Category Archives: Life

A Day in the Life of a Homeschooling Mama of 7 (going on 8)

Hey guys! I promised you another homeschooling post a while back, and, since then, I’ve had several requests for a post about how I “balance it all.” I have that in quotation marks because, depending on the day, I don’t. But! I will say that we have a pretty good rhythm at our house at this point, and I’m better about saying, “No,” when necessary than I used to be, so I feel like we actually strike a pretty decent balance between chores, school, and play these days.

Of course, I say that now, and we haven’t officially started homeschooling yet (we just did reading + math all summer). That’s this week. But! I can give you a rundown of what a basic day-in-the-life looked like from last spring and what I anticipate it to look like this semester as well.

Monday is our co-op day, and last year, it consisted of my teaching Body Pump at 5:45 AM, then hustling home to shower/change, while the kids made/ate breakfast, got dressed, gathered their co-op supplies (which we had packed the night before), and did their morning clean-up. We were out of the house by 8:15 and finished with co-op (where I teach high school Spanish, and the kids all play or attend various classes all day) by 3:00 PM. I dropped the oldest 5 off at piano lessons, while the little boys and I rushed through a few errands, before picking up the girls for dance, taking them over to the dance studio, then doing a lightning run at the grocery, picking up the girls at dance, the boys at piano, and then heading home to finish dinner, eat, do evening clean-up, a bit of read-aloud, and then bedtime routines. At which point, I usually collapsed in a coma on the couch. It was the longest day of the year every. single. week.

THIS year, the first 2/3 of the day looks the same, but we don’t have piano lessons immediately after co-op (they’re on a different day), and the girls’ dance studio is only 3 minutes from our house this time around, so we’ll be home by 3:30 and have a bit of time to recoup before dance, which is a huge relief.

day in the life3

We *technically* started co-op last week for meet-the-teacher and had to come home and finish all the chores that we hadn’t completed in the mad rush to get our homeschooled selves out the door by 8:15. 

So! Since Monday isn’t exactly representative of the rest of the week, and I just gave you a rundown of that already, let’s go with Tuesday because that’s pretty much the most ordinary day of the week, right?

7:00 AM

I’m usually up between 6:30-6:45 (except for mornings that I get up at 5 AM to teach, which are Monday and Wednesday), and the kids get up at 7:00 during the school year. We eat breakfast, do family Bible reading, and then start morning cleanup. Clean-up usually lasts until 8:30, 9 at the latest…unless we all are dragging that morning.

9:00 AM

The kids and I review our memorization (verses, poetry, etc.) for the week, and then everyone starts on his/her independent work. The older kids do their math, reading, spelling, and vocab exercises, while the twins and I read and do math and handwriting together. They would technically only be in kindergarten this year, since their birthday isn’t until September 24 (they’ll be 6), but we’ll be working on mostly 1st grade work this year, since they are already reading at a beginning level just fine.

I check on the bigger kids’ work and look it over/grade it during this time as well. And Honor and Theo play/fight.

11:00

Since last March, a group of 3-6 girls from our church has been coming to our house twice a week to exercise together. They arrive at 11:15, and I pay Ezra and Simon to babysit their kiddos. At certain points, we’ve had as many as 20+ kids in the house, but the boys handle it really well, and it’s usually more like 10-15 (including mine). The moms are just upstairs, so if there’s a kiddo who needs our attention, we’re right there, but it’s nice to be able to exercise in relative peace and, um, well, not quiet exactly. But, it gets the job done. ;)

12:30 

The girls that come to exercise are usually gone between 12:30 and 1, and we eat lunch.

1:30

Honor usually goes down for a nap between 11 and 12 and sleeps until 2, so after lunch, Theo goes down for his nap, and the rest of the kids and I meet in the living room for read-aloud + laundry folding (they fold, I read; it’s fabulous). The twins are usually drawing during folding/reading, but their job is to take all of the baskets of folded laundry to the correct rooms.

day in the life

 

Clearly, Simon was into both the folding and the book. 

