Colleen’s Homeschool Day in the Life (with a 9-, 12-, 14, and 19-year-old) ~
Written by Colleen Kessler of Raising Lifelong Learners
Woof. Woof. Woof.
Ugh. I look at my phone – 7:14 – and roll back over.
I mutter to myself as I drag my tired body out of bed, down the stairs, and to the hall closet where I grab the parka I bought two years ago when I had a speaking engagement in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. It’s been a cold January and February isn’t looking any warmer yet.
I unlatch the dog crate and our six-month-old border collie, Daisy Mae, bounds out in anticipation of some snow play.
I take the pup outside and wait for her to do her business before throwing the frisbee – again and again and again – for the next half an hour. She is tireless. By 8:00 she and I are back in the kitchen and the coffee is brewing. She’s eating and I’m folding the clothes that sat in the dryer overnight and starting another load.
The kids (and our three-year-old pug) still sleep on.
They’re not really morning people, so we start our days slowly around here. In fact, I’m not a morning person at all, and didn’t get up before 9:00 myself until Daisy Mae came to live with us in October 2021. She’s a social creature and loves nothing more than being with her people constantly, and will cry and bark if she knows they’re somewhere she can’t get to.
Since the kids are still sleeping, I head into the family room with a rubber ball and my first cup of coffee. First I start a fire in the fireplace because I love the cozy feel of the flames flickering in the grate. Then, I settle in on the couch and sip my morning caffeine in between tossing the ball for the pup.
Isaac, my wiggly nine-year-old, wanders in about 8:40 and snuggles in with me. He tells me about his dreams from the night before and, because he doesn’t sit still for long, pops up to go make himself breakfast.
I don’t make my kids breakfast anymore.
Terrible mom, right?
It’s just gotten so much easier to have healthy options and let them fend for themselves in the morning since we all wake at different times and I’m not a big breakfast eater myself.
While he does that, I turn over dog duty to him, remind him to empty the dishwasher, his morning chore, and to start his “must do” list, and I head up to shower and dress.
The younger two kiddos (9 and 12) have a “must do” list each day that I write out on a notecard and leave for them on the table with whatever I have strewn out to entice them to learn (today it’s the human body). Those lists are things they can do independently like practice piano, complete a morning chore, do their math lesson, a writing prompt, and some reading.
The rest of our school line-up varies widely from day to day, week to week, and leans heavily eclectic with a very unschooly-and-kid-led bent.
Today is Wednesday. Each Wednesday afternoon, I host a live event for The Learner’s Lab, the online member community I host for families homeschooling gifted, twice-exceptional, or otherwise neurodiverse kiddos.
It’s such a blast – even my own quirky kids love it.
This week I’m teaching a live creative thinking class all about creating a vision board. Our monthly theme is goal planning, designed to help neurodiverse kiddos (ADHD, Gifted, 2e, Anxious, those with SPD, and other quirks) strengthen their executive function skills. Social-emotional learning is a huge part of the lab, but is supported stealthily through games, classes, virtual meet-ups, conversations, and challenges where the kids earn badges we mail out to them.
Like I said, it’s a blast. But it also means no sweats or pajamas for me today – I need to look presentable.
I pass my 12-year old in the hallway on my way to the shower. Logan is up and she’s looking a little rough around the edges as she’s starting to settle into the teen-aversion-to-mornings the older two have got down pat.
I remind her to put the wash in the dryer, tell her to eat, feed her bearded dragon, and then get started on her must-dos for the day.
It’s about 10:30 by the time I’m showered, dressed, and presentable enough to be on camera, so I go upstairs to drag my 19-year-old from bed in his attic room.
Trevor graduated from our homeschool in May and is taking this year to figure out if he wants to scale the online video and audio editing business he started a few years ago, take his photography to the next level (he’s amazing!), or go to school for something else.
I now head over to wake my 14-year old daughter Molly. She takes a bit to get going in the morning, so I know I’ll be up to rouse her a few more times.
Molly is doing her own thing for her freshman year of high school, so her days look a little different than the younger kids.
