We have three main patterns to our days – depending on our main purpose for the day. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday are study days. Thursday is individual project day. Weekends are for responsibilities, family and relaxing. But for the purpose of this post I’m sharing one of our study days (Monday). I have recorded what ‘normal’ looks like, or what the plan is, but then in italic I have recorded the things that really happened, how that ideal had to change, because I start the day with my ideal and then live life as it happens!
Let me introduce my family first (especially to any new readers who have popped over from the Simple Homeschool blog hop).
Peter and I have four kids and we have homeschooled since the oldest was 5yo (he went to 4yo part-time Kindy). Josh is now 20yo, and studying ancient history and politics externally, Jessica is 19yo and studying business administration externally through TAFE, we homeschool Naomi 17yo and Daniel 14yo.
I wake up very early and have my thinking, writing, reading, praying, exercising (when I do it), get dressed etc. I like to have that done by 7.30am and then I can spend the next hour on housework and/or school prep. The kids wake at different times – anywhere between 5.30 and 7.30am and they have till 8.30 to get themselves ready for their day. This includes their quiet times, exercise, responsibilities and breakfast. We don’t have breakfast together these days – because they all like different patterns for their morning. I do have a request that we don’t turn on music or get involved in big conversations till after 7.00am. This shows respect to those who are having reading/praying times in the house.
Peter often leaves for work around 4.00am though at the moment it is his down-season, so at the moment he is either having a reading/reflection time, or in the office or garden early in the morning. Josh and Jess start their studies as soon as they are ready.
But today, we had a foster child here who we are respite carers for (kinda like grandparents) so my morning between 6.30 and 8.00 was about her.
Our study time (for our homeschooling) starts at 8.30am. We start with Bible study or a character growth lesson together. I often incorporate improving their thinking and writing during this study.
Today we started a new study “Who is God”. Not only did we discuss the heart-content of the lesson (build your life on the rock) we also discussed parables and writing summaries, or key points while listening to teaching.(Language arts lessons)
Bible usually takes between 45-60min, depending on how much writing they do. Then they go off on their own to complete their studies for the rest of the morning.
Today, because it is kind of like a restart for our study routine for the year, I had a quick little parent-child conference helping the kids see what their days were going to look like, how we were going to do diaries this year, and a quick catch up on their subjects they were studying, checking if they knew where they were at.
They have a similar to-do list to each other though they choose the order in which they work. We divide our studies into Discipleship studies (Bible and Character), Discipline studies (Math, Writing, and anything that they need drill/practice for), Discovery studies (general knowledge), Delight studies (their passions and interest, hobbies etc) These “D’s” came from Sally & Clay Clarkson’s book “Educating the Whole Hearted Child” which is one of my recommended homeschooling resources for those starting out.
Daniel studies: Math, Writing, Guitar, Science: Movement and Motion, Geography, Reading (History).
Naomi studies: Math, Writing, Piano, Driver’s license, Science: Human Body, Art History, Reading
During their study time, I try and focus on office tasks – emails, phonecalls, projects, and a little housework (though the kids’ chores look after the day to day maintenance of the home).
But I find myself often interrupted and needing to help one of my kids somehow. And that is okay… my plans of getting things done are secondary to helping my kids through their day (read more about this lesson in Homeschool Mum with Highschool Students)
We stop at 12.30 for lunch. My plan is to stop my work at 12.00 and make a salad for everyone, but that doesn’t always happen, and everyone grabs something for lunch themselves.
Today Peter was working on a project in the shed and it was a good opportunity for Daniel to work with him. Initially we were going to cancel Daniel’s afternoon activities to make room for this as we were trying to prioritise studies this week, but then Pete’s plans changed so we went 50-50. Daniel studied till 10.30 and then spent time with Pete in the shed.
Our afternoon block is a bit jumbled as everyone has different objectives. Once the kids are in highschool I expect another hour of reading after lunch and then their studies are done. This has had to be tweaked to meet other needs and abilities but that is my general guideline. Rarely do they get their musical instrument practice in the morning so that has to fit in as well.
As my kids learn new skills connected with their interests I ask them to spend 1-2 hours of focus productive time, one of my children have preferred to call this ‘project’ time. They choose what they work on but they need to stay focused for the set time. This has been to help them develop hobbies and skills, and to not waft into boredom or wasting their time. Once they have established the habits of using their time wisely, and have developed hobbies or interests they are free to manage the rest of their afternoons as they see fit. At this stage, Naomi can manage her free afternoons, but I still guide Daniel. (Read more about Productive Free Time)
As an aspect of this ‘productive/project’ time I have two 1 hour blocks through the week where Daniel and I work on various projects. This is a new goal, and we are still working on establishing this.
I didn’t get to work with Daniel on this project block today because of his time with Peter in the shed. Since my objective is to expose Daniel to practical skills we met the purpose even though it was done differently than planned.
The kids also work for pay one afternoon a week. Daniel mows the lawns and washes the car. Naomi does ironing for a friend. Nomi plans to do this on Mondays, Daniel works on Tuesdays.
They do have some free time – though not every day, and not very much! They had more free time when they were younger. Daniel spends 30minutes on recreational screen time – Minecraft, computer games, wii. This happens in his ‘free’ time after he has done his reading, guitar, productive time, and work.
They do have some afterschool programmes that they join in with which I include as a part of their formal educational experiences but it takes up their ‘productive’ time in the afternoons – music lessons, sport, drama, choir, Bible studies, and volunteering.
When the kids were little we established a 5.00pm Job time. This was the time we finished our individual pursuits, and dealt with various responsibilities so we could come together for dinner and family time. These days, job time starts at different times on different days and sometimes it is different for different people. The idea is that each person has to deal with their responsibilities in preparation for their evening activities. For example, Daniel goes to Taekwondo on Monday and Wednesday evening, he needs to start his chores/responsibilities earlier so they are done before he goes. Other times they do their tasks after they come home. The kids also help each other out by doing each other’s jobs if they are out of the home.
Traditionally dinner is at 6.00. We like to sit around the table for most evening meals but sometimes we slip into watching too many DVDs over dinner! In this season of life, with kids doing lots of different activities (something that didn’t happen in the primary school years, or even middle school years) we are learning to have dinner at different times, and to sit up at the table regardless of how many show for dinner. I try and have something significant to talk about ‘up my sleeve’ just incase dinner conversation slides.
Once again, our evenings are changing, or have changed from when the kids were little. This year we have people coming and going, with different afternoon and evening activities. Each of my children has a bedtime that suits them, and enables them to get the sleep they need to do well the next day. It is a very weird feeling, one I’m not completely used to, where I go to bed and leave my children to turn off all the lights and go to bed at a later time than I do!