2:00

The twins have rest/play time in their room while the older kids work on co-op homework, science, grammar, and history with me.

3:30

Theo takes somewhere between a 1 hour and 2 hour nap, depending on his level of tiredness, so he’s up by now, usually wanting a snack. Honor’s up too, and, honestly, eeeerrrr’body wants a snack/break at this point. They usually get their own/take care of each other while I start dinner prep, flip the laundry, or just chill for a bit.

4:00

At this point, the older boys go out to water the flowerbeds, and then everybody has free time and usually spends it drawing, playing, reading, fishing, jumping on the trampoline, or helping me finish dinner prep (the twins and Theo are especially keen on that one).

5:00 

Tuesdays are usually our library day, so we  head there for about 30 minutes before heading back home for dinner. (It’s 5 minutes away…one of the many things I love about living 10 minutes closer to town than we used to).

EXTREMELY RANDOM TANGENT: Did you know that there’s an actual thing called the Mariko Aoki phenomenon, which observes that being in both libraries and bookstores has been linked with the urge to, ahem, poop. I observed it for myself when I noticed that Honor gifted me with a stinky diaper pretty much every time we visited the library, and then, when I posted about it on social media, I got sooooo many “mine toooo’s” that I had to investigate. Wonders never cease.

ANYWAY.

6:00

Dinner. It doesn’t take us an hour to eat, but we usually spend a good 45 minutes around the table.

7:00

We have an Alexa timer set for after dinner clean-up. We’ve been doing this consistently for over 8 months now, and I absolutely LOVE the difference it makes in all of our moods (but, let’s face it, mine the most) to go to bed with the dishes done and the downstairs picked up at least.

7:30 

The kids usually do something fun with Shaun at this point. He works from home, but he’s not usually available between 8 AM and 5 PM (at least), so this is the kids’ time to roll around on the floor or play ping or darts with their daddy. Honor goes to bed around this point as well.

8:00

Bedtime routines. During the summer, we don’t usually start these until 8:20 or so but we try to stick to 8 during the school year. Bedtime routines consist of teeth-brushing, potty, water, kid Bible reading (the older boys read a story to the younger kids and briefly discuss it), and any other nonsense, er, reasonable rituals that the kids feel attached to (i.e. making sure they know where their favorite sleep toy is). It usually takes about 20 minutes, so, most nights, everybody is heading to bed by 8:30.

8:30

With kids in bed, dinner stuff put away, and the house in decent shape, Shaun and I have some time to chill on the couch and talk about the day. We usually read or watch a show starting around 9 (our repertoire is very small, since we’re picky about what we watch, but we recently finished watching the first two seasons of The Man in the High Castle on VidAngel…wouldn’t recommend it unedited, but it’s an interesting watch with all of the junk edited out).

10:00 

By this point, we’re at least headed to bed, but when I don’t get up at 5, I usually manage to find something to occupy myself (ahem, catching up on Instagram) that means I end up going to sleep closer to 11.

day in the life1

This has nothing to do with what we look like when we are vegging on the couch, but this was how we felt the other day when my mom had the oldest 6, and Shaun, Honor, and I got to sneak out for a croissant at a local bakery when Shaun got back from a work trip. 

Aaaaaaaand there you have a typical Tuesday in our house.

Obviously, there’s a fair bit of flux in our schedule, depending on whether we have appointments (for example: my midwife only takes appointments on Tuesdays, so we’ll be adding that to our schedule this fall). And when Shaun’s gone on work trips (which he always does more in the spring and fall), Tuesdays are our nights to go to the gym for a bit after the library and then Chick-fil-a for dinner.

day in the life2

Honor might be a slight fan of Chick-fil-a nights…even if he does miss his daddy something fierce. 

