If you’re questioning how homeschool works on a day to day basis for a full-time working mother, here is a glimpse into a day in my life. I’m very fortunate that Jack’s education isn’t burdened all on me and Dad (and Nana) does some of the school work too.
5:45 a.m. alarm goes off.
6:30 a.m.- I have finished dressing and am fixing breakfast 6:45- Our little guy is awake and wants snuggles, I read him his devotional. I love this time and am adamant that I never say no to snuggles..one day he’ll be too big for me.
7:15 a.m.-5:45 p.m. I’m at work. On my lunch break, I may look for projects for us to do on the weekend (if they’re large) or little exercises to do for Dad/Nana during the week while I work.
6:30 p.m. I’m home and get the run down on our homeschool accomplishments for the day. We’ve watched Latin, journaled, and done our own science experiment. I work on reading, math, and spelling. Because Jack works quickly we are usually done within an hour. Sometimes, it takes longer if he isn’t in a school type mood and at that time we may break and focus more the next day. I would also like to say that the bulk of his education is very child led. (Notice the science experiment, this is usually started by him and monitored by us). He also requests us to read science books to him. This all happened while I was at work but he constantly leads the way for us to teach him. We follow along with some workbooks but he blows past most pre-packaged curriculum quickly. So, I encourage the rabbit holes so he can deeply learn about things he likes.
9:00- We are watching Magic School Bus (did I mention he was very interested in Science, LOL).
10:00- We are asleep.
This is a small glimpse into a bigger picture of a foundation I lay for him day to day. I strongly encourage him to take control of his own education. We love the rabbit holes, we play games and go outside. This is the biggest part and it happens it seems when we least expect it to happen.
My first experience with homeschooling was with my second oldest Grandson Jacob. He felt he wanted to try homeschooling in 6th grade and his parents agreed. Jacob’s first year of homeschool saw him flourish and he tested better at the end of the year than he had during his public school days.
Then my youngest decided to homeschool and she knew that I was on board. Because I can keep my grandson a day or two through the week, I have a unique opportunity to enrich his life.
Here are some ways I make our special time together count toward homeschooling while my daughter is working:
We cook together and we make up our own special recipes. I sneak in his math lessons by measuring ingredients out or halving a recipe we may find online. Cooking with Grandma is a time-honored and special tradition.
My grandson loves dinosaurs. We pretend we are on a dig in the backyard. We learn about bones, dirt, and rocks.
We pretend we are in a castle or we design a castle or a city. We learn about what a city needs (doctor’s, banks, malls, police). We use our imaginations and learn all about the inner workings of what we build.
We play 20 questions and learn about what it was like when Nana was young. We talk about decades and pretend to be real war heroes like George Washington.
Grandparents have an exceptional opportunity to bring experience to the learning experience and make special connections with their grandchildren during the day while the parents are working. I encourage other grandparents to get involved and give mom the day off (or take care of the kids while she works).
Hang around a few homeschoolers long enough and you’ll find they all use different curriculum and different ways to teach their children. I think it is because “Education is custom work.” John Taylor Gatto. I also think it’s because we are all wired differently. I also decided to write a post that I wish I had read when I started homeschooling. It’s okay to throw your curriculum away!
I work full time and I had a ton of bricks (self-imposed) on my shoulders to makes sure Jack had the world’s best education. As a result, I put a lot of emphasis on pre-packaged curriculum and workbooks. I think I was stuck pretty hard in the “public school is homeschool” mentality. It didn’t take Jack long to let me know that this isn’t how it’s going to work. Now, I agree with him. Workbooks aren’t that fun and quite frankly you can homeschool without them. So, we threw several to the side and we wing it with library books and research. I do keep the workbooks mostly for guidelines on where he should be grade wise. But, quite frankly he is way ahead in most subjects.
This catharsis of throwing away what a standard requirement is of my child has recently led me to realize that I have become an anti-helicopter homeschool mom. Don’t get me wrong I still use pre-packaged curriculum but now I use it sparingly. It’s nothing for us to go a whole morning or day only discussing Dinosaurs or Argentina and not really crack a book. I try and just incorporate what he is interested in with what he needs to do, like writing. If he was suffering or behind in reading, writing, or math skills maybe I would feel differently. But once I really gave up trying to control our homeschool day and forcing him to do the pre-packaged curriculum it really has become much easier. Is it going to be the end of the world that in 1st grade at the local public school they are learning about flowers while he is at home learning about the digestive system because he’s all of sudden obsessed with it… I doubt it. But this is our life, it’s mostly child-led learning and I’m very grateful we follow it.
A major concern for all parents is for their children to learn to read. While I was pregnant with Jack it was definitely high on my list of priorities. I google searched for the perfect books to add to your kid’s library for literary success. I bought Dr.Seuss and read all sorts of books to our boy with great hopes he would love to read. Maybe it was the concern and priority that turned out a great reader or maybe it was just the perfect storm of reading to him all the time. Either way, here’s my very simple list of suggestions to raise a reader.
