Written by Kari Patterson
Today is a rare occasion: It’s been a mostly Plan A day (which is why I’m curled up under a blanket with time to write this post!).
Our days rarely go exactly as planned, right? We know this. Perhaps the most crucial character trait for any homeschooling parent is the ability to adjust, reconfigure, and creatively course-correct again and again and again (and again!).
I’ll just tell you straight up–tossing a toddler into the mix of our life has thrown me for a major loop.
The baby-stage was mostly a breeze, but since we dropped the morning nap and he transitioned from snuggly baby to busy-never-sitting-still-crawling-onto-the-counter-emptying-every-cupboard-playing-in-the-toilet-every-time-I-turn-around-needing-constant-training-toddler I have had a hard time figuring out how to order our day effectively. (Advice welcomed!)
So, since “Plan A” days became so rare, I went ahead and posted “Plan B” in our house, just so we all knew what to do.
So far that’s the one thing that’s working well. My children are very kind and they’re alive. Yes!
But even though “Plan A” doesn’t happen exactly, for me it’s still immensely helpful to have a rough outline of where we’re going each day.
It isn’t about following it exactly, but it does give us a guide.
Honestly, I still feel pretty scattered.
Juggling a teen and a tween and a toddler along and my writing and speaking commitments, with what feels like loads of food prep (we love healthy food), and wanting to love and serve my husband and my parents and the precious people around me in our various spheres, I feel like I’m rarely giving anyone the attention they deserve.
But. God is so gracious, He gives us new mercies each morning, and I wouldn’t trade the details of my life for anything in the world. They go something like this…
5:30 Feed my soul
I’m up early because this intensely introverted mama needs this like nobody’s business. I drink my water, read through the Bible each year, and relate with God through prayer. My husband Jeff is usually up and gone at least an hour before I wake up, he’s a very early riser!
7:00 The House Awakens
Buddy (our toddler, named Justice) gets up at 7, and I nurse him before we begin the day. Heidi (11 next week) arises soon-after and we begin making breakfast. I drink my Suja and Heidi cares for her cat. Eventually Dutch (13), shuffles out groggily, but usually retreats back to his bed for a bit.
8:00-12:00 Chores & Lessons
A concept that has helped me mentally is the idea of dividing my day into 4 rough chunks, and simply determining the priority (or focus) of that chunk, rather than stressing too much about covering certain curricula.
This part of the day, while Justice is awake, the priority is teaching and training: Training Justice and teaching the big kids as we work together.
- We do chores together: they have a few daily duties and a “day’s chore” for each day of the week.
- They do their independent studies: Life of Fred Math (plus help from Khan Academy videos where needed), Typing Club, plus any reading and writing they’re working on, and for Dutch: US History, Earth Science, and the study of World Religions. This year Dutch is doing a 1 day a week of classes for homeschool teens, so he does his homework for those classes on his own during this time.
- I do food prep for the day, plus 1 component of my House Blessing, and try to squeeze in 10 minutes on the week’s Zone.
- Around 11:30 we make and eat lunch together: My current favorite is baby greens with carrot, beet, canned salmon, and manchego cheese, followed by dark chocolate. Yum!
12:00-3:00 Quiet creativity
During Justice’s nap we take advantage of the chance to work quietly at our books and computers without (much) interruption.
We do our language arts together (we use Total Language Plus and do some aspects together, some separate. Heidi’s currently doing Swiss Family Robinson and Dutch just finished Treasure Island so he’s joining us for now).
Then we go our separate ways and continue learning or creating as we want.
Both kids are enthusiastic story-writers so they’re usually weaving some tale on the computer, and most recently they’ve been passionate about creating new card-games or board-games, so I often find them printing off cards, or pilfering various tokens from other games for their new creations.
I use this time to scratch out a few words here and there, work on upcoming speaking notes, and tend to various administrative tasks online. The priority for this time creativity.
3:00-5:00 Visit, play outside, go to activities, time with Daddy, or read-aloud
Every day is different in this department. Dutch has school on Mondays, Tuesdays we try to visit our elderly neighbor and Heidi has theater classes, Wednesdays and Fridays Jeff comes home early so I can study or prep for speaking, Thursdays we visit my parents.
The priority for this time is relationships, for the kids with us, or for us with my parents, our neighbors, friends, etc.
5:00-9:00 Family and evening activities
We have different activities each evening. Every other Monday is a dinner and prayer gathering with 5-6 other families, the alternate Monday is a Boy’s Bible study hosted by Jeff at our house and a Girls’ Bible study Heidi attends elsewhere.
Tuesdays Heidi has theater, Wednesdays I have women’s Bible study, Thursdays we have dinner with my parents, and weekends always vary. During play-season Heidi has Friday and Saturday play rehearsals.
The priority for this time is Daddy.
He takes the lead with the kids during this time which they love. This affords me the mental break that I’m SO ready for at this point!
Justice goes to bed at 7:15 so we big people get time together after he goes to bed. Favorite evening activities include Settlers of Catan (afflinks) or a readaloud (we’re re-reading The Wingfeather Saga right now).
For now, Heidi’s work-load is significantly less than Dutch’s. Most days her work is just math, reading and writing (interest-led), a little spelling or grammar, and typing. She & I do a civics curriculum together occasionally, but not every day, and she enjoys following along with Dutch’s science work, just for fun.
Dutch has those topics plus homework from his formal classes–Earth Science, US History, and World Religions & the Bible. Developmentally, this works out well for them.
Heidi is still in the Love of Learning phase, and Dutch is Transitioning to Scholar. It’s fun to watch how they grow through the educational stages!
It is now 2:56pm, so I’m signing off and ready to go get my busy boy from his nap. Thanks so much for joining us on this rare Plan A day.
Update: the day after this we woke to no water in our house. Needless to say that was a Plan B day! I’m sure you have a mix of both as well.
How do you navigate the Plan B aspect of homeschooling? Any tips or ideas that have helped you over the years? Thanks for sharing!
My, how the days have changed:
- 2019: Kari’s homeschool day in the life (with a 5-month, 9- and 12-year old)
- 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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