Cait’s homeschool day in the life (with a 6-, 8-, 9-year-old & a new puppy)

By Cait Curley of My Little Poppies.

I did something kind of crazy after Christmas break, you guys.

Meet Gryffin, our 11-week-old rescue pup. (Because if there is ever a time to get a puppy, it’s a subzero January in New Hampshire!)

We have only had this little fella for a few days and we are head-over-heels in love.

That said, we are definitely trying to find our new normal.

Today, I’d like to share what our homeschool days looked like before puppy and what they look like this week.


Before puppy

Before Gryffin entered our world, we had a homeschool rhythm. No two days were exactly the same, but we had a groove that worked well most days.

Cait's homeschool day in the life (with a 6-, 8-, 9-year-old ... and new puppy) | Caitlin Fitzpatrick Curley, Simple Homeschool

It’s hard to put our homeschool style into words, but our routine is based on carefully selected read alouds, educational games, and nature.

When asked about curriculum, I often laugh and say that we are curriculum dabblers (you can read more about that here). 

Each morning, we wake up and enjoy Coffee and Books. Coffee and Books is just that: coffee, plus books. This is a tradition that our entire family adores.

Some days, we read our current chapter book.

Cait's homeschool day in the life (with a 6-, 8-, 9-year-old ... and new puppy) | Caitlin Fitzpatrick Curley, Simple Homeschool

We are currently reading this book and using the Brave Writer arrow guide!

Other days, we read a stack of picture books. Coffee and Books is a low-stress way to tackle a variety of different subjects, from art to math to science, while also crossing off the most important part of any homeschool day: reading aloud.

After Coffee and Books, we do a few chores and then sit down to tackle what I call our Homeschool Must-Dos.

Cait's homeschool day in the life (with a 6-, 8-, 9-year-old ... and new puppy) | Caitlin Fitzpatrick Curley, Simple Homeschool

Must-Dos include the following:

  • Read-aloud
  • Math
  • Music
  • Nature
  • Play (this could mean gameschooling, free play, or other creative pursuits)
  • Writing (this could be copywork, a journal entry, a letter to a loved one, creative writing, language arts workbook, etc.)
Cait's homeschool day in the life (with a 6-, 8-, 9-year-old ... and new puppy) | Caitlin Fitzpatrick Curley, Simple Homeschool

We love to use the book 365 Days of Wonder for copywork.

After our Must-Dos are complete, we try to rotate through one or two of the other subjects:

  • Science
  • History
  • Geography
  • Spanish

By lunch or soon thereafter, we are usually finished with our homeschooling for the day.

But learning does not stop when we put our books away.

Cait's homeschool day in the life (with a 6-, 8-, 9-year-old ... and new puppy) | Caitlin Fitzpatrick Curley, Simple Homeschool

We follow the Brave Writer Lifestyle and we know that learning happens all the time!

Here are a few examples:

  • Playing trivia games over lunch
  • Taking our portable microscopes on a hike to see what we discover
  • Listening to a podcast or audiobook in the car
  • Watching a documentary via CuriosityStream, and taking time to pause and enjoy big, important conversations
  • Participating in online learning. (My son is currently enjoying two Harry Potter courses on Outschool!)
  • Diving down a fun rabbit hole
Cait's homeschool day in the life (with a 6-, 8-, 9-year-old ... and new puppy) | Caitlin Fitzpatrick Curley, Simple Homeschool

An example of a recent rabbit hole using books and games.

Following lunch, we grab a book and find a cozy spot to enjoy some quiet time. As a family of introverts, this time is sacred to us. It gives us the opportunity to recharge so that we are fresh for the afternoon.

Our afternoons vary by the day, but they include our favorite activities:

  • Piano lessons
  • Art class
  • Nature co-op
  • Hiking
  • Sports (dance, ski, soccer- depends on the season and the kiddo!)
  • Field trips (either in person or virtual)
  • Weekly meet-ups with friends
  • Service activities
  • Library trips

Our evenings are for family time. We will often play a game before dinner. We eat as a family and then head upstairs to read books before bed.

No two days are the same, but our days before puppy had a definite rhythm.

Cait's homeschool day in the life (with a 6-, 8-, 9-year-old ... and new puppy) | Caitlin Fitzpatrick Curley, Simple Homeschool

But now, things are in flux. We aren’t just homeschooling, we are puppy-schooling.

It is the most adorable, the most hilarious, the most snuggly, and the most challenging homeschool season we have had for quite some time!

Homeschooling with a new puppy

I am a dog person and I’ve had puppies before, but I’ve never homeschooled with a puppy.

(For those of you who have never experienced a puppy, it’s kind of like having an adorable baby. Except that baby has the ability to walk. And it has lots of teeth. And it’s not wearing diapers.)

When it comes to homeschooling, life and education intersect and overlap.

Sometimes, you need to put down the book and take the puppy outside before there is a mess to contend with.

