A Day in the Life :: Homeschool
Thursday, 13 January 2011
Since we have started homeschooling (a mere eight weeks ago), several people have asked how it’s going and how it works. We are brand-new to this whole thing, and I feel like we still have much to learn (both of us).
Now that the holidays are over and we are back at home, a new rhythm seems to be emerging. One that is a cross between the reality of now, and the vision I have for how it will be. Since The Boy only six and is in First Grade, I am placing emphasis on the basics of reading, writing, and math, with lots of play thrown in. I like to keep in mind the Waldorf concept of, “head, heart, and hands” when it comes to planning out our day. The Girl, who is three, can choose to participate as she likes.
Here’s what it’s looking like right now.
6:00 a.m. -7:00 a.m. The kids wake any time between six and seven. They play quietly in their bedroom or the living room.
7:00 a.m. Adults wake up. The kids play and eat their breakfast while I get dressed and take a brisk walk alone. This helps clear my head and energize my body.
8:00 a.m. The Daddy Monkey leaves for work, the kids get dressed, and we begin morning chores. This includes cleaning up the morning’s toys, starting a load of laundry, washing the breakfast dishes, and simple housecleaning.
9:00 a.m. Movement. This is something The Boy needs to have to center him into his body. Part of the reason we left school is that there was no movement planned into his day. To move our bodies, we may take a walk, jump on the bed (yes!), do some yoga, swing in the hammock, or just put on some music and dance.
9:15 a.m. This is when my kids and I are our sharpest so we begin our day with working in “in the head.” For us this means reading. We snuggle up on the couch with two books from whatever subject we are studying at the time. Right now we are doing a block on dinosaurs, so I will read two dinosaur books aloud, while the kids look on and listen. After that, The Boy practices his reading on two books, with my help. I usually let him choose which books he wants to read because this tends to motivate him more. Right now he really loves Mo Willems’ Elephant and Piggie series.
After reading, I let the kids take a break to play outside a bit while I set up the table with work or a project, or take a small reading or knitting break for myself.
10:30 a.m. At this time, we usually sit at the dining room table with a snack and write and illustrate a page for his main lesson book. (All pages will be bound together into a book when the block is finished.) While at the table, we may also practice handwriting, do math manipulatives, paint, or go over the week’s vocabulary. (I do not arbitrarily choose vocabulary words. His vocabulary practice comes from the week’s reading. Whenever we run into a word he doesn’t know, we will look it up and learn its meaning.) If not working on academics at this time, we may do a craft or bake.
While we are working at the table, The Girl may either participate, or she can listen to a story on cd in her room or play quietly by herself. Often she chooses to be at the table with us, working on stringing beads, practicing with scissors, or drawing with markers.
11:30 a.m. The majority of our day’s “work” is done, and the kids play while I make lunch.
12:00 p.m. We have lunch together as a family. We are very fortunate that The Daddy Monkey works close by, and comes home for lunch. After lunch, we have a quick toy clean-up.
1:00 p.m. Quiet time. It is expected that Quiet Time is just that—time to be quiet.
While I am getting The Girl down for her nap, The Boy is allowed to play on the computer. When The Girl is asleep and I come out, we may read some more or sit at the table and get some work done that requires quiet concentration (sometimes challenging to get with a three year old running around!) At this time of the day, I like to focus on “the heart.” We might read fairy tales or fables (right now I am really loving Buddha at Bedtime by Dharmachari Nagaraja for its gentle but insightful stories for children). Another day we may focus our attention on where bread comes from, or read about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
After this, I may sew or cook while The Boy plays with Legos. This is the “hands” aspect of our day. At some point in the future I hope to introduce The Boy to some handwork such as knitting, weaving or sewing.
3:00 p.m. The Girl is usually awake by then and we might go to the park or library, have a playdate, run errands, go thrift shopping, or have a field trip.
5:00 p.m. Back home to cook dinner. After dinner, the kids play, have a bath, and we start on the bedtime routine at 7:30 p.m. The kids are in bed by 8:00 p.m.
Having the kids in bed at the same time every night gives them the sleep rhythm they require, and gives me some time to myself, or to spend with my husband. I try to be in bed by 11:00 p.m. every night. I find that I have to get a good night’s sleep if I am going to be with kids all day long.
On the weekends, the kids usually play music or have Science Lab with The Daddy Monkey.
I’m sure all of this will grow and evolve as we gain experience, but for now, I like placing emphasis on lots of play and taking things in small doses. I’m noticing how long I can hold The Boy’s attention for, and unlike school who sees his wandering attention as a bad sign, I see it as a sign that he needs to process the information he has just been given. And just when I think that this whole homeschooling thing is just a pipe dream, or that he isn’t learning anything, he will go and spout out facts about plasmodium or archeopteryx to anyone who will listen.