And I think it’s pretty obvious that there are no hard and fast scheduling rules here. Some days, we finish all of our schoolwork in 4 hours (the older ones), and some days, it takes longer. Some days, shorter. We’re out of the house some days more than others, but, I’ll be honest: the majority of our days are spent at home. We wouldn’t be able to get everything done if they weren’t.

In case you’re wondering, Wednesday looks very similar, except that I teach early in the AM, the girls don’t come to exercise, and my mom comes to help with homeschooling around 10 AM. She leaves at 3. Then, at 4:30, I teach another class, usually while the kids stay home and watch a show (which is one of their only opportunities to have screen time during the week) and fold clothes (Shaun is home but working in his office, which is on the bottom floor).

Shooooo-wee! That was a lot of words about the boring stuff I do all day (boring in the “ordinary” sense…I don’t find it boring).

What about you guys? What does a day-in-the-life look like for you? Anything I skipped that you were dying to know? I’m happy to answer!

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Home School Q & A (Part 1)

It’s been a hot minute since I’ve written about our home school routine, and I’ve had multiple questions about it on social media over the last, oh, year or so, so I thought it was high time to address some of those here.

Please keep in mind, though, that I am, indeed, simply answering questions–not trying to prescribe anything we do as some sort of “thou shalt.” If you don’t home school the same way as we do, great! You’re still awesome. If you don’t home school at all and are just here because there’s nothing good on cable right now, great! Welcome to the light. #kidding #promise

An-y-way.

I think the simplest method is a straightfoward Q+A, so that’s how we gunna roll. ‘Ight? (I’m completely out of culturally relevant hipness, so if that last “sentence” set your teeth on edge or just confused you, be assured I’m done).

Without further ado…

Q: What curriculum do you use?

A: The NUMBER ONE question I get asked is curriculum…and for obvious reasons. It’s important! And there are SO many options out there. Which! Is a very good thing. Good, but overwhelming.

So, here’s what we do currently:

Math: Horizons (Ezra will transition to Saxon Pre-Algebra when he finishes his current book)

Reading/Literature: Bob Jones University Press+ whatever read-aloud books we’re currently engaged in. Right now: A Wrinkle in Time (Shaun’s reading it to the kids at night), The Boy in the Striped Pajamas (Me), and Unbroken (we listen on Audible at lunchtime).

Science: Apologia + miscellaneous supplementary experiments/materials.

History: Story of the World (we listen in the car, and we’re currently on The Modern Age, but we own them all), supplemented with period specific studies (currently studying about and listening to/reading aloud books about WWII).

Handwriting: Miscellaneous. Sometimes, I have the younger ones do workbooks (haven’t found one I love more than others, but any basic will do). Sometimes, it’s copy work for everyone.

Early Reading: Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons (so basic, but it works! The twins are doing great with it).

Spelling/Vocab: Wordly Wise

Grammar: First Language Lessons for the Well-Trained Mind

Spanish: Bob Jones University Press (only Ezra currently)

Keyboarding: typing.com

Apologetics: Apologia

Writing: I’ve yet to land on a program that I’m in love with. (My mom does most of our writing instruction). I have my kids do free writes that incorporate specific grammar topics we’ve covered occasionally.

In addition to all of the above, my mom comes to help home school on Wednesdays and Thursdays, and she often has her own supplementary materials. She’s currently reading Til We Have Faces to the older boys and teaching them Hebrew. She also periodically incorporates her own science, history, and, as mentioned above, writing.

I feel like I may be omitting something, so if you see a glaring hole, let me know, but everything above is our bread and butter (and does not really include any classes from our co-op, except Spanish).

 

Q: How did you choose your curriculum?

A: Trial and error more than anything. Very early on, I ordered at least one comprehensive curriculum (Hearts of Dakota), thinking it would simplify things for me (at that point, I was a harried mama of 5, ages 6 and under). It didn’t really. I ended up not liking various aspects of the curriculum, not using them, then feeling guilty for wasting money.

