Thursday, October 21, 2021

A Homeschooling Snapshot: Fall 2021

I spent the first several years of my life as a homeschooled student, and I know that a typical "homeschooling day" can look completely different from family to family. At one point when I was young, there was a family in our homeschool group who exhibited a fairly unstructured "unschooling" lifestyle, and another family in that same group who opted for a highly structured approach. However, no matter what a family's particular approach to homeschooling is, the flow of the day commonly is different than that of a full-day brick-and-mortar school. 


Watching a demonstration by a Mounted Color Guard. 
It was very cool when they began hacking the balloons with their swords!

Many times, I've thought about doing a "day in the life" post, but since that would involve taking pictures and making notes from a particular day, I decided that I would put together a general overview of what our weekdays typically look like. Even with unpredictable events and a couple of regular activities, we somehow manage to keep a fairly consistent schedule for Monday-Friday. Perhaps, when my kids are older and life gets busier, I can look back on this post to remember the gloriously peaceful days of our "quiet growing time." 

As of now, in Fall 2021, my kids are ages 5, 3, and 1. In Oklahoma, school is required for five-year-old children (and full-day kindergarten here is the norm), but there are no requirements for homeschooling. So, we really have the ability to pick and choose whatever we want to do right now. My approach to homeschooling is currently very laid-back, and I draw some of my inspiration from the Montessori, Reggio-Emilia, unschooling, and Charlotte Mason educational movements and philosophies. With all that in mind, here's a snapshot of our daily life! 

Breakfast & Prayer

Ideally, I would get up a couple hours before the kids, so I can get some writing work done and begin the day with a large chunk of silent prayer. In reality, this only happens a few times a month. Most days, I roll out of bed mere minutes before the kids come careening out of their room. After they all have dressed and had breakfast, we tidy the table and put away any clean dishes that are on the counter or in the dishwasher. If I haven't gotten ready for the day yet, at some point I'll sneak away to dress and squeeze in some Scripture reading alone. My kids and I also sit down with a small whiteboard and write out our "list" of activities and meals for the day. This whiteboard is then propped up in our living room, so that we are all oriented and have a visual reference for each day's events. We also say the Guardian Angel prayer as a family before my husband heads to work. 

Sometimes, the five-year-old decides to write our list. As you can 
see, Redwall is priority for him ;) 

Couch Time

Once my husband is off to work, the kids and I all snuggle under a blanket on the couch (or on the porch, weather-permitting) for Bible Reading and Library Books. We'll typically read a chapter from the Jesus Storybook Bible or we will read a couple of verses from that day's Mass or the upcoming Sunday Liturgy. I will then briefly talk about the day's saint, if it's a feast day. Then, we dive into library books. Each of the kids usually picks 2-3 books from our "library bin" so that we can read them together. Even the baby gets into it and excitedly dashes to the bin with her brothers to select a book! 


Playtime & Worktime

If the baby is sleepy enough by the time stories are over, I put her down for a short nap. Otherwise, I stick her with the other children for some playtime so I can scoot to another room for "work time." This chunk of time usually lasts about 30-45 minutes, and it's when I try to answer e-mails, catch up on my blog, and write as much as I can in my creative writing projects. This also often happens to be when my kids move to "paper work time," which involves drawing elaborate pictures on paper--or, in some cases, on a wall or door (which I discover once I emerge from "worktime"). 


***Outings***

I try to make sure that 2-3 mornings a week are "car-free;" so, on those mornings, after our "playtime & worktime," we walk places (around the neighborhood or to a local library or park) or stay home and play some more before lunch. It's a way to make sure we don't overextend ourselves, and also to ensure that my children have enough time to play and create art. However, one day a week I take the kids to a daily Mass at lunchtime, and a few times a month, we'll embark on short field trips (to a small museum or park across town) that will fill the hours in between our morning work and naptime. One morning a month, we attend a Children's Adoration Hour at church, and we also try to fit in a full-day field trip once a month (sometimes to a location that's a bit further away from our house).


