Written by Sarah Mackenzie of Amongst Lovely Things.
Three school-age kids, three toddlers. Sometimes I wonder if my blog’s name should actually be Amongst LIVELY Things. 🙂
Let me give you a little background on us.
We’re classical homeschoolers in the CiRCE sense- meaning that we believe true education is the cultivation of wisdom and virtue.
Of course, those first books read at the beginning of a homeschooling journey play a major role in a homeschooling mom’s understanding of education and the learning process, and so both Charlotte Mason and unschooling play parts in our homeschool, as well. Within the context of real life, it works.
Sometimes it looks like school and sometimes it looks like life. Did I mention that we have three toddlers? Yes, that.
Every single component of our homeschool- from curriculum choices to the fleshing out of a daily schedule- is impacted by the presence of little people who need to love on mama and generally cause a ruckus around the house.
For my older kids, work times are punctuated by periods of being on toddler-duty, taking the little ones outdoors to blow bubbles, or making play dough critters to keep the 2-year-old happy.
Flexibility is key here- when I get frustrated by the daily juggle of bigs and littles (and I do), I have to remind myself: you are where you are, and God meets you right there.
I’m not sure any two days really look all that alike, but the general flow is this:
5:00 – I’m up. Over the past year, I have trained myself to become a morning person. This is the only time I’m almost (though not quite) guaranteed some quiet time to pray, write, and work. I know better than to squander these precious hours, so I drink about a gallon of coffee and get to it.
7:00 – The babies wake up around 7. I feed them breakfast and begin the ritual chasing of the toddlers while getting a handle on the general plan for the day.
8:00 – I wake up big kids. I really should wake them earlier than this, but I never seem to manage it. After eating, they do a few quick morning things (brushing teeth, making beds, taking out a garbage or wiping down a bathroom) before our school day technically begins.
9:00 – The three school-age kids begin working on their independent work. We use simple spiral notebooks to keep track of what needs to be done.
While the children work, I take care of the toddlers- generally running around like a chicken with my head cut off, trying to convince the twins not to climb on the kitchen countertops and the 2-year-old not to color on the walls with Sharpies.
When a child needs help with any independent work (or if it needs to be taught by me- like reading lessons or a tricky math concept), he or she brings the work to me and I try to help on the spot, if possible.
I also try to correct math assignments immediately, because if we let those pile up… bad things happen. (As in, they don’t get corrected at all.)
11:30 – We all eat lunch and then I put the toddlers down for naps. I send the big kids outside for some playtime (unless it’s below freezing!) and then they come in and find a warm, snuggly spot for Quiet Reading Hour- arguably the best time of the day.
I usually sneak back online to get in a little more work and to see what exciting and wonderful things happened on the inter-webs that morning. 😉
1:30 – Toddlers wake! The big kids all need to finish up any schoolwork they haven’t completed from their notebooks. Then they can grab a snack before doing their afternoon chores and getting some free time.
Usually there is baking happening. Art. Piano practice. Once a week, a few friends come over and discuss something of historical importance, scribble on maps, and run around the backyard. That’s our favorite day of the week.
During this time, I’m herding toddlers, folding laundry, or getting things done around the house. Sometimes I’m sneaking on to email or Facebook, but that never ends well. (You’d think I’d learn.)
I also tend to do any housework (not much, mind you) into this time slot. 😉
4:00 – Time to pair up the kids. I want to make dinner without worrying that little fingers will find their way to the stovetop, and usually about this time I’m needing a break myself.
Each big kid gets a toddler and is sent off to play, run around outside, read books, build with blocks- whatever, and I put in some earbuds and prepare dinner in (mostly) peace. 😉
5:00 – Three toddlers and a late dinner do not a happy mother make, so we eat early. After dinner, two kids help one parent clean up the kitchen, and one helps the other parent give toddler baths and get them ready for bed.
From 5-7 our house is generally a chaotic wonder. If you come visit us during this time period, bring earplugs (and maybe blinders, too). It’s…. loud (and messy).
7:00 – Bedtime for toddlers! Sometimes the 2-year-old stays up a bit later- especially if she fell asleep during nap time that day, but the twins are down for the count.
Now it’s time for Symposium. Nope- our school day isn’t over! We used to call this part of our day Morning Time, but it can’t happen peacefully or well in the mornings anymore, so we moved it to 7pm after babies are in bed.
The word symposium comes from Greek, meaning “a conference, meeting, or convivial discussion, especially as held in ancient Greece after a banquet.” It’s where we fit in our read aloud, memory work, and any socratic type conversations we’re having about something we’re reading. Sometimes we listen to and discuss a composer or artist.
The basic principles for symposium are reading, discussing, and memorizing. Even though we do it last, it stands as the heart of our school day.
Sometimes we have a piano concert, youth group, or soccer practice that interferes with symposium, and that’s okay, too. As soon as I can move this part of our day back into normal school hours, I will. This is just a (crazy) season, so we get it in as often as we can and are happy with that.
8:30 – I send the kids to brush their teeth and read for a bit before bed.
I’m usually just about fried by this time, so I try to stay off the computer and just hang out with Andy or decompress with a book. Usually the house is still a wreck, so I (might) (if I have a good podcast to listen to) clean up a bit before hitting the sack.
Are you homeschooling with little ones too? How do you make it work during this busy season?