Dave’s homeschool day in the life (with a 4- & 6-year-old)

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Written by Dave Pommier of Bloke School.

A regular day often seems more of a theoretical ideal than a practical reality. Work and study commitments for the adults run to an irregular schedule.

My youngest boy goes to preschool two days a week, so the number of boys at the lessons vary. We aim to do five hours of education each weekday. If everyone is focused and engaged, we might do as many as eight. If not, we will struggle to get through two.

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My boys consider “homeschooling” sitting down with a textbook. I consider it a much broader application of skills.

This means we sometimes arrive at the end of an exhausting day, only to have my boy say “Yeah, we didn’t do any homeschool today. We just played.” I guess it’s a victory for me that he was enjoying it that much, but I still find the comment a little deflating.

Broadly speaking, our days will look like this:

Around 7 a.m., the boys wake up. If my wife and I are not already up by then, we soon will be. While the coffee brews, we clean up the kitchen which we were too tired to get to the night before.

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Lessons start ideally somewhere between 8 and 9, depending on everybody’s moods and organisational ability. I find this time of day has the most potential. Everyone is well fed and alert, but not yet distracted by anything else.

I like to study theory here, partly because everyone is focused, and partly because it gives us a reference point for the rest of the day. Each morning comes with its own subject. Today is Monday and that means history.

We bulk out our textbook with a lot of extra material from the library. We fill the table with maps, books, activity sheets, and the globe. After an hour of intense discussion, it is time for some action.

We have been looking at ancient Babylon and discussing the development of the twelve hour day. Over morning tea, we briefly study the movement of shadows and angles of latitude.

The next hour is spent measuring and building a sundial. We use a scrap of wood we find which looked like it was waiting to be turned into something useful. We set it up, check the time against it, and make a mental note to keep coming back to it throughout the day.

By now it is late morning. Everyone is starting to lose their focus, but it is still too early for lunch. That means it is iPod hour. iPod hour came about as a means of curbing the boys addiction to Minecraft.

The idea was that they got a dedicated hour each day. In practice, the time varies from thirty minutes to two hours, depending on how much space I need for myself. I don’t class this as educational time.

An eerie silence descends on the house. I take the opportunity to catch up on various household chores, exercise, or sleep, depending on where my priorities for the day are lying.

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iPod hour ends, and we all get together for lunch. I try to use the afternoon for an easy application of ideas after the intensity of the morning. We check the sundial. Then, with everyone settled, we all sit down and I read them a story.

We have been reading a lot of Roald Dahl lately, and today we finish Matilda. The boys and I all appreciate his humour.

After reading, we play board games. I think that board games are a great teaching tool. Not only are they fun (hopefully), but they are loaded with the practical application of a host of mathematical ideas. One of our favourites at the moment is Carcassonne, which is what we play today.

When the game ends, my oldest boy has a minor tantrum. He has been trying to stack the cards in his favour, except he miscalculated and lost badly. My contempt for people who feel the need to cheat at board games does nothing to improve his humour.

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It is short lived, however, because we just don’t have time. While we can drag educational play out for several hours, Monday and Tuesday afternoons are dedicated to gymnastics and swimming respectively.

We quickly check the sundial one last time, then hurry off to the gym for his class. This is an intensive hour of coordinated running, balancing, jumping, tumbling and more. Because his little brother is just a bit too young to join in, we watch both ends of the class, and spend the middle of it playing at the skate park.

By the time we get home, both boys are pale, sweaty and exhausted. I have to hurry them through the shower and get dinner ready. If they don’t start eating by six o’clock, then bad things happen.

My wife comes home, and while they are all catching up with each other, I sneak off and give myself a short break before the bedtime routine starts. Despite all our best efforts, this is something we have never really got a handle on. Somewhere between 7:30 and 9:30, they will fall asleep.

After that, it is time for blogging, catching up on emails, or if I am lucky, reading a novel. My wife often studies. Anything which requires quiet and concentration usually happens here.

Cleaning the kitchen requires neither of these things. It bides its time, planning its ambush for the morning.

Do you incorporate games as part of your homeschooling?

About Dave Pommier

Dave is a homeschooling dad with a wife and two boys. In his spare time, he works as a registered nurse, drinks too much coffee, and intermittently renovates the house. He likes to take notes to try and make sense of what is happening at Bloke School.

Comments

  1. I so appreciate hearing from a man on the topic of homeschooling! Welcome to the group. Cheers!
    Hannah’s latest post: Little Changes in 2015 to Minimize Resistance

  2. Dave – I absolutely love this post. It’s obvious how much effort you put into your days with the boys while being realistic about their attention spans and an adult’s need for some me time. Thanks for sharing your day here – my daughter is 5 so reading this have me encouragement we’re doing some stuff right. 🙂

    • Thanks Diana. One way or another they usually let me know when it is time to switch to something different. It rarely pays to ignore those signs. And yes, getting some time for myself helps make it all run that much smoother.

