Mapping Out Our Homeschool Day
I aim to provide my children with a strong literature-based education, make time for beautiful things like fine art and music and nature study, and keep the joy in our family life. Here’s a peek into a day in our home schoolroom with a nearly eight year old boy and eleven year old girl as we enter our third year of schooling at home.
I’ll highlight some of the adjustments I’ve made to this year’s daily flow.
Rise and Shine at 6:00 AM
My early riser wakes me, already grinning and talking and planning inventions. I stumble downstairs in the general direction of coffee. He builds Legos and sometimes watches educational shows I put in our Netflix queue. I feed our dog, read a devotional, check email and snatch a few minutes to read, write, or plan.
Note: I used to read the Bible at night. Then I realized that just before bed when the house is quiet is NOT when I need the strength of God backing me up. It’s when I face the day of being mom, housekeeper, and teacher.
Get Ready for our Day at 7:30 AM
By now my daughter, now 11 and not an early riser, is awake, or I gently nudge her in that direction. We prepare ourselves and the kids tidy their rooms. They each have a checklist upstairs to prevent reminders from me to brush teeth or pick up dirty clothes.
Note: We used to eat breakfast, then head upstairs to get ready for the day before coming back down to start school. Now we get ready first, then gather for breakfast and can move right into our schoolwork. It’s more efficient because we can linger at breakfast but it doesn’t hold up the flow of our day.
Breakfast and the Beginning of Learning at 8:30 AM
While eating breakfast we watch CNN Student News. It’s a 15 minute newscast meant for middle school and up, but we’ve enjoyed it for two years now. We pause frequently to discuss topics and locate places on a map. Breakfast is never dull!
After the news we can move right into a bit of a morning meeting. I read our family devotional (this year we’re working through Our 24 Family Ways), we work on memory verses, practice Latin and Greek roots, pray and then start on individual work. For specifics of our curriculum plans for this year see this post.
My children each have weekly lists for individual work. These aren’t fancy printables, but simple checklists I create in a spreadsheet program. Some subjects must be done daily, other things 2 or 3 times a week. The lists give them direction, along with some choice and flexibility–and with that comes responsibility. If they don’t work diligently they will have to make up the work at another time.
I want to add that their lists are flexible. It says the subject, like math or Latin, but not the lesson number or specifics. That way if a particular lesson or topic is more difficult they’re not rushed. They just “do the next thing” in their subject, with daily progress as the goal.
Note: My new middle schooler probably won’t be able to finish her individual work in the morning time slot. She and I have discussed how more work is required at her age, but that we can’t extend the school day for her younger brother who (as an early riser) works best earlier in the day. So even if she hasn’t finished her individual work, she’ll pause and we’ll move into our joint subjects. She’ll finish her work either on Friday (we have four day school weeks) or later in the afternoons on quiet days.
Tea Time at 11:00
Having a hard break at the end of individual work is new for us. I shared our plans for tea time as a way to fit in our “extra” studies like fine art, music and poetry.
We’ll gather for a treat for our mind and stomach. This will provide a nice transition between the more structured learning of the basics and our subjects we delve into together.
Time to Learn Together at 11:30
This year I’m using a time block schedule instead of a list of goals. I read the idea in Educating the WholeHearted Child and see the benefits of this type of schedule.
Note: Last year I talked about not having set times, so why is going back to times actually more relaxed for me? Even though I’d realized the folly of fifteen minute time blocks, I was still over-planning. I made unrealistic lists and ended the day feeling too much was left undone. When I sat down to work with the kids I was so focused on the list that I tended to lose the joy and squash their questions because, dang it, I wanted to work quickly and cross things off my list!
There are only so many hours in a day, so much concentration they can give me, and so much patient interaction I can give them. Instead of lists I’m just blocking out the time and during specified hours I will focus on learning with them, and as long as we’re learning each day then the day is successfully completed.
A Learning Lunch at 12:30
While we eat I usually take advantage of a captive audience and we either listen to an audiobook, watch an educational show (like a science or history video), play an educational game, or work on notebooking.
A Breath of Fresh Air at 1:00
We head outside for fresh air after lunch. Some days we just take a walk around the block, other times we head somewhere a little more natural, and frequently we do a little nature study.
If it’s a nice day and they’re riding bikes or jumping in leaves or playing in snow I let them continue after I head back inside. Sometimes my son will stay out and my daughter may come in to practice piano or do other work.
Some days we have somewhere to go: errands or educational things like music lessons, Girl Scouts or Boy Scouts, or various homeschool groups. Depending on how early we need to leave I still try to fit in quiet time, the daily habit I try desperately not to miss.
Other days where we don’t have to go anywhere right away we’ll fit in a little more learning together. We may draw a nature find, have a little hands-on fun with art, or perhaps try our hand at writing poetry. Fridays are also good days for fitting in some of these things or pursuing individual interests.
Ending the Day with Reading Aloud
I read aloud during our school day for subjects like history, science, nature study, and fine arts. Most days we’ll read aloud again sometime before bed. It could be while Dad is preparing dinner (hooray for a husband who cooks!), when we’re all cozy in the living room, or while they eat a bedtime snack.
Just after Labor Day we’ll be diving in to our full time schedule, and I have to say I’m pretty excited to start this new year. Starting Monday, August 25th, you can read how other homeschoolers structure their day in the final week of the iHomeschool Network Not Back to School Blog Hop.