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Written by Kara Anderson.
A few months ago, someone asked me if my kids ever don’t want to do school.
I smiled, because that was the type of question I wondered about early on, when I didn’t really know any homeschoolers.
I kind of knew one, and she was sort of mean. I was scared to ask her anything, because one time another mom asked her if her son could have the blue cup and she snapped: “We don’t do that here.” I knew then that the best course of action was just to run for my life.
So instead of asking her my homeschooling questions I took to the Internet, which was a huge mistake. Because the Internet has everything on it and that can be a bit overwhelming.
You read the blogs – doesn’t it feel sometimes like everyone else has it figured out?
I want to tell you that I don’t. There are definitely days when my kids just don’t want to do school.
There are resources we have tried that people swear by, and one or all of us hates it.
There are things other mamas do that frankly look like a lot of work, so I pin those things and never look at them again.
But every morning, I get up, I make my tea, and I start anyway. Here’s what that looks like on an average, imperfect day:
I wake up in my warm bed and grab a sweater and my slippers and my glasses and creep downstairs. The cat is there. He literally stalks me like a lion until I feed him. I make tea.
P.S. My stove looks disgusting. It got overlooked last night, and there are food splatters everywhere and I can’t handle it. So I wipe down the stove, and it’s like if you give a mouse a cookie — I suddenly want to spend the day cleaning my house.
But no. Homeschool!!
I look at my calendar. Having a calendar is one of the things that keeps me from losing my mind.
I either walk the dog if the weather is okay, or I jump on the computer to do a few work tasks.
(I work 20-24 hours a week. Exactly. I have figured out that any more than 24 hours and no one has clean underwear or towels and we eat too much pizza.)
My husband works full-time away from home, but is doing a weekend presidential unit study with the kids.
A child emerges. I shut down my computer and we chat about the day ahead. My son, 11, identifies strongly as an unschooler, which means he likes to feel like he is in large part responsible for his education. My daughter, 8, prefers a little more structure. I prefer doing as much as we can together, and lots of reading for everyone.
I listened to a Periscope with the amazing Julie Bogart about how a lot of kids need transition time in the mornings, so I’ve been trying to give my kids a half-hour to wake up. I spend that time getting dressed and ready.
Then I start breakfast. I listen to a podcast, audiobook, or Periscope. The kids get dressed, brush teeth and hair and help with the pets.
At breakfast we chat some more about the day ahead. Then we clean up breakfast and start school.
Last year I learned more about Morning Time, and it has revolutionized the way we do things. I pull out our basket of books and we hop through several subjects together. It’s mostly me reading and the three of us chatting. The kids will build with LEGOs or make perler bead creations, or play with clay.
I’ll read from our current read-aloud. We’ll have some tea.
After morning time we do subjects that require our notebooks. Each of my kids (and me too!) have a large, unlined notebook where we keep our work. It’s nothing fancy, but it keeps us from having a lot of paper floating around. The notebooks live in our homeschool crate, so I always know where they are.
Right now we do Life of Fred for math and we’re working through Draw Europe. They can also draw in these notebooks during our morning time. These aren’t books to show relatives or the state – these are just for us.
We wrap up school – the kids disappear. I start thinking about lunch. I hate lunch.
Following lunch, we have reading time. This used to be Quiet Time, and now it is just Mom Needs a Deep Breath time. Sometimes I’ll set a timer. Often, they know it’s time to find me when they hear the kettle whistle.
Following reading time, sometimes we’ll do a project. Sometimes we’ll play a game. Sometimes we’ll have cocoa. Usually we’ll eat a baked good. It’s winter.
I start my concentrated work time and open time for the kids to pursue their current loves. Today, we have a library program at 4, so we’ll work until 3:30 or so and then I’ll bring my work with me to the library. The kids go sledding and then work on animation projects.
3:30 – We look for coats, shoes, and library books and head to the library.
When we get there, the kids do their programs and I have an hour to work.
Following the library program, we head home with two bags of books, and that’s all it takes for the kids to stay busy until dinner. I do a short yoga practice.
I start dinner. My husband gets home. The kids start our evening clean-up which will continue after dinner. Nothing huge – just resetting the house, mostly clearing off the table from the day.
I’m trying not to do lots of “chores” every day right now – it feels like too much, so we set aside a weekend day for that. The other weekend day I work 6-8 hours.
Eventually we start settling in for the night. This takes forever now, because my kids are older. So often I take a shower and I put myself to bed around 9 with a book, some tea, my essential oils, and 11 pillows.
The kids pop in and out. My husband and I might watch TV and fold laundry.
It sounds simple, really – writing it all out like this.
We have days when it feels much harder, and we have to stop everything and get doughnuts or ice cream and reset. We have a crazy dog. We have meetings and see friends and go to the Y. Some weeks I work more or less.
But I’m starting my 8th year of homeschooling now, so it is easier than when I was starting out and didn’t know who to talk to or what to do …
I’ve found my homeschool people, both locally and online.
I’ve gotten okay with not doing it all, and figuring out how to combine what works for the kids with what works for me.
Mostly, I’ve decided that we don’t have to have it all figured out, we just have to bring the love.
Because it’s enough, and then we are too.
Have you found what feels like “enough” in your homeschool? How do you feel about not “doing it all?”
How the days have changed:
- 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)