Hi there! My name is Kara Fleck and I’m the editor of Simple Kids. Jamie invited me to share with you our day – what homeschooling looks like for the fifth grader, first grader, preschooler, and a toddler and for me, their work-from-home mom.
There are quite a few different “fruits” in our homeschool smoothie blend, but our main influences are Waldorf and Charlotte Mason, though we make room for some technology and other learning styles, too.
5:30 am – a peaceful beginning
I’m a morning person and I’m awake at 5:30. I get dressed and then come downstairs and shuffle around the house. I let the dog out, make myself a mug of coffee, and start getting the house ready for the day. I sit down to my desk and answer emails, edit blog posts, and do a bit of writing. I enjoy this quiet time.
Around 6:30 my oldest, Jillian, wakes up and comes downstairs where she grabs a blanket and curls up on the sofa. She plays Words with Friends to give her some spelling and vocabulary practice. She currently has games going with me, her dad, and her Grandma. We chat a bit but mostly she is quiet and lets me work undisturbed.
My husband brings the toddler, Amelia, down to me around 7:20. Max and Lucy, my first grader and preschooler, come downstairs soon after. Max has woken up in a sour mood and chooses to sit by himself in the living room for a while and Lucy is still very, very tired. But, otherwise, the day has gotten off to a smooth start.
7:30 a.m. – breakfast, play, and chores
At this point in the morning, after breakfast and the morning chores, Chris leaves for work and I have some free time. I do a quick “brain dump” and make a list of what I need to get done. I send a text to a friend, send Jillian a few more Words with Friends, and another text to my husband.
The kids and I listen to music and hang out together in the living room. Yesterday we received a large package and so we have a huge box and a large, long piece of brown craft paper to play with. Jillian reads The Hobbit and I’m reading a book I’m reviewing. From time to time I have to issue a few gentle, but firm, reminders to my son about pestering his sisters.
It is Friday, our most laid back day, and also our traditional Pajama Day although Lucy, my twirly dress loving four year old, chooses to get dressed.
Around 8:30 I turn off the music and we watch a screener of the new Wild Kratts special so that I can review it. This does wonders for Max’s attitude, and he perks up, all smiles and giggles now that we’re watching his favorite TV show.
9:30 a.m. – lessons begin
I need to have a set time each day to begin lessons, otherwise time runs away from me. The rest of the day may flow freely, and usually does, but we begin lessons at 9:30 sharp each morning.
Jillian works on her math (Teaching Textbooks) while Max and Lucy head to our calendar and weather station. The toddler is happy to be along for the ride. We change the date, note the weather, and sing our morning weather song. Next, we change the number on our Valentine’s countdown (my sneaky way of getting in practice at counting backwards).
While Jillian independently works on her math, Max and I sit down with his math lesson for the day. Max is working on even and odd numbers and counting by twos and by fours. We’re also doing some exploring of the four math processes. We’re using a variety of resources for first grade math, including Oak Meadow and Arithmetic Village.
The younger two are at the table beside us coloring on the backs of scrap paper. We’re just now getting to the point where Amelia can be reasonably trusted not to eat the crayons, so this is a big deal and keeps them occupied fairly well.
Jillian finishes up her math lesson. Normally during this time she is doing reading from her Ambleside Online reading list, and after the new year I began making a list for her of what I expect her to read during the week and she can go through the list at her own pace, as long as it is all done by Friday.
This week, she has completed all of her assigned reading for the week, so she’s taking some free reading time and, once again, picks up The Hobbit. She’s getting close to finishing, so I remind her to starting thinking about what Tell Me About Your Book project she’d like to do.
Max and I move on to his Ambleside Online reading list and our poem for the day. We work a bit on practicing reading, flipping through his poetry book, selecting stanzas to practice. Afterward, he plays with Legos.
11:00 am – Snack time and geography
We turn the music back on (Jillian’s choice, so the Chipettes singing covers of various pop songs) and have a quick morning snack, which Jillian makes for us from a recipe she found for graham crackers smoothies (practice reading directions, following a recipe, and measuring/fractions). While Jillian is making the snack, Max sets the table for us and pours our drinks.
