A Day in the Life

My youngest's artworkOne of the most often asked questions I get is “How do you actually do it? How do you get everything done for three kids in a day?” The question isn’t a hard one, but it isn’t a simple one either. Every day is different, but we have a basic plan that we use as a pattern for our days.

(5:30 am)

My morning begins with a whine. My puppies in the kennel need letting out. It’s my husband’s job to get them out and if I ever feel a twinge of guilt all I have to do is remember how short puppyhood is compared to the years I spent nursing and rocking the midnight hours away. I soon follow him to the kitchen where we drink coffee and talk, check the computer and calendars and synchronize our day.

(6:00 am to 7:30 am)

The kids stumble out of bed. They can have screen time before 8:00 if they wish so they usually get a few games in along with breakfast and getting dressed.

(8:00 am)

School is officially starting so screens go off. We go over the calendar and I tell them what to focus on in each of their five subjects: Language Arts, Math, History, Science, and Spanish. I’m very flexible with what they work on as long as they have something for Friday presentations from each subject. Every Friday night they do a show-and-tell with their dad. This keeps him up to date, helps the kids review, and helps me see if there are any weak spots that need emphasizing the next week.

I spend my time helping where needed and when things are running relatively smoothly I do reading time with my youngest. We curl up on the couch or on her bed with books I read to her and books she reads to me. We cover history, science, and language arts lessons in one lump.

(Noon or there about)

Lunch and an educational show. We rotate between documentaries and PBS shows but I have been known to break out the Wii on very cold days. Video games that cause them to break into a sweat can be a treat and help them to burn off some energy.

(1:00 pm)

We tie up anything left undone and begin projects. Projects can be structured science projects or unstructured lego building. Board games are also allowed. I spend this time usually cleaning the house and I usually recruit them for a few chores too.

(4:00 pm)

School is done. This is more for me than them. On days when our lists have very few check marks, I tend to want to push the kids to work longer, but this isn’t good for them or me. It’s very important that we all feel free to relax. This is time for winding up chores and prepping for tomorrow a bit. I will make them practice their instruments now if they haven’t during the day.

This is the framework for my homechool that my husband and I worked out at the beginning of this semester. I wrote about it in the post “Regaining My Balance.” We often have field trips and classes scheduled in the middle of the day instead of just curriculum, but we always default to this schedule. So far, this has been working very well for us and I hope it continues, but I’ll take a moment to reflect and correct the system later. I have found that my systems won’t last much past a semester before both the kids and I get restless. I don’t think of this as a failing system, rather a system that has become stale. None of us like to be slave to a system and finding what works for us is one of my favorite things about homeschooling.

Climbing Out of Comfort Zones

S.rockclimbingcollageI watched my brave six-year-old scale higher and higher. Every few steps she’d look back and say “I can’t!” but we’d have none of that. We cajoled, we encouraged, we applauded and we pretended the word “can’t” hurt our ears. Higher and higher she climbed and soon she was at the top. She was so proud. Twice more she scaled to the top before the class was over. Now that the path had been traveled, it was no longer scary. Today I watched her confidence grow and that makes a parent proud!

Then I thought, when was the last time I said “I can’t” to myself? How many paths have I avoided that could be familiar by now? Who is going to cheer me on when the path looks scary? Who says that children are the only ones who need to build confidence? Why don’t we adults have to leave our comfort zones? Why is learning reserved for the young?

I don’t like it when I think these thoughts. I like being comfortable. Yet, I know I am a hypocrite if I don’t lead by example. I’ve never wanted to be the parent that says “Do as I say.” instead of “Do as I do.” If I want my children to be strong, healthy, confident adults, shouldn’t I want the same for myself?

So today I started yoga again. I had forgotten how much I love yoga. I went online and ordered books from the library in subjects I  don’t normally read. I’m going to work on art projects again without care for how they end up. It won’t be easy and I know many things will be abandoned along the way, but I’m determined to start looking at myself with the same gentleness I do my children. If I don’t, I may just start treating them the way I’ve treated myself. Being overly critical and harsh has made me overly cautious and fearful. I would rather we all learn to climb than be stuck comfortably on the ground.

So, how do you step out of your comfort zone? When was the last time you did something new?

Exotic Pets

medium_2307503820Guinea pigs are considered exotic pets. Who knew?

I found this out not long ago when my son came to me and told me that one of the guinea pigs looked like she was loosing her fur. Knowing how well he takes care of them, I knew it couldn’t be scurvy. My son gives them their veggies every night so they were getting enough vitamin C. Looking closely at her I had to agree, something was off. The poor creature looked miserable.  Continue reading

Art and Appreciation

Swimmy2Jellyfish

I love getting out to see performances with the kids, and if we can get together with enough homeschoolers, many places will let us have a school rate. The only problem with this type of field trip is that we usually have to attend with other schools.

When we filed into TPAC‘s auditorium the place was vibrating with kindergarteners bouncing and yelling and waving their arms. I remember those moments from my own childhood when you could practically see freedom peeking through the cracks of a broken routine. The row of tiny children in front of me were doubly blessed with a young teacher who seemed to think field trips were a time for her to mingle with the other teachers. Continue reading

Regaining My Balance

medium_5136926303When it was time to pack away the Christmas tree and get serious about the books, I sat down and had a talk with my husband about how hard last fall was for me. I asked him for advice on how to revamp our routine and make it more livable. I call him “The Flaw Finder” so I make sure I only ask him these things when I really want to hear the truth. Empty words of encouragement? No. Raw reality and precise problem solving? He’s my guy. Continue reading

Fed Up with the Whole Debate

medium_8893129707-1I am really sick and tired of  the whole debate. I am tired of having to choose a side. But as a homeschooler evolution and creation is a larger conversation than just science curriculum.  It permeates everything in homeschooling were I live. Every time I see a statement of faith that includes a section about how the Bible is to be interpreted, I balk. This is a signal to me that only creationism will be tolerated here.  And it happens a lot.  Statements of faith are attached to as many things in homeschooling as liability forms were in public school. Even if I did believe in every word, there is still a major reason I don’t want to sign: I believe my faith is between me and my God. It really isn’t anyone else’s business.

Oh, I get why they do it. They are creating a safe place to express their common views openly and with like-minded people. Fine. I won’t argue. I understand and respect that, but I don’t want to have to sign a statement that I’ll fit in just so I can play with your toys. I’ll take my ball and go home thank you. Continue reading

Tennessee Aquarium

IMG_1201One of the best things about homeschooling is the field trips. And the best sort of field trips are days set aside especially for homeschoolers. Lower prices and extra events make these days a real bargain. Last week we went to the Tennessee Aquarium for their homeschool day and even though the end was a disaster, over all it was a day well spent.

Continue reading