We have been homeschooling for four years now and some of my favorite blog posts related to home education are the “How to” or “Day in the Life of” types. When we first started homeschooling I was actively researching how to put together a learning space, finding the right curriculum, and just plain *how* to get everything done in one day along with household chores, feeding everyone, and keeping my own sanity in check. Posts just like these are what gave me a jumping off point to find our routine and how we not just survive, but thrive, being at home together all day long.
Monday, May 9, 2015
7am: The alarm goes off. I shuffle down the hall to wake our 8 year old daughter to get dressed for Mass. Normally I like to get up before the kids but I’m just not quite there yet with a three month old baby. After dressing, our daughter has a quick breakfast, brushes her teeth, and fixes her hair in plenty of time for her grandma to pick her up for 8am Mass.
8am: I wake the boys and we have breakfast in the dining room. We are still at the table when big sister returns home from Mass. She washes up and joins us for our morning time. Morning time is something we had been doing a casual version of without knowing it was really a “thing.” I encourage you to look up Morning time and especially the Morning Basket that Jennifer posts about at her blog.
9:15am: Our morning routine always happens before we start seat work. Each child (and myself) have a short checklist of what we need to do around the house in order to keep it running smoothly. For me that entails making my bed, checking dinner plans and ingredients, unloading the dishwasher, and starting the first load of laundry of the day. Our daughter is 8 and she makes her bed, straightens her room, does a Fly Lady cleaning of the kids’ bathroom, throws the bath towels down, and feeds the fish. Our sons (ages 4.5 and 2) make their bed and straighten their room.
9:30am: We take sister to the Catholic elementary school where she participates in PE and music. The crew and I head back home (we are lucky to live only a few blocks away) and I turn on a Wild Kratts for the boys to watch while I shower and put my ‘real clothes’ on for the day.
10:30am: We pick sister up from school and head home again and start on seat work. With independent work we usually try to get our math done first. We stick to 15-20 minute lessons so I usually circle a good variety of problems on her worksheets with the idea if she can show mastery that she does not have to do them all as busy work. But today we have a very light lesson load as our only official lessons left of third grade are spelling.
11am: Normally we would have more lessons during this time but today was free time since she has completed all of her scheduled work other than the spelling. She took the time to read in her room while I get the second load of laundry in and read some picture books to the boys.
12pm: The boys head out with grandma to the oil fields to take lunch to Daddy. This is an errand I LOVE to do but Mondays have a new special tradition of a mama/daughter (plus baby) lunch date. Today she chose to eat at Subway and we had a nice UN-interrupted chat. I cherish this new scheduled time with her and I know she does too!
1pm: We head back to the school for an unusual afternoon choir practice in the church as the student prepare for their spring concert. I sat in the back pew and listened to the beautiful voices of the children. It was a welcome time for me to sit in the house of the Lord and quiet my heart. It makes me look forward to getting back into the routine of Adoration and weekday Mass this summer.
2pm: Back at home we rest after a busier than normal day and put the littles down for a nap. I am always sure to take this time for my sake as well as for the older kids. This quiet time is for studies of personal interest or rest. I take my time to sew, craft, or tackle a larger project that I can’t get done otherwise.
4pm: After a snack we do our housekeeping chore of the day, fold and put away the laundry, and get the house ready for daddy to come home. This habit is crucial to keeping all the papers, crafts, and school projects from overtaking our home. It also is a way that we can show respect for the man that works so hard so that we can be home together.
5pm: The kids go outside to play in the backyard and I start dinner.
6pm: Daddy is home and we run to the door to welcome him in. He heads to the shower to get cleaned up and the kids and I get the table set for dinner.
6:30pm: We have dinner together. It’s our favorite time of the day other than days that we get to take lunch to Daddy and eat in a Kansas prairie grass field 😉
7:30pm: Dinner is over and we clean up the table, sweep the floor, and do the dishes. I like to have either our 8 or 4.5 year old help me while the others play with Daddy.
8pm: Baths are running and all four kiddos get clean and fresh for bed. I like to play different types of Catholic music while they are in the tub. This one was the one they heard tonight.
8:30pm: Prayers and Bedtime! (This step sounds easy here but we are perfecting it as we go.) I usually end up in our bedroom at this point and try to take a few minutes in prayer and reading my book for the Catholic Families Book Club.
