...to 90 minutes of directed homeschooling each day (as opposed to previously 60 minutes of directed each day)!
We are operating under the philosophy of X directed hours per year of age. (I'll get into directed versus undirected in a moment). Obviously, infants cannot sit for long periods of time for educational practices, and they would (most likely) get bored in one long stretch; the same is true of toddlers (to a lesser degree), to children (to an even lesser degree), and even to teens and adults! In our homeschooling, there are 3 aspects to the day: directed homeschooling, indirect education, and visual stimulatory education.
Directed Homeschooling: This takes place when either one-on-one or one-on-two, I sit with them and go through an activity with them. It could be storytime, coloring, directing their hands to draw letters, offering them shapes for the shapesorter (and talking about them), talking to them about the shapes as they work the pegboard, or going through the alphabet (or other puzzles) with them (or a variety of other things!). The key thing here is that they are either being actively engaged with me or by me, and that we are doing activities together. These are the activities that I log and keep up with. This isn't to say that the other 2 sections aren't just as important, but as they make up the rest of our day, I dont log them the same way (nor am I as anal about making sure time is kept, except with the TV aspect).
Indirect Education: This is the largest part of our day. It's where the kids play without me trying to direct them or get involved. And it is a broad spectrum. Sometimes, it's all of us dancing to the music or the kids climbing on top of the furniture and practicing their foreward rolls. It could be them playing on the piano, learning their letters and sounds on their little LeapFrog Laptops or "reading" their boardbooks themselves. They could be playing with their kitchen or making music with their drums. There's no end to what they do or what they might create! But, since we break up our directed work and our visual stimulation into 10-20 minute chunks, this is the largest aspect of our day, by far!
Visual Stimulatory Education: This is my nice way of saying education via television. It's no secret that we don't love the idea of putting kids in front of the TV for extended periods of time, but I'll give credit where credit is due: there are some AWESOME programs available and they can be integrated into the day. We have Comcast as our cable provider and their On Demand menu for Kids has a section for babies that is full of educational gems. Daily, the kids watch either a shape/ABC/numbers program (10-12 minutes) and a language program (10-14 minutes). They love them and they are nicely done (and free with our cable subscription!). We DVR a lot of programs since we dont want to be tethered to watching them at a specific time where something else might come up. For religious education, the kids watch one of 3 different religious cartoons that we DVR from EWTN: We Are Catholic, The Animated Rosary for Kids, or My Catholic Family. These run about 20 minutes each episode. For positive educational reinforcement, they LOVE the PBS show SuperWhy!, which is half an hour. Sometimes, if they get cranky as I am cleaning up from breakfast, I will put on The Cat in the Hat Knows A Lot About That, which is also half an hour but they rarely watch that and it serves more as a background distraction why they either "help" me clean or play with their toys. The same is true of Dinosaur Train; they may watch that in snippets if I need something going on while I am cleaning up. All in all, they get about 20 minutes of educational videos plus 20 minutes of religious education and 30-40 minutes of PBS programming a day, for a total of up-to 80 minutes or so. Sometimes the TV will be on something educational and we'll watch it as a family while we are playing, but usually, the cablebox is on a music channel of some sort (Toddler Tunes is a favorite throughout the day; Soundscapes is a must-have during naptime) and the TV screen is turned off.
There are other important things to, of course. In addition to breakfast, lunch, second lunch, and dinner, they get 3 snacks throughout the day plus their 2 hour nap (inbetween lunch and second lunch). We also try to get outside (weather permitting) each day for at least half an hour; weekly, they visit their paternal grandparents and their maternal grandfather comes here for a visit. They also have their weekly 45 minute music class and weekly 45 minute toddler tumbling/gymnastic class; if I can make a playgroup, I do so, otherwise I try to get them out on another sort of play outting. They also do our weekly shopping with me, which gets them out of the house and gives them a new world to explore as we discuss the food and items we pass and put in our cart.
The kids are learning to put themselves to sleep and to self-soothe if they wake up before they are ready to do so. We dont (nor do we plan to do) CIO; we will let them whine or complain, but if it progresses to crying, we intercede and reassure them. Maya is outstanding. When she hears naptime, she snuggles my shoulder for a moment then pulls away for her bed. She wants her "sleep entourage" of Baby Stella, Sleep Sheep, and her lovey, then her sheet and blanket, and then you to leave her alone! If she wakes up, she will talk to her dolls until she falls asleep. If she is awake and finished with her nap, she will come to her door for you to open the gate. Bobby still needs a bit more intervention. Usually, I leave and have to go back in 10 minutes or so (sometimes twice over a 20 minute period) to help him. He doesnt like being alone, which is tough when you are trying to have him fall asleep on his own! But he will, and, if he wakes up, he usually sings himself back to sleep.
The kids LOVE the park. It's a shame that, at this age, I simply cant take them by myself, but until I have a way of safely doing so, we wait until we have someone to go with us during the day or until the evenings/weekends when Peter is home. We all walk to the park 4 blocks away or Peter and I walk and push them in the stroller to our favorite park, a mile away. They love the swings and the slides, and are fearless! It's so cute to watch them. They are never happy to leave, no matter how tired they are!
And bathtime remains a fun way to end our day. They end up playing for 15-20 minutes or so, until they are washed, dried off, massaged, and pajama'ed. It's a fun time for Peter to have some DaddyTime (while I straighten the kitchen up post dinner).
20 months have come and gone. It's amazing, for me, to watch them grow, and to see just how far they've come as we approach their second birthday.
(I have a second part of this as well, but that will be saved for another day... We upgraded our supplies since we are moving towards 2 hours of directed HSing each day as they hit their 2nd birthday. But I dont have any new pics yet and am still getting the hang of my new planner!)