Written by Kara S. Anderson
When I first began homeschooling, no one told me that February was going to make me feel like nothing was working.
It actually took years until I learned about the “February Slump,” wherein everything feels dark and cold, and you start to wonder if your kids wouldn’t be better off just working in a coal mine.
Last year, we went to Florida in February. I recommend that – something about bringing home a suitcase full of sand makes the next 25 days so much easier.
This year, I woke up one day with a weird pain in my jaw that made it hard for me to do basic things like talk and chew. The not-talking I could handle, but the not-chewing? THAT made me hard to be around.
And so, we muddled through for a few weeks until a nice man in a mask gave me a root canal. I never thought I would be so grateful for anything as I was for having my roots canaled (or whatever it is they do in there – I don’t want to think about it.)
It turns out, not being able to homeschool the “regular way” led us to some new resources and ideas, and the whole thing turned out to be a blessing.
So today, I share with you a day when we took homeschooling off-road; a day when we had to get a little creative.
You know what? It worked out just fine!
One quick note: This brief experience made me remember this podcast episode with Melissa Wiley and Pam Barnhill where Melissa talks about “tidal schooling” and what that looks like for her family.
It reminded me to see this difficult few weeks as a season, and to not add guilt to the mix!
I wake (later than I wanted to) and head downstairs to make tea and feed the cats. I see my husband has pulled out the slowcooker and put it on a prominent spot on the counter – he also prepped ingredients for pot roast and put them in the fridge! (Yeah, guy I married!)
I sit down to work for a few minutes – I work about 20 to 24 hours per week from home, as a virtual assistant, podcast manager, blogger and podcaster.
This morning I’m checking in with my bosses and my podcast co-host, and doing a bit of writing for The Homeschool Sisters site.
My daughter is the first to wake up – she comes in groggy, but already has big plans for the day. She is loving this Klutz kit and her friend knows it. So she gave her more clay and jewelry making pieces for her birthday!
She works on her passion for a while; and I start breakfast.
Eventually my son joins us too, and eats, and then the two alternate showers while I get breakfast cleaned up and get ready for the day.
When my daughter is ready, we start the pot roast and a load of laundry together.
Then, we begin math.
My son has been doing Life of Fred math which has been really perfect for this season. The lessons are short, so I don’t have to talk too much, and the kids really like Fred. (My daughter listens in!)
My daughter is using Smartick, an online math program that we recently learned about. It’s just 15 minutes per day, and kids get to spend earned “ticks,” in a virtual world, so she asks to do math every day.
Normally, we would do more of our Morning Time work, but instead I declare independent study time until our virtual field trip starts.
My son is working his way through this series of books and he absolutely loves them. Each chapter has a self quiz, but I know he is learning a ton when he brings up a fact in conversation later in the day. It’s really sticking!
My daughter is working on her “book club” book. Each of the kids is reading a book, and I am reading it with them. (They have hard copies, and I download an often cheaper copy on my Kindle).
This is my temporary solution to not being able to read aloud much, and it’s been really fun. My daughter is reading Green Glass House, and my son is reading Gregor the Overlander.
There’s lots to talk about as we read each chapter, but we also have a plan that when we finish the books – each kid gets a one-on-on book club date with mom – we’re going to go out for hot chocolate to discuss. It’s been such a good solution to this temporary set-back that I kind of want to keep it!
At noon I grab the kids and we get everything set up for our virtual field trip through FieldTripZoom. We signed up for this service so we could watch more and I could talk a bit less, but again – this resource is a keeper!
Today, we head to an aquarium in New Hampshire and learn about “Life Between the Tides.” As land-locked Midwesterners, this field trip is especially fascinating for all of us – we see a sea star eat, and a lobster molt, and even get to ask the presenters our questions!
As the class wraps up, I start thinking about lunch and pull out some easy stuff from the fridge. The kids help heat up leftovers, and we listen to our current audio book – Tom Sawyer read by Nick Offerman. (FYI: You can get it for just 99 cents by “adding Audible narration” here!)
It is SO GOOD, you guys. It makes me grateful.
We eat and listen and work on the 1,000-piece Nancy Drew puzzle my daughter got for her birthday.
By the time we get lunch cleaned up, it’s Introvert Hour (the new name for Quiet Time here) – reading time for the kids and work time for me.
I also remind them to pack their bags (I had an appointment that ultimately diagnosed my goofy tooth! Hooray!)
It isn’t long until we have to pack up – I peek at the slow cooker and notice it doesn’t look too appetizing in there, but I’m a vegetarian, so it’s hard to judge.
We listen to more Tom Sawyer on the way to the dentist’s office, and the kids bring their book club books and other learning stuff with them (including our iPad which has learning apps like Khan Academy, Stack the States, 4 Pics, One Word and Curiosity Stream).
My daughter is also doing a class through iTunes U on our iPad – this is new to us, but so far, so good.
The kids are such good sports about my appointment, and have been so supportive in general, I decide to surprise them with ice cream on the way home.
This turns out to be a very good decision, because as we enter the house around 5 p.m., something is off.
That thing is the slowcooker.
I never plugged it in.
And so, my husband arrives home to a bacteria meat bath, and we all debate the merits/risks of cooking it another way.
We decide on a “creative” dinner, eat, and then begin prep for co-op the next day.
Again, co-op is one of the things I am so grateful for right now – the kids are learning so much from Philosophy and Body Systems and about world cultures … it feels like everything is going to be just fine.
After getting lunches and bags packed, we work on our giant puzzle a bit more surrounded by twinkle lights and candles; and then we tuck in with our books.
It isn’t perfect, but frankly it never is, and this time has made me grateful for the flexibility of homeschooling, and all of the great resources out there.
It all reminds me that there are TONS of ways to homeschool, and it’s going to be okay.
Have you ever had to take a break from the way you usually homeschool? What are your go-to resources when you’re not feeling 100 percent?
How the days have changed:
- 2016: Kara’s homeschool day in the life (with a 8- & 11-year-old)
- 2015: Kara’s homeschool day in the life (with a 7- & 10-year-old)
- 2014: Kara’s homeschool day in the life (with a 6- and 9-year-old
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