Now, for a tour of what homeschooling looks like in our home!
Here is our “school room” … aka… the dining room. Mother’s Day was yesterday so we are enjoying the leftover tulips on the table. I highly recommend blending your school into your home and not having a traditional room for academics. I found that in order for me to get everything done that I need to do, learning must happen at the same time as my work around the house. The kitchen is pretty much central command for me so schooling at our breakfast table or the dining table is a natural fit.
You can see the glass front bookcase cabinet on the left side of the doorway. We use this cabinet to hold our school books, supplies, puzzles, games, etc. Basically everything but the art supplies (they are in the kitchen buffet you will see shortly.) My apologies for a photo that shows my end of the year mess. We will be emptying the shelves shortly and preparing for next year over the summer with a cabinet re-fresh. Last fall the cabinet was housing a good portion of the books we own. Over the course of this past school year I have actively been searching used book sales and purchasing fantastic resource books and all the classic literature which has drastically increased the size of our home library. The future use of this cabinet will have a shelf for each child with their current school books. I also plan to use any extra space as a curiosity cabinet where we can keep a rotating display of interesting scientific/nature items for observation.
The chalkboard to the right is where we do board work. I also change things up with quotes, verses, and messages throughout the year. The board itself is a simple DIY project that you can do at home… it is just an oversized frame from Hobby Lobby with a melamine board (painted with chalkboard paint) that has been cut to fit inside of it.
In the kitchen we have a breakfast table that I use for “strewing.” Strewing is putting out an object of interest that the child(ren) might be interested in. Today we have books set out library style while finishing up an immersion study on the Titanic. We have a model yet to make and then we will visit the Titanic museum on our next trip to Branson this summer. We all have become Titanic scholars, Daddy included, doing some of our studies in bed watching DVDs on the laptop after the little ones are asleep. Don’t underestimate the value of learning with your husband/grandparents/neighbors or the time of day. Our daughter loved those late night ‘movies’ and they will always be a memory that we all hold near to our hearts.
Just outside the window is an area we hope to use for nature study next winter. This fall we will be planting bushes, shrubs, and flowers in order to (hopefully) attract some winter nature studies from our window. We have quite a bit of research to do this summer on what animals we want to attract and what we need to plant to get them here.
Also in the kitchen, to the left of the breakfast table, is a buffet that we use for our creative supplies. As you can see it also holds our fish tank and I have baskets for storage below. I am a big proponent of art supplies being accessible so we have jars of creative tools set out for the kids to use whenever they like. The paper, the collapsible table easels, and miscellaneous supplies are inside the drawers. Underneath the cabinet I have some IKEA baskets and under those are puzzles. One basket holds manipulatives, another Duplos, and the last one is filled with assorted wooden blocks. The blue fabric bin is a small toy box of sorts to hold random toys that I find lying around. Also in the kitchen on the back side of the island I have one cabinet that I keep locked and it has PlayDough and a large assortment of Lincoln Logs. We get those out only with Mama’s permission! 😉 Over the course of next year I hope to make up my own set of busy boxes similar to what Lacy does because I know that schooling two will necessitate more toddler activities.
Over the summer I will be working on a huge renovation of what used to be our guest room and is in the process of becoming our library/craft room. I have found that we want to keep many of the books that we read and reference… they become friends, no?… and we need a space where we can work on large projects without having to clean up daily for dinner. If you are interested in the mess I’m getting myself into you can follow along on my blog.
Lastly, I wanted to leave you with some resources to read and look into if you are new to homeschooling. First of all one of my favorite resources is Catholic Homeschooling 101 by Ink Slinger Erika at her blog Raising (and Teaching) Little Saints. I found to best identify with the gentle Charlotte Mason way of teaching and use a modified version of the Catholic curriculum put together by Michele Quigley called Mater Amabilis.
I hope that this gave those of you that commented (Hi Renee! Hi Katie!) about starting your trial year some food for thought. Please comment below if you have any other questions and I will be sure to answer them the best I can or send you to the right place. The days aren’t always easy but they are so very worth it in the end. I will never ever regret one minute spent with these precious gift He gave us!
PS- My next homeschooling post is schduled for August 12th.
Let me know what you would like me to write about!