As I’ve continued to home school, I’ve done more research, read lots of reviews, and gotten a feel for my preferences as far as a book’s instructional style. I pay attention to recommendations on social media and such. You can’t really go wrong with Bob Jones and A Beka. They’ve been writing home school curriculum for ages (a sentence that makes me feel old, since I learned from both as a home school student myself). But I don’t happen to have just tons of their stuff. Horizons is a very good math program if your students are good with conceptual knowledge and then applying it through lots of repetition (SO FAR, all of mine have been…I teach very little math. Mostly, I quickly explain a concept, then they go at it, and I check for accuracy). Apologia is pretty universally loved as a creation-based science program. Bob Jones has solid Christian reading selections as well as good accompanying application workbooks.

Q: How would you describe your home school methodology?

A: At this point, I’m pretty much a home school traditionalist. We cover all of the subjects, and we approach them from a didactic perspective. And then we read a lot. It’s not fancy, but it gets the job done, and all of my children learn very well (so far) in a traditional manner (both Shaun and I do as well, so this is not surprising).

I am more and more intrigued by the Charlotte Mason/Unschooling approach, but since the methodology seems to be that we learn best from nature, is very student-interest-led (at least in the case of Unschooling), and makes the focus on learning from everything we do throughout our day, it’s a little bit overwhelming for my more give-me-a-box-to-check-please brain.

bread

Sometimes, instead of science, we make bread. It’s the tastiest experiment we do every single time. 

However, my kids LOVE nature, so I’m looking into incorporating more art and nature journaling (connected because the journaling often involves drawing what you have encountered in nature, and my kids are all pretty much the kings/queens of the stick figure at this point). I guess just art in general. At this point, we don’t study music (although the oldest five are enrolled in piano) or poetry much. I would love to get my kids learning more hymns at the very least.

(If you want to learn more about any of this, be sure to google Wild and Free home schooling).

I’ve always viewed activities like making bread together (a process which requires knowledge of math and science) and other cooking/projects a form of education, but I’ve never dared to imagine that they could replace a subject for the day.

This semester, I’ve tried to go with the flow a little more, allow them more time outside to plant things with my mom or gather things from nature–while still maintaining a steady pace with our workbooks and textbooks–and it’s going well. All of my kids are on or ahead of their age-grade levels. Something I absolutely love about home schooling is the flexibility to challenge and modify as necessary. For example, Della would only be in 1st grade this year because of her November birthday, but she is currently doing (and doing well) 3rd grade math. Her spelling skills are closer to her age level, though, so that’s where we stay on that subject. The ability to customize is my favorite.

reading

Della doesn’t love math, but she adores reading. And I adore catching her snuggled on the couch with a book. 

Q: What does a typical home schooling day look like for you?

A: We are usually done with family Bible reading + our morning chores by 9:30, at which point the kids all dive into their “independent work” (math, reading/reading workbook, vocab/spelling, typing, etc.). I typically work with the twins on reading, handwriting (copy work), and math while the older kids get their page-work done. We all hang out in the same space–at this point, the living room and kitchen area–so I’m able to answer questions from the older ones as they arise.

Around 11:30, we break for lunch (the twins are done for the day…they would only be pre-school bc of their age but are plenty ready for kindergarten work), and then we resume with read-alouds, history, science, and apologetics–all of which I teach/read/discuss with the kids (the twins are not required to participate in these, but they are usually close by). By 1:30 to 2, Della is done (if she hasn’t dragged her work out forever, which…she often does), and Ezra and Simon are ready to work on their homework from our home school co-op, practice piano, or spend time outside.

Our school day is generally done by 3 PM at the latest.

Shoooweee! That was a whole lot of words to only answer 4 questions, and there were way more than 4, let me assure you! Still, I’m going to stop here, so I don’t overwhelm anybody and pick back up with the next set of questions soon.

Feel free to weigh in on anything I wrote above or ask any questions you have that I haven’t touched on yet!

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