Written by contributor Sarah Small of SmallWorld at Home
The first thing I had to do when asked to take part in this year’s “Day in the Life” series was to look back at my post from last January. I wondered how much our daily life had changed in a year.
Well, a lot.
Long gone are the exhausting, bustling days of going from child to child with a little one playing all around us. Gone are the sticky crafts and, blessedly, the endless games of Candyland. Gone are those evenings spent “doing bedtime,” with baths, books, snacks, and one-more-drink-of-water. And in the not-so-distant past, my days were filled with hustling about, trying to figure out schedules for an elementary, a middle-school, and a high-school student.
In many ways, I feel as if I’m homeschooling only one this year.
Our oldest is a sophomore in college, three hours away. This year, our daughter, a freshman in high school, is taking nearly all her classes through our homeschooling co-op. On Mondays Laurel takes physical science, art history, cooking, and drama (she finished computer skills and health first semester), and on Fridays she takes British Literature and European history. Her teachers provide students with assignments to be completed throughout the week. That leaves us with only algebra at home. Since she is doing Teaching Textbooks, my involvement with her math is minimal.
For most of every day my high schooler works in her room or on the computer. She manages her time beautifully, spreading her homework out throughout the day and evening. She knows what she needs to get done and when it needs to be done. She is learning organizational and time-management skills that will be essential in college and beyond.
And so for the most part, Duncan, my 5th/6th grader (See Stepping Outside the Grade Level Box), and I are on our own. So what do we do all day?
One thing for sure hasn’t changed from last year: every day is different. We still have co-op all day on Monday and another one for Tuesday afternoons. We still have Cub Scouts and American Heritage Girls twice monthly on Thursdays. My Friday afternoons are now devoted to teaching British Literature to 20 students, including my daughter. Duncan rotates among friends during that 3-hour time period.
But we do still have some days that we are home for the whole day, and our mornings are basically the same regardless of what happens after 1 p.m.
Here’s a typical Wednesday:
7 -8 a.m.: I wake up and have my essential morning quiet hour, without which I may not function well!
8-9 a.m.: Morning run with my husband. Kids still sleeping.
9-10 a.m.: Kids wake up and get a little techno time in (computer, Wii). I shower and do housework.
10-10:30 a.m.: Both kids do math. Duncan does the lesson part of Teaching Textbooks on the computer, and then we (and an army guy) go over the exercises together. For Laurel, it’s a math test day.
Duncan and I head over to our school room and do:
- Bible: Currently, we are going through a devotional book for boys.
- Poem-a-Day: We read poems by Carl Sandburg together and discuss. I ask leading questions (e.g., what words did you like?), and we find elements like personification and alliteration.
- Geography: Using Sonlight’s 100 Gateway Cities, we read about two cities in China and locate them on the map.
- Literature: I read one chapter of our read-aloud, Young Fu of the Upper Yangtze.
- Vocabulary: As we read, Duncan records several words with which he is unfamiliar. I briefly give him a definition; he will look these up and write the definitions later.
In the midst of our reading Young Fu, Laurel pops her head in and says she needs help with math. I ask her to work on something else until I get to a stopping point.
- Duncan does one page of Easy Grammar and his cursive writing practice.
- For the next 50 minutes, he watches an episode of the documentary Wild China on Netflix.
- I work with Laurel on math. She is frustrated, disappointed in herself for not doing well on the test. I go over the problems with her, reminding her of all the different steps in algebra. She knows this stuff! I leave her with the rest of her math test and insist that we are going to start doing math every single day, even on weekends. Even I, the queen of flexibility, am starting to feel behind.
12:30-1:30: Lunch break for Duncan and me. After eating, Duncan plays on the Wii and I go back to check on Laurel’s math. We discuss some of her problem spots, and I give her a few more exercises to do.
Duncan and I head back to the school room.
- Spelling: We do our weekly test in Spelling Power.
- We read another chapter from Young Fu.
- We look up definitions for his vocabulary words.
2:45: Duncan reads a chapter of his current book. I take Laurel to a coffee house, where she’ll study for two hours—as she does every Wednesday— with her friend. They’ll do homework from their co-op classes: today, physical science and art history.
3:15-5 p.m. Duncan and I visit with my parents, just down the road. We play a game of Quiddler with them.
5:15 -6 p.m.: It’s Laurel’s night to cook supper!
• Duncan plays the Wii (he gets a total of 2.5 hours of “tech time” per day)
• I work on lesson plans
• Dad comes home
6-6:30 p.m.: Supper. The Thai chicken curry, prepared by Laurel, is fabulous.
6:30-7:30 p.m.: Family game time! We play Quiddler with Dad.
7:30-8 p.m.: House straightening time. We can get an amazing amount of cleaning done in just 30 minutes when we all work together.
After 8 p.m.: We all just kind of do our own thing. We relish having an evening at home. Before Duncan goes to bed at 9:30 we read one more chapter together. Laurel does some more homework before going to bed at 11 p.m.
Are you amazed at how your days change from year to year? If you are a parent with little ones, can you imagine a day when they will be largely independent?