heads down, feet off the ground: a day in our home-schooling life
I’ve had several requests to post a “day in our life,” and it actually surprised me how difficult it was to log a full day’s activity! But I did it, even though this day happened two weeks ago. Let me first say, I’m not sharing this to give you the secret ingredient to home-education (not quite); instead, let’s all apply the lesson we learned from Po and his dad in Kung Fu Panda, “the secret ingredient is you.” Your kids need what you have to offer, and we all offer and need something a little different; activities/curriculum/schedules that work really well for one family may seem impossible for another. But regardless of where you are on this education/parenting journey, everyone needs encouragement, and often, I find observing someone else helps me out of our own family (or personal )ruts in routine. So on that note, I hope you find a nudge or a cheer for you here today, and if you have some ideas to offer from your own family’s day, please share in the comments! The events below happened as written; however the pictures are pulled from several different days since most of these activities we do regularly. I linked to the specific materials I use.
6am: Mark’s alarm goes off. After several minutes, we muster ourselves out of bed and turn on the lights. Mark jumps in the shower. I finally decide to fold the two baskets of laundry that have been littering my room for two days. I get dressed for the day, then force myself to gather the dirty laundry always accumulating in our home. I start a load.
7:00 am Liam’s up and making himself breakfast. I begin making coffee and the usual eggs, spinach, and tomato breakfast. The other kids meander out to join us. When the boys finish, they sneak off to their beds to read. Soon after, I get the boys back out of bed to begin their morning routine: make their bed, brush their teeth, and put their clothes away (since I had finally folded them). They’re disgruntled. Olive’s already scaling the drawers to get herself dressed, and Blythe joins her, choosing what clothes they will begin their day in (because we all know they’ll finish the day in something else). Have I mentioned the laundry around here?
8:00 am We listen to our CC memory work while the older kids help unload the dishwasher; I play with Olive. We recite our memory work together using many of the “tools” their tutors gave us in class. When we finish, the kids fill their water bottles and head back to the school room. They play with Legos and color until I get back there. I make my coffee, check my email, and skim news articles.
9:00 am Liam and I alternate reading a story from the Children’s Illustrated Bible aloud; we all talk about the story together. Some days there’s no application (especially since we’re in the Old Testament right now), but today we read about Elijah healing Namaan of leprosy. So we spend some time talking about healing, and God as our healer. We each speak at least one thing we’re thankful for this morning (we recently started writing them down in a journal — shown above) and next talk about the people we know who also need healing. Then we each pray out loud, together and informally (meaning kids on the floor, in our indoor swing, at the table coloring).
I read a chapter out of the Story of the World: the Middle Ages (sometimes we don’t make it through a whole chapter, but we did today). The kids listen about the kingdom of the Franks while they color & build with Legos. Olive, who has been laying on the floor with her blankie and pillow pet, heads to refrigerator. We stop for snack time.
10:00 am I send the kids to the backyard to run while I switch over laundry, chop some oranges, and grab cheese sticks. We eat our snack outside, and then play Red Light, Green Light and Mother May I.
10:30 am We head back to the school room again. The boys practice handwriting (I’ve already torn out their sheets ahead of time) and each picks four lines of poetry to copy from any of our children’s poetry books (one, two, three, and any of this series). After they finish, they enjoy free time in their room. Meanwhile, I sing about, read Mat Man Shapes, and build Mat Man with the girls, which works until Blythe corrects Mat Man’s mouth (Olive had placed the small curve wood piece down like a frown) upsetting Olive who then screams and tears Mat Man’s hands. The girls end up in time out, and I put Mat Man away for the day. Everyone reconciles, eventually.
11 am I set Blythe up to work on a phonics folder game. Liam reads out loud to Olive while I work through a Math lesson with Burke. I give Burke his math fact sheet and worksheet to finish on his own, and move Liam to the kitchen to begin his math lesson. Olive and Blythe play dress-up together. I fold clothes while I help Liam. I check Burke’s work and hand him and Liam clothes to put away. They play outside again. I sit down with Blythe for a spelling lesson and give Olive some color cards to sort.
12:00 pm The kids are climbing in our trees while I make lunch. We eat outside again (The weather’s been so fantastic here!) and spend time exploring a wooded lot nearby.
1:30 pm Olive goes down for a nap. I have a spelling lesson with Burke. Liam draws at the table, until it’s his turn for spelling. Burke and Blythe return outside again to finish working on a rope swing they (and Liam) had begun a few days ago. I call Blythe in for reading; Liam joins Burke.
2:30 pm “Rest time” for everyone. We each find our own quiet spot with our book(s) for 30 minutes of reading alone/30 minutes of quiet activity on your own. (We’re still working on this.) I make myself a second cup of coffee, grab an old sheet, and head to the backyard for my quiet spot. Instead of reading, I have to finish up my lesson plan for my Essentials class.
3:30 pm I have to wake up Olive (which usually means she’s screaming or kicking me). She hates being woken up, but I can’t have her sleep longer than two hours during the day or it starts to affect her bedtime. The kids are ready for a snack again. I let them make their own this time. And I wrap up my own work.
4:30 pm The kids “clean up” the school room while I wash the day’s dishes. They begin chasing each other around the house, so I send them outside again while I gather dinner.
5:00 pm Mark’s home from work and outside with kids. Kristen & Tim arrive with Shepherd for dinner. I shred zucchini to make “noodles” for her homemade red sauce (grandmother’s recipe). We throw together some veggies for a salad and eat!
6:00 pm We eat dinner. The boys wrestle in the backyard, then play on the computer for 30-45 minutes. The babies and Blythe are playing dress-up, chasing each other around the table and out into the yard. We (adults) try to have conversation.
7:15 pm We begin our bedtime routine: baths/showers, PJs, brush teeth, and read aloud.
8:30 pm Lights out for the kids. I head to the shower and get ready for bed.
9:00 pm Mark and I talk briefly, recapping our day and discussing any plans for the upcoming ones (you know, romantic stuff). He takes an important phone call, and I sit down to write.
10:00 pm Mark heads to bed. I’m enjoying the quiet stream-lined thinking too much and continue writing.
11:00 pm I make myself go to bed. Lights out.
Everyday is different. This day didn’t include any errands, appointments, or playdates, and for the most part it went pretty smoothly, unlike this morning when Olive cried the entire way through Blythe’s spelling lesson because I put her blankie in the wash. Or the morning she painted herself, her doll, and the hallway floor with nail polish. Or the day Burke split his leg open and had to get stitches. Or the days I get too distracted by the computer or phone calls. We all have those days. This just happen to be the one I recorded.