She’s working towards a communications degree through collegeforallusa.com for the next four years, doubling up – two degrees for the price of one. By the time she graduates high school, she’ll only have one or two classes (if that) to finish before also getting her bachelor’s degree in communications.
This girl of mine has always been a go-getter, and she’s super talented musically. The rest of her days are typically spent working on lines for a show she’s in, taking acting or voice lessons, or working with either the acapella group or improv comedy troupe she performs with. She’s also involved in a local homeschool teen group and the teens in The Learner’s Lab community I run online.
By the time I get back downstairs, the younger two are ready for me to check their work. I do that, then play with the dogs. Bellatrix LePug is up now, too. She’s our 3yo pug who would rather sleep underneath someone’s blanket in a warm bed than do almost anything else. She’s a bit high maintenance.
I’m back inside and Isaac, Logan, and I have a snack and play with an emotional regulation game that’s part of the social-emotional skill-building challenge in this month’s Learner’s Lab theme.
It’s time for me to teach live, so I head to my office and Logan and Isaac set up with the iPad in the kitchen so they can take the class I’m teaching; creating a vision board.
We all take turns sharing some of the things we hope to do in 2022 and beyond and how we represented those on our own boards. It’s so fun to see how everyone’s creativity interprets and represents things so uniquely.
It’s 2:30, the replay is uploading to the host site for members who were unable to make it to the class live, and I’m done working for awhile. Isaac’s buddy is home from school so they’re on facetime and playing Minecraft together.
Logan and I work together to make linner – our name for the hearty lunch/dinner mashup we tend to eat on theater nights. We’re making a hearty potato soup today with biscuits and salad so the kids can all fill up and eat before rehearsal tonight.
Molly convinced Logan and Isaac to audition for The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. It’s a children’s and teen production that she wanted Isaac to do as his first play. They’re having so much fun together.
Molly was cast as Susan Penvensie, Logan is in the White Witch’s army, and Isaac is a wood nymph. Rehearsals run 6:00-9:00 Monday through Thursday and for five hours on Sundays, so weeknights are late ones right now.
Around 4:15 we eat our linner. The kids will have a sandwich or something lunch-like when they get home around 9:30.
I do the dishes and try to tidy up the kitchen after we eat while they run around trying to find scripts, pack snacks and water bottles, and grab coats, shoes, and gloves. My husband walks in as we scramble out.
Theoretically, I could go back home while they’re in the theater, but I’d spend most of that time driving back and forth, so I either run errands, sit in the van and revel in the quiet, or work in the lobby.
I’ve been taking a class on visual facilitation and am creating visuals to describe Dabrowski’s theory about overexcitabilities in gifted and creative individuals – intensities related to the intellect, emotions, senses, imagination, and impulses. I have my new iPad and Apple Pencil with me and I’m learning how to use Procreate to make my own visuals. It’s super cool. I love learning new things (and letting my kids SEE me learning new things!)
It’s 9:40, we’re home and the kids are eating, putting away their things, and getting ready for bed. Logan and Isaac head upstairs, and Molly and Trevor settle in to watch a show.
Bellatrix LePug is done, too, and already followed Logan upstairs to snuggle. Daisy Mae is still going strong. Trevor and Molly take turns throwing a ball during the show while I work in my office for another hour before I’m seeing double.
I remind the teens to clean up whatever mess they make during the kitchen raid I know is coming and to take Daisy Mae out one more time before crating her for the night and I head up to bed.
Tomorrow is another theater night AND there’s acapella rehearsal, two online classes, and friends coming over to play in the snow. I’m going to need my sleep…
How do YOU juggle it all?
My, how the days have changed:
- 2021: Colleen’s homeschool day in the life (with an 8-, 11-, 13-, and 18- year-old)
- 2020: Colleen’s homeschool day in the life (with a 7-, 10-, 12-, and 17-year-old)
- 2018: Colleen’s homeschool day in the life (with a 5-, 8-, 10-, and 15- year-old )
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