Cait's homeschool day in the life (with a 6-, 8-, 9-year-old ... and new puppy) | Caitlin Fitzpatrick Curley, Simple Homeschool

Puppy-schooling means that pencils- and Harry Potter wands, for that matter- disappear more often than they usually do.

Cait's homeschool day in the life (with a 6-, 8-, 9-year-old ... and new puppy) | Caitlin Fitzpatrick Curley, Simple Homeschool

Spills still occur, but now they are now messier and more challenging to mop up.

Cait's homeschool day in the life (with a 6-, 8-, 9-year-old ... and new puppy) | Caitlin Fitzpatrick Curley, Simple Homeschool

It’s trickier to do your work in your favorite spot.

Cait's homeschool day in the life (with a 6-, 8-, 9-year-old ... and new puppy) | Caitlin Fitzpatrick Curley, Simple Homeschool

When you find a new spot, there’s someone nibbling your toes as you work.

Cait's homeschool day in the life (with a 6-, 8-, 9-year-old ... and new puppy) | Caitlin Fitzpatrick Curley, Simple Homeschool

Puppy-schooling means learning to keep your science experiments up high, out of reach.

Cait's homeschool day in the life (with a 6-, 8-, 9-year-old ... and new puppy) | Caitlin Fitzpatrick Curley, Simple Homeschool

And it means making the most of those puppy naps…

Cait's homeschool day in the life (with a 6-, 8-, 9-year-old ... and new puppy) | Caitlin Fitzpatrick Curley, Simple Homeschool

… and peanut-butter-filled kongs…

Cait's homeschool day in the life (with a 6-, 8-, 9-year-old ... and new puppy) | Caitlin Fitzpatrick Curley, Simple Homeschool

… and trying to get as much work done as possible during those windows!

Cait's homeschool day in the life (with a 6-, 8-, 9-year-old ... and new puppy) | Caitlin Fitzpatrick Curley, Simple Homeschool

Puppy-schooling means extra reading…

Cait's homeschool day in the life (with a 6-, 8-, 9-year-old ... and new puppy) | Caitlin Fitzpatrick Curley, Simple Homeschool

… and an extra special read-aloud buddy.

Puppy-schooling means making time to teach the puppy, too.

With a puppy in the mix, we are still accomplishing our Must-Dos. Barely.

Sometimes we cover those extras, too.

And sometimes we don’t.

We used to finish our homeschool around lunch, but now we are hobbling over the finish line by dinner.

Everything is interrupted a half dozen times and takes a gazillion times longer.

Cait's homeschool day in the life (with a 6-, 8-, 9-year-old ... and new puppy) | Caitlin Fitzpatrick Curley, Simple Homeschool

(Even this post. I had to ask sweet Jamie if I could send it a day late. Because of this fella.)

Beyond the books

On the one hand, I feel as if we are barely covering the bases lately.

Cait's homeschool day in the life (with a 6-, 8-, 9-year-old ... and new puppy) | Caitlin Fitzpatrick Curley, Simple Homeschool

Between the constant interruptions, puppy bathroom breaks, puppy-induced giggles, pencil thefts, and puppy training, everything feels harder.

But, on the other hand, I know that we are also covering so much that is not in a textbook.

Here are just a few things my children have learned in the last three weeks, since beginning this rescue journey:

  • The difference between pedigrees and mixed-breed dogs
  • What rescuing a puppy actually means
  • What fostering a puppy means
  • The importance of spay and neuter and leash laws
  • The manpower and volunteer hours involved in transporting a litter of puppies from Louisiana to New Hampshire
  • Geography as they tracked the puppy’s transport through multiple states
  • Compassion
  • The importance of helping others
  • The basics of animal care (health, nutrition, grooming, etc.)
  • Responsibility and commitment
  • The basics of puppy training
  • The importance of consistency
  • Patience- lots and lots of patience!

Moreover, they are working hard to raise this pup to be a loving, loyal, and well-behaved member of our family. Just like his predecessor, who I mentioned in last year’s Day in the Life.

What I’m trying to say is: I know this is worth it. We are doing something important, even if it doesn’t look like traditional homeschooling.

Homeschooling has seasons

Some seasons are more challenging than others for a variety of reasons that can be either planned or unplanned.

  • New baby.
  • A move.
  • Loss.
  • A new job.

Or, in our case: a new puppy.

When you are in the midst of one of a challenging season, you must trust the process.

Homeschooling is a lifestyle. Learning happens all the time when you relax and let it.

So, smile and know that you will find a new rhythm.

(It just might not be today.)

Cait’s previous day in the life posts:

Are you in a challenging homeschool season right now? What are your children learning that cannot be found in a textbook?

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About Caitlin Fitzpatrick Curley

Cait is a school psychologist, mom to three amazing children, and an unexpected homeschooler. She loves nature, good books, board games, strong coffee, and dancing in her kitchen. You can read about all of these things and more at My Little Poppies. You can also find her hanging out with Kara at The Homeschool Sisters Podcast.

