Once the days warm up, “school” moves outside. We’re almost there kids…
Over the last few days I have addressed the questions of why we chose to homeschool and how I chose the curriculum/method we have used. Again, here is the disclaimer: It is our story. Every family has a story and a way of life that works for them whether your children are in school or at home. Homeschooling works for our family. The way I homeschool and the curriculum I choose also works for our family (and sometimes it doesn’t and I am often the last to realize it). I am also very grateful that we are able to survive on one income so that I am able to stay home with the kids. This will be like a QnA period where I will answer questions that I get most from family, friends, grocery cashiers, and old ladies on the street.
Today I will answer the question:
What do you do all day?
This is a tough one. The look of our days has changed over the last few years. We are coming to the end of our third full year of homeschooling (fourth if you include the year #2 and #3 were in school part-time and #1 was home). In that first year, I structured my days to accommodate the little people – the toddler, the preschooler, and the young school-aged child. Our mornings included circle time, seasonal crafts, baking, and stories. We had one day a week with our homeschooling group.
Now our days look a bit different with a 4, 6, 8, 10, and 15 year old.
Now that my training has picked up after taking a break due to an injury, I am waking up early again. OR it could be due to the arrival of spring. My mornings begin earlier than the kids. I am up at 5:30 to blog and to prep my lessons. Woohoo! That extra two hours that I am up before the children make a HUGE difference in my overall mood and disposition. Remember that my kids are older and sleep through the night now. I have only started doing this wake-up routine for the last year or so.
The kids make breakfast on the days I train and we all sit down together to eat. The kids join me for my warm-up. After clean-up, we get to work. The morning, on most days, involves main lesson work. Circle time still exists because the littlest one enjoys it but it is more movement-based to inspire the others to come and join us. #1, #2, and #3, are all able to do independent work while I spend time with #4 and #5. During circle time or while I am telling a story to #4 and #5 at the end of circle time, the other 3 are working on daily to-do’s. #1 works on her high school courses or plans her schedule for the day/week. #2 and #3 work on math practice, grammar exercises (or spelling), poetry, and cursive. They practice speech exercises and tongue twisters together to warm themselves up for their main lesson and sometimes they play math games together.
After circle time and the seasonal story I tell to #4 and #5, I begin lessons with #4. While I am with her, #5 does his thing. He runs off to play. Normally his story sets his imagination on fire and he starts to make things inspired by the story. Sometimes he has other things on his mind like working on this kit for a wooden rocket ship:
This kid can do a lot of focused work right now. A year has made a big difference in terms of his independence. He also likes to draw whatever I have on the chalkboard. He often copies #4’s main lesson work into his art book or on the chalkboard itself:
#5 is also the official nature table coordinator and will spend time setting up scenes to play with:
#4’s lesson lasts about 45 minutes. I had to re-jig Grade 1 because the pace was very slow for her. We ended up covering 2-3 letters per week instead of only one and spent a lot of time on a number adventure where we explored the numbers 1-10. We are on a 2-day rhythm: Tell the story. Do an artistic element. She re-tells the story to me the next day and writes a few words. By the time we got to the vowels, I was losing her a bit. I took this book out:
Alphabet Adventure by Audrey Wood
In the book, the lowercase ‘i’ loses its dot. Both #4 and #5 love the story. #4 loves adventures and challenges so when it came to teaching her about the ‘i’, we played “find i’s dot.” She made the letter out of plasticine and we took turns hiding the dot:
After that game, she was more receptive to hearing the sound and copying down words.
After I finish with her, I send #4 and #5 to do chores. I find that it is easier for them to play together once they’ve done a few chores as a team:
And then sometimes they paint together like the time I read them this book:
The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats
and they decided to paint snowy pictures:
Or they set up a craft for themselves like this spring one that #4 had done at Beavers…paint a tree and add tissue paper buds to it:
I sit with #3 next. She is also on a two-day rhythm. We are in the midst of her 3rd Old Testament block. We cuddle on the couch together and I read from this book:
It’s written beautifully. When I read these stories, she looks out the window. She is in deep contemplation each time. After hearing the story once, she is able to almost recall it word-for-word the following day. I sit with her to draw the chalkboard drawing that I have prepared. She writes a rough copy of her story summary on the chalkboard and then copies the good copy into her main lesson book.
#2 is in the middle of her Ancient Mesopotamia block. Yesterday we just talked about the Code of Hammurabi which she found interesting yet disturbing. She had a lot of questions with that one. We talked about life without laws. Who determines fairness of laws? How do you weigh punishment against a crime? #1 weighed in as she is working on her Civics course. We read some of Hammurabi’s laws and #2 would tell me if she thought the consequences were fair or too harsh. We talked about some of the possible grey areas that could be open for interpretation. After she drew the stone tablet inscription, she wrote a summary of her lesson and included her thoughts. Then she drew some ziggurats. She’s been drawing ziggurats in her spare time all week. She says she like the geometric shape and architectural drawing style.
And #1 is studying for an upcoming test:
And sometimes she has an unexpected audience when she is working:
Yesterday, at around 11:30am, we all headed to the grocery store because #1 wanted to make perogies from scratch. This happens a lot. The cooking. The baking. Someone will have an idea and we will drop everything and head to the store.
After catching up with a cashier we have known since #5 was born, we head home for Project: Perogie. (I have absolutely nothing to do with this little venture. I am tidying up as they cook but it’s the kids that really take this on with #1 at the helm.)
They turned out great and everyone felt very grateful for their big sister and each other. I happily cleaned the kitchen as a way of showing how much I appreciated our lunch of perogies and sausage.
#2 and #3 finished up their main lesson work on their own and then we read a story together. I am reading the kids this book:
Starry River of the Sky by Grace Lin
We read her other book:Where the Mountain Meets the Moon
…twice! And the kids love the stories within the story. Starry River is like a prequel which we didn’t know before we began the story. They love pointing out characters they recognize and stories that remind them of the other book.
Our afternoons/days have also been spent with friends…and…
…skating…(This winter we went skating at least once a week at the outdoor rink near our house.) And…
…working on handwork projects…(#2 and #3 are taking a fabulous class with friends at a spinners and weavers guild and just can’t get enough of weaving right now)…and…
…playing games…(They love Tell-A-Story Game that was passed down to us by a friend – you pick a set of cards and arrange them in an order of the story you want to tell and then you tell your story. Yesterday we also played a great game of dominoes with Ever-Patient.)
…and most times, they just play.
#1 trains, does chores, heads out to explore the city, or hangs out with us. Yesterday she napped. I think it was the perogies. She went to volleyball practice in the evening.
From 3:00-4:00, I have down time. They can do whatever they want quietly while I read, check email, knit, sew, or just lie down – which is what I did yesterday beside my oldest. Ever-Patient is home by that time and takes over. He will get the kids to help him prep dinner or he will just get down on the floor and play with them.
The details of our days change but the general rhythm of work in the morning and play in the afternoon holds our space well. The kids know what to expect. I am far from rigid with this structure. Some days call for us to be outside like that first warm day of spring that pops up. Some days call for a home day with time to spend together because we’ve had a busy week/weekend and they need to chill out and relax – to take a day to rest. Some days we travel – #1 has provincial championships this weekend and nationals in May. Some days are sick ones and I care for one (or more) while the rest take care of each other. Some days, like yesterday, are smooth and slow – just how I like them. Some days test my will and my patience and I often have children kneading and pounding bread dough to get their frustrations out.
And some days, well, some days just look like this:
What do your days look like? Do you have similar days or do your days look completely different?
Join me tomorrow when I talk about the challenges I have faced homeschooling the kids. Thanks for stopping by!