We clean up snack time, run the dishwasher, and Jillian copies the recipe in the cookbook she is compiling (a year-long project) while I set up the younger three with some pieces of large craft paper and crayons on the kitchen floor. I have them lie down and I trace each of them and have them color themselves.
Jillian and I sit down at the computer together for US geography. We are using Road Trip USA from Confessions of a Homeschooler. We’re in the kitchen so I can keep an eye on the little kids at the same time. We spend about an hour on the state of Maine. Jillian sends her dad a text message asking if he will help her make lobster for dinner on Saturday, keeping with our Maine studies.
12:15pm – Getting out there!
After the main bulk of our lessons are done for the day, it is a good time in the day to bundle up and head outdoors. The temperatures have been frigid and they are due to drop again, so we want to take advantage of the mild days while we can. The snow has melted, but the frigid temps have left behind ice and frost.
We spend some time exploring the January world.
We went outdoors together, although the toddler was only happy for about fifteen minutes, so she and I headed back inside to make cocoa and get started on lunch and wait for the big kids to come inside. We cuddle and giggle and watch them through the window.
12:45 pm – Lunch and “Science Friday”
After a warming lunch of grilled cheese and tomato soup, we start on our theme lessons. We have themed days of the week, where we explore a topic as a family and have a fun movie and/or activity to go with it.
- Monday – music, Bible, cooking & baking
- Tuesday – world geography, painting
- Wednesday – botany (fifth grader), language arts, coloring
- Thursday – US history, handwork
- Friday – science, practical life
Today is Friday, so it is Science Friday (yes, we took the name from the popular podcast). We all move into the living room where we watch an episode of The Magic School Bus on rot and compost.
Afterward, we head back into the kitchen and gather up an orange, a banana, a lemon, and a kiwi to set up a little experiment on rot of our own. We put each piece of fruit on a paper plate and set it up in the garage, where we will wait for the rot to begin. We’ll be checking in on this for a few weeks.
After tidying up our work area, while listening to the Science Friday podcast, the kids are officially done with lessons for the week (though I honestly believe that learning happens all the time).
2:30 pm – Quiet time for the little kids
By now, the toddler is (more than) ready for a nap and I am (more than) ready for some quiet time myself. I set my four year old up with some music and her blanket on our bean bag upstairs in the loft playroom. I rock the toddler until she falls asleep and I put her down for a nap. Meanwhile, the bigger kids are downstairs. Max cuts out his paper outline of himself (“a giant paper doll ME!”) and Jillian is playing Angry Birds.
With the toddler asleep and the preschooler having quiet time, I scurry around the house getting some housework done. Next I put on my writer hat, checking in on the SK facebook page, answering some comments on the blog, and writing up our Wild Kratts review. I also grab my phone and send Jillian some more Words with Friends.
3:00pm – Mom’s break time
At 3:00 time stops. Just kidding. But, Max’s favorite PBS show comes on (I’ll give you two guesses which one). Lucy joins him on the sofa and they watch the show together. Jillian reads her book. I start some pizza dough in the bread machine and then sit down to knit and listen to a podcast, savoring the quiet and putting my feet up while I can.
4:30 pm – Dinner prep and paperwork
All three big kids have ended up in the library/school room, sitting around the table playing with the Legos. I sit down at my desk to review our week, sketch out some plans for next week, and update our attendance form. I sneak in a bit more blog work, mostly behind-the-scenes things, outline some posts for next week, and check things off of my list until a glance at the clock tells me I’d better get going on dinner.
I start dinner and Jillian joins me. We work side by side, cleaning up the kitchen as we go. Once Amelia wakes up, she hangs out with us in the kitchen. We listen to music and get the fixings ready for homemade pizzas.
5:45pm – Daddy’s home
Christopher is home. The kids are thrilled, as always, to see their dad and they rattle off the details of their day in rapid fire succession.
To my surprise, Chris has walked in the door with … pizza! Great minds think alike!
We spend the rest of the evening together as a family, having what we call our Friday Night Nest – eating pizza and making and playing a board game together (from our latest Kiwi Crate kit).
And that, my friends, was a Friday in our homeschooling household. Tomorrow is Saturday. I’m sleeping in!
How does the end of your homeschool week differ from the beginning? Do you teach any subjects to multiple ages at once? If you’re a work-from-home parent who homeschools, how do you make your schedule work?