What is it about human nature that drives us to imagine what goes on in other peoples homes?
I learned a long time ago never to envy another person’s family. We all have our issues and frankly, after more than 20 years of doing this marriage/parenting thing, I’ve learned to be content with my lot. God knows just which struggles and blessings I need to keep me focused on Him and asking Him for guidance. Because, in reality, I’ve tried homeschooling and parenting like the family next door and it just never works – never!
5 minutes after the housecleaner left
Hopefully this candid look inside our daily homeschool will both encourage you. Ahem…
6:00am: I hit the snooze button on my phone and press into my husband’s arm a bit tighter, putting off the inevitable. I’ve been writing for some time now about my life-changing morning routine. Getting up early surely has been a revolutionary event in our home, however, for the past few months I have been hard-pressed to get up much before six. Having long ago thrown away any legalistic sense of a should-do attitude, I listen to my body’s ‘voice’ and moved my alarm one half hour forward.
The blessed coffee pot is bubbling away (thank you God for coffee pot timers) and I grab my Bible, journal and pen to prep my soul for the day ahead.
7:00am: The house is beginning to come alive and the kids venture out of their rooms one by one to join me on our large black leather couch. Our dyslexic kids fire up the iPad and the Bible.is app and listen to a dramatized Bible-in-a-year app. This has been an unexpected blessing as several of our young kids have been through the Bible twice now. I didn’t read through the entire Bible until I was in my 30s. Ah, the blessings of technology.
This morning I am dressed and ready to head outside to ride the stationary bike for 20-30 minutes. I’ve adopted the something is better than nothing attitude and try to get out there everyday even if it is only for a short ride.
7:30am: I head to the kitchen to organize the massive amounts of food I need to prepare everyday to feed our 7 kids who still live at home. Because we have a busy afternoon, I put something easy into the crock pot and pull some interesting breads out of the freezer. Breakfast tends to be a fend for yourself meal in our home. Kids 6 and under can rely on mom for something simple while occasionally the 9 & 10 years olds will make pancakes or eggs for everyone. Not impressed? Me neither!
8:00am: Any and all kids still in bed are mercilessly roused and morning routines begin. If I don’t harness the power of all these children, I would be doing chores all day. Everyone has chores and I usually spend at least some of this time checking email, blog business or meeting with my self-employed husband while intermittently checking on the goings on around the house.
My two youngest, boys ages 3 and 6, have been going through some kind of male pecking order type of social posturing. This morning they need constant correction and consequences for shouting and pushing each other. I try to correct them with scriptures about the golden rule and the fruit of the Spirit but am struggling to maintain my patience, ever mindful of the time passing and my list of morning to-dos remaining largely untouched because of these constant interruptions.
I put off starting the laundry or having a shower and stay in my work out clothes so we can get started with the next part of our day.
9:00am: My favorite time of day, we all gather in the sunny end of the house for read aloud time. This is the cornerstone of our days. We first read from the Apologia Worldview series we started last year followed by our current reading from history or science. Lately we alternate a few weeks in Science followed by a few weeks of History. I am working with my squirrely (strong-willed) 6 year old on being able to sit through our first reading session of the day. Some days he sits easily, other days, he struggles. He has loads of freedom throughout the day so don’t feel too bad for him. I feel that at his age, he should be able to sit for our morning Bible study and so we practice this each day. Today he is prone to wander, resulting in many (more) interruptions. After calling him back to the family room several times, I grab his box of Legos and have him build quietly while we read. This has the desired effect of keeping him quiet but I am left wondering how much he really hears of our study. Oh well, baby steps, right?
10:30am: Time for tea. When I learned from another veteran homeschool mom about her use of a daily tea time, I was easily convinced of it’s benefits. This brief stop to stretch, eat and drink allows for all of the interesting ideas we’ve just read to percolate and simmer and is often a time of great conversation.
11:00am: Divide and Conquer! Our two 10th graders are fairly independent learners these days and they head off to our home office to the long wall-to-wall desk my husband built just for the kids. Our 4th and 5th graders take turns heading in there as well to finish their math on the computer while the other plays with our 3 year old. This buddy system allows me to spend some relatively quiet time with our 1st grader.
His lessons are short and intense to keep his focus and interest alive. It also helps to reward his efforts with some time on a few educational apps after ‘school’. His favorite app right now is Reading Raven. We run through a few pages of Math U See, a lesson (or part of a lesson) from All About Reading and some fluency practice sent home from his dyslexia tutor.
Handwriting is a casual endeavor for this reluctant writer. I keep a variety of pens, dry erase and otherwise, along with dry erase handwriting practice sheets, and other copy work sheets that I print off of the Internet. When the family works together at the table for art or another table time activity, I pull these out for him to explore and enjoy at his leisure. I’m not into forcing this on him as you can see.
11:30am The little boys head outside to play. Sometimes on rainy or cold days (we live in Southern California so those tend to be rare) they stay inside and play Legos or Playmobil or one of their other favorite open-ended toys. Our 4th and 5th graders meet me at the dining room table for some language arts or whatever else is on our radar for the day. Lately we have been working through the Zeezok Publishing Art Appreciation course. After reading the biography of each composer we compile a lap book of interesting facts about that particular composer’s life. Funny how one kid loves the hands-on work and the other barely tolerates it. Today, we finish our Handel lapbooks while listening to Handel’s Water Music on the lap top nearby. Practically homeschool nirvana!
For our complete curriculum choices for 4th & 5th grade, you can read this post. We are a relaxed homeschool and will sometimes spend all of our time on art and at other times, spend all of our time on language arts. One thing I have learned after homeschooling for nearly 20 years is not to stress over the curriculum but to use it as a guide. Cultivating a desire to learn and capitalizing on teachable moments or connected learning is much more important, valuable and useful than having an unhappy household and a completed curriculum.
Although this approach may seem irresponsible to some, I have seen the positive effects of using this method and would never go back to striving over curriculum. I suppose it helps that I have been through the elementary grades 4 times now and I know instinctively what they need to know and what is coming next so I am able to steer our ship in the right direction fairly confidently.
12:30pm: Time to Eat! Lunch is often leftovers from dinner the night before or a simple soup, pasta or sandwich.
1:00pm: Our four younger kids are usually finished with their work with mom. They are free to carry on with any left over work or if art was part of our morning, will continue without mom for a while.
Now is the time for me to test my math skills and help my high school kids with math questions or any other subjects they are working on. Tomorrow is their Literature and Composition class with our homeschool group so we are hustling to finalize their writing assignments. Being dyslexic makes this particularly challenging. One has no trouble organizing their thoughts now that we have mastered mind-mapping techniques that appeal to the visual learner. The other still struggles. One is okay with a few spelling mistakes, the other, a perfectionist (help me Jesus!) cannot tolerate not knowing how to spell a word and waits for me to help him. This is how it is right now. We are working on mastering a few key technology aids for him, but for now it is me – the human spell checker.
2:00pm: Most of our academic pursuits are finished by this time. Our younger kids retreat for blessed ‘quiet time’ where the littles listen to books on CD or music and play or sleep and the older two have some quiet reading time.
This is time for mom to sit and have some tea or more likely head to the office to try and wrangle my piles of important papers. With several small businesses, school and all of our family’s various activities, there is much to manage.
This is, of course, just one day out of 180 or so days that we spend at home learning to learn. Everyday is different but every day is full of opportunities to grow.
What do you think? Does our schedule look like yours, or is it totally different?