Written by Sarah Mackenzie of Read-Aloud Revival.
This year we’ve got quite the crew:
- 14-year-old (8th grade) girl
- 12-year-old (6th grade) girl
- 10-year-old (5th grade) boy
- 3-year-old girl
- 2-year-old twin tornado boys … or as I’ve seen referenced elsewhere: twinados 🙂
My two little identical alarms run into my bedroom and wake me up. I miss the days of rising before my crew and having just a few minutes to myself, but this is not the season for it. The twins keep me running hard and long most days, so I sleep until they wake me.
The 3-year-old is not usually too far behind them. They pile on the couch under blankets and we do the early-morning-snuggle routine before getting started with first breakfast.
It’s time to wake the big kids. They have breakfast, and the toddlers settle in for second breakfast. 🙂 Then I sneak off to shower while bigs entertain littles.
Big kids get ready for the day and do a morning job each (like emptying the dishwasher or taking out the trash), and I try to kinda-sorta tidy the kitchen in preparation for the day ahead.
Time for school! I used to start our school day at 8. I’ve found my stress level has decreased significantly since I took the pressure off myself to start that early.
It seemed we could start 8 if (and only if) I was a drill sergeant, so now we start at 9 and I try not to bark orders. 😉
We begin our day with morning time. In many ways, it’s the bread and butter of our school day. It’s where I immerse my kids in truth, goodness, and beauty. We all sit together to read literature, memorize scripture, and take a dip in the liberal arts – Shakespeare, composer study, picture study, or something of that nature.
This isn’t a picture from today, but lest you think our morning time is quiet, tame and orderly — well, I can’t have that. 🙂 This is what morning time looks like at our house most days. We read, memorize, and discuss, and the toddlers cause general ruckus and mayhem.
Morning time is short, important, slightly stressful, and the best part of everyone’s day. (I shared more of the nitty gritty about what it like in our home on Periscope.)
Twenty to thirty minutes later, we move into the next chunk of our day- something we call Morning Rotations.
Getting one-on-one time with each of my school-age kids can be tricky with so many toddlers mucking about. Morning rotations are how I make sure to get some good quality time with each child every day.
Each term, I choose a subject that my kids need focused 1-on-1 time for, and we do it during this time block (right now it’s writing for all three of my school-agers).
I simply take the child I’m working with into a separate room and we close the door. One of the remaining big kids is left to supervise and entertain the twins; the other reads and does preschooly things with the 3 year old. Every 30-45 minutes for the rest of the morning, we rotate. One big kid works with me while the others watch the littles.
It’s a great system, if I do say so myself. 😉
By noon, we’ve completed morning time and each big kid has had 30-45 minutes with me 1-on-1. #win!
Lunch. Then the big kids clean the kitchen, and I take the littles up for rest time. Naptime boycotts are in full force, so there’s not usually any real sleeping being done these days.
Regardless, the toddlers have to stay in their bedroom to play (and make a huge mess) to give the rest of us some peace to relax and read.
What happens now depends on which day it is. Most days, it’s time set aside for the big kids to work on their spiral notebooks.
The kids more or less do the work listed in their spiral notebooks on their own. These are co-op homework assignments and anything else they can do on their own, like practicing piano or typing, listening to their history audio book, or completing a notebooking page for science.
Basically, if it’s not part of our morning time and we aren’t doing it during our 1-on-1 time, it gets listed in the spiral notebook. (more on that here)
Two days each week, our math tutor comes during this time and teaches the kids their new lessons.
This has been a tremendous help as I am, quite frankly, not a great math teacher. He assigns their work for the rest of the week while he’s here.
On Tuesdays, friends come over to do a socratic-style history and humanities class. My brilliant friend Angela teaches this, and it is easily one of the best parts of our homeschool curriculum. I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
(They’re having tea and conversation about the Boston Tea Party in this picture).
Late afternoons afford the kids a bit of free time. They almost always spend it reading, though I do try to convince them that there are other worthy pursuits … like listening to audio books. 😉
Actually, when the weather is nicer, I’ll often kick them outdoors, or load them all into the 12-passenger van and head to a nearby park. If it’s a day our friends come over for humanities class, we just hang out and play with them.
Around 4, it’s time to rally. The house is usually a disaster zone by now, so we start tackling it together, and then I pair toddlers up with big kids to play while I make dinner.
My husband comes home, and we eat early. Big kids have assigned after-dinner chores, my husband takes over the whole crew, and I head to my corner bedroom office to work.
I run a podcast and community for parents who want their kids to fall in love with books. It’s nearly a full-time job, and I do most of that work during evenings and weekends.
I’m always a bit giddy to get started.
I posted this picture last week on Instagram right after working for a couple of hours. You know what I’ve discovered this last year? That as an extrovert, working outside of my homeschool is a really, really important way to take care of myself and feed my joy- it gives me so much energy!
I used to feel guilty about that, but I’m learning not to.
On evenings like this one, I head upstairs until about 9 p.m. On the day I’m documenting this post, I spent my work time preparing talks for the four GHC Conferences I’m speaking at this year. Those’ll be here before I know it, and I want to be ready!
Usually when I’m working, I’m recording podcasts, creating master classes and resources, and working with my team to line up award-winning authors like David Macaulay and Avi for our membership families to meet at live online events.
It can be a real challenge to juggle the demands of a career with homeschooling, homemaking, and raising my passel of peeps, but I’ve found so much energy and joy in making it happen.
Before making some tea and grabbing a book, I’ll try to look over spiral notebooks one last time, draft the kids’ school lists for the next day, and then spend some time hanging out with Andy.
It’s very likely I’ll stay up too late.
And then it’s another day. 🙂
How the days have changed: