This month one of my favorite homeschool blogs, Simple Homeschool, is doing a series of “Homeschool day in the life” posts. These are some of the most helpful posts on the blog for me, so this year I’m writing my own to link up.
I’ve hesitated to post much about our homeschool schedule and curriculum mostly because I myself have struggled a lot with doubt and comparison in the past, and am coming to learn that there’s simply not one right way to homeschool. There’s not a “best” curriculum or homeschool philosophy, not a “best” routine. I haven’t wanted any of you to feel the pressure of needing to do what I do.
However, at the same time, sometimes it’s helpful to learn what someone else is doing and pick out the things that suit your family and situation. I use the series on Simple Homeschool for ideas and help if something needs tweaking (for instance, that’s where I’ll get ideas on how to make this homeschooling thing work with a newborn in the house), and I hope that’s how you’ll view this post.
Specifics of our routine change from time to time, but below I’ll share what we’re doing right now, and I’ve come to it mostly by observing myself and the kids and learning what works best for us (and lots of trial and error).
I include general times but I do not keep an eye the clock during our morning (and I’ve started turning my phone off during homeschool hours too). This helps me focus on the relational aspect of spending the morning with my kids rather than just checking items off a list.
If this blog post feels overwhelming, just remember: We start our homeschooling day around 8:30 and end by 12:00 or 1:00 at the latest, with some breaks scattered in.
In the warm months I’m an early-morning person, but during the winter I stay under the covers as late as possible. At 7ish I get up, shower or get dressed and start unloading the dishwasher and getting breakfast ready. David is at work by this time.
The kids wake up sometime after 7:00, and we eat breakfast between 7:00 and 8:00 (sometimes later if they sleep in or one of them wants to sit and cuddle in my lap for awhile). Typical weekday breakfast is a green smoothie and homemade protein breakfast bar, but cereal if I’m lazy. I always clean up the kitchen before bed the night before because I’ve found that waking to a dirty kitchen and unwashed dishes puts me in a bad mood.
We stay at the table after breakfast and I drink a cup of coffee while we review our Classical Conversations memory work for that week (which we learned on Monday at CC). This encompasses history, geography, science, English grammar rules, and Latin. We listen to the CD and any extra memory songs from CC Connected, I ask questions from our book, and find locations on the map.
Sometimes I’ll make a review game, and the kids will get Cheerios or a chocolate chip for correct answers. During this stage of CC I’m supposed to focus primarily on having the kids memorize the material, but if they ask a question about their memory work we talk about it (for example, we watched a Youtube video of Niagara Falls yesterday).
Our CC work takes anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour a day, I try to mix it up. If it’s a really busy day, we just listen to our CD in the car.
Judah and Amie pull out drawing supplies and draw/color pictures while I drink a second cup of (decaf!) coffee and read a chapter or two from our current read-aloud book. We’ve worked through a sweet series of American history books from the library by Ingri and Edgar Parin D’Aulaire, but right now are finishing up E.B. White’s The Trumpet of the Swan. I let the kids draw whatever they want during this time, but it usually ends up related to what I’m reading (note: drawing is the only way I can get Amie to listen to chapter books which she usually says are “boring”).
I’ve learned that the morning goes best when I do “kindergarten” with Amie first and let Judah have some time alone to play. Amie does a math lesson, reading, and writing. She entertains herself so much better during Judah’s work if I spend this quality time with her first.
I will pause here to say if it’s been a crazy morning or we were super busy-with-people the day or evening before, I’ll take a break and tell the kids to play together, and then shut myself up in my room with a book for 30 minutes. I used to feel terribly guilty about this, but it’s one of those things I’m learning to accept as an introvert homeschooling mom. And I think it’s really important for my kids to know how to self-entertain, so it’s a win-win.
Judah begins his workbooks. I let him choose what order he wants to do his subjects, and I’m slowly working on helping him do some of his work independently (I use the time when he’s doing a worksheet by himself to switch laundry or straighten up the house or check email). He does a math lesson, reads aloud to me, phonics workbook pages, handwriting, and I alternate grammar and spelling every other day.
While we’re working Amie either plays in the other room, draws at the table with us, or sometimes asks to do extra worksheets (those fun little kindergarten workbooks at Target are great for this).
Sometimes Judah takes a break in between subjects to play. If we have plans or need to run errands right after lunch though we’ll plug away to finish by noon.
