The following is a post by contributor Kara Anderson of Quill and Camera.
A whole bunch of years ago, before I was a homeschool mom, I was a newspaper lady.
And my absolute favorite part of the job was that no two days were ever the same.
Some days were slow and easy. Some days, I found myself chasing down cops in high heels. (Me, not the cops.)
But every night, we put the paper to bed.
And every morning, we started all over again.
It was good training for this work we do as homeschool moms.
My newspaper days taught me that even when you are dealing with huge variables in your day, certain things stay static. And those are what you cling to.
Those are what keep you from Losing. Your. Mind.
For us, we have certain touchstones throughout the day – meals, read-aloud time, work time, school time, our weekly rhythm activity, bed time. Here’s what that looks like for us in an average day:
6:15 I hear my alarm. I do.
6:35 I roll out of bed and go downstairs to make myself some hot water with lemon. I check that there’s fruit and muffins for everyone. We’re doing this new food thing – and so I like to have something ready for everyone to grab if they are hungry when they wake up.
6:50 Yoga or a run.
I sit down to work for an hour.
8:45 I’m working on a story due next week. I struggle to pull away, and remember I’ve got two work blocks set aside Tuesday night and Saturday morning. Whew. The work blocks are saving my sanity lately.
9:20 a.m. As we sit down to really eat, I put in a Bill Nye video.
9:45 to 10 a.m. Breakfast clean-up and work time. The kids and I each have notebooks where we keep track of stuff like our morning routines.
10:15 a.m. School time. At the beginning of this year, we made a decision to take a more interest-led approach to school. We embrace a lot of Waldorf principles here, and my daughter adores workbooks. So I haven’t figured out what to call that.
My theme for this year: If you like it then you shouldn’t put a label on it.
Every day is a little different – we’re trying the notebooks to set out some basic guidelines:
- For my son, I like for him to have reading time and practice music each day.
- For my daughter, she and I are working on reading together.
- Ideally, we do math together most mornings.
And while our weekly rhythm gives a focus to each afternoon, mornings vary a lot.
We might listen to The Story of the World, or draw, bake or build.
We might watch more videos together, tumble rocks, write letters or make concoctions.
We got a Kindle Fire for Christmas, and we’re working to figure out how to best incorporate that into our school time.
After reading the Percy Jackson series, my son has developed an interest in Greek myths, which has led us to a unit study on ancient Greece. Books often take us down a homeschooling path that if followed, leads to so much discovery.
12:09 My phone rings. It’s a source for a story who I really, really need to talk to. “Guys, this is a work call,” I say, and now, at 6 and 9, they get what that means.
(I miss when my kids were tiny, but at moments like this, their bigger kid status has me feeling incredibly grateful – no more jumping on the couch, pulling everything out of the cabinets or flushing Matchbox cars while I take a call.)
Luckily, the source just wants to set up a time to talk later in the week.
12:11 We take a little break while I get lunch ready. I’ll often try to find something cool to show the kids a couple of times a week at lunch, like a NASA video, or a new book I found at the library. But today, I accidentally left a ruler on the table.
“Mama, how big was I when I was born?” my daughter asks. As we start talking about measurements and babies, somehow the conversation leads to our world map, and that same little girl pulls over a chair and begins “playing teacher,” by quizzing us on which countries border Russia.
I’m not sure how it happened, but it was both adorable and educational, so I’ll take it.
Our conversation went in a direction I wasn’t expecting, and it’s a little harder than normal to reign everyone in for read-aloud time. We make it through just one chapter.
1:15 As we clean up from lunch, I can feel myself getting antsy. It’s almost Quiet Time.
My kids view Quiet Time as the Appendix of our Day.
We don’t need it.
It’s just a left-over from a time when we did need it.
Plenty of people don’t have it and they are fine.
I view it a little differently: It’s like the Skin of our Day.
Without it, I would be falling apart all over the place and scaring small children.
I try to keep Quiet Time to about an hour.
And really, the only quiet person is me. They can read, do art projects, listen to audiobooks or Sparkle Stories or watch a video … But I need to stuff my face in a book about vampires or zombies or witches or star-crossed were-pandas or something and get a deep breath.
2:35 I’m feeling refreshed, and two small people seem a little calmer too.
So we hit the road. We swing into the coffee shop for a treat, and then go to our library.
We try to go to the library every week. We are routinely at our limit on books and videos, and we do often have small fines.
But the library is a yes place, and we love our weekly visits. (So does my chiropractor.)
4:30 We’re home. The kids have new books to look at, and I remember my story due next week, so I squeeze in some writing.
5:30 The kids take turns showering, and I start dinner.
6:30 My husband gets home and we eat. While he cleans up dinner, I jump in the shower.
7:45 With everyone in comfy clothes, we snuggle in for some more reading.
8:30 The kids are in bed, and I start settling in for the night too. My husband and I watch a show together and fold laundry. He is the best laundry folder. Really. I let him do a lot of it. Why get in the way?
10 p.m. I’m in bed, with a book again. Sometimes, it’s fancy or challenging. Sometimes, it’s still silly.
But remember this year’s theme? If you like it, then you shouldn’t put a label on it.
So as I drift off to sleep, I find peace in knowing exactly what tomorrow holds – plenty of surprises certainly, but also our little rhythm, and the many comforts of home.
What from your life before kids helps you in your homeschool day?