Thursday, August 28, 2014

Our Typical Homeschool Day, 2014-2015

The final week of iHomeschool Network's "Not" Back-to-School Blog Hop is here! So take a seat, grab a cuppa, and join us for a day in the life of this homeschool family!

"Education is not the filling of a bucket, but the lighting of a fire."

This famous quote by the poet, Yeats, inspires me. It extinguishes all the formality & drudgery that can be associated with traditional learning and kindles the excitement and passion that I desire to be the trademark of my children's learning. It's what drives me to teach my kids every day.

Don't misunderstand, I know plenty of excellent teachers that work in the traditional school setting and do an amazing job at making learning a fun adventure! (I'm sure they would agree with this quote as well!) However, I love the freedom that comes with homeschool. We are not bound to a particular district, a building, a room, a desk. I have a "superintendent" (my husband) that is on the same page with me 100% of the time, because we took the time to saturate our decisions in prayer, lay out short term and long term goals for each of our children, and he inquires of our progress daily so we can discuss any changes that may need to be made. He does not micromanage but is a constant encouragement & pillar of Biblical wisdom and strength. If we have a disagreement, we can sit down together over coffee and pour over Scripture til we are pointed in the right direction... together. I have freedom to choose our curriculum (praise the Lord!!), to alter it as I see fit, and formulate a scope & sequence suitable for each one of my children so they can learn at their own pace, in their own way. We schedule field trips and outdoor activities, playgroups, and co-ops. But we are free to be flexible -- changing our plans at a minute's notice because the baby got sick this morning or there's a need in our extended family or attitudes need adjusting so we focus on training good character & instilling good habits instead of doing the day's "book work." It's something I'm even willing to fight for. As William Wallace so memorably said (albeit in a slightly different context ;)), "FREEEEEDOM!!!!!" And I love it.

With this freedom, you can imagine that not every day looks the same for us. As we add more precious babies to our crew through the years, I'm finding that it's much more difficult to hold to a rigid schedule. So we roll with it. Each day flows a little differently, but they are usually fluid nonetheless. With a general plan and some preparation, we can easily move from one thing to the next, embracing the bumps along the way without completely giving in to them and losing focus altogether. No, I am not perfect, nor are my children, nor is our schooling. But every difficult day leads to an easier future, even if it is not the day immediately following. And that's okay. Great comfort is steeped in the words, "...for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." (Philippians 4:11-13)

Our Schedule

Still, I'd like to share what a typical day looks like in our homeschool (and I use the word "typical" loosely). Walk with me...

7-7:30 a.m.           Children are waking, Mom nurses baby
8-8:30 a.m.           Breakfast/Bible reading
8:30 a.m.              Morning chores
9:30-10 a.m.         Begin school day
11:30-1:00 p.m.    Lunch/Bible reading/Finish up school work, if necessary
1-2:00 p.m.           Free time, Afternoon clean-up
2-4:00 p.m.           Naps/Quiet time
4-5:00 p.m.           Reading/Free time, Mom nurses baby & begins dinner prep
5:30 p.m.              Daddy's home!!!
6:00 p.m.              Dinner
8:30 p.m.              Bed time/Family devotions

I hesitate to assign specific time frames to our day, but I think I can honestly say this is generally how our days go, with lots of wiggle room. When you're nursing a baby, you're at her beck and call 24/7, so other things have to give way. Thankfully, much of our learning is done through reading, so the other kids can just pile around me on the couch while I nurse and I can read aloud to the group or big sis' can read aloud instead.

Our Subjects

I like to try to begin at least every other day with "Circle Time" -- a time to gather all the children together to pray and work on our Calendar, Morning Board, memory verse, sing a song or two, and discuss our virtue/habit. Then, big sis' will begin working in her Daily Learning Notebook independently while I read some picture books to the younger two. If she finishes before we're done, she just joins us on the couch! Once we're done reading, the little ones go off to play and the first grader and I get some time to work alone together.

As far as subjects go (see Our Curriculum here), I took a cue from The Unlikely Homeschool and we are working in TRIOS this year. Meaning, we break our work up into subjects like this:

1. Core (Language Arts or Math -- requires Mom's assistance)
2. Living literature (Reading, Read-Aloud, History -- reading based)
3. Project (Science, Handwriting/Copywork, Handicraft -- hands-on or independent)
BREAK (short, 5-min), Repeat with another TRIO

So far, I'm loving this method as it allows naturally for brain breaks and the work doesn't seem to pile up and overwhelm any of us.

Now, things will be changing up a bit next week as we start integrating more preschool work into the day. I have a stack of ocean books we'll be reading, & we'll begin a little math and pre-reading practice with workbooks and games! I'm a bit nervous for this transition and am praying things go smoothly & that my toddler doesn't begin to feel left out... She is welcome to join us for anything, but it doesn't take much for her to become hard-up for some Mommy time! Hopefully, I can figure out the best way to help her stay involved and close by without boring her, stifling her own creativity & sense of adventure. It will just take more practiced planning on my part, I think!

There you have it! A quick look at these precious days at home. I hope you've enjoyed this journey into our homeschool life. Don't forget to pop by the iHomeschool Network's "Not" Back-to-School Blog Hop to check out what other families are doing this year! It's been a pleasure to be a part of the adventure.

Come back next week when I hope to share more about our workboxes and delve into more of the nitty-gritty of how we do school! And, get this... there might be a YouTube video or two!!

Thanks for joining us this month! Now I'd like to hear how YOU do things. Share in the comments below!

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