so much time trying to sustain decorum during prayers in religion.  We would immediately go to our classroom to continue the day's lessons. I would make the children muscle their brains through half of their lessons and then I would let them break for recess.  They would get a snack and play for a while.  After recess, things always went more smoothly.

For the next few weeks I tested different scenarios.  The next week I brought in chairs for prayer and religion.  I thought that if they sit apart, not touching,  this would cause less silliness and would help them focus.  Another reason I needed chairs was because Lucy and Annie fought daily for sole possession of mommy's lap.  If they all sat in chairs, then no one could have mommy.

Alas, with the chairs came just as much silliness and interruption.  Not a single one of them could sit still.  They were so wiggly those chairs went toppling over countless times.  I thought I was going to go mad.  But, I was going to figure out how to get their attention for prayers and religion.  The next day I used my husband's belts to belt them into their chairs.  They thought it was so much fun to have seat belts.  Kristiana and Annie stood right up and went walking around the room with chairs belted to their bottoms, giggling, racing and bumping into each other.  So I gave up the belts after a couple days.  I liked the idea of the chairs though.  Believe it or not, it did keep them somewhat contained and kept their attention a tad longer than being free to sit anywhere.

However, one morning, they wandered out to the backyard right after breakfast and played outside before prayer and religion.  It was late in the morning before we started to school, but it went quickly and without discipline issues.  Another day, we decided to shake up the routine and went to the gym first thing in the morning instead of the afternoon.  I could not make a regular habit of this, because in general, if I wait too long into the day, they get tired and unfocused and do nothing or do it very slowly.  The day we went to the gym first, school went very well.  I did not yell or have trouble with discipline at all.  The next day we did the same thing and it also went well.  I decided they needed to get the wiggles out first thing in the day.  Perhaps, this is why schools always have time to play outside first thing in the morning.  

This week I have decided to force the kids outside to play before school each day.  So far, so good.  I think the physical activity gets their brains going.  It gets the neurons firing.  

One thing I have learned is that not only is routine important, but also keeping it fresh, light and fun is also important.

Morning Prayers with Decorum (sort of) - For those unaware, Byzantine Christians pray with arms folded across their chests to lift their prayers to God on angel's wings.  See how the hands crossed look like wings.  Or another popular posture is hands open to Heaven/Icons to show total submission and openness to the Almighty Creator.


Sometimes Lucy crosses her arms and sings too.  But in this picture she wanted to see of what mommy was taking a picture.


School When Everything Works out Right


Mno hya Lyta!

No comments: