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Inside: A day in the life of our relaxed homeschool. Get a glimpse of what relaxed homeschooling is really like (though every day is different!).
I am excited to be linking up with Simple Homeschool today for their annual “Day in the Life” link-up!
I open my eyes. Laying next to me is my crazy, very attached toddler, sleeping soundly for once. I look at my phone: crap. It’s already 9:30 a.m.
Time to get up before the day gets away from me.
Mornings in Our Relaxed Homeschool
I gingerly get out of bed and creep downstairs to turn on the Keurig (this one is ours, and I don’t know how I ever lived without it!).
Coffee is a must when you’re a homeschooling, work-at-home mom.
The older kids are awake watching their educational show for the morning (they probably spent a while watching the birds at our new bird feeder – this one is similar), which sometimes turns into two. Our favorites are Wild Kratts, Odd Squad, and Magic School Bus.
I put away dishes in the dish rack, while I wait for the Keurig to heat up. I open my computer and check my e-mail and anything else work-related that needs my attention right away. I also fix a quick breakfast for the kids.
After I drink my coffee and read a few pages in my book of choice (The Magnolia Story has been inspirational as a mom entrepreneur!). When the coffee cup is empty, I head upstairs to take a shower and clean the bathroom.
If I’m lucky, the toddler is still asleep. If not, he either watches the show with his siblings or plays in the bathroom while I shower (and by play, I mean lean on the sink and turn on the faucet and toss toothbrushes around the bathroom – oi, my life is crazy!).
After the bathroom is clean and shower finished, I throw in a load of laundry downstairs. We’re in the middle of trying to nighttime potty train one child, and let’s just say it’s not going too well. This means a TON of extra laundry, and a water bill that makes me wonder if I’m really saving money.
When I finish my morning routine, I direct the kids to do their family service, so we can do our formal school for the day.
If I was writing this even three weeks ago, our day would look completely different. We used to homeschool in the afternoons, but since the toddler decided to drop his nap, the mornings are back to working best for us.
That’s the part about big family homeschooling I’m starting to get used to: routines are CONSTANTLY changing.
The Formal School Part of Our Day
This is what I call the “formal homeschool” part of our day. As relaxed homeschoolers, we probably do far less formal schoolwork that the average homeschool family.
The core of our formal homeschool time consists of:
We read Life of Fred aloud, doing the problems at the end together. I supplement the problems with additional questions according to age.
The Story of the World is a bit of a stretch for the boys, at least my oldest boy (age 6) who doesn’t have as long an attention span as his four-year-old brother. But I persevere, asking him to hang in there. Food or the activity coloring pages sometimes make it easier for him to listen.
We are enjoying the Egermeier’s Bible Story Book. We have used the Jesus Storybook Bible in the past (highly recommended!), but I wanted the kids to get a more thorough background of Bible knowledge this year, which the Egermeier’s Bible delivers. I do adlib, altering some of the rather stilted text to make it more engaging. After every story, we ask, “What does this story show us about what God is like?”, which has led to some great conversations and insights from the kids.
Today, our Little Passports package has arrived in the mail, so we open it and start working on the activities. This month’s country is Japan. We have a lot of fun trying to figure out how to do origami according to the written instructions; I end up turning to Youtube for help instead.
When we get tired of origami, the kids head outside to jump on the trampoline. It’s a beautiful February day! I still can’t get used to it being 70 degrees in February. Quite a difference from 40 degrees with six inches of snow still on the ground in Boston!
And that, my friends it the most formal school we normally do in a day.
My second child is a bit of a reluctant reader. We were working through lessons in these books, but he recently became really resistant, so I backed off. He is still picking up words and sounding them out as he comes across them. I can see the wheels turning. I am waiting to initiate again, until I see more of an eagerness and urgency to learn.
He will read, when he’s ready.
Afternoons in our Relaxed Homeschool
I make lunch (normally sandwiches and fruit), while the older kids play outside. The toddler stays inside with me for a bit, as we sadly do not have a fenced in backyard. He rides his bike or zooms cars all over the kitchen.
After lunch, the kids play outside a good part of the afternoon. I work on the blog wherever the toddler wants to be. This usually involves me walking around with my computer (or typing out a post on my phone), sitting on the driveway while he rides his bike in the cul de sac or on the deck watching him jump on the trampoline.
I work on my blog while the kid’s are awake. I have always treated this blog like a business, even when I was earning $0. We need my income to pay bills, pay off student loans, and save for a house.
While I do enjoy blogging, it’s work for me, not a hobby.
When I glance at the clock and see that it’s 4:30 p.m. (already?!), I know I need to put the computer away and start making dinner. I clean up the kitchen the best I can (it is really hard for me to cook when the counters are cluttered) and start chopping peppers and chicken for sheet pan chicken fajitas.
The kids start to wander in and bicker a bit; the noise drives me crazy! I send them downstairs for screentime – some combination of video games and shows, 40 minutes each).
I fend off the toddler’s requests to nurse (the tenth one I’ve had to decline). He’s getting cranky. Even though he resists his nap every day, he doesn’t always make it until bedtime, which means a late nap (5-7 p.m.) and up late that night.
Dave walks in from work and finds me sitting on the couch, a sleeping child in my arms. I smile and wave, pointing to dinner that’s done and sitting on the stove.
Depending on how our day goes, we don’t always eat together as a family. We are both introverts (my husband more extreme than I), and sometimes, we just both need a break and want a quiet dinner together or alone.
Evenings in Our Relaxed Homeschool
As you may have gathered from my 9:30 a.m. wake-up, we run a later schedule in our family. This is mostly because my oldest has always been a night owl, and somewhere along the way I decided to stop fighting it.
One of the reasons I homeschool is because I love the automony we have. We are bound to no one else’s schedule but our own, and I can make accommodations for various sleeping difficulties we have (my toddler seems to operate on a similar sleep pattern as my oldest and doesn’t yet sleep through the night).
After dinner, my husband finishes work he brought home. The kids wander in and out of our bedroom (we have a full couch in there) to connect with him. Eventually, he finishes and spends time teaching them a new math concept, courtesy of a civil engineer, and encourages them to write a play they can put on with stuffed animals.
Our oldest goes into her room at some point to draw and to listen to an audiobook. She enjoys spending time in her own room, working on writing her latest book or drawing with her oil pastels (we are LOVING our membership to Our Masterpiece Studio – affordable online art lessons for homeschoolers).
But she inevitably emerges when I start reading picture books to the boys. She still loves picture books, and as an extrovert, she hates being left out of anything the rest of the family is doing.
I finish putting the older boys to bed. It takes FOREVER because the toddler is jumping around, climbing bunk beds or fighting for my attention (my husband has already gone to bed, as he gets up hours before the rest of us).
I head downstairs with my daughter and the toddler. We read aloud together from our latest chapter book: The Land of Stories (I am so impressed by these books! She already listened to the entire series on audiobooks, but wanted to share it with me.).
This is sacred time for us, and something I consider a non-negotiable part of our homeschool day.
We only skip it if I am too sick to read.
Finally. Finally. My daughter heads to bed. I nurse the toddler to sleep and put him gently in my bed.
I’m going to be real with you: bedtime for these two ranges anywhere from 10:45 p.m. to midnight. They do sleep in until 9:30 or 10:00 a.m., so I am confident they are getting the sleep they need.
I clean up the kitchen and start the dishwasher. Then I head downstairs to work, usually finishing up around 2 or 2:30 a.m. I reluctantly say goodnight to the perfectly quiet house that is all mine and head to bed.
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“But what about XYZ subject? When do you do language arts or science or _____ ?”
I am a borderline unschooler. There is SO MUCH learning that happens as we just go about living our everyday life.
When kids see something as valuable, they want it. Show them the knowledge you have is valuable and awesome, and they will want to acquire it.
It’s often that simple (really).
We do math in the car on the way to the library. We use the internet to find answers to our questions like, “Why does the sun set so early?” or “How do people decide how much something should cost at the store?”
It is still absolutely astonishing to me the ways my kids are learning all the time!
I am a resource. I am a guide. I teach when I need to. But I can’t tell you how many times they tell me the latest cool animal fact they learned from Wild Kratts that I don’t know.
I am learning right along with them, and I love it.
Our kids are sponges. They learn from the minute they come out of the womb, and they only stop when we make learning seem like a chore.
There are things that I want them to know (history, for example) that I build into our homeschool day, which is what makes me a relaxed homeschooler, not an unschooler. I share those subjects with passion and excitement because I love them! Most days, my enthusiasm is contagious.
Bu their interests and passions direct our homeschool days more often than not.
I am no homeschool mom rockstar.
I’m just a stay-at-home, work-at-home, homeschooling mom, trying my best to juggle it all: just like you.
Head to Simple Homeschool to get more glimpses into the days of homeschool families of all sorts!