Written by Purva Brown of The Classical Unschooler
I have a confession. I like Mondays. And considering that I am writing this on a Monday morning at 6:01, this is the perfect place to start telling you about our typical day.
But first, let me tell you about Mondays. I cherish Mondays, always looking forward to them.
I love the sense of order that comes over the home when everyone is involved in something meaningful. Gone is the laziness of the weekend, the haphazardness of schedules, the random snacking instead of set mealtimes, the overindulgence in screen time.
Monday mornings bring us back on track. Sigh. There is such beauty in the hope of a new week.
So that little peak into Mondays should tell you a little bit about my personality and how we structure our days.
Why am I starting with the evenings? I have a perfectly good reason, just like my kids.
You see, a few months ago, my older two decided that they wanted the daytime to play and explore things that they were interested in rather than do sit-down desk work. That was fine by me, but I told them that the desk work was necessary as well. So they decided to get it done the night before it was due.
And a new tradition was born.
Our weekly schedule is just post-it notes with requirements for each child on a white cardboard where everyone can see it. I update it about every 4-6 months depending on the curriculum. Every evening, before bed, the children check the board, get their books and complete what they can. They do this independently. If they run into something they can’t do, they set it aside to work on with me in the morning.
What do they work on? Reading, Bible study, grammar, spelling, math flashcards – pretty basic stuff and things that are relatively easy and do not need my direct oversight.
As part of my new year’s resolution, I’ve been waking up at 5 a.m. to write my blog, get a little time to myself and have coffee before the day begins. It’s been working well so far.
My children begin stirring about 7 and usually poke their sleepy heads out at around 7:30 or 8:00. The first one (usually my 8-year-old daughter) makes a beeline for the Kindle Fire. The others will have to wait their turn.
I don’t mind them playing on the pad during the day because we have refused to put any twaddle on it. It has only educational games. I have to hide a smile when my four year old – who isn’t reading yet – knows where most of the states go on the map of the USA by just their shapes because of Stack the States.
My husband tends to start his day early as well. He’s usually out the door by this time. I leave the children to huddle around the pad while I take a shower and get ready for the day.
Breakfast is usually bacon and eggs with a side of Bible reading.
After breakfast, the older two bring me the work they have done from the night before. I help them resolve any problems, complete any work they might have had problems with and go over flashcards. This takes us about an hour or two because baby brother (okay, he’s not technically a baby at 4, but since he’s not “doing school” yet, he gets called that) wants to play with whoever is taking a break.
If we get through this quickly, we do some quick science experiments. Otherwise, or if it’s a day where I’m not prepared (because, let’s face it, we all have those days!) the children head outside to play or build tents in the living room. Sometimes, the youngest will watch an educational video.
Right after lunch, before the dishes are cleared away, we read aloud. We just started the Harry Potter series. I have to say, I look forward to this time more than the kids do sometimes. In the past, we have read The Chronicles of Narnia, The Hobbit, James and the Giant Peach, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and others.
By the time 1 p.m. comes around, we are all ready for a break from formal reading, writing and other subjects. So we enter our play time. Each child gets 1 hour of dedicated video game time. This means that each child gets to be in control of the X-Box. They take turns and set the kitchen timer to keep it fair.
I head to my bedroom to read, catch up on some more writing or deal with whatever issues have come up during the morning. I also manage to squeeze in a power nap of about 20 – 30 minutes. The nap refreshes me and sets the tone for the evening. It provides a gentle transition into preparing the home for family time.
I begin preparing dinner at around 3:30 and we eat as soon as my husband gets home from work. Sometimes, this can be as early as 4:30 if he’s famished!
Meanwhile, after video games, the children put the pad on the charger where it remains until the next morning. The children’s evenings are screen-free unless it’s family movie night.
After dinner, all kids help with clean up (we have assigned chores for each one) and then they usually find something to play with or read or practice piano until 7 which is bed time. (Or, as I prefer to call it independent study time before sleeping.) And we begin all over again.
Car Schooling Days
Our usual rhythm works for about four days out of five. On days when we have to be out and about (which is at least one day every week for errands and/or grocery shopping) we do what I fondly refer to as car schooling.
On car schooling days, we make full use of our memorization exercises. What do we memorize? Anything we find fun and informative! We memorize poetry, history timelines, US Presidents and the Westminster Catechism.
We go into the car armed with CDs and flashcards and school gets done before we know it in the midst of just driving around town. Sometimes, my children will also take along books to read in the car.
I have written before also about how our conversations could be considered a part of the curriculum by themselves because they lead us down so many interesting segues.
So there you have it. This is my day in the life. Of course it’s subject to change any time but (at least for now) I wouldn’t want it any other way! Any questions?