The following is a post by contributor Cheryl Pitt of CherylPitt.com.
I‘ve been homeschooling since 2001. The journey has been so much more – more exciting, more difficult, more blessed — than I ever imagined it would be!
As you read the Day in the Life series, I’m sure you’ll notice the fact that everyone’s day is vastly different. That’s a blessing of homeschool, we can do life with school. I’m a prime example of that right now.
When I began to write this post, I was very tempted to write what our day “should” look like, what I want it to look like, rather than the real thing. Why? Because right now our life is a mess. A beautiful mess, but still a mess. I’m schooling 5 kids from 18 months to 18 years. Plus organizing a bloggers conference, caring for my ailing grandfather-in-law, and all the other little bits of life like meals, bills, errands, etc.
That’s why I’d like to share more about my life, rather than the nitty gritty of our day. Hopefully it will demonstrate the grace that is built into homeschooling.
One thing I can promise you about homeschool is that your “day” will look different from year to year and month to month.
Let me share a little about our cast of characters I’m raising. Three of the children are officially mine, they are ages 17, 5 and 18 months. The other two are my brothers-in-law. They have been living with us for 3 years (plus on and off through the years before that) due to some difficult family situations. They are ages 18 and 16. While they are not “mine,” they’re part of the family. So that leaves me with 2 seniors, 1 sophmore, 1 first-grader, and a wee one.
Tony, 18, brother-in-law: Classic type-A personality, respectful, self-starter. Afraid of “new”, doesn’t drive or work yet.
Fox, 17, son: Independent, hard worker, honest, a real go-getter. Flighty and has very little interest in actually graduating.
Billy, 16, brother-in-law: Calm, kind-hearted, intelligent and hands-on. Struggles terribly with reading and other “heart-issues.”
Bram, 5, son: Energetic, loving, hilarious and cuddly. Very science-minded, wants nothing to do with reading.
Amelie, 18 months, daughter: Sweet, curious, adorable. Very calm as long as mama is holding her.
Lester, 81, grandfather-in-law: Talkative, ornery, obstinate. Some coherent days, some not.
You can see there’s quite a range of personalities and issues. One child does school without issue, two need guidance, one fights it. The little ones wreak havoc — the good kind with toys strewn about the house and giggly interruptions. The grandfather talks my ear off daily and unwittingly throws off our “schedule.”
No day looks the same – and that’s okay! It’s life.
The one thing that keeps my sanity is that we have a routine rather than a schedule. There’s a list of “must-dos” and as long as they’re finished before 8 p.m., I’m happy. So, without further ado, here’s what a good, no-interruptions, average day looks like in my home.
6:00 - I’m up, showered, and at the computer. I like to get up earlier if I can because once the kids wake I don’t usually sit down at the computer to work. I do little bits of work from my phone. Everything else waits until the next morning. I cram in as much productivity as possible.
7:30 - The little ones wake around this time and we cuddle, chat and try to start our days with smiles. I get them dressed before heading downstairs.
8:30 - Whomever is home meets the kitchen for a “togetherly breakfast.” Usually Fox is at work. My husband’s work hours are erratic, sometimes he’s home to join us, sometimes not. Lester sleeps through breakfast. By this time the teens will have been up, dressed and finished their morning chores.
9:00 - School starts for the big ones, they are 99% independent workers now. I tackle a quick chore or two while the little ones play. Usually I’m starting or finishing a load of laundry.
9:30 – 11:30 - This is my time spent with the little ones. More often than not it is interactive, educational play with Mom. We’ll also watch educational videos like Wild Kratts and Magic School Bus. Amelie gets fussy toward the end of this time so we cuddle and nurse. She’ll usually take a 15 minute nap somewhere between 11 and 1. Naps are sporadic … different times and lengths each day.
12:00 – 2:00 - I wake up Lester. This is about an hour long process. Getting him awake, his coffee, medicine and a loooooooong talk. Most days it’s the same stories we’ve all heard many times. But it’s good for him to talk, so I listen, ask questions and nod my head. A lot. Then I get him up and moving out to the kitchen for his “breakfast” and we all have lunch. We talk some more. The little ones wander in and out of Lester’s bedroom or the kitchen, playing, joining the conversation, or just sitting with us. When the littles are extra bouncy, the big boys help entertain them for a half hour — that’s a HUGE blessing.
2:30 - Mommy’s decompression time. I’ll be very transparent here and say I need to decompress after my time with Lester. He’s a difficult personality — he had a troubled childhood and likes to talk about lifetime negatives. I do my best to steer the conversations to the positive. But there are some people who choose to be miserable and we have to do our best to love them anyway. Sometimes my decompression time is productive, taking the kids outside or playing a board game. Other times it’s purely selfish, and I plop on the couch to watch Food Network while I nurse Amelie (again).
3:00 - This is when I try to get serious about Bram’s school. I am an advocate for delayed academics, and he’s only interested in animals. So we generally do a little bit of letter recognition then something he likes — art, reading (about animals), or whatever has grabbed his attention that week.
4:00 - By now the teens have finished their work and had some down time themselves. Fox has usually returned from work too. Each day I expect each teen to spend one-on-one play time with Bram. He gets left behind whenever the big ones go out. This is their time to help build solid relationships with him. Somewhere between now and when I’m in the middle of cooking supper Amelie decides she needs to be nursed again, and takes a longer nap.
5:00 - I start supper. Somehow, no matter what I’m making, whether it’s a T.V. dinner or a 4 course meal, I can’t seem to get supper on the table before 6. Is it just me???
6:00 - Supper is (usually) ready, Ameilie has napped and we all sit down for a family dinner. Depending on the day there can be lots of conversation … or not so much. There are always lots of interruptions from Bram, my finicky eater, and Amelie, who seems to think only the food on Mama’s plate is worth eating.
7:00 - Family clean up! I got this idea from my friend Dana at A Slob Comes Clean. It makes cleaning up after supper a fun time to chat and goof around. Plus it’s easier on me because the last thing I want to do is spend an hour doing dishes this late. I will admit it doesn’t make clean up any faster for us ... but that’s usually because we’re goofing around a bit. There’s usually towel snapping involved.
8:00 - The teens spend their evenings on the phone, T.V. or computer. I take the little ones upstairs for bath time. Of course I should start calling it “water play time” instead of bath time.
9:00 - Time to put the little ones to bed. The teens make it to bed by 11:30 on school nights. Yes, they have a bedtime. I know that sounds strict, but I need to sleep, so that means quiet. Fox usually goes to bed somewhat early for work.
9:30 - Once the little ones are asleep I take a few moments to do all those “little things” that popped into my head — setting out meat to defrost, retrieving a toy from under the couch, gathering up water glasses I left in my room — those kinds of things. I’m usually in bed by 10:30 – 11. And that is a huge accomplishment for this once-upon-a-time night owl!
Again, this is just the bare bones of our day. It’s what we reach for. There are always those times when Lester needs to go to the doctor, a friend or family member needs help with something, Mama is just plain tired. Fox and Tony are running to activities at least a couple times a week. If I need to run errands I do them first thing in the morning, or we set out during my break time.
Having a basic schedule helps keep everyone on track, even when the conductor has left the station.
Do you have homeschoolers who need different kinds of learning support because of their ages or learning styles?