Written by contributor Kris Bales of Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers.
This homeschooling year, our 11th, has been one of the best we’ve had in a few years. I attribute that to the fact that I now have two middle school students and one mostly-graduated. (I’ll explain how “mostly-graduated” works in a bit.)
The preschool years are so much fun. Everything is new and exciting.
Elementary is a time of delving into some of my favorite topics (American history, for example) for the first time.
The middle school years, though … well, for a mom who’s been at this for awhile, it’s a time of transitioning to having a houseful of independent learners. To some of you that may sound sad — like I’m not enjoying being knee-deep in school with my kids all day long. For others, it sounds like the light at the end of the tunnel.
For me, it’s a little of both.
I have always loved learning alongside my kids and being very involved in school. However, I won’t lie and say that it’s not nice being able to have some time to work, straighten the house, or just enjoy some down time while my kids work independently.
I’ve also enjoyed the aspect of watching my kids develop their opinions about what they’re learning. I’m not just answering the why’s and sharing facts. We’re discussing things together … and I like that.
While I’m becoming an old lady who needs her sleep, my kids have not changed their night-owl ways since my last “day in the life” post. That means, we still get a later-than-most start to our homeschool day, but it works for us. A typical day (and finally there is no such a thing as a typical day around here) looks something like this:
8:00 a.m. In my effort to become a morning person, I’m up for my workout. My workout of choice is walking on the treadmill while watching one of my favorite TV shows on DVD.
9:00 a.m. I’m headed to the shower followed by my shadows — two dogs and a fat cat. We have two other cats, but this particular one, Luna, is something of an introvert like me. She likes her quiet time away from the other two cats.
10:00 a.m. Dressed in my homeschool mom uniform of jeans and a comfy shirt with my hair fixed, I head toward the dining room where my laptop awaits. (Yes, I wash and style my hair almost every day, even if we’re not going anywhere, because it makes me feel better. I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that it gets pulled up in an unwashed, ratty ponytail some days, though.)
In addition to blogging, I am a social media manager for a handful of clients, so I try to spend an hour or so each morning working on blog posts or social media. This is why I am no longer a night owl. I used to stay up late so I could work in the peace and quiet of a sleeping house. Now, I have to get up early to manage that.
11:00 a.m. It’s time to wake the kids and get school started. We get started pretty soon after they wake. None of them like to eat upon first waking, so they brush their teeth, comb their hair and wander into the dining room for school.
We start with Bible study — reading and discussing a chapter a day, memorizing scripture with our scripture memory box, and, lately, reading a chapter from the book, Understanding World Religions in 15 Minutes a Day, which we’ve really enjoyed.
After we finish our Bible study time, my oldest goes off to work independently. She’s the mostly-graduated one, which means that she only lacks one semester of Spanish and the remainder of Algebra II before I will issue her diploma.
In addition to working on completing those two classes, she’s working part-time, so she only joins us for Bible study.
My two middle school students work on their Easy Grammar and Daily Grams independently while I work on preparing lunch.
12:30 p.m. Lunch is usually ready by 12:30 or 1:00. Everybody takes their lunch to their corner of the house since this is our down time, usually involving TV, blogs and social media. We take a long lunch and my kids often spend the end of their lunch time on personal creative endeavors — painting or drawing for my oldest, playing drums or guitar for my middle, and writing for my youngest.
2:00 p.m. We resume school with 20-30 minutes of silent reading time. The kids can read whatever they choose. My girls usually choose fiction. My son just finished a biography and has been using this reading time to get ahead on assigned reading for school. I usually read the non-fiction books that I stockpile, but have trouble finishing — unless I’m really engrossed in my preference, a great fiction book.
2:30 p.m. In a stroke of brilliance a couple of years ago, I started having my kids correct their own grammar work. I have them take turns reading their answers aloud or, if it’s a simpler assignment, I read the answers and have them check their work. Either way, they make any needed corrections on the spot, saving me time checking papers in the evenings and getting immediate feedback and explanation for mistakes.
We follow this with our All About Spelling lesson. We’ve also been working our way through a music appreciation course from Zeezok Publishing, which we usually do after spelling.
3:00 p.m. We’re usually ready for history or science (we alternate days) by 3:00. We’ve just started using History Odyssey’s Middle Ages, Level 2 and REAL Science Odyssey Biology Level 2. So far, we really enjoy both.
Depending on the assignment, I may be involved with history and science or it may just be that I need to be in the room overseeing. If the latter is the case, I can often squeeze in something like laundry, washing dishes or a couple of Words with Friends turns.
(A One Direction binder makes the school day better – or so I’ve been told.)
4:00 p.m. By 4:00, we’re usually finished with the work we do together. That means the kids are ready to start their independent work. We do a writing assignment with WriteShop two or three days a week. I get them started on that, then, offer any help they may need before being ready to work independently.
From that point, they are responsible for completing their writing, math (Teaching Textbooks) and silent reading assignments. They each have a detailed assignment sheet to keep them on track.
The older the kids have gotten, the later our school day seems to go. Again, though, it works for us. The kids sometimes grumbling about finishing late, but I remind them that they’re in middle school now. That means there is a greater work load and assignments just take longer. If they want to finish earlier, that means they have to start earlier.
That, coupled with the fact that they know they’re not working any later than their friends with homework usually ends the occasional grumbling.
5:00 p.m. School is over for the day. Most days, I’m starting dinner by this time and the kids are doing their own thing — watching TV, talking to friends on the phone or online. Some days my oldest is heading off to work (or is already there) or we may be at music lessons or getting ready for gymnastics.
That’s pretty much how most of our days look. We enjoy the routine, for the most part, and I definitely enjoy schooling a houseful of mostly-independent learners.
Do you have middle school students yet? If so, what’s your favorite part of homeschooling this age? If not, what are you most looking forward to?