Written by Kari Patterson of Sacred Mundane
I never dreamed I’d have prenatal and orthodontist appointments back-to-back, but sure enough, we have a decade-long gap between kids now, and I find myself navigating new terrain on every front, including homeschooling.
Teaching language arts with a latched-on breastfeeding baby is my new norm, and while it calls for creativity, I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
So, without further ado (and because for the moment my bigs are exploring the woods and baby is napping!), here is our current day-in-the-life:
The big kids do their own Bible reading, breakfast and basic chores in the morning while I get baby fed and have my own Bible time, then around 8:30am I’m out the door for my morning walk.
This is a sacred 45-minutes for me of fresh air, exercise, prayer, and time to muse.
By 9:30am I’m back in the house where the bigs should (smile) be at work on their independent lessons. Included in this is math and reading assignments of historical, classic, and biographical books.
I don’t do page requirements; I just want them to dive in, then usually interest keeps them continuing on. Dutch just finished 7 Men and today started Banner in the Sky, Heidi is just finishing The Westing Game. I rely heavily on the book lists from Exodus Books, our local homeschool bookstore.
While they finish their independent studies, I shower, eat breakfast, and get baby Justice down for his first nap. Then around 10:30 or 11am (flexibility is the name of the game around here!), we sit down at the table together.
We say our family’s Pledge of Allegiance and Educational Prayer, then do a quick round of drills (no more than 5 minutes) reviewing multiplication tables (“Dutch, eights! Go!”) or other material we memorize (“Heidi, group of lines in a poem is called?”). Then we dive into our Language Arts lessons.
We use Total Language Plus and cover 4 books each year together. I enjoy TLP because it uses classic literature to teach spelling, grammar, reading comprehension, and writing. And often I just use it to springboard into other studies, as I see interest in their eyes.
For example, Heidi loves to write lengthy reports and stories; Dutch prefers to study and share things orally. As long as they do each with excellence, I give them freedom to communicate their own way. Some days include focused spelling practice, dictation, discussion, gathering information for a report, or, when we read My Side of the Mountain, heading out into the woods to build a shelter.
Science and history have taken a backseat this year in terms of formal study, mostly because both kids are more than capable of exploring, reading, and learning on their own, and also because I don’t have as much free time to guide lessons.
So I simply seek to “spread the feast,” as Charlotte Mason would say, and keep the coffee table freshly-stocked with good books and encourage the kids to partake.
We are usually finished with formal studies by 1pm. This gives the kids the whole afternoon for free reading, exploring, playing outside, etc. Both kids are very into what they call “research” right now–that is, using my computer to look up, read, and write reports about whatever strikes their interest.
Heidi writes in narrative form while Dutch prefers encyclopedic style with pictures and bullet-points. Again, either is fine with me–the only challenge is I rarely have access to my own computer!
Also during the afternoon I have the freedom to pursue my own learning. This includes reading, of course, but also a few new habits.
It is impossible to overstate how much I love this! I also picked up vintage embroidery, thanks to my mother-in-law, and this has become a restful habit as well.
Our evenings are fairly full. Every other Monday night we host a dinner/prayer group through our church, Tuesdays and Thursdays Heidi has dance and acting classes, Wednesday night I have Bible study, and Friday and Sunday nights we spend with my parents.
But we all enjoy these various activities, and since our days are quieter, it all balances out well. During Heidi’s classes, Dutch either has “book club” with another homeschool boy or one-on-one time with Dad.
Overall, the only real change in our year this year is a mindset that I must be the most passionate learner, and that I won’t force them to read or study something I wouldn’t be willing to read or study myself.
In other words, if a book is so boring I don’t want to read it, I won’t make them.
With that, I also want to model perseverance in learning something new. My kids have witnessed me spending countless hours slowly learning guitar chords, they watched my fingertips painfully scabbing over, they watched me poring over YouTube tutorials.
And I’ve seen them also go to great lengths to learn about what most interests them. I’ve seen them grow as they combine passion with discipline, in the noble endeavor of gaining new skills and new knowledge.
Oh, and they can both change diapers now too. Hooray!
My, how the days have changed:
- 2018: Kari’s homeschool day in the life (with a 9-and 11-year-old)
- 2017: Kari’s homeschool day in the life (with a 7- and 10-year-old)
- 2016: Kari’s homeschool day in the life (with a 7- and 9-year-old)
- 2015: Kari’s homeschool day in the life (with a 5- & 8-year-old)
- 2014: Kari’s homeschool day in the life (with a 4- & 7-year-old)
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