Comments

  1. We have a new puppy too and boy is it different homeschooling with a puppy!! I would even say homeschooling with a puppy looks different for each puppy. Our german shepherd has been a handful. And so, so, so different from the previous dogs we have had. She nips, doesn’t like cuddles, and for awhile HATED going for walks. Just like babies, some are easy and some are difficult. I know one thing is for sure, our girls will think twice before asking for a puppy again 😉
    Thanks so much for sharing your day!!
    Katie | The Surly Housewife’s latest post: Self-Care 101 for Moms

  2. It’s certainly a challenging season with a puppy! I hope yours gets a bit easier as she matures. Hang in there, mama! I’m toasting you with my coffee this morning!

  3. My father passed away December 16, 2017 after a two year battle with Pancreatic Cancer. We took in his cat who is 8 and was an only pet! We have a hobby farm with 60 animals including a Newfie and two indoor cats. Three weeks after taking in my father’s cat a friend going through a Divorce asked if we could take her dog. Of course I said “Yes”! He is only 2, so he is full of energy and has been a lot of fun. Our Newfie is 10 1/2 so even though the timing seemed all wrong I think in the end it will be worth it. So long story short we are in a different season. We are trying to get back into a rhythm after a extremely difficult holiday season. I know my children learned life lessons and have continued to learn through this difficult time and that is all that matters. Thank you for sharing. It helps to know that we aren’t alone in our different seasons and that yes learn does take place beyond the books. It happens all the time and anywhere!

  4. Thank you Caitlin! My children are learning a lot. My Newfie has been a bit more playful and is enjoying having a buddy!

  5. What a great post. I do remeber puppy school.
    Blessings, Dawn

  6. Thank you for adopting. As a family we foster (mostly senior) dogs. Sometimes that means stops in our day to clean up accidents as well.

  7. How fun, a new puppy! I liked your recommendations in this post too!

  8. stacey nelson says:

    This is so funny we’re in the same exact season. We go a puppy basset hound. We LOVE her. But it’s HARD when we’re trying to start school and the kids are in the zone and focused and then Mabel has to go out..or she’s chewing a pencil..or..or..you get it. Then I flip out because I think that my children aren’t going to learn anything and we’re always going to fight until our puppy gets older. Last week I even contemplated sending them to public school because I didn’t know how I was going to do this! But slowly, we’re getting back into a rhythm, working around Mabel’s naps as best we can. I had the same thought about situations where people have a new baby, or a family emergency, etc. This is my first year homeschooling so as it is I have that ‘am i doing enough?’ voice in the back of my head-but trusting the process like you said is really the best take away from all of this! Thanks for your honesty and humor! – Stace

  9. We rescued an 8- week old pup almost a year ago now. I don’t think we had much school for 2 months! However, our pup was house trained very quickly and is very well behaved. She turned 1 in December and has not slowed down. I’m constantly *still* homeschooling around when she is at her calmest or when I can give her a frozen treat. She is very needy and extremely hyperactive. My son has not adjusted to her as I had hoped. She seems to herd him, which also doesn’t help. I know one day, if/when she calls down she’ll be a great dog, until then, we school when we can and my son sees the amount of work it is taking care of a dog 🙂 (he never asked for one though).

  10. Rachael Breneman says:

    We just picked up our puppy this past Sunday! He’s 9 weeks old and the best dog ever! Since we had this planned for a few months I was preparing myself for a special season in our lives. This week has been nothing but puppy training and managing life. Ok, we did play Monopoly today during his long nap 😉 And we’ve got audio books and nature study in! But we are all learning so much from this wonderful experience, more than I ever imagined! Such a blessing!

  11. Cait!! I was so happy to see puppy arrived safe and sound. This was so cool to see how you are including this new adventure in your homeschool. Really Great ideas here 🙂 Kids learn so much from the pets we own. I have 3, and it gets CRAZY but it is a ton of fun too.
    Thanks for letting us read about your day!
    Jen’s latest post: Homeschool Cooking With Kids Series: Gluten-Free Mini Cheesecake Recipe

  12. He is so cute! Thanks for sharing! We are foster parents and recently had a 10 month old baby with us for two months. Our whole schedule had to change, but it also forced me to have a better routine and narrow down our must-haves and cut myself some slack letting the kids watch tv while putting him down for naps, etc. He’s not fully with us now, but comes back for short stays as he transitions back to his mom. I love the flexibility that homeschooling has to allow us to inivite these fun/challenging experiences into our homes!

  13. When we puppy schooled my children learned how quickly toys can be devoured and sometimes school (obedience school) isn’t for dogs either. Turns out our entire family prefers learning at home 🙂 Love seeing your pictures. Dogs bring the best crazy energy to a home.
    Kelly Sage’s latest post: Traveling to Greece with Children

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