Lunch: sandwiches and applesauce or fruit for the kids, salad for me (or a rice cake with peanut butter if I’m lazy!). For some odd reason my kids do better with school if I let them stay in pj’s all morning. I used to refuse on principle, but recently decided: Why not? If it’s fun for them and helps our morning go more smoothly, I guess it doesn’t matter what they wear. They definitely have to be dressed by lunch though.
I clean up after lunch, then we finish up any school work we haven’t done. Lately we’ve been playing Uno together after we finish.
Since the kids don’t take naps anymore we call this “play time.” On weekdays Judah and Amie can watch one or two shows on Netflix, then play quietly either together or separate until 3:00. They do a ton of drawing and making paper dolls these days and spend a good portion of play time making art work. We’ve always had a mandatory play time and it works really well for us on days that we’re home. It took a long time to train Amie not to bother me every 10 minutes, but when I’m consistent she does great.
This is my time to read my Bible, catch up on blogs, write (this post!), read, and then do some chores. Ideally I do my exercise video here but that’s happened a grand total of one time thus far (sad face).
Some days we meet up with friends right after lunch and skip play time. Otherwise we get outside after play time and meet friends at a playground or have people over. Judah and Amie are very social and if I’m good about getting together with other kids and most weekdays they are perfectly content with our homeschool routine.
Home to start on dinner (I make a weekly meal plan over the weekend and try to plan leftovers or a crock pot meal if we’re hanging out with friends later than 5:00), David gets home
Eat together, if David is home he cleans up the kitchen afterward (yep, he’s pretty great)
The kids start getting ready for bed and we cuddle on the couch to read books. I go to the library every week or two and make sure to pile up on good books for the kids. I use book lists from websites I like or ask the librarians for recommendations.
Bedtime for Judah and Amie (Judah often isn’t ready to fall asleep yet so will take books or a couple toys to play quietly in bed)
8:00 – 10:00
Whoever is home reads or watches a movie, or if we’re both here we hang out together.
98. the baby’s room
99. Judah is rediscovering his Legos
100. lots and lots of games of Uno
101. decaf coffee with a splash of organic heavy whipping cream
102. gluten free “monster cookies” that the whole family loves
103. dust bunnies along the baseboards mean I’m not obsessing over a clean house
104. Peace Like a River, the best novel I’ve read in a long time
105. we met new baby Allie on Saturday and the kids held her so carefully
106. taking a break from design blogs and Pinterest to enjoy my house exactly the way it is
107. Judah and Amie are big enough to stay up and watch Food Network with me when David was at a conference last week
108. sitting with friends in a patch of sunlight after CC today
109. weather in the 60’s! and sunny!
110. Ed Sheeran
111. the good kind of busy
112. becoming un-stuck
113. Sarah gave us the perfect book:
I’ve been trying to think about goals the past couple of weeks but I keep getting stuck. In case you haven’t noticed, I’ve been stuck in general lately: stuck writing creative blog posts, stuck coming up with interesting hobbies, stuck in the house and not getting exercise. Stuck watching too much TV.
I’m a planner, and yet right now I can’t make out my future. There seems to be a veil thrown over the next season of our life, and by the next season, I mean, the rest of it. When will our baby come? Will it be a boy or a girl? What will be their story? What will they look/act like? How will our family change?
I strain and squint and imagine, but try as I might, I can’t find the answers to any of these questions. And yet I keep obsessing over them.
I don’t know how to make plans.
I feel helpless and powerless. In short, this is really hard. I’m sure the weather and the fact that I always feel a little more blue during winter-time doesn’t help.
I realized this week that this being stuck has got to stop. This obsessing has got to stop. And so that’s my one giant resolution for 2015: to become un-stuck.
That is, I’m going to take back control of my life from this hazy cycle of waiting and helplessness. True, I don’t know if we’ll have another child in 10 days or 10 months. True, I can’t exactly make out the future. True, that’s pure torture for an organizer/planner (control freak?) such as myself.
But I’m tired of this. I’m not helpless. This season won’t last forever, and in the meantime I simply cannot put my entire life on hold just because it’s hard. It’s not fair to myself or to the people I love. It’s choosing to just see what I don’t have instead of all the things I do have.
A sweet friend, who herself has adopted, reminded me over email this week: “Your baby will come. And it will be perfect and your family will feel complete and you’ll feel like it’s how it was supposed to be and you’ll be able to look and see God’s hand in all of it.”
And that’s really all I need to know right now.
So I’m making plans again in 2015. I’m speaking truth to myself and choosing to feel positive and excited about my life right now. I’m keeping up the gratitude lists and every day looking around to see the good things I have right here and now.