Read to them from infancy. I read to Jack from the time we brought him home. It was a priority and he was a captive audience. LOL. Those babies aren’t running from you, they love to hear your voice so go ahead and read to them. Also, use your finger to show them each word as you read it, babies and toddlers pick up on this and start putting together what you’re doing. It makes reading less of a mystery for them.
I was a big investor in Dr. Seuss. Love him or hate him, his books make perfect rhyming sense to young children. They are fun, they are colorful, and they teach rhyming and word families.
Make a priority to take them to the library. Once a month or once a week as long as you take them and let them pick the books that they are interested then this tradition will be a recipe for success (and also for homeschooling). I started this when Jack was about 2. At first, I had this method; I led him to the fiction, science, history, geography sections and would encourage him to pick a book he was interested in from each. Today he stays far away from fiction and I don’t pressure him, at six he can read all the science and history books he wants 🙂
Ask forward-thinking questions while reading. For example, “Jack, what do you think Cheetahs eat?” right before we read the page that answers the question. It gets them thinking ahead and wanting to read for the answer. You can do the same for fiction books as well, “Do you think Dorothy will ever get back to Kansas?”
Last year we began 2016 by moving to a house that’s on 12 acres. We did so mostly because we wanted our boy to grow with freedom to roam and learn outside. Even, if we didn’t have all this land we would still be outside players because we love fresh air so much! Here are a few ideas if you’re looking for some fun outside play.
Digging for bones. Paleontology has been the preferred learning topic over here for about a month. To play grab a shovel or a spoon and be armed with a little info about dinosaurs and you’re good to go!
Expedition. We’ve been to Antarctica, South America, China all from our yard. Just be armed with a few facts like native animals. (Tip, this game pairs very well with Little Passport’s)
History Explorer. Go back into ancient times with a walk around your yard. Look, you can see the pyramid from here!
What lives here? Look for bird’s nest or an animal habitat and ask, “What lives here?”
All of this is free and easy. Trust me that your child won’t forget these lessons. We make sure it’s child led too. I don’t control were we go on Expedition, I just suggest the game. He usually likes Antarctica.
Comment with your favorite outside games! I would love to hear feedback.
When I started homeschooling, I never actually had an art curriculum or program. I just stumbled upon something that works by creating art myself. Here are some easy things to do to fill your homeschool with art, even if you aren’t an artist.
Buy (or check out at your local library) How to draw books. We love these and simply follow the directions together. It helps learn the mechanics of drawing for your little one. Plus there are so many out there you are sure to find one that will keep your child’s interest.
Drawing everywhere! I make pencils and paper easily accessible everywhere. He draws what he wants and I always compliment his efforts. Be sure to keep criticism in check for little ones, we want to encourage and not discourage.
Be hands off. It sounds a little crazy but don’t hover when they are drawing. It doesn’t have to be for a set time, it doesn’t have to be perfect, it just needs to be.
And last, draw with them, even if you think you stink! But, don’t be critical of yourself either. They’ll want to know why and apply that to their drawing. Just use the moment for fun and let go. The more fun you have, the better everyone will become because you’ll want to practice more and who doesn’t want to have fun.
Share your kid’s latest drawing below. I would love to see it!
2016 while a year full of blessings left me scattered and quite frankly I’m glad to see it go. Last year we were moving into our new house and doing a ton of remodel and repairs. As a result, we did a lot of already prepared lessons. While they can be a life saver, our son just gets bored easily with it. So it was a constant struggle between he and I. One I’m grateful for.. like all life lessons.
Here’s what I learned from those curriculum struggles in 2016 and what I’m doing in 2017.
It’s okay to teach with shows. Sometimes, I just didn’t have the fight in me to make him sit down and learn from our workbooks and so we used Netflix and DVDs. The Cat in The Hat knows a Lot About That, Schoolhouse Rock, Sing Song Latin, and The Magic School Bus are some of our favs. Bonus, you can cook or clean while they learn! I’m not saying this should take over your school day, just that it’s absolutely a great tool to use when needed.
Drawing as writing curriculum. My son hates writing and he makes sure I know it! So, I turn more to Draw, Write, Now and my own drawing assignments for him on those days where the old workbook isn’t working for us. Bonus, he’s happy and so am I.
Outside play time = expeditions to learn about the world. A few documentary shows and Little Passport’s are great in teaching about different countries around the world. We then go outside and pretend we’re there. He actually never fights me on his history or geography workbooks but this is a great break.
These are just a few things we are going to do more of this year. The workbooks won’t be going away but we will have more fun in 2017 with our learning. Just like he wants. Bonus, it’s fun for me too.
I like to learn about sharks. I think that underwater creatures are the best creatures. Now that I think about underwater creatures I like the megalodon shark the best. The kraken is the biggest octopus in history.
I can also learn about my two dogs.
I like to learn about Dinosaurs the most. But sometimes, I think about underwater creatures more.
I like to learn about all things.
Then, I like to learn about ice and Polar Bears.
Then,I dig up bones of Dinosaurs that I still keep up with under water creatures like the Megalodon. The Megalodon reminds me of the Great White Shark today.