“It’s morning, Mommy!”
As usual, I start the day with my 4-year-old daughter’s cheerful greeting. After a hug and a kiss, she runs off to get ready for the day and “make her bed,” and I hop in the shower. Since my homeschool day with almost 9-year-old, 4-year-old, and almost 1-year-old kids (Raisin, Strawberry, and Kitty) is about to begin, it’s best I squeeze in time to get myself ready before I face the day running. My homeschool mom schedule is not for wimps.
A Good Start
It’s true, I’ve rolled out of bed an hour earlier, about 6, to pray with my husband before he leaves for work, but I usually can’t resist slipping back onto my pillow for a few more moments.
But by 7:30, I’ve readied myself, helped Strawberry get dressed, and changed the baby. We’re heading downstairs to eat breakfast. If he’s not already up, I poke Raisin awake, but this morning he has finished getting ready before us and run downstairs to work on his project on the computer.
Breakfast is oatmeal, and I have half of a grapefruit and some cold cereal. Kitty drinks her bottle, but then throws her Cheerios on the floor. Ok, then. She’s done.
We work together to get the kitchen cleaned up. The dishwasher is full of clean dishes so Raisin’s job is to empty it. Strawberry puts away all of the clean silverware and clears her dishes from the table. She runs off to start doing her puzzles in the family room. I help Raisin put away the dishes and we rinse dishes and reload the dishwasher. I wash the table and he vacuums the floor.
Then it’s scripture time. While Strawberry does her puzzle and Kitty chews on a toy, we read from the scriptures (right now we’re about halfway through The Book of Mormon) and talk about what it means. Doing a puzzle as we read helps keep Strawberry focused! Then, we have her favorite part of the day: cuddle time. We cuddle on the couch and talk about what we hope our day will hold. When she’s ready, Strawberry runs downstairs to find a toy.
I read in Spanish with Raisin and make sure he understands the vocabulary. Then, I send Raisin downstairs. He does his math lesson (through Teaching Textbooks on the computer) and personal scripture study time. Sometimes I assign him an English deck on Boom Cards so he can do that independently as well.
By now it is nearly 9 a.m. I finish tidying the upstairs. This morning, I gather some laundry and start a load. (I’ll probably remember it in about 10 hours.) Kitty plays in the dirty laundry. (Oh, the things I never would have let my first child do!).
Our Learning Mornings
I call up Strawberry for a mid-morning snack. I can’t believe she’s already hungry, but I’ve noticed that eating now (about 10 a.m.) will help her make it to lunch without a melt down. Then, I head downstairs. I need to get Strawberry and Kitty consumed with activities in the play room long enough for me to give Raisin a writing lesson next door in the school room. It’s the hardest part of the day because as soon as I am downstairs, Strawberry wants my attention. Plus, if I slip into the school room without the baby, she will fuss.
Strawberry likes to imagine play with the ponies, or play with the letter magnets, or cook up an imaginary tea party with me. We also pull out the LEGO Duplo blocks or the little people sometimes. Which activity will it be? I always save play dough and paints for last, since that must be done at the table in the school room, and not in the playroom: it always distracts Raisin from his task.
Today, Strawberry insists she paint a masterpiece. I set her up at the table, and keep Kitty in her play yard in the playroom. Raisin and I are working on the first level of IEW and I feel he needs my guidance since we’re both new to it! Raisin and I work together, and then he heads back to the computer to type up his response.
Strawberry and Kitty are still happily busy. I’d really like to check my email. Maybe they won’t notice. . . . It takes just a minute but it’s long enough for Strawberry to suddenly be tired of painting and Kitty to start her fussing.
It’s about 11 now. Raisin is done with his “assigned” school for the day. Sometimes, I give him an additional assignment, such as a few pages to read in a science textbook, an assignment to research and write about on his blog, or a book I want him to read. But by 11, he’s often done with his assigned school work.
“What will you do now?” I ask him today.
“My town,” he replies without hesitation. He’s working on his own project, and he’s excited to get back to it. He is making a map for an imaginary town. In the map of his town, he’s including the necessary buildings a town would need, setting up neighborhoods, and naming roads. Perfect social studies project, I think.
Strawberry, Kitty, and I have a tea party. I give Kitty her bottle, and head upstairs while Strawberry finishes her imagination game. As I give the baby some food and make the sandwiches, Strawberry too heads up stairs, telling me she’s hungry.
Our Typical Homeschool Afternoon
We eat at ten minutes to noon. Raisin helps clear his dishes into the dishwasher and wash the table and then he disappears once again to work on his town. Kitty goes down for her nap, and Strawberry is told that it is quiet time. I try to enforce the fact that she needs to stay in her room, and I help set her up with a Play-Away to listen to. Finally, I get a little time to get some blogging and products worked on. Strawberry sneaks down and plays with ponies after about 30 minutes, but she’s quiet in the playroom, happy by herself, so I’m super pleased!
The baby wakes up a little after 2:30. I rally the troops and we run quick errands. We head to the library to pick up some books and make another quick stop before returning home. Now that we’re outside, the kids want to play on scooters.