I sat and wrote out a list of things I’m going to focus on this year. Here’s a few of them:
1. The kids and I had such a great first week back to school. I dreaded it and prayed a whole lot and God gave us motivation and laughter and cozy mornings together learning (as you can see we’re spending a lot of time in pj’s too). I got my first semester evaluation back from our homeschooling accountability agency with a glowing report on Judah’s progress, especially in reading.
I only realized then just how insecure I’ve felt about this homeschooling thing, how much I needed some encouragement and the confirmation that I’m not screwing my kids up and stunting their education. I’m so grateful that God provided that this week. And now I have the confidence to keep pressing on with our semester, and to make plans for next year. And most of all just to relax and stop taking myself so seriously and enjoy this process.
2. I’m going to get outside every single day. Even if it’s 17 degrees, like on Thursday. I will bundle up myself and my kids and just get out there, for walks, for exploring, for meeting friends on the playground. And because I hate running in the cold, I’m going to get on Amazon Prime and find an exercise video to do when I’m inside.
3. I’m going to use this season to catch up with friends. I will enjoy the freedom I have now to have coffee dates and girls’ nights and play dates.
4. I will finish crocheting the baby blanket. I’m so close to being done but haven’t been able to bring myself to finish, because what if our baby doesn’t come this winter? What if we don’t even need a thick cozy blanket? But this line of reasoning is silly. Maybe we won’t need to wrap the baby up in it, but he or she can still lay on the floor and kick their little legs on its organic cotton softness. And it’s still something beautiful I’m making with my hands and I need to finish what I started.
5. And finally (and perhaps most excitedly), I will start a book club with my mother-in-law, which I’ve wanted to do for forever. Our first meeting is on my birthday, January 31st, and I can’t wait. If you’re curious, this is our first book.
There. This list is for accountability and just the writing of it makes me feel better.
What are you choosing to focus on in 2015?
You may have noticed a new addition to our backyard. Allow me to introduce our pavilion.
The desire to create some sort of “outdoor room” played a big part in our house-buying decision, and because finding a yard of decent size is difficult in downtown neighborhoods, it narrowed our options considerably. But we stood firm and were thrilled with the yard possibilities when we decided on our house.
When we moved in (July of 2013) the backyard was fairly overgrown with ivy and pine trees, but we loved the little screened back porch and immediately had visions of doing something with the concrete slab out back.
Last year David fought back lots and lots of overgrowth (with help from Spencer, John and Jerry), built a play house, we had a fence installed and 8 pine trees removed.
Finally we were ready to turn our attention to the outdoor room. Spencer designed plans for a pavilion (shelter? covering? We still don’t know what to call it). After David’s dad moved down, the two of them set to work with the hope of having it finished for our adoption fundraiser/party. They worked . . .
. . . and worked some more . . .
And now we have our outdoor room! It’s perfect. The addition of the hand-me-down trampoline has been awesome. I’ve never been a trampoline fan but now I highly recommend them as a great way to give your kids exercise and hours of fun with their friends.
We’ve already enjoyed the pavilion for our CPC New Members’ class and adoption party, and have had folks over for s’mores. On weekends, the four of us like to gather around for a pre-dinner fire pit. We had it wired with electrical outlets so that we can add ceiling fans in the summer.
Needless to say, we love our pavilion.
84. two kids who were overjoyed to get back to Classical Conversations on Monday
85. finding our routine again
86. Judah is getting faster at reading
87. a cluttered house means new Christmas presents to play with
88. a batch of granola in the oven
89. enjoying The Trumpet of the Swan by E.B. White together
90. season 3 of Gilmore Girls
91. movie night at my mom’s last night while the guys are hunting
92. sunshine yesterday
93. fire pits in our pavilion
94. a stack of back issues of Taproot magazine to read
95. 2.99 Tuesdays at the Fresh Market
96. a friend who recently adopted is coming over today
97. another week closer to meeting our baby
Happy 2015, friends! I figured a new year called for a blog facelift, so here you have it. We had a wonderfully restful Christmas and now I can’t believe real life resumes on Monday.
The four of us ventured out to the Farmer’s Market late this morning and walked the rest of the way down Main Street to the state house. Our walk was cut short by a cold drizzle so we hurried back for some lunch: tomato bisque soup from the Oak Table, Belgian waffles from the waffle food truck, and we topped it all off with a bag of Cromer’s kettle corn. With numb fingers and toes we finally caved in and made our way back to the car. Well, winter is officially here!