When I decided to consider homeschooling in the middle of last summer, I researched like a crazy person for three weeks before I chose a plan of action. I am a box-checker who despises construction paper, but loves to read. I seemed to have the greatest affinity for the principles of Charlotte Mason, so I chose to use the literature-based Sonlight curriculum with some of my own additions thrown in.
I chose the first grade package for my daughter Hazel. Unexpectedly, every time we settled on the couch to read about history or study the Bible, her brother Jubal was on the other side of me. He would ask the most pertinent questions and I soon realized that I was homeschooling him too.
The following was my day on Friday, January 23rd with some notations as what a more "normal" day would entail.
6:45 a.m. The baby in my closet (yes, you read that correctly) woke up and was ready eat. In an ideal world I would get up at the same time every morning and have productive time to myself. In my real world with two children who still get up frequently at night, I get up when the baby gets up. I struggle with serious crankiness if I don't get a good block of sleep, so I get up anywhere between 6 a.m. and 8 a.m. depending on how the previous night went and when Granville wakes up.
I nurse the baby, make my bed, wash my face, put on the same clothes I wore the day before and wipe out my bathroom sink and toilet. I do not enjoy cleaning the bathrooms and would previously let them go so long that my husband would finally clean them. Since August, I've been proactively wiping down my sink and "swishing" my toilet when I get up. Now I never have to deal with bathroom horror because it doesn't have time to get that bad. (Thanks for the idea FlyLady.) Jubal hears Granville burbling in my room and gets up to see him sometime while I'm doing all of this. I move to the laundry room where I start one load of laundry. Both my husband and I try to wear our outer clothes as long as possible (unless they get dirty, of course!). It really does lower the laundry requirements and we get away with only doing five loads of laundry each week. I generally do one load per week day. I wipe down our main bathroom and head to the kitchen.
7:30 a.m. Since we started homeschooling, I wanted to have better breakfasts than cereal every day because I don't have to put my daughter on an early bus anymore. I have about ten breakfast meals that I cycle through. Some are easy and some are more involved, so I can choose based on what we have going on each day. Thankfully, we had breakfast for dinner on Thursday night so I still have pancakes in the refrigerator. I clean out the dish drainer, make my tea, get out meat to defrost for our dinner, set out vitamins and our pancakes and bananas. The boys and I eat, but Hazel still isn't up.
8:30 a.m. When I had envisioned my "schedule" for our future homeschooling life, I had planned to start working on school at 8:30 a.m. During her kindergarten year, Hazel got on the bus at 7:50 a.m., so this seemed so reasonable - haha! Since we've been doing school at home, her night owl tendencies are even more pronounced. She is always in her room at 8 p.m., but sometimes doesn't fall asleep until 10 p.m.. This makes for later mornings and she is a bear to wake up. I've learned that my whole day goes better if I let her awaken on her own, even if this means starting a little later. So, I pull out all the school materials we'll be using that day and fold and put away the dry laundry from the load I washed the day before. I also try to write a few handwritten notes on the bottom of my "New Years" letters that I am still sending out.
9:30 a.m. I finally succumb and wake Hazel up because I want to do SOME school today. She scarfs down some breakfast while I read a Bible passage and they work on their verse memory. I put Granville down for his morning nap. He doesn't have to take them, but strangely, his afternoon naps are much longer when he has also had a morning nap. It also helps the big kids to focus on their work without the epitome of cuteness roaming around at their feet.
I've appreciated Charlotte Mason's idea of switching between intense listening subjects and more hands-on topics. This morning, Hazel starts with a page of her Handwriting Without Tears book. She doesn't enjoy handwriting, so I usually only have her do a page at a time, but she has to do it well. We usually start with math right after Bible time in the morning, but we've had a friend-intensive week with some extra play dates scheduled and we need to catch up on a few other things. I haven't found the lesson plans set out by Sonlight to be too onerous and we try and accomplish most of what they assign each week. We switch to science and read a few pages of The Boy Who Drew Birds: A Story of John James Audubon. We are using Noeo Biology 1 and we're enjoying their living books selections for science. I've taken Charlotte Mason's short lessons to heart and we move quickly to Language Arts. Jubal does his own thing while I work with Hazel. He happily occupies himself. I introduce some new spelling words, she reads a short literature selection to me and then she completes a few sentences of copy work from it.