I sit on the sidewalk and watch Kitty put her fingers in the dirt and try to eat a leaf while the big kids chase each other on scooters. Strawberry adds in an imagination aspect: I’m her mom and her teacher. She scoots off to school and then arrives to get a lesson (I’m the “teacher”). Then she scoots away and returns to tell me she is home and share what she learned (I’m the “mom”). Repeat for 20 minutes. This means I have to keep thinking of 15 second lessons to give to her when she comes to “school.” Okay, then. Preschool lessons finished? Check.
We head in at about 4:15. Strawberry has been begging to watch her princess show all day, so I let her watch while I make some chicken nuggets and potatoes for dinner. I feed the baby, check my email from my phone, and otherwise bask in the relative quiet of movie time. Raisin, even though he is a big kid, also sits down and watches the show (although he unsuccessfully tried to get her to choose a different one).
There is the usual melt down from Strawberry when I finally call them up to eat. Eating dinner means, of course, that I had to turn off the show. I send her into the other room until she can calm down. She hates that and cries harder. We’ve already started eating when she sweeps into the room with a smile.
“I’m a princess now, Mom,” she informs me as she sits down and eats the food that just five minutes before she insisted she hated.
A Reading-Filled Evening
We start to clean up together, but eventually I leave the reins to poor Raisin while I drag the exhausted girls upstairs to get pajamas. Strawberry insists she is not tired and resists getting jammies on. When I remind her there is no story until she does, she finally complies. We read stories.
Raisin comes up and gets ready for bed too.
I read more stories. Kitty crawls around the bedroom, pulling books off of the shelves and trying to eat Strawberry’s (suddenly favorite) toys.
At about 7:15 p.m., I get out our read aloud: The Silver Chair.
Finally, as my voice is giving out, I close the book, tuck in a tired Strawberry and turn off the lights. I get Kitty her bedtime bottle and she dozes off to sleep. Raisin sneaks off to read his book somewhere (maybe with his flashlight under the covers? Maybe in the living room?) and that’s alright with me. As I tuck Kitty in her bed and turn off her light, I hear the garage door opening. My husband is home from work. It’s about 8 p.m.
Homeschool Schedule Variations
This is not any particular day but rather is the average of many different days. My husband often leaves before the kids wake up and gets home after the kids are in bed. (Right now, his client is a long drive away.) I’ll say that knowing I’m the go-to person all day long is the most exhausting part of homeschooling. Weekends are a nice break simply because I don’t need to rally the troops by myself!
Despite the fact that I feel incredibly busy all the time, I feel like this year’s school is much less stressful than any of our four previous years. Here’s what’s working:
- There is no pressure to finish. We started early and I’ve accept the fact that this year is going to be third/fourth grade, not one full grade. We’re finishing third grade (since last year I had a baby and we did not finish things), and in December we’ll be doing fourth grade work.
- There is no pressure on Raisin to do things that are painful for him (as I believe handwriting has been).
- Instead of pressure, we do a little bit of formal schooling, and he then takes his own education into his own hands.
- Every day is different. We don’t follow a rigid schedule. Schedules have never worked for me, despite the fact that I’m a planner! For me, life with kids is impossible to truly plan.
Weekly Homeschool Activities
During the week, we have activities.
On Mondays, we’re often home most of the day. I like to get a good “educational” start on the week. I also have a house cleaner come that day. I used to feel like it was cheating, but honestly, I’ve got a lot on my plate! She comes every two weeks, and I love knowing that the toilets will at least be cleaned that frequently!
On Tuesdays, we leave the house at about 9:15 to drop Kitty at a babysitter’s house and head to our co-op. We don’t do much beyond a devotional at home those mornings. We don’t get home until after 2:30, so then we have quiet time and television time for as long as we want. I teach two classes this year, so I’m pretty tired that night! Raisin has a free hour during co-op day, so I assign him a grammar and mechanics page in a workbook to do. Other than finishing that, he can read his book!
On Wednesdays, we go to the library for Strawberry’s 10:30 storytime. This means that we often cut lesson times short. I try to make it up later in the day (like during quiet time). One most Wednesday nights, my son has Cub Scouts, so I drag the kids with me. Strawberry doesn’t mind, though, because I let her watch her princess show while we wait for his meetings to end.
Thursdays is turning into field trip day so far this year: visit Grandma and swim in her pool, go to the museum, or meet friends at a playground. We try to get some school done before we head out.
On Fridays, Strawberry and Kitty will be doing a “play date preschool” (which we’ve only done twice so far). For this, we’ll have play time and also read stories and do a craft with friends. I’m plan to assign some independent schoolwork for Raisin while the little kids are here.
Raisin’s quiet time varies from day to day. He loves programming games in Scratch, reading books, and designing board games or card games to play. Usually his projects involve the computer. I’m okay with that. It’s a very powerful learning tool for this generation. As long as he is focused on a task, it’s okay with me.
One thing never really changes: I am exhausted from it all, but I would not change it for the world.
I love that I can be the one with my kids all day.
I love that I get to learn and struggle along with them.
Life as a homeschooling mom is not for wimps. The more I do it, the more I think I’m becoming a little less “wimpy.” God helps me measure up to the task.