Written by Shawna Wingert of Different by Design Learning
I’ve been looking forward to sharing this day in the life with you for a while now.
My first day in the life post here was back in 2015. Every year, I have struggled with wanting to give you a realistic look at life homeschooling two boys with special needs, while at the same time be encouraging, and keep it “light.”
I am grateful to say that this year, we are in a much better place than any of the prior years I’ve shared. We have figured out our flow. I am not beating myself up over what we are not accomplishing, and instead, focusing on what’s really working.
Best of all, my boys have made what feels like miraculous progress.
This is my day. I’m so happy to share it.
6:00 AM –
My morning routine is essentially the same as always – The Bible Recap and a little bit of yoga.
Now, before you roll your eyes, please hear me when I say, it sounds much more elegant than it actually is. The reality? My back will hurt by the afternoon if I don’t stretch it first thing in the morning (ahem, turning 45 is no joke) and most of the time, I am fighting a dog trying to wrestle me while I do it.
After a cup or two of coffee and a little work on my blog, my youngest wakes to join me.
7:30 AM –
I settle him onto the couch with YouTube videos about contagious diseases (his choice, not mine) and get the basics of our day together.
I put out the things I would like for us to accomplish in our learning on the dining room table, get both boys’ medicines and lunches prepped for the day and make a giant vat of oatmeal, all while wondering why my son would start his day with the Ebola virus.
We eat, chat about what “patient zero” means in disease outbreaks, and then he turns on a Minecraft video while I get ready.
9:30 AM –
My oldest is up and agrees to “teach” his brother for me this morning while I complete an online support session with a sweet mom/client.
As I run upstairs to get set-up, I hear him tell his little brother,”Should we pick up where we left off with Stalin?” and they turn on a Crash Course History video. (YouTube is the real hero around here, y’all.)
11:00 AM –
I head back downstairs and find them singing along to a “Top 100 Songs Of All Time” video. I totally get behind this, and sing along to Ring of Fire with them before finally turning off YouTube.
My youngest begins to read aloud, and my oldest informs me that he has homework he did not complete for his afternoon classes.
When he says he did not complete his homework, it usually means he is having trouble getting started on his homework. We are working on executive function skills and this is an area of constant focus.
I offer to sit down with him and walk him through the assignment, while his younger brother takes the dog outside to play.
My oldest is super-stressed and has not been able to finish up, no matter how much I try to help. He wants there to be one right answer, but the homework assignment is a short answer essay question exploring a fictional story.
It’s asking about nuance and my son doesn’t do well with shades of grey. I encourage him to talk to his teacher instead of continuing to meltdown, and we get ready to take him to school.
After dropping off his big brother, my youngest and I eat lunch in the car while listening to an audiobook, and then head to his skateboarding lesson.
In the past, this would’ve been an occupational therapy appointment, but now that he’s a teenager, I’ve learned that skateboarding and rock climbing, with personalized and caring instruction, work even better for his sensory needs.
While he skates, I respond to emails.
After listening to more Harry Potter in the car, my youngest and I return home, have a snack, and then complete a consumer math lesson on compound interest. I wonder why no one taught me about compound interest as we move on to our weekly lesson with You Are An Artist, I Drew It Then I Knew It. (afflink)
I read to him all about nebulae and then we turn on the lesson and get ready to create. As he watches and draws, we talk about what makes a nebula and I am able to assess how much is he has retained of our learning.
(Incidentally, adding art to traditional academics works really well for this kid. It takes some of the pressure off of learning and I find he is much better able to retain the information.)
I have no idea what’s for dinner. (Dinner happens every single day. Why am I so bad at this?)
My husband picks up my oldest from school on his way home from work and when they walk in, I ask if they are cool with leftovers.
They are and boom, dinner is served.
My oldest eats dinner in his room and works on an electric guitar he is building, while the rest of us eat out in the living room.
I don’t feel even a little guilty that we are not all eating at the table. Everyone is engaged and happy – it’s more than enough.
My youngest needs a very specific nighttime routine to be able to sleep well.
After he showers (which is kind-of a big deal around here) he and I both curl up on the couch and watch more YouTube. He shows me all the things for a bit. Then, just like we do every night, he turns on a Mythbusters (we’ve seen them all which makes it predictable, and it helps him settle for the night).
I hear my oldest and my husband laughing hysterically in the other room. I know they are doing the same thing – my oldest is showing him all the things he finds funny online before settling in for the night.
My youngest and I fall asleep on the couch. My husband wakes us both up and we head upstairs to bed.
On my way, I pass the things I laid out for us to do earlier in the morning. We did none of them.
I leave them there. Maybe we’ll get to them tomorrow. Maybe we won’t. Either way, I know it will be okay.
My, how the days have changed:
- 2019: Shawna’s homeschool day in the life (with a 13- and 16-year-old)
- 2018: Shawna’s homeschool day in the life (with a 12- and 15-year-old)
- 2017: Shawna’s homeschool day in the life (with an 11- & 14-year-old)
- 2016: Shawna’s homeschool day in the life (with a 10- & 13-year-old)
- 2015: Shawna’s homeschool day in the life (with an 8- & 11-year-old)
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