We took a field trip to a museum that featured "Kidtown,"
where the kids could pretend to be in a variety of careers. The market
was a highlight for my children, and one of them
eagerly filled his cart with all the fun foods that rarely
 make an entrance into our house haha!

Lunch

We eat a simple lunch and then tidy up the table and kitchen. Occasionally, I will put on an episode of The Magic School Bus or Redwall for the kids to watch after lunch while I nurse the baby, do a couple chores, or make some coffee. When they don't watch a show, we will often visit our elderly neighbors or play inside or outside.  

 

Rest Time & "Gouter"

Only two of my children still nap every day (though sometimes, the five-year-old will put himself down for a nap), but all of them have "rest time" in separate areas of the house, for at least an hour (though I will make "rest time" last until the baby wakes up, and if she sleeps for an hour and a half, then that's how long "rest time" lasts). I don't do chores during "rest time," but instead do something to recharge: "fun work" like creative writing, a living room workout while watching a show, sitting outside in the grass, or curling up under blankets inside with a book. When the baby wakes up, I get her from the bedroom and then sit with my kindergartener for a few minutes of reading practice (we are currently working our way through the BOB Books). We may then read a picture book or two. By that time, the three-year-old usually wakes up, and we have "gouter" (our take on the afternoon snack ritual in France) and sometimes share a pot of tea. Since we're currently studying England, as we drink tea and eat, I'll read aloud a chapter of a Paddington book. One afternoon a week, we attend Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, so on that day, we do "rest time" and "gouter" a little earlier so we can still rest before we head to church. 


Playtime & Dinner

Once everyone is fed and hydrated, we move into more playtime (inside or outside) or bike riding. At some point I dive into the kitchen to do dinner preparations, and occasionally the five-year-old will help with that, too. After dinner, we clean up and pray the Rosary as a family. Then we play games or watch a video together (sometimes-especially if I, for some reason, didn't get any "alone time"-my husband will hang out with the kids while I escape to the other room to blog or read), and finally we close out the night with a short family prayer and bedtime! 

I loved this feature at a museum we visited: a giant maze where kids can run around
as their parents sit on the shaded platform above them. Brilliant!

I've been really enjoying our rhythm of for the past couple months. We manage to do quite a lot of wonderful things without feeling rushed by tons of outside commitments. I really love Charlotte Mason's idea of "short lessons" for young children, so that's what I try to do with any academic topics that come up during the day. 

[The only other "structured school" that we've done so far is mathematics, which only really happens as my children bring it up. For example, my two oldest children wanted to work with beans the other day. So, I asked if I could first show them a special way to work with the beans; and then, we proceeded to scatter the beans on a tray and discover the ways to learn about numbers, addition, subtraction, and multiplication using the beans. We did this for only a few minutes, and then I left the kids to play in whatever way they wished.] 

Life always manages to be crazy in some way, whether it's due to a teething baby or a round of bad colds/allergies hitting our home, so it's nice to have a fairly consistent schedule of prayer, work, rest, and food. All these years later, we're still doing our hobbit-monk thing ;) 

5 comments:

  1. Thanks for this. It is so interesting to me as I am at a similar stage with a 6 yo and a 4yo. Also it's good to hear someone else is taking things slow with formal work.

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    1. You are welcome! I'm so glad you enjoyed this; it's really neat that you have kids in a very similar stage and are using a similar approach!

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  2. I LOVED reading this. We follow a pretty similar rhythm, I’d say. I’ve actually been planning to write a similar post. I also love the idea of shorter lessons and unhurried days that still fit in fun outings.

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  3. I loved this peek into your daily life! It sounds like you have a wonderful variety of work, play, rest, and activity. I love that notion of "car-free" mornings - driving can really take up so much time and energy.

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    1. I'm glad you enjoyed seeing this laid out! Having "car-free" mornings is, I've found, very necessary for my kids and I-whenever we decide to let that slide, I find that it's so easy to wind up in the car and going places all the time (especially since the OKC area is pretty spread out).

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