Written by Kara Anderson.
It’s a funny time of year for me to share with you a day in our homeschool life, because I feel a breeze of change this season — it always seems like the holidays provide us with enough of a full stop that we can’t help but begin again a bit differently.
And so, I’m finding it a challenge to decide what to share – do I tell you about the last few weeks before our family took some time off to celebrate Christmas? Or do I tell you about our plans for the winter?
Maybe a little of both?
Or perhaps even better, I should tell you about Dec. 22, the day that “officially” began our Christmas Break — the day my daughter came up to me, gently tapped me on the shoulder, and whispered, “Mama, when we start school again, I want more homework.”
“Homework” in my 7-year-old’s world is anything she does on her own, and that I can somehow approve or put a sticker on. She often assigns herself homework: “I’m doing a report on animals.”
She LOVES workbooks! (My son loves encyclopedias. Seriously! Yeah homeschool!)
She has also requested that we begin the new year with an Arctic Unit Study, so things may look a little different in the weeks to come!
We have dabbled in a lot of ways of learning over the years – I just try to stay open. At the very beginning of this year, we decided to focus mainly on good books.
Looking back, our days have looked like this:
8 a.m. We would begin our day together (something I’d love to work on – I aspire to be an “early-morning-mom.”) and we’d eat breakfast.
I love breakfast – it is a slow and leisurely meal in our house, served with lots of tea and sometimes a video. During December, we watched the first season of Word Up, and we’d giggle together as we munched toast and mixed yogurt.
8:45 a.m. We actually get ready for the day after breakfast, (which adds to the leisurely feeling, I think, so perhaps I’ll keep sleeping in …)
Two summers ago, I created checklists for the kids, and now I can say to them (at 7 and 10), “Do your checklist,” and they know that means clothes and hair and teeth and bed.
9:30 a.m. I get ready then too, and start my chore routine*. The kids do chores too – that was our “project” this past summer. (I tend to pick a life skills thing to focus on each summer.)
We have since abandoned chore sticks for a looser approach. Usually one child takes out recycling, one feeds pets, one wipes down the table, one empties the dishwasher.
The kids often alternate math during chore time. We invested in Teaching Textbooks this year, and it has been such a wonderful choice for our family. I can’t say enough good things about it, including that it gives me a few extra minutes each day to complete my chore circuit.
(*A note about “chores”: I am a big believer in keeping an imperfect, happily lived-in home. BUT, I have to say, having things relatively picked up-ish and uncluttered helps me.
It settles my brain a bit. So it isn’t my priority, even though I do it early. My priority is to get this joint looking calm enough that I can fully focus on my kids.)
10:30 a.m. Following math, we meet at the table to work together.
Part of what we do each day differs. Sometimes I ask the kids to each choose a few things they want us to work on. Sometimes I choose based on my own feelings that day – knowing that reading aloud is so calming to me, for instance, or that it’s a perfect day for a little kitchen science.
For our “core” work right now (same most days), we read a chapter from D’Aulaire’s Book of Greek Myths, and then do a problem from our Bedtime Math book. We follow that up with a Latin lesson and a little Shakespeare.
(We are loving doing Shakespeare together this year, and are excited about an upcoming performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream in our community.)
11:45 a.m. We’ll take a little break, get a snack or some tea, and come back together for reading aloud. We are working our way through a list of books, and enjoying our read-aloud time a lot this year – the kids are at great ages to enjoy a variety of books.
12:30 p.m. This usually brings us to lunchtime, and often, the kids will head outside for a bit while I make lunch. (When we had snow on the ground, they were heading out in the mornings and late afternoons too – it just depends on the weather right now, but I miss the snowy mornings, when I would stand outside and just breathe for a minute. Ahhh.)
1:30 p.m. After lunch, I begin my work time – 1 to 2 hours per day. One day a week, our baby-sitter comes and I have a longer stretch to work. (I also work a longer stretch on one weekend day.)
I have tried unsuccessfully for years to have my work time coincide with a “Quiet Time” for the kids, and have finally given up entirely.
My work is frequently accompanied by my son practicing guitar, and honestly, I have found that it doesn’t bother me at all. (All those years working in a busy newsroom, I think.)
The kids can do whatever they choose during this time. They often read, listen to audiobooks, knit, draw, do other crafts, write letters or in their journals, build with LEGOs or practice instruments.
They also can take turns on our Kindle. We have several educational apps like Duolingo and Stack the States.
3 p.m. In the afternoons, we often have library programs or music lessons. When the weather is warmer, we plan big adventures, but we tend to stay a little closer to home this time of year. Still, there are errands and shopping and all those sorts of things.
On days we are home in the afternoons we often bake, do art projects or play games.
We were part of a co-op until recently, but since it dissolved, we’ve been getting together once a week with three other families, and that has been really perfect. The kids often have friends over during the week too!
5 p.m. Late in the afternoon, the kids will alternate showers while I peek at my email and check over my calendar for the next day. I’ll finish some work.
Sometimes, on perfect winter afternoons, I’ll have a chance to listen to a bit of a podcast, do some yoga, read a little or knit before I make dinner – my own version of Quiet Time, because it turns out I’m the one who actually likes it! (Otherwise, I save that for after 9 p.m.!).
7 p.m. We’ll eat a late-ish dinner when my husband gets home, and read together before bed. One of my favorite things about winter is cuddling up with Sleepytime Tea and cinnamon toast, and reading a good book with my kids.
It might be one of the very best parts of a very happy homeschool life.
What are your very favorite parts of your homeschool life?
How the days have changed: