A day in the life of home school freaks

I've been a totally boring blogger.  I go through phases and right now I feel like I have nothing much to write about.  Just my same old life. I've probably said everything that's possible to say over the last 3 years.  I never really have a shortage of  new stuff on my mind or things I'm learning, but I am lacking time and ambition to write them down or come up with entertainingly readable posts.  I assume that my predictably unspectacular life will bore you to tears anyway.    

It occurred to me recently, as I was flipping through some of my favorite blogs, the reason I enjoy them is because they are such ordinary people (although sometimes doing things out of the ordinary).   I enjoy having glimpses into other family's lives, their priorities, their routines, and their parenting struggles and wisdom.  I always glean some little bit of encouragement or even some ideas that I can use in my own day.  

I decided to follow my kids around for a day and give you a glimpse of a 'typical' day.   Whatever typical is.  This happened to be a day that we were home all day and nothing totally random came up.  This past week we have entered our winter season on the farm.  There are some things that I really enjoy about this post harvest season.  My Hubster is around a little later in the mornings affording us some extra family time.   He also comes home now  for lunch and is home earlier for supper.  Now that the field work is wrapped up we also have our evenings together (translates into help putting kids to bed).    For me, the garden and yard work has finished and my day is focused more inside the house...mainly feeding little bodies and minds. 

So here is a little glimpse into the life of one of those freaky homeschool families.

I'll start off by saying that we don't run by a schedule (I've tried).   We don't have written in stone chore lists, or highly structured curriculum.   Everyday looks a little different but we manage to get it all done...usually.   We all start trickling out of bed anywhere from about 6.30-8.00.   Once breakfast is finished (around 8-8:30).  The kids do "get ready for the day"...get dressed, make beds, brush teeth, brush hair  and a few little jobs like gathering the laundry into the laundry room.  

I set the two youngest up with Play-doh (which also happens to suppliment Cece's breakfast) or some other pre-schoolish activity while Dad does Bible reading with the big kids.   We have discovered that trying to do this as a whole group only leads to frustration. We don't have a Bible curriculum, study or workbooks, not because I have something against them, but because I prefer simple.  Sometimes we use a devotional book but right now they are working through books of the Bible.   Straight to the source.  They read a few chapters and then discuss and ask questions.   Silas has his own little "Bible time" at bedtime with his "Jesus story book Bible".    

We don't approach our Bible time as a necessary religious ritual to get over with.  We don't read it as a book of moralistic fables of heroes and bad guys, or simply a book of rules to live a better life.  We really want our children to have a knowledge of what the Bible is, what it says, and why.  Ultimately we want them to desire God and to know Him for who He is revealed to be.  We love to discuss God's sovereignty and how he  used (and still does) ordinary, flawed, sin ridden people for his grace infused redemption plan.  We point to the Supremacy of Jesus Christ in all things and throughout the entirety of God's story...all of scripture points to Him.   The questions these kids ask astonish me sometimes!  It has led me into a much deeper quest and study of theology myself...just so I have answers that aren't trite or cliche. 

Once that's finished the husband goes out to do some farm work.
The rest of us start our "school" day.
Silas (4) does some pre-school/ kindergarten type work on a casual basis.  Meaning when he wants to and I have the time and ambition to work with him.  He usually enjoys doing book work, unlike his big brother!

Aili (grade 5) does both Math  and Science on the computer this year.  It makes a lot less marking work for me to do.   She is using "Switched on Schoolhouse" program.  It's pretty impressive.  I have a whole "school" set up on my teacher page and can track her progress and plan our calender.  It teaches the material and automatically assigns work to do each day.  This helps alleviate the "I did enough" syndrome.  Right now we're working through plant and animal biology/ cells in Science and today's lesson in math was 'adding and subtracting fractions with different denominators and then simplifying the answer into mixed numbers. '.  One benefit of homeschooling is I'm learning all this stuff over again...and I must say it's much easier the second time around.

The biggest challenge is keeping everyone on task and the little ones from climbing all over the students. 
Sometimes if I need some uninterrupted time teaching one specific child  I request that the other "big kid" take a break from book work and babysit/ play with the little ones somewhere else.  
They are definitely learning to be part of a team being at home all day.  They do what's helpful to the family on a whole, which is not always what they naturally feel like doing.  

Some rough housing puppy play with little sister.  She's loves time with big brother!
Last week my Hubster bought an ipad.   We don't typically have a lot of newest and latest gadgets around here (our tv screen is as curved as is gets) but a Harvest bonus combined with some convincing arguments on his part (and conceding of my own thrifty objections) equals we have a fancy new addition to our educational program (it's also going to be great to have during our 35 hour car ride to Mexico!)  I'm loving App store!  I dare say it has won me over....although the kids are slightly obsessed with it right now.  

{Silas tracing letters}

As long as they're learning , I don't care if they are using a pencil and a book or a high tech alternative.
Roman (grade 3) is using Christian Light curriculum for math.   We tried "Switched on School house" for the first month but it wasn't working (I'll save it for the next 3rd grader).  It was too hard to modify.  With the work book curriculum we can skip through very quickly, do most of it orally, and every lesson combines a bunch of different things (one lesson will have multiplication, clocks, fractions, measuring and geometry) so it keeps things from getting too tedious.  He is a whiz at math concepts but simple repetitive drills are like a drill to the teeth for him.  We skip the speed drills at the back of the book.   Kids with ADHD don't do well with those!  Give him some complex problem to figure out and he's happy as a clam.  I've learned to have patience with his meandering, somewhat time consuming, unconventional way of getting to his answers.  The results usually astonish me.

Keeping little monkey off the table.  Time for lock down in the high chair.

Break time.   All 4 kids run off to a bedroom to play.   I do some laundry.

It's amazing what a container of dollar store sea creatures can do.  Two days worth of quality playtime.

Time for a mid morning snack (baked the night before).  2 Cranberry banana loaves were gone in less than 24 hours.  They were that yummy!  I found the recipe in "Companies Coming" muffins cook book (of course I switched up ingredients with healthier ones).  It used up a bag of frozen cranberries run through my food processor and a bunch of almost dead bananas.  

Piano practice.  Aili and Roman have started their second year of lessons.  Aili is really enjoying it this year and it seems to have "clicked" for both of them.   One benefit of home education is that we can incoporate music lessons and practice time into our "school" days instead of squeezing them into after school hours.  Music is a part of their education. 

Goofy girl.

While Aili practices piano Roman practices multiplication on the ipad with "Math Ninja".   Look he's even sitting at a real old fashioned school desk.  Kind of ironic that the computer is the same size as an old slate board. 

Keeping all the question answered, helping kids learn new music, explaining new concepts, changing diapers, and keeping the little ones entertained keeps a girl on her toes!
Not much time for housework.  I've learned to just leave it.  It will get done eventually.

Silas spends the rest of the morning wrapping up action figures into napkins and tape.  Why?
I have no idea...and I don't so much care as long as he's found something to do.

Dad comes home for lunch and some general tom foolery.

Which leads to good natured but loud wrestle mania on my living room floor...which leads to me yelling
"Take it outside!"

Which leads to little brother being flipped off the trampoline while a stunned and remorseful older brother moans "I didn't know we were close to the edge".  
Once the wailing commences I serve up lunch.  Typically something quick and easy to whip up.   Today's menu: Vegi and cheese Omelettes with a side of toast and peppers.  

And for allergy boy cheese toast instead of eggs.

After lunch is "QUIET TIME!"
Cece goes to bed. 
"Silas, you can take your bin of toys downstairs to play."
"Roman, here is your helmet, please go for a bike ride".

Aili and her Dad play a quick word game while I start folding baskets of laundry.

The Hubster goes back to digging holes with a Back-hoe tractor.
Aili puts together a map of states and provinces while I make a cup of coffee and watch.

After the puzzle we pull out the language arts workbook.  With the boys outside building tree forts and baby sister sleeping it's a good time to get some book work done.  She is doing Alpha Omega lifepac for L.A.

With the house quiet and Aili working independently I go shower. My alone time of the day.  
Yes, that is blog worthy.  
As you can see, I am looking particularly glamorous in my baggy sweats.

The toddler wakes up.
I do some  sight word practice with Roman.
I break up another wrestling match.
I spend some time with a whining little girl who needs some attention.
We all put the laundry away.
The kids watch tv.
I make supper.
The kids clean up all the toys and vacuum before the Dad comes home.

Still eating our garden wares with  scalloped potatoes (and ham), tomatoes and spaghetti squash.  Simple to make, virtually free, and the kids gobbled it up.  I'm a lazy cook.

After supper the big kids do dishes,  I go bath a couple little kids.   
Daddy reads to Silas and puts him to bed.   I rock a baby girl and put her to bed.

I curl up to read with Roman.  This constitutes a majority of his non formal education.   We usually dive in once the little kids go to bed at 7pm or during "quiet time".  

 The only formal curriculum/ book work he has is for math.  We have worked through several reading/ phonics curriculum and books but have yet to find anything that clicks for a phonetically challenged reader.  If anyone has any ideas please let me know.  As of now we are piecing together word building practice from a variety of sources.  I know he will learn to read eventually...it will just be learned in a different way.   Until then we fill in the "language arts" gap with classic novels and read aloud time.  It feeds his wild imagination, literary knowledge, extensive vocabulary, and big picture way of learning.  It may look different than a backpack, school desk and text book...but he's learning and most of the time he doesn't even know he's doing "school".  He's just satisfying his natural curiosity with knowledge
... and I suspect that's what God had in mind when he designed us to learn..regardless of where or how it's done.    

Once the big kids go to bed, I curl up with my computer next to my husband curled up in front of his tv.  We're romantic that way.
Sometimes, if I have any energy left over I use the childless time to bake or do other housework that gets de-prioiritized while spending our days teaching/ learning.  

I think one of the biggest challenges I have with our family integrated home education is the never ending, always just below the surface, self doubt and fear that all our efforts won't be enough that they'll miss something essential.   Growing up with very little exposure to alternative educational systems and philosophies I still have a hard time thinking outside the institutionalized education box.  I struggle to find the balance between a relaxed non formal educational philosophy and striving to recreate "school" at home. Most days I'm my own worst enemy.   I suppose that will come with time and confidence.  We'll take it one year at a time, one child at a time, and trust that God is big enough to take my feeble efforts and turn them into something.  


Hannah Banana said...

I wish I had the courage to add pics of our foster child to my blog. But I'm so terrified. Maybe once I've been in the system for a few years I'll be more lenient.

Hopefully she will be ours soon and I can add her pic like she is one of my own... :D

Kim said...

I can't believe all you got done BEFORE LUNCH! And I love your glam sweatpants (because I can relate, haha!). Thanks so much for the glimpse into your life. You're so right that the ordinary, everyday stuff of other peoples' lives is exciting :)
Oh and hey, what's that letter tracing app? It looks different than the one we have and I'd be curious to check it out.

Oh, aaaand, we're romantic that way too. Well usually it's the two of us side-by-side with our computers, but I get it :)

Marcy said...

Sounds like an awesomely productive day!! I love how you tailor it to each child's needs. I'm such a newbie homeschooler (and can hardly call myself that) but I appreciate how you put it all out there. I learn from other people this way. How they do things, what their days look like...

We Are Family said...

Busy and beautiful day!

stellarparenting.com said...

looks like you are all having a great time, I commend you for being able to do it. It is a dream I have, maybe next year.

Jenn said...

I can so relate to everything! I too haven't blogged a whole lot lately for the same reasons you've mentioned. Thanks for the glimpse into your day (great idea!) Your homeschool day sounds a lot like ours, which is great to see because like you, I often question if I am doing enough with them, etc. But our kids are learning a lot more than we realize just by simply "doing life" with us. Thanks for the math ap suggestion, I love using the iPad for school stuff!

Gretchen said...

Hi Carla, I'm still following your blog and loved this post. It's always interesting to me to see how homeschooling mamas pull of their days. Btw, the iPad is a great tool isn't it?
My hubby works for a educational kids web site called ABCmouse.com and I'm pretty sure that they have some free learning stuff on the site for your pre-school/Kindergarten age little one.
Thanks for sharing!