Written by Kara E. Fleck
Have you noticed that the more things change the more they stay the same? We’ve been officially homeschooling for ten years now and while some parts of our days look vastly different, there are many things that are the same: routines, books, lessons that are old friends.
Of course, there are also things about our days which homeschooling mom Kara of ten years ago wouldn’t recognize or believe, including that two of her kids would love math and that the high school years would actually be a good deal of fun.
No day is typical (that seems to be something I have in common with most of my fellow Simple Homeschool contributors), but here is a glimpse at a recent day in our homeschool.
I am an early riser, except on Mondays. On Mondays, I let myself sleep in as part of my new plan to take better care of myself and give myself a “treat” each day.
A few hours to myself every morning are how this introvert mom avoids that shot out of a canon feeling each day and that time is spent getting some writing done, setting up the kids’ notebooks and lessons, and then knitting and sipping my coffee as slowly as I can until the first child is awake.
By 9 a.m. my special needs adult sister-in-law, who lives with us, is awake and so are most of the children. My teen will stumble in to the kitchen about thirty minutes later, which is fine because she needs more sleep than any of us.
Moms encouraging children to sleep – yes – that is certainly one of the things that never changes around here.
I help Angela with her glucose monitor, get breakfast going and supervise chores and showers and get the kids ready to start the day.
I turn on the classical music radio station, pour myself one last cup of coffee, and then we settle in to our lessons.
We aim each day to start homeschool by 10 a.m. at the latest, but it doesn’t always work out that way. Today it’s around a quarter after before we get into serious study mode.
I set the middle two kids, my eight and my ten year old, up at the dining room table and my ninth grader takes over the kitchen table. Our home has an open floor plan, so we are still all together and I can float back and forth from room to room easily, but this also gives my oldest daughter her own little high school “island” in the kitchen.
My preschooler hasn’t had much interest in formal lessons lately, but she does like to join in at the table. Today she’s coloring and playing with sticker books.
My second grader and my fourth grader both use Easy Peasy for math, but share the laptop so we alternate: Max starts his math while I work on history (we use Story of the World) with Lucy and then we switch. Today Max also has some map work to do, and while he does that Lucy and I read Little House on the Prairie together and then she works on her sight words.
Meanwhile, my ninth grader, Jillian, is working her way through her vocabulary, rhetoric, and literature studies. We’re using a variety of resources. Check out the full list here on this post from my personal blog.
Jillian doesn’t need a lot of guidance from me with these subjects, so apart from the occasional question, I’m focusing on my second grader and my fourth grader for most of the morning.
By noon my sister-in-law is ready for lunch, so we all take a break to eat together. Lucy, my second grader, finishes up her reading while she is eating.
After lunch, Angela goes upstairs where she watches her soap operas and my five-year-old and I look at a picture book together.
Once lunch is cleaned up, I set Lucy and Amelia up with some of the gems and fossils from the Geo Fest we went to over the weekend. My second grader, like her older brother, has turned into quite the rock hound and we’re building up our own little collection.
Lucy wants a geologist flashlight and hammer like she saw at the festival. I make a mental note to look for those for her Easter basket, perhaps with one of those geode kits?
Max spends some time reading Nature Anatomy, sketchbook and pencils close by, and I spend some one on one time with my ninth grader.
Jillian doesn’t have a biology lesson today, but she is working on pre-algebra and Spanish this afternoon.
In the meantime, my five-year-old has had enough of rocks and requests Peg + Cat on the PBS Kids app on the kindle, so I set her up and then turn my attention back to Jillian, only to have Lucy announce she is also done for the day, so I remind her to finish her chores and then do a quick check in with Max and his reading.
By this time Jillian is working on her math problems, so I find myself with free time to start writing out lessons for tomorrow in the kids’ notebooks.
Around 2 p.m. Lucy asks if we can go for a walk. Everyone stops and looks at me in anticipation. I should probably say no and let us finish up our lessons, but it is an unseasonably nice February day and the truth is that I would like to be outside as much as they would.
What can I say? I’m a pushover for sunshine and blue skies.
We spend hours at the park until I realize we’ve got to hustle if we’re going to make it to my youngest daughter’s Taekwondo class.
Full disclosure: there’s a moment of tension when one Pokemon Go! playing child, making me good on my promise they could play on the way home, oblivious to my panic at the late time, doesn’t pick up the pace while another child wants to run the whole way. We compromise by letting the runner sprint up a block ahead of us at a time and then turn around and run back to us while I prod the Pokemon player along.
As we loop our way homeward, not for the first time am I thinking about how motherhood is like herding cats.
We burst in the front door, my five year old tossing off shoes, socks, and clothing on her way up the stairs to quickly change while I raid the kitchen for snacks and Lucy fills water bottles. My husband arrives home from work to this hustle and bustle and then, my hero, takes Amelia to her practice.
I clean up the homeschool books and papers we left on the tables and finish writing in the kids’ assignments for tomorrow while Lucy plays with sidewalk chalk outside and Max and Jillian are both “plugged in” – he with Minecraft and she is watching YouTube.
Those of us at home make dinner and set the table and then my husband and Amelia come home and we eat. Dinner is late, but we are all together, so I’m happy.
I hate to admit it, but with lessons and clubs and the babysitting I do several nights a week, these family dinners don’t happen as often as they used to. I cherish it when they do.
During dinner my husband has made a habit of talking to each child about what they learned that day. Usually my son monopolizes this with detailed descriptions of what he read in Harry Potter, but it is one of my favorite things, getting to listen in to see what they highlight from our days.
After dinner we have fallen into the habit of watching Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy together. This is also a time for card games, puzzles, and my oldest daughter has a cooperative game she plays online with a few friends. This is another time of day I’m thankful for our open floor plan, which means we’re all together, even if we aren’t all doing the same thing.
Angela sorts her medicine at the kitchen table and Christopher helps her and calls in any medicine she needs refilled. He gives her her insulin shot and she heads upstairs. She’s been in a good mood today, which has been sort of rare lately. We love her dearly, but her mood swings can be tough on all of us.
Come to think of it, maybe it isn’t such a bad thing I gave in to a park day before lessons were finished today. Goodness knows we all needed it!
By 9 p.m. I’m yawning, so I take the littlest girls upstairs to get ready for bed and my husband hangs out with the oldest two. Angela is in her room watching television.
I told myself I would do some writing this evening, but that isn’t going to happen. Maybe tomorrow?
Instead, I fall asleep reading a mystery in the girls’ bunk bed. I’ll wake up with a sore shoulder around 2 am and hobble down the hallway to my own bed for a few more hours of sleep before getting up to do the whole thing again tomorrow.
Have you been homeschooling for a while? What’s changed? What’s stayed the same?
How the days have changed:
- 2016: Kara’s homeschool day in the life (with a 4-, 7-, 9- & 14-year-old )
- 2013: Kara’s day in the life (with an 18 month, 4, 6, and 11 year old)