A Day in Our Home Schoolroom
This year I’m homeschooling a first and a fourth grader. I have a little more experience under my belt and am feeling a little more confident (read: not completely terrified and overwhelmed). I find myself more and more in love with Charlotte Mason’s philosophies, but still borrowing Classical and interest-led ideas. I have settled on the amount of structure that works for us at this stage. If you’re interested you can read my post on homeschool scheduling for more on how I went from small 15-minute blocks on a spreadsheet to the schedule we use now: all our weekly goals in a list with the ability to work through them in a flexible way. I don’t have specific times on our schedule, but focus more on getting things accomplished: if math takes 15 minutes or 45, we go with it. And now, on with our day!
Promptly at 6:01 my early-rising son comes into our bed. He has undoubtedly been awake for quite some time waiting for his clock to say 6:00. As soon as I can muster myself we head downstairs. He heads straight for Legos, I head straight for coffee. I feed Martha, our dog who won’t give anyone peace until she’s eaten. I am able to spend some time working: paperwork, planning, paying bills, emails, writing blog posts…
When I’ve had sufficient coffee to face the world I head out to walk Martha. We both come back ready to get rolling–me on to our school day, and Martha to flop down wherever we are and snore.
Breakfast and News:
When I return it’s time for breakfast (Dad joins us if possible). While we eat we watch CNN Student News. This is a great 10-minute news update meant for middle school to high school students, but I watch with them and I’ve only had to filter a story too old for them a couple times in over a year. We pause to explain or discuss and pull out maps to locate story areas. It makes for a lively and educational breakfast.
We clean up from breakfast and I head up to shower. The kids get ready, tidy their rooms, and complete a household chore (unload dishwasher, take out recycling). When we’re all ready it’s time for school!
We tried variations of school morning meetings last year and they just didn’t work. Calendar activities didn’t feel like a good fit for both their ages, and I felt too repetitive and scripted. I felt we still needed some official start to our day and settled on my plan after reading a post from Barb at Harmony Art Mom on her morning routine. First we’ll have a devotion, and for that I chose The Story for Kids: Discovering the Bible from Beginning to End. I am excited to go through it with them and give them a chronological overview of the Bible’s story and message. After Bible time we’ll read poetry. Nothing fancy, just reading from anthologies we own or borrow from the library. My larger plan: they’ll memorize one poem each month, so as we’re reading they can choose their favorites for memorizing.
Then it’s on to individual work! My daughter works from her weekly assignment sheet while I start with her younger brother and his reading program, as this requires the most concentration from him. I give little brother frequent changes–something requiring more concentration, then a mental break. Sometimes I’ll give him a full break to go play for a while, but often I allow him to choose from activity cards I made him last year. This was after I realized having worksheet-type activities for him didn’t suit his learning style.
The cards simply have pictures of educational activities he can do independently. I made two sets, a red set with language arts activities and a blue set with math and science activities. During his break or card activities I work with his big sister. Writeshop and All About Spelling require one-on-one time, for other subjects I can be available to help her get set up or for questions.
Snack and Read Aloud:
After an hour or so we’ll break for a snack and read aloud time. This is a great time for books that I need them to be looking at while I read. Sometimes the choices are just for fun, but often we have books that go with our history, fine arts, nature or science studies.
After snack it’s either back to finish individual work, or starting the subjects we do together until lunch time.
Learning at Lunch:
I try to use lunch time wisely, too: we might watch an educational video or listen to an audiobook, maybe even play a game. After everyone has eaten we head outside. Some days I head out with them because I have some nature study in mind (or just need to pull a few weeds), other days I send them out to burn off some energy and enjoy nature.
Then it’s back inside to work together on subjects. What do we do together? As much as possible! Here’s a sort of “master list” of things that might be on my weekly planning sheet for us to work on together (click over to our curriculum for specifics):
- Read Aloud: during chapter books I allow them to keep their hands busy–building Legos, knitting, drawing
- Nature Study: using Barb’s Handbook of Nature Study Blog, often involves notebooking afterward for our nature journal
- Fine Arts (using Harmony Fine Arts grade 1 Overview year–new to us and we’re very excited)
- Art: projects for fun or that go along with Harmony Fine Arts
- Handicrafts: we cook, sew, and craft whenever possible!
- Unit studies: we’ve done units based on literature, holidays, geography, history and science
We usually wrap up by early afternoon, though often reading aloud will happen again later in the day. One thing we try to make time for every afternoon is quiet time. I was persuaded to implement this after reading about it from Tricia at Hodgepodge. We do it a little differently but it really has been wonderful. When I call for quiet time the kids gather what they need–choices are to read (including looking at books and listening to audio books for my son), write, or draw. They set themselves up wherever they would like (the current favorite chairs are pictured below) and I set a timer for one hour. During that time they need to stay put and stay quiet. We started quiet time this summer and it is a great time for all of us to recharge. Everyone comes out of quiet time refreshed and I find the rest of our day and evening are more pleasant when we’ve made time for being quiet.
So there you have our typical “at home” day. I can be a bit uptight but am slowly learning to embrace flexibility to enjoy homeschooling. Of course like many homeschoolers we’re also involved in many outside-the-home activities: Boy scouts, Girl Scouts, piano lessons and youth group for my daughter, and gatherings with homeschool groups. We meet once a week with friends for a homeschool book club, and once or twice a month with a larger group for field trips and special events that give our kids a chance to practice public speaking, or are just for fun! I also prioritize family time–I don’t hesitate to throw out our “typical” day and take a hike, go pick apples, drive to see a lighthouse, or anything that we’re going to remember for years to come.
Thanks for joining me for a day in our home schoolroom. Be sure to check out what a day is like for other homeschoolers at iHomeschool Network’s Not Back to School Blog Hop.