When we first began homeschooling eight years ago, the idea of continuing to do so in the teen years freaked me out!
But it turns out that as littles become bigs, mamas still have a hunch what those growing bodies and minds need most–just like we did when they were babes. It isn’t quite so scary after all.
It will help you understand our day if you know a bit about these babes of mine:
- Trishna (13), joined our family in 2007 via adoption at the age of four from India; she has a visual impairment and developmental delays
- Jonathan (12), joined our family in 2004 as our biological son
- Elijah (11), joined our family in 2005 via adoption at the age of six months from Liberia after nearly dying from malaria; he has developmental delays and is still working on his reading fluency
Here’s what our homeschool day looked like on Monday, February 13, 2017:
I turn the light on around six o’clock most weekdays, providing I’ve slept well. Steve and I are reading our way through the One Year Bible on Kindle. (I love this version with portions of the OT, NT, Psalms, & Proverbs in each reading!) Afterwards I read from a favorite devotional and prayer book.
Around 6:30 am I usually begin whatever the most important writing work is for that day. Lately that’s been our Heal the World Book Club–and it’s the perfect time to sign up for March; we just announced our new book titles!
What are the kids doing now? Jonathan, my early riser, is likely downstairs reading. Trishna and Elijah like to sleep later, but everyone’s typically awake by 8am.
My boys do a spelling or handwriting/reading exercise after waking; it takes less than five minutes. I peek at this when they’re done, then prep my Facebook page for the day so I can go offline.
Around 8 o’clock, I head for the shower. (I do have an alarm set on my iPhone to remind me, so I don’t get lost in social media!) By 8:30, I’m usually ready to begin our day together.
Today Steve is home–having returned yesterday from a Love146 work trip. But I’ve learned it works best if we keep our routine going while also being flexible so the kids can spend time with Daddy.
During this time, one child prepares cereal for breakfast while another empties the dishwasher.
Then we’re ready to sit down for “Breakfast School,” which on this Monday consisted of:
- Reading our Family Manifesto
- Bedtime Math
- Crash Course US History
- Reading the Bible/a devotional/praying for someone from our prayer bowl (something I talk about in Give Your Child the World)
- Here we move into the living room and get cozy for our current read-aloud, this upcoming title for the Heal the World Book Club.
By 10:30 it’s time for Morning Chores. Each child has an assigned area. Today that means:
- T – Vacuums the downstairs carpet and folds the laundry
- J – Cleans the kitchen sink. Usually he makes dinner on a Monday, but since our faithful bread machine died yesterday I ask him to make bread for lunch instead
- E – Cleans the upstairs toilet, vacuums and mops the bathroom floor
- Me – I tidy up, then wash our sap buckets–we’re tapping our trees today!
After I’ve checked everyone’s cleaning they finish getting ready for their day, then gather supplies for their independent work, which typically begins by 11:15 am.
Today’s independent time includes:
- T – Creative writing
- J – Finishes his bread making, talks stocks & business ideas with Steve
- E – Listening to his morning audio book, An Acceptable Time (Audible has been a game changer for this boy over the past few months!)
- Me – Answering emails/minor blog work
Around 12:15 I wrap up what I’m doing and prep lunch. The bread smells amazing! I call everyone to get their Drop Everything and Read books and come to the table.
We settle around the table to eat, while reading independently for 20-30 minutes. Here are today’s titles:
- T – No Ordinary Sound
- J – By the Great Horn Spoon
- E – White Fang (on audio for 95 cents here!)
- Me – Jasper and the Riddle of Riley’s Mine (we’re all taking turns with this exciting new release!)
About 1pm we transition into the next part of our day. It’s something new we’re trying, which I call “Mentoring Hours.”
I explained to the kids that it’s like Office Hours in college–your professor is available and ready to help when you ask. The idea is that the kids can come to me if/when they need it, but if they are busily engaged and don’t need help they can have more uninterrupted time to learn and work.
Here’s what this time looks like today:
Elijah disappears, back upstairs after getting his afternoon audio book (The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, 99 cents here) set up. Trishna and I have a quick mentoring meeting, where we look over her most recent homeschool compass and discuss what she wants to work on this week.
She heads upstairs to get started; later I’ll remind her when my iPhone alarm goes off, her signal to fill out the daily pages in her Winter Homeschooling Journal.
Jonathan and Steve have gone outside to tap the trees. When J returns, he listens to his weather radio then he asks if we can research natural tick spray recipes together (one of his business ideas!). We copy and paste some notes as we go along, then print them out.
When nobody needs me, I go online and request library books for each child, based on their current interests. I also order the next level of Teaching Textbooks Math for Trishna, who completed one last week.
The kids can also choose to work on “skills learning” if they’d like (read about that in my post from two years ago), and today all three do. Trishna practices her cursive, Jonathan does math on Khan Academy, and Elijah requests help to complete his reading workbook and do his Type to Read and Spell lesson.
Usually around 3pm the kids get bundled up to play outside, but today because of a high wind warning we decide to watch an episode of Little House on the Prairie instead. This one is an intense episode about racism; Elijah and I have a serious chat after it ends.
Then everyone grabs a snack and begins their afternoon, which typically includes showers, hanging out, reading, working on projects, playing, art/music, and some quiet for me.
I often use this time to take a short nap, do Duolingo Spanish, write in my journal, chat with Steve and/or kids, take a walk, read, or hop online for a bit more work.
We usually have dinner around 6:30, and take turns cleaning up afterwards. Today Steve and I were noticing that he hasn’t had much time with Trishna since being out of town, so they head upstairs to watch a documentary together.
The boys and I hang out downstairs, and end up revisiting our favorite parts of this classic movie (free on Amazon Prime), before getting everyone organized for bed. And that’s a wrap!
A Change in Our Weekly Rhythm
Last spring before my book came out, Steve and I realized we needed some extra support to enable us to keep doing our work with family, this blog, and Love146 well.
God led us to Jennifer, who now comes twice a week for a total of 10 hours, and follows our homeschool rhythm with the kids. Plus as a fluent Spanish speaker, she’s teaching the kids a language too!
SO grateful for her help, which has provided some much-needed margin for all of us during this season.
Also once a week the boys go to the nature/wilderness homeschool program we’ve been a part of for two years now. Trishna’s taking a break until spring, when all three kids will be involved again.
And there you have it–what’s currently working for us. I could change it all next week, or we could be doing the same thing in two years, who knows?!
But I love that homeschooling gives us the freedom to do either–responding to the needs we have each and every day, in both good times and bad.
I wouldn’t want it any other way.
How the days have changed:
- 2011: My homeschool day in the life with a 5, 6, & 7-year-old
- 2012: My homeschool day in the life with a 6, 7, & 8-year-old
- 2013: My homeschool day in the life with a 7, 8, & 9-year-old
- 2014: My homeschool day in the life with a 8, 9, & 10-year-old
- 2015: My homeschool day in the life with a 9, 10, & 11-year-old
- 2016: My homeschool day in the life with a 10, 11, & 12-year-old
Do you have any questions about our days? Ask away and I’ll do my best to answer!
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