A homeschool day in the life with a 10 and 2 year old demands a lot from my 40+ year old mind. Most days I feel lacking in stamina, creativity, flexibility and overall smarts to keep two very different children happy and learning.
No matter how inadequate I may feel, or how much I long for more introvert time, homeschooling is a joy. I get the privilege of being with my children every day, watching them grow and sharing in their learning experiences.
7:00 a.m. Wake up
Miles wakes me up asking for “milkies.” He’s almost three and still enjoys that special nursing time with mom. I lounge in bed with him for the next half hour wishing I could fall back asleep. Will I ever be a morning person?
7:30 a.m. Officially Get Up
After noticing his