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Janalin’s Homeschool Day in the Life


Janalin's Homeschool Day in the Life

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!

Janalin's Homeschool Day in the Life

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.

Janalin's Homeschool Day in the Life

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.

Janalin's Homeschool Day in the Life

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! 

 

 

 

 

 

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A Foolproof {Catholic} Homeschool Day

When we first moved to Pennsylvania, I had the opportunity to attend a local homeschool “Mom’s Day Out.” One of the speakers was Mrs. Mary Ellen Barrett, who blogs over at Tales from the Bonny Blue House, which gave us this lovely list of how to survive your homeschool day.  Since she shared it with us moms, I have called it the foolproof plan for our {Catholic} Homeschool day! Seriously, I’ve have had a chance to institute it with my lovely {but very headstrong} five little blessings and guess what?  IT WORKS!  And since it works {and I struggled so long to find something like this} I had to share it.  So here it goes; of course, some days this plan won’t work because illnesses happen, babies are born, etc., etc., but under somewhat normal conditions, this plan really does work:

1. ​Wake up before your children. Seriously, try this!  Wake up about an hour before them.  Get dressed and looked polished {you don’t want your children’s childhood memories be of mom in sweats and a dingy shirt}. Also, waking early makes it so that you are more tired at night and get a better night’s sleep.  This promotes going to bed earlier for those like me who are night owls. This also gives you time to drink your coffee or tea in silence, get some prayer time in, and also gives you time to plan the day ahead even possibly gathering school supplies.  This is also a great time to get some exercise in. Also, a good time to plan out your meals for the day, take meats out to thaw, etc.

2. All school work planned out ahead of time. Planning out your child’s school work ahead of time has numerous benefits.  Create a checklist or lesson plans for each child as far ahead as possible.  I like to do one quarter at a time.  So at the end of summer, I plan out the first Quarter.  Before the first quarter is over I plan out the second quarter, etc.  This has been a wonderful thing especially when I have some children needing me more because of illness or having to go to an appointment, etc., the work is ready to go without having them wait on me.  I also recommend, if you can purchase already made lesson plans, even if it is just a shell of what you want to do; this has really helped me! In addition, on a weekly basis, take some time out like on Sunday evenings to look ahead of what the children will be working on ahead of time.

3. Stay focused, curriculum-wise. Grrr….I was so unfocused when I first started and I made the mistake of asking too many people’s opinions and surfing too many blogs, my head was spinning!  First and foremost know what your teaching style is and what your children’s learning styles are ahead of looking for curriculum.  For the beginning years I am a firm believer that all moms should try to just buy a boxed program and work you way out of it {unless you just totally love it}. Then starts switching things out as you need.  Then find the curriculum that works best for your children and then STICK WITH IT!  Stay focused! This, of course, does not mean you should keep a book that you and your child hate, oh goodness, no.  But truly try to quickly find the right program and stay with it.  Keep it simple, do not overdo it! Pick something that keeps you and your children calm and focused.

4. Keep an orderly home. I know, it is not the easiest thing to do but here is my secret:  Simplify! Clutter overruns our homes anymore, society keeps telling us we need more and more but we do not.  Do not fall for this trap.  What we need is a clean orderly home that is inviting and warm.  Once you have simplified, make sure you have a system in place.  Clean a different room each day of the week.  Plan it all out and have the children involved in this it helps you and it teaches them to be orderly.  So remember, downsize on everything: books, TOYS!, and yes, even clothing!  “Less is better!” is my new motto!  {Lent is the perfect time to do this too!}

5. Enjoy your time with the children. This I have to have tattooed to my forehead as I am a worry wart and tend to not enjoy the moment.  So if you are like me: STOP! (and if you know me IRL, tell me to stop).  Instill discipline with firmness but with love.  Enjoy the time you have with your children being able to be home and all, not many mothers are able to do this so enjoy it! Remember to smile at them, encourage their hard work and hug them often.  After all, a happy and loving attitude towards them will make every school day flow more smoothly!

6. Avoid all electronic distractions. Yep, this means all phones, Facebook, Pinterest, blogs, television, Facebook {ha! ha! You know who you are, and we are probably friends on FB}.  I have a love-hate relationship with the darn thing {FB}…loving my Lenten break from it though.  It helped me realize that I had my tablet attached to an umbilical cord and felt the need to post everything going on at home, seriously: WHY?  After my initial shock that I actually allowed this to chain me to it, I deleted the app off my tablet and I am FREE!  I may or may not return but just the realization that the darn thing had such a grip on me scared me because I don’t get attached to things so easily.  Anyway, any electronic distraction is not good in your home or homeschool.  Ditch it! Or minimize it.  As a friend said to me, “it should be our tool, it should not use us as tools.”

7. Create a set routine. Not a minute by minute…that would drive you and me nuts, right? Well some of you like that, I don’t! But I do like to have a shell of my routine.  I would recommend you have things you do in the morning, afternoons, and night.  This way children know what is somewhat expected of them. Establish clean up times, and also quiet times on a daily basis. This will give your children meaningful work to do and an expectation of when it should be done.

8. Consult with your husband.  Even if he is not the asking type and trusts you in all you do, tell him the plans.  Get his input, get him involved in some of the aspects of the homeschool curriculum and routine.  You do want to keep the “principal” as we call my husband, happy. What are somethings that are important to him?  Make sure you involve him in the disciplining of the children, actually, he should be the lead in this if at all possible.  If it is not happening, pray and fast about it and talk to him about it. I have seen many homes were dad takes the backseat on this and the outcomes are not great.  He is the head of the home, you are the heart.  Men also see things from a different light and will help us in our homeschooling journey so involved dad as much as possible.  If you have boys, it is important that they help dad with physical work around the yard and house.

9. Be disciplined about your tasks. Do not stress yourself out but if you have a list of three important tasks you want accomplished for the day, stay focused on those.  This does not include what we said above these are others tasks that will help you get things done throughout the day.  This kinda goes back to #6 above but stay focused so check email, and read blogs before school begins.  Then avoid getting back online until all of your schoolwork is done.  Be disciplined about this and your day will be lovely.  For me, when we get to finish all or most of our school day BEFORE lunch it is a sweet victory and buys us a trip to the park, weather permitting!

10. Pray all the time.  Pray before the children wake.  Pray throughout the day with the children.  Do the Morning Offering with them, perhaps when you sit to have breakfast. At Noon, before or after lunch is a great time for the Angelus or to pray the Rosary…or other times in the liturgical year, to say the Stations of the Cross.  Whatever you do or do not do, make sure you always pray with your children on a daily basis.  Let them see you praying quietly alone, after or before Mass.  Go to daily Mass or/and Adoration.  A great priest once suggested that I start my day praying for each one of them by going child by child and asking their guardian angel for help and guidance through the day. Pray with them, for them, and ask them to pray for you.

So there you have it a little list of how to foolproof you {Catholic} Homeschool Day!

Fool Proof plan