Granville wakes up from his nap and we all sink into the sunny couch to read a few Greek myths from our Usborne book. Granville joins us for awhile, but then he gets down to play with the toys we leave scattered semi-permanently around the living room. The kids think it is hilarious that Narcissus falls in love with his own reflection.
11:30 a.m. I usually send the kids out to play for at least 30 minutes before lunch while I play with Granville. If the weather isn't great as frequently happens in the winter, I almost have to lock the door to keep them outside. Today isn't one of those days. They are overcome with passion about a snow shoveling project they have created and they stay outside for an hour and a half except for a five minute break during which they inhale their lunch. This gives me a peaceful lunch with Granville and an opportunity to call a family member. I do the dishes and then call them in for quiet time.
1:00 p.m. I love quiet time. I am an introvert and I look forward to this time of day. The main rule is that the kids have to stay in their rooms and be quiet. They can read, create, or play, but they have to leave me alone and entertain themselves. (I don't enjoy crafts, but I give them lots of access to supplies to pursue their own projects.) I nurse the baby and put him down for his nap. This is the time I generally do my own personal Bible study, read, take a shower, play a fun problem-solving game, watch a show, or check Facebook and my favorite blogs. Today, I read, play my game and check a few blogs.
2:30 p.m. Normally, I would tell the kids to clean their rooms while I quickly check my email. Once their rooms are clean, they get to watch a little TV if we've finished our school goals for the day. Since we were a little behind, they escape from cleaning and I give them a snack while Hazel works on her Math-U-See sheets for twenty minutes. I used to require her to complete a worksheet no matter how long it took her, but she would get very frustrated with math. Now, she knows that she can do it for twenty minutes and she picks up the next day where she left off. My math goal for her is mastery and not the completion of a work book in a certain amount of time. Lastly, I pull out the Audubon bird coloring book and the kids color birds in their chosen colors.
4:00 p.m. I've signed up to make a meal for a mom with a newborn in my MOPS group, so I prepare the same meal for their family and ours. Granville wakes up right at 4 p.m. and he is crabby, so I put him in the backpack while I work.
4:45 p.m. Dad arrives home and he takes all of the kids outside to play while I pack up my meal to deliver. He is great about giving me a break from the kids the moment he walks in the door.
5:30 p.m. I get back home and we eat our slightly congealed dinner. Then, Hazel cleans off the table, I put food away and Timothy does the dishes. We would usually have family clean up time around the house after dinner, but I have a painting class scheduled with a friend for the evening. Dad takes over while I get ready and leave for my 7 p.m.class.
Normally, Granville would nurse and go to bed 7 p.m. and we would have some time with the older kids to play a game or watch a family show together while their dad also works out. (I still haven't put that into my regular schedule.) The older kids go to bed at 8 p.m. Jubal falls asleep right away while Hazel enjoys "light time" where she gets to read, write, paint her nails or whatever she'd like. We shut her light off at 9 p.m. Timothy and I spend time talking, playing games or watching a show.
10:30 p.m. I return from my class to a quiet house. I do a little reading and fall asleep by 11:30 p.m. (hey - it's Friday!) I would normally TRY to be asleep by 10:30 p.m., but I have a hard time controlling myself once I'm reading and it is usually closer to 11 p.m. when I shut out the light and hope that no one wakes me up in the night.
The general feel of my days shifts slowly over time as we figure out better ways or as the baby ages and we need to adjust our schedule for his new needs, but this was yesterday. Many days in our week don't contain quite as many school hours as we have gymnastics class for Hazel, MOPS meetings one day a week, errands or play dates. Most days, I also try to include music or composer study (currently Bach), artist study or an art project (currently C.M. Russell), P.E. (my default is the trampoline), concentrated time outside (like yesterday), or fun field trips (most recently our free county museum). I would like to be writing more, but my kids are intense and I'm very drained after my time with them. Writing with them up and about is not a good mix, as I've been reminded this afternoon. Overall though, I appreciate the time I have with my kids and the greater access I have to how their young minds are processing our world.
Reading back through this post, it almost seems as if we ignore Granville most of the day and that is not the case. We all have to fight very hard not to be drawn into the gravity of his cuteness and subsequently forget what we were reading or doing. When I'm working with one child, the other one is usually playing on the floor with their brother. He isn't too destructive (or maybe I don't care as much) and he likes to be in the room where we are, so he doesn't wander off much.