I recently did a Day-in-the-Life of a homeschooler on Instagram. This is an adaptation of that highlight to live permenantly on my blog. Enjoy!
Today I’m doing a day-in-the-life of our homeschooling in posts and stories. I’ll give you an overview of our day-to-day rhythm. I’ll share this in my highlights. I have highlights from our day-in-the-lifes I’ve done in my highlights for the past two years.
Our week really begins on Sunday afternoon for planning. I make attempts to decide the year before what blocks we will be doing and research books and ideas for those blocks during the previous school year and through the summer. Those blocks are brought into being on Sunday afternoons. My husband is responsible for the kids during a four-hour block, and I spend this time planning.
We school and work at home, so we mostly follow the sun with our wake times. Because of the seasonal change, we are waking later in the morning right now. (This was written just before the time change.) My daughter and husband wake first around 6:30 or 7:00, with my son soon after and I am the last to get up at around 8:30. Our mornings are pretty laid back, enjoying coffee and breakfast. My daughter has taken up feeding the chickens in the morning, and helping my husband walk the dog.
My son is doing dual enrollment, enrolled in our local community college to obtain both credit for college and high school through their classes. He is taking English 1101, Intermediate Algebra, and Spanish I this semester. On Friday of each week, we sit down and look at the next couple of weeks’ assignments, and make a weekly plan to assure everything gets done. He begins his day when he is ready.
On Tuesday we volunteer to check a friend of the family’s nursery, because they are closed. We leave around 10 and are usually back by 11:00.
Around 10:30 or 11:00, I sit down with my son to help him with whatever he feels he needs help with. Algebra often, but occasionally, I assist him in finding answers he needs for Spanish or English. I spend a lot of time proofreading and commenting on his essays, but not when we are working together. My daughter usually spends this time playing outside. She also has one hour of independent screen time that she often uses part of during this time.
My daughter and I do school in two different blocks of time – before lunch and after lunch. I could tell last year, that this year we would need to a break in her school day. Her attention span was waning for the amount of time that we needed to finish her lessons. We start somewhere between 11:30 and 12:00 right now.
I take inspiration from both Waldorf and Charlotte Mason pedagogies. We really enjoy being able to deep dive into a subject, so we usually do main lesson blocks from Waldorf for this. Some of the other subjects come up in the blocks, many do. All her other subjects are in loop schedules Charlotte-Mason style (short lessons). The first loop is Math, Handwriting/Copywork, and Spanish. These she does all three most days. This is a change from last year, where form drawing was also in this loop, and she just did two of these a day. We will sometimes skip one if it is being repeated in the Main Lesson or if I need more time in the main lesson or the other loop. Art and Poetry usually take us a little more time than the others. The second loop is Geography, Art, Art Study, Music Study, Language Arts, Free Writing, and Poetry. Nature Study was originally in this loop, but I eliminated it this year, because it took over our whole day when we did it, and because our collective life (with two biologist as parents) is one great big Nature study.
We use activities cards as our ‘to do’ list for her. (These are available for free in my shop.) We almost always have a Read Aloud worked into our schedule. Usually, it is in the theme of our Main Lesson Block, but sometimes not. This week we are listening to Oliver Twist, a carryover from our Industrial Revolution block.
Read Aloud. She arranges these cards to her likely, deciding what she wants to do when. Some of them are paired. Illustrating her main lesson book is often paired with listening to the Read Aloud. If Main Lesson work is reading intensive handwork or beeswax modeling or another activity is paired with it as well. I do not pair items that require the same mental awareness as listening, because I want her to hear the story or the lesson. She has been separating the cards into two groups of late – one to do before lunch and then the other after lunch.
Copywork. We have been Harry Potter’s Hogwart’s Homework: Cursive Handwriting Practice Workbook that was recommended to us Courtney Lyons. We use the same quote several times during the week. We first go over the Copywork, noting any spelling, grammar, and punctuation that we’ve preciously gone over. The first day she usually traces the passage. The second day she writes it on her own. The third day we do dictation where she fills in the blanks from a few chosen words that I leave out of the passage.
Art. We are currently trying our hand at a little veil painting.
Spanish. We are currently using Rosetta Stone. She spends 10 to 15 minutes a day on Spanish. If the lessons are longer, we treat them up. Occasionally, I’ll throw in something different for Spanish, such as writing a friend or reading a friend’s response.
We have two different kinds of Main Lesson Blocks. Our history and literature blocks have a lot of reading involved. We have snacks and tea (with our candles, of course.) These often are accompanied with handwork or beeswax modeling or another hands-on activity. There are a few projects in these blocks, but reading takes up most of the time. The other Main Lesson Blocks are math and science. These have far less reading – maybe a handful of books, and loads of activities, playing, demonstrations, and discovering. We will still have snacks here and there and maybe some tea, but other than our Read Aloud, there isn’t as much reading. We are in the middle of a short physics block now. I alternate these kinds of blocks during the year to keep up interest. I also plan the year based on when I know our low times or busy times will be. November and February are consistently challenging for us; who wants to school during these months? We slow down significantly in December and then again at the end of April/ beginning of May. I look for exciting blocks to fill the challenging times, subjects I know she will be interested in. Lighter in nature schooling for our busy times or times I want to slow things down. Of course, all of this is just a frame work so that I know the general direction to move in. I “teach school” like I used to teach yoga. I have a framework to work within, but I change what we are doing based on her interest, the energy of both of us, and what is working. Blocks are moved, subjects are skipped for the day, and loop orders are changed depending on our needs (mine included.)
Between 1:00 and 2:30 pm
After lunch we have a period of free time again for my daughter. I use this time to play with her if she wants, catch up on email, work, or the like for me, and check-in on my son to see if he needs any help with anything. Today I’m also doing a little more algebra with my son.
Starting back today. Main Lesson.
She has been scheduling main lesson this week for the second half. Today we are doing the wave machine. We’ve done this project before ( YouTube video,) but today we are learning more about the ‘science’ part of the project.
The wonderful thing about homeschooling is the freedom to make it magical. When I say magical, I mean whatever makes it work best for your family. This could be so many different things, but for my family snacks for the kids. Homeschool kids are like hobbits, amiright?!? There’s first breakfast, and second breakfast, and … you get the idea. My kids have been allergic to corn for a number of years, but this past year they finally grew out of it. We are making up for lost time. I think now they have popcorn three of the four days we homeschool (my son schools five days a week.) In addition to snacks, candles add a little magic to our day, as well as tea in the cooler weather. Making our space and time cozy for learning. We make our homeschooling candles. There are two kinds. One is a beeswax kit for taper candles from Toadily Handmade. We’ve used their kits now for several years with good results. The other are voltive candles in 1/2-cup size mason jars. There is a tutorial for making those on my site. The last sprinkle of magic for our homeschooling is encouraging stuffed animals and our dog, Henry. He comes upstairs for school with us every day. What ‘magic’ do you add to your homeschooling? As much as I love math, it is not either of my two children’s favorite subject. She has been putting math to be done last for a while now.
Narration: We have a short discussion going over the material that we covered in Main Lesson. I take a few notes and write out a few words so she can spell them and include them in her narration. Lately she has been using iPad notes to dictate her narrations by voice. I’ve been pleasantly surprised in how it’s helped in spelling and punctuation.
Math: Today we are working on long division. We are using an area model first, and then we move into working with place value for long division.
I don’t use too much direct curricula, but I use a lot for source books. It changes from year to year, but there is a more comprehensive list on my site under “Resources.” This year for language arts, we used Brave Writer, Rooted in Language, Michael Clay Thompson and Grammarland for resources. We also do a lot of language arts work through our Read Alouds, copywork, and narrations. Our History blocks are usually a combination of living history books (Charlotte Mason,) topical picture books, Kingfisher Encyclopedia of History, and a more comprehensive spine. This changes for each topic. This year I’m using the For Kids series (such as The Industrial Revolution for Kids). I have details on what we used for the Africa/African Holocaust Block on my blog. My main source for teaching science has been Building Foundation in Scientific Understanding. They have 3 volumes: one each for early and late elementary ages, and another for middle school ages. Our life sciences have far more books. Math! Like science, math is my favorite and my strength. I draw from Making Math Meaningful, Gattegno’s work, Let’s Play Math, and several other things I’ve come across as sources for teaching math. As you may already know, I write a lot of math curricula that’s available for sale on my site. For art I lean heavily on @waldorfish ‘s online art programs. If you don’t know them, go check them out. They are fabulous! I also love the book Painting and Drawing in Waldorf Schools.
We are now finished with school. I’ll spend a few minutes cleaning up the classroom (or come in a little early the next morning and straighten it.) I also take this time to check off the things we finished, move other activities, or cross off the ones I’ve decided we are not going to finish. I also make note of any other notes for our homeschooling.
Walk the dog
Make dinner: Tonight’s dinner is vegan gumbo.
Sit down to dinner. This is the meal that we usually eat together. The other meals are hit or miss, but the evening meal is the one where we make an effort to eat together. We talk about the day, upcoming events, and if I think of it, meals to have in the future.
I use several tools to facilitate learning in our homeschooling. These accomplish different things from memorization, to analysis, to creativity. Narration helps me to know what my children are retaining from their lessons. It also helps them to process the information. I have switched to different thing over the years, and always come back to narration. When they are little, the narrations are short and I write them down for them. As they grow, their level of independence on narration increases. Narrations are a great substrate to grow a good understanding and use of language and mechanics. We also use illustration. I’ve found over the years that if one is drawing an object or a diagram, there is a deeper study of the details. This is really useful in observing and noticing, perfect for nature study or anatomy diagrams. Projects can also be a great way to use information, or to give a place for those synaptic pathways to be well worn with some kinetic learning. Games are also useful and versatile. My oldest memorized the geography of the states with Stack the States game. Games work great for memorization. I also use them for exposure like the Birdcage Art Go Fish cards. Another advantage to games is using the information they are studying. We used a “Who am I?” tree game I made when studying trees to use the information about leaf margins, veination, shape, and type. Sorting is another great tool that allows for analysis and use of information. We sort info about geometric shapes, planets, leaf types. And, of course ‘notice and wonder’. See my math highlight for more on this. We use it a lot for math, but it’s a great tool for all of homeschooling. It provides a great way for interweaving and elaboration.
Thank you so much for joining me today. I really enjoyed our time together. I’m going to sit down and enjoy on of the first fires of the season. Good Night!