Written by Shawna Wingert of Not the Former Things
Before sitting down to write this, I re-read my day in the life post from last year.
I feel like not much has changed. And I feel like everything has changed.
It’s so weird how life is sometimes. The days blend into weeks, the weeks into months, and the months into an entire year of homeschooling my two sons.
It’s been a year of heartache. It’s been a year of fun. It’s been a year of trial and error. And, as I sit down to write about our life today, I am filled with a growing sense that we are starting to figure this out.
This year, our day looks like this:
I wake to my 6 a.m. alarm. I have been trying to get back into this habit, after weeks of sleeping until 8:30 a.m. every day in the post-holiday haze.
My youngest would wake, calling “Mommmmmmaaaaaahhhhh” at the top of his lungs. I eventually realized that waking this way, does not set me up to have a good homeschooling momma attitude, so I have been trying to get up a little earlier to have some peace and quiet.
After time alone praying and reading, I work a bit on my blog, and get a load of laundry started.
The boys wake up late today (both have been battling some neurology related sleeping issues, with late nights and fitful sleep). It is 9 a.m. when I sneak into my youngest’s room and wake him. He asks me to snuggle up for a bit, and we leisurely talk through what happened in his rock climbing class the night before.
My oldest wakes about 15 minutes later and calls for me. I bring him water, and we sit and talk about the plan for our day, step by step. I’ve learned that when he knows what to expect, our days are so much smoother.
At this point, the boys are content to play a little Plague Inc. together. Yes, it’s a computer game. Yes, I allow them to play it first thing in the morning.
They are just now, at 13 and 10, finding ways to play together and I treasure the sounds of them laughing and talking. This hasn’t been a part of their relationship up until now.
Plus, the game is about how diseases spread throughout the world. I decide to call it a homeschool project, and move on to getting them both breakfast, and myself dressed.
It is almost lunchtime, by the time we move into our more focused lessons. I feel a pang of guilt, because the morning has been spent on a screen, but both boys are now engaged and ready to begin more formal learning.
I decide to let it go, and be thankful that they seem to be getting along.
My 13-year-old has taught himself in the past year how to build computers. Because big brother does it, my youngest wants to learn as well.
We decide that my oldest will be the teacher, and he shows us the different parts of the computer and how they function.
Although I am excited about my youngest learning all of this at such a young age, I am more focused on my oldest having a guided opportunity to work on communicating effectively.
Because he is on the autism spectrum, he needs additional support in understanding two-way communication. He also struggles with executive function, so practicing how to explain something sequentially, is very valuable.
Lunch is a buffet of leftovers and snacks, because I have recently given up on trying to make three full meals a day. (I have also recently given up feeling bad about it.)
I provide a decent breakfast and dinner, and then everything that happens with food in between is a kind of free-for-all.
This tactic alone makes our day so much easier.
Because of sensory issues and my son’s chronic autoimmune condition, eating can be very difficult. A structured meal time creates stress for him, before he even gets to the table.
Keeping it light, snacky and with plenty of options, means he can relax a bit. Plus, we all get to eat what we like without me becoming a short order cook.
After lunch, we transition back to actual lessons. My oldest goes to his room to rest a bit, and finish up a YouTube series about a man who makes everything he needs from scratch.
While he is busy on his own, my youngest and I start reading practice. He reads aloud to me, and then we head outside for his favorite part of reading. We call this part of our day ‘Word Games.’
Sometimes we write words in dishsoap and water on the sidewalk, or play sight word Twister. Today, he reads practice words on ping pong balls, and then whacks them into a bucket with a ping pong paddle.
Hands-on phonics lessons have been a critical component in helping him learn to read, and I am learning that these activities are a must have for our day. (Although he is in fourth grade, he is profoundly dyslexic, and currently reading at about a 1st to 2nd grade level.)
We come back into the house, and my son sits down to complete a math worksheet. This is completely new for us! In fact, I still pinch myself a little that he is independently completing any work on his own. He loves doing it, but with math only.
Because Oak Meadow math has some hands-on, some parent-led, and some independent work, it allows him an opportunity to feel confident as a learner, without my sitting right next to him.
While he is busy, I head into my 13-year-old’s room. We complete his math and language arts together. Both are tied to his favorite topic and current obsession – aquariums. I have learned that project-based learning is really the only way to go with this kid.
I find a way to work math into the discussion and together, we figure out how to calculate the volume of water necessary for a large 49 inch x 25 inch x 26 inch tank.
Everyone is getting a little restless at this point, so I decide it’s time to head to the pharmacy for my son’s prescriptions.
I purposely divide up my errands so that every day we spend some time in the car, listening to a fictional audio book. Right now we are listening to Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire for the second time.
After picking up the medicines, I drive us around for about 45 minutes and just relax a bit, listening to the story.
As I fix dinner, the boys complete a project making crystals. I purchased the science kit after our last visit to the science center, and they are excited to see the results.
A gallon of spilled, crazy smelly liquid all over the furniture and floor later, and they are so proud of what they were able to create. I wipe up the mess and head back to stirring the sauce, just as my husband walks in the door.
The rest of our night involves cleaning up the back yard (there are ping pong balls with words written on them everywhere), and then settling down to watch Mythbusters together.
When it’s time for my youngest to head to bed, my husband and my 13-year-old, head out for their nightly drive. Every night, they listen to different audio book together, just the two of them. Right now, it is Jurassic Park.
They drive around the moonlit streets, and talk about the difference between 1990s technology and present day advancements. Meanwhile, my youngest and I take time to snuggle up, and read a book. I fall asleep in his bed, and wake up only when my oldest comes in to tell me goodnight.
The hubs and I talk about our days, yawn a bit, then head to bed.
After five years of homeschooling, reading tons of homeschooling books and blogs, daily trial and error, and frequent tears, our days look so much different than I had imagined.
They can be so messy and frustrating. And, as time goes on, I am finding they are also productive and fun.
Our days are adding up to an education, and a life, that my boys and I love.