Debbie’s Homeschool Day in the Life (with a 13- and 14-year-old) ~
Written by Debbie Douse of An Adventurous Education
It’s 6:19am and I wake with a start. Somehow my body has this uncanny knack of waking me just before my alarm goes off, which allows the rest of the house to stay sleeping. It’s still pitch-black outside and lashing down with rain. I’m due to meet my running buddy soon.
If it wasn’t for her, there’s not a chance I’d move from the warmth of my bed. But I can’t let her down, so I force open my eyes, read my devotional and pray.
By 6:50am, we’re (very) slowly pounding the quiet, wet streets side by side and all of our worries or excitements come tumbling out. It’s like life coaching on the run and a critical part of my self-care.
Six miles and many insights later (for us it’s much more about the chat; with the running an added healthy bonus), I return rejuvenated and positive.
I meet Harry (my 13-year-old) in the kitchen, slowly breakfasting, listening to Iron Maiden and reading the news. Soon, my 14-year-old Rosie joins us and grabs a quick breakfast. She’s minimised her getting ready process to maximise her sleep, but still sets an alarm.
At 8:40am, Harry and I set out to his 1:1 cricket lesson. Normally he subjects me to some variation of thrash metal in the car, but it’s too early for that, so we opt for an episode of the much-loved Tom Scott, Lateral podcast.
We meet his coach at 9am and they warm up with some fielding drills, followed by bowling and batting practice. We’re a passion-led homeschool, so any opportunities to develop my children’s passions are prioritised above all else.
Harry’s dream is to be a fast-bowling cricketer for England. He plays age-group cricket for the county and, through the winter, has many training sessions and at-home workouts/runs to build strength and speed for the summer games.
Debbie’s Homeschool Day in the Life
Whilst he’s occupied, I take the opportunity to write my morning pages, a practice I picked up after reading The Artist’s Way. (afflink) It’s a 3-page brain dump, which I find hugely therapeutic and spiritual. Today I use it to work through and pray over some personal issues.
10:30am and we’re back home. Rosie has been working on physics since 9am.
In the UK, children usually take exams (known as GCSEs) at 16 years old in a variety of subjects, which are a gateway to further education. We’re planning to do 8-9 subjects, but rather than sitting them in one go, under immense pressure (as in schools), we’ve opted to spread them over several years.
This suits their learning style, allowing them to delve deep into a topic, take an exam and either move on or continue at a higher level.
Between 10:30-12pm, Rosie and I verbally work together on questions to cement the knowledge she’s just learned about thermal energy. We even attempted a practical to investigate how well different metals conduct heat. Neither of us are lovers of experiments. Invariably they go wrong.
We once had to call out an ambulance when I stupidly grabbed hold of a burning hot tripod with both hands (cringing here with embarrassment…), and promptly blacked out with the shock! Homeschooling can be dangerous! Miraculously though, today’s experiment worked as expected.
Harry meanwhile writes up his cricket notes and then focuses on doing a series of Spanish vocabulary Quizlets on his current topic: Social Issues and Environmental Concerns.
At 12pm, I leave Rosie learning the theory for her upcoming LAMDA acting exam (her passion is drama), to cook our lunch. We like to eat our main meal of the day together at lunchtime as we’re often out in the evenings.
Today’s offering – Thai chicken soup – can be turned out in just 30 minutes (my type of cooking!), so by 12:30pm, along with my husband James, we sit, eat and chat.
Time for a quick walk to blow the cobwebs away. It’s a beautiful, cold day and we chat about our recent trip to Cape Town. Travelling is an important part of our homeschool. I believe they learn as much from this as from academic work at home.
You can read about the problems in South Africa, but there is nothing like seeing firsthand the vastness of the townships and witnessing the dire conditions in which thousands of people still live. As we walked, we talked about why, nearly 30 years after the abolishment of apartheid, such disparities persist.
But we reflect on the positive experiences too, like this unforgettably special encounter at an elephant sanctuary, where we got to brush down, feed and walk hand in trunk with these majestic creatures.
Rosie continues to prepare for her upcoming acting exam. She works on fine tuning her three very contrasting monologues. Her portrayal of Lady Macbeth is powerful; Mabel Chiltern from An Ideal Husband, very funny; and Leah from the play DNA heart-wrenching and moving.
At 3pm, she logs onto her Spanish lesson. Although she’s already completed her GCSE, she’s taking this subject further as she loves it so much.
She’s studying the play La Casa de Bernarda Alba, translating it and discussing the key themes with her tutor. She’s due to finish at 4:30pm but she overruns, so they can finish the play, as in two days’ time, we’re due to watch an English version at the National Theatre – super exciting!
Meanwhile, I help Harry with his Spanish grammar, oral preparation, and writing pieces. He finishes at 4pm and I drive him down to his friend’s house for band practice. They’re working on writing a Christian thrash metal song together, with Harry on guitar.
As an introvert, I’m eternally grateful to my friend for hosting this noisy venture!
Rosie takes advantage of a rare free evening to call a friend, and I write this post before collecting Harry. All together again, we each make our own snacky meal and then treat ourselves to dinner in front of the fire and a couple of episodes of Survivor, our current addiction!
By 9:30pm, we’re all exhausted, and head up to bed for a reading wind down! The days are full, but I’m honestly so grateful for this chance to live and learn together.
I find it tricky to write these posts because, as I’m sure you know, there really is no such thing as an average homeschool day.
The above represents a good day, where everything ran smoothly.
On other days, you might find me taking solace in my room for a moment’s break from teenage emotions, or crying with frustration at being stuck in yet another traffic jam, after hours on the road ferrying them to auditions, rehearsals or cricket practice.
This rollercoaster is my reality, but it’s one that I wouldn’t change for the world.
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