  3. Yes, we use tons of games! Our town has a seasonal calendar and game/toy store that marks everything half price after Christmas, and I jokingly refer to this as our “curriculum”. We added about a dozen new games to the collection this year that the kids are dying to play. Maybe one day I’ll design my own curriculum based on living book and board games 🙂

    • Oh goodness, I could have written that! We do the same thing and I call it the “curriculum sale”! If you design that curriculum, I’ll be the first in line!

  4. For my son, I use math, science, and history games that I print off of Teachers Pay Teachers. I like the free ones!!! A LOT!! lol!! My son has autism so we have to use a picture schedule to help him through the day and also a timer or we would have nothing accomplished and would have melt down after melt down. I do like your way of getting library books to help in the assignments.

  5. First of all, I absolutely love both your sundial (might steal the idea!) and your solution for Minecraft addiction.

    Secondly, I love how flexible and realistic your day is, and I appreciate that you take time for yourself. This is only our first year homeschooling, but I find that the “me” time is so important for ALL of us.

    Finally, I *love* board games. We are actually doing a board game challenge at the moment (an 8 week challenge!) in order to survive this New England winter. I have never heard of Carcassonne so I appreciate your suggestion. Thanks for sharing your day with us!
    Cait Fitz @ My Little Poppies’s latest post: Learning for Learning’s Sake: Beyond the Grade

    • Years of independent study and shift work has given me a complete disregard for regular hours. It is an idea which gives us a lot of room to move inside broader constraints.
      I use board games a lot. I think they are a very approachable way to give mathematical ideas a context to kids.

  6. This is proof that Dads can be fabulous homeschoolers! I loved getting this perspective. Afternoons sound great with board games and active play.
    April Bumgardner’s latest post: Immanuel

  7. I have two boys ages 6 & 4, so I was looking forward to this day in the life of. The biggest similarity between us is that my boys are really into Roald Dahl right now too. Although, they are big into The BFG 🙂

  8. I smile when my children (boy 8 and girl 7) don’t even realize we have done “school”! The line between life and learning blur for us and that is exciting to me!

    And I agree with all the comments about the board games. We have long winters here in NW PA so we play lots of games and do puzzles. These activities offer so much! Today Battleship is on the agenda.

    • A blurry line between living and learning definitely shows an appreciation for lifelong learning. It is certainly something to be excited about.

  9. Been following Bloke school for a while and am happy to now have been introduced to your site through him :)… loving it!

  10. Very cool! I really enjoyed reading about your day. Our dishes, too, wait until the morning! I’m quite capable of doing housework while surrounded by three loud and eager spirits. 🙂

  11. Loved hearing from a male perspective, Dave. I especially liked what you had to say about game play. My children were really struggling with number sense and addition. When we took to playing simple card games, it seemed like improvement happened overnight! I need to remember it as an option for learning more often. 🙂
    Joy’s latest post: Knit Along

    • It really gives them a reason to use and apply those skills. I think that learning through playing games is an excellent way to do it.

  12. You rock at homeschooling! I enjoy reading your posts. We also love Roald Dahl and I can totally relate to the kitchen-morning-ambush. I blame it on the limited amount of hot water I get from my kitchen sink here in Peru and 101 things I would rather do than dishes.
    Camie’s latest post: The Andean Culture- Part 2

  13. Tasmanian says:

    Aaah Carcassonne and homeschooling – my two great discoveries of 2014.

  14. Dave also says:

    Similarly when as I homeschool my almost 8 year old daughter we have a general outline, but not even this specific. Now that skill mastery is most done, she could if needed fully care for herself and the house….. last time I wasn’t feeling well she made dinner and cleaned up. We in lowered montessori fashion study all things together globally. I.e. we study history as a reflection of psychology and sociology after taking into account any natural land structures. She is most interested in chemistry and philosophy, so we color quite a bit in those lines. She has picked possible vocational venues as illustrator and caterer so each day has some activity learning or maturing those crafts. And therefore cartoons and Rachel Ray are considered educational since she then does. Since we follow her interests we don’t mind any perceived gaps as she will eventually whole her education. I help when needed to connect her to media and methods, but she really is self sustaining. We do 2 or 3 3 hour work periods a day 7 days a week mainly for consistency but also because learning is life.

  15. love the board game idea! I stole it and now my son is addicted to Catan Junior 🙂
    Olesya’s latest post: Homeschool Schedule 101

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