A Day in the Life: Habits & Expectations
I'm so excited to bring several guest posts to the blog sharing their Homeschooling Day in the Life stories! Today's post is by my friend Selina who has three kids, ages 10, 8, & 6. I admire how she has cultivated her daily routine and curriculum choices to meet the unique individual needs of each of her children while ensuring her own needs are still a priority. The habits and expectations she has set up for her children are key to her homeschooling success!
When we were in the beginning stages of our homeschool journey, I was always reading how other families structured their homeschool days. I wanted to create some habits in our home that we could instill in our family. Each year I have to work to find a new rhythm that fits their needs and discern what are reasonable expectations of my kids.
Two years ago, we discerned that we should not start our school days with math. My husband has a very demanding schedule and he is rarely home for dinner. As our children started to mature it was clear they needed more quality time with their dad on a daily basis. We decided the kids would stop sleeping in and he would serve breakfast before he left for work. The kids all wake up around 6:30 a.m. and have a leisure breakfast with him. This year we started making baked oatmeal bars. We played around with various mixins and fruit bases for the recipe. The recipe freezes well and it is a very filling meal for my kids who could eat endlessly. Other breakfast favorites are yogurt, cereal, and fun pastries when it is a sacramental anniversary or a saint’s feast day that our family celebrates.
I write morning time lessons plans that include memory work, scripture study, and art appreciation. He has taken full ownership of the time with the kids. He finds fun recordings of the poems and plays them for the kids while they are rousing. He also subscribes to a couple of podcasts that they listen to and discuss before he leaves for work. This time with dad has become a crucial part of their day that fills their love tank.
After dad leaves for work (around 7:45 a.m.) we start and finish morning chores. The kids empty out the dishwasher while I start a load of laundry. The kids take turns cleaning off the dining table and sweeping up the breakfast crumbs. We usually listen to music that fits the liturgical season while finishing chores. It lifts everyone's spirits. Once chores are done, it is time to start morning lessons.
Our oldest is 10 and has always been a very independent learner. She taught herself to read when she was 4. It took me a long time to learn to just get out of her way. She has a daily list of assignments and expectations. She works at a great self pace and takes breaks to exercise and play with our youngest. We sit down on Friday mornings to review her work and see where she needs to review before moving on to the next concept. She is usually done with her lessons by 11 am.
Our middle child is my most spirited one. She has high energy and loves moving her body. We take that into account for her lesson plans. After morning chores she works on writing affirmations for her copy work. After she finishes, she then takes a break and works on her pull ups. We have a pull up bar in the kitchen doorway.
While she is finishing these two tasks, I sit down with our youngest and coach him through his reading and math lessons. He is in kindergarten, so this should take 20-30 mins, but there are lots of squirrels and birds in our backyard in the mornings. Distractions are a normal part of homeschool life, so his goals are small. Small daily goals stack up to big accomplishments over the full year. I read aloud to him from his picture book stack or his current chapter book. We get his picture book list from Twenty-Six Letters to Heaven: A Catholic Preschool Curriculum. For this list, I find what I can from our local library. I put our books on hold and the librarians find them in the stacks for me and I pick them up between errands during the week.. For his chapter book read alouds, we follow the Read Aloud Revival podcast for book choices.
After my middle child is finished with her exercises, she brings me her stack of books. When she was 6 (like her brother) her stack was small. We have slowly added subjects to her daily assignment over the past two years. She is getting close to finishing her reading lessons and will move on to spelling lessons next year. She has blossomed with Math-U-See. Math was the biggest wedge in our relationship last year. She didn’t hate math, she hated being confused. Her confusion led to distrations, which extended lessons far longer than what was actually necessary.
We source her booklist from Mater Amabilis. She has really enjoyed the literature, religion, science, and art books from this list. Her lessons take anywhere from an hour to 90 minutes, but that includes exercise breaks in between. She usually dances, climbs our stairs, or does squats and push ups with me. We gather with her older sister for history a couple of days during the week.
When the older two are done with lessons, they all go outside to play while I exercise in the garage. Daily exercise is an essential part of my own self care. We slowly built a home gym in our garage. I have found various YouTube programs that I can stream on my laptop and follow along while my kids bike around our block or play in our backyard. There are some neighborhood kids they play with. I workout around 30-45 minutes, then head inside to make lunch.
We all gather back around the dining table around 12:30. We listen to our audiobook for history lessons during lunch. The chapters are only 20 minutes long, so that gives us plenty of time to finish our food and discuss the chapter. After lunch the kids find whatever craft project, lego build, or book they are currently reading and head to their various quiet time spots. Quiet time is when I rest. I do not plan the next school day. I do not wash the dishes. I rest just like my children do. I usually have a stack of books I am reading for my delight. Sometimes I listen to a podcast and stretch in my workout area. If morning lessons did not go as planned, which is only every other day, I exercise because it is necessary.
Afternoons & Evenings
Two days a week we have Taekwondo lessons from 4:30 p.m. - 8:00 p.m. Those evenings are somewhat erratic and include simple dinners that are packed and eaten in parking lots or are divided between heavy snacks at 3:30 PM followed by another heavy snack at 8:00pm. Extracurriculars are not for all families and should be discerned according to your family’s needs.
The afternoons that we don’t have TKD are spent at various trails in the spring and fall. In the summers we either head to our neighborhood pool with a picnic dinner or we watch movies or documentaries that supplement our current subject content.
I hope this gives you an idea of what a homeschool day can look like. Each family is different. What works for us might not work for you. It all really depends on your own needs as a mother and the personalities of your children. It is only when we have data from six to nine months that we can look back and see what worked and what didn’t for our home. I hope this helps you formulate your plans as we move forward for the 2021/2022 school year.
Update: Check out Selina's Day in a Life post on her 2021-2022 school year here!
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