By Cait Curley of My Little Poppies.
I did something kind of crazy after Christmas break, you guys.
Meet Gryffin, our 11-week-old rescue pup. (Because if there is ever a time to get a puppy, it’s a subzero January in New Hampshire!)
We have only had this little fella for a few days and we are head-over-heels in love.
That said, we are definitely trying to find our new normal.
Today, I’d like to share what our homeschool days looked like before puppy and what they look like this week.
Before Gryffin entered our world, we had a homeschool rhythm. No two days were exactly the same, but we had a groove that worked well most days.
It’s hard to put our homeschool style into words, but our routine is based on carefully selected read alouds, educational games, and nature.
When asked about curriculum, I often laugh and say that we are curriculum dabblers (you can read more about that here).
Each morning, we wake up and enjoy Coffee and Books. Coffee and Books is just that: coffee, plus books. This is a tradition that our entire family adores.
Some days, we read our current chapter book.
Other days, we read a stack of picture books. Coffee and Books is a low-stress way to tackle a variety of different subjects, from art to math to science, while also crossing off the most important part of any homeschool day: reading aloud.
After Coffee and Books, we do a few chores and then sit down to tackle what I call our Homeschool Must-Dos.
Must-Dos include the following:
- Play (this could mean gameschooling, free play, or other creative pursuits)
- Writing (this could be copywork, a journal entry, a letter to a loved one, creative writing, language arts workbook, etc.)
After our Must-Dos are complete, we try to rotate through one or two of the other subjects:
By lunch or soon thereafter, we are usually finished with our homeschooling for the day.
But learning does not stop when we put our books away.
We follow the Brave Writer Lifestyle and we know that learning happens all the time!
Here are a few examples:
- Playing trivia games over lunch
- Taking our portable microscopes on a hike to see what we discover
- Listening to a podcast or audiobook in the car
- Watching a documentary via CuriosityStream, and taking time to pause and enjoy big, important conversations
- Participating in online learning. (My son is currently enjoying two Harry Potter courses on Outschool!)
- Diving down a fun rabbit hole
Following lunch, we grab a book and find a cozy spot to enjoy some quiet time. As a family of introverts, this time is sacred to us. It gives us the opportunity to recharge so that we are fresh for the afternoon.
Our afternoons vary by the day, but they include our favorite activities:
- Piano lessons
- Art class
- Nature co-op
- Sports (dance, ski, soccer- depends on the season and the kiddo!)
- Field trips (either in person or virtual)
- Weekly meet-ups with friends
- Service activities
- Library trips
Our evenings are for family time. We will often play a game before dinner. We eat as a family and then head upstairs to read books before bed.
No two days are the same, but our days before puppy had a definite rhythm.
But now, things are in flux. We aren’t just homeschooling, we are puppy-schooling.
It is the most adorable, the most hilarious, the most snuggly, and the most challenging homeschool season we have had for quite some time!
Homeschooling with a new puppy
I am a dog person and I’ve had puppies before, but I’ve never homeschooled with a puppy.
(For those of you who have never experienced a puppy, it’s kind of like having an adorable baby. Except that baby has the ability to walk. And it has lots of teeth. And it’s not wearing diapers.)
When it comes to homeschooling, life and education intersect and overlap.
Sometimes, you need to put down the book and take the puppy outside before there is a mess to contend with.
Puppy-schooling means that pencils- and Harry Potter wands, for that matter- disappear more often than they usually do.
Spills still occur, but now they are now messier and more challenging to mop up.
It’s trickier to do your work in your favorite spot.
When you find a new spot, there’s someone nibbling your toes as you work.
Puppy-schooling means learning to keep your science experiments up high, out of reach.
And it means making the most of those puppy naps…
… and peanut-butter-filled kongs…
… and trying to get as much work done as possible during those windows!
Puppy-schooling means extra reading…
… and an extra special read-aloud buddy.
Puppy-schooling means making time to teach the puppy, too.
With a puppy in the mix, we are still accomplishing our Must-Dos. Barely.
Sometimes we cover those extras, too.
And sometimes we don’t.
We used to finish our homeschool around lunch, but now we are hobbling over the finish line by dinner.
Everything is interrupted a half dozen times and takes a gazillion times longer.
Beyond the books
On the one hand, I feel as if we are barely covering the bases lately.
Between the constant interruptions, puppy bathroom breaks, puppy-induced giggles, pencil thefts, and puppy training, everything feels harder.
But, on the other hand, I know that we are also covering so much that is not in a textbook.
Here are just a few things my children have learned in the last three weeks, since beginning this rescue journey:
- The difference between pedigrees and mixed-breed dogs
- What rescuing a puppy actually means
- What fostering a puppy means
- The importance of spay and neuter and leash laws
- The manpower and volunteer hours involved in transporting a litter of puppies from Louisiana to New Hampshire
- Geography as they tracked the puppy’s transport through multiple states
- The importance of helping others
- The basics of animal care (health, nutrition, grooming, etc.)
- Responsibility and commitment
- The basics of puppy training
- The importance of consistency
- Patience- lots and lots of patience!
Moreover, they are working hard to raise this pup to be a loving, loyal, and well-behaved member of our family. Just like his predecessor, who I mentioned in last year’s Day in the Life.
What I’m trying to say is: I know this is worth it. We are doing something important, even if it doesn’t look like traditional homeschooling.
Homeschooling has seasons
Some seasons are more challenging than others for a variety of reasons that can be either planned or unplanned.
- New baby.
- A move.
- A new job.
Or, in our case: a new puppy.
When you are in the midst of one of a challenging season, you must trust the process.
Homeschooling is a lifestyle. Learning happens all the time when you relax and let it.
So, smile and know that you will find a new rhythm.
(It just might not be today.)
Cait’s previous day in the life posts:
- Cait’s homeschool day in the life (with a 5-, 7-, and 8-year-old)
- Cait’s homeschool day in the life (with a 4-, 6-, and 7-year-old)
Are you in a challenging homeschool season right now? What are your children learning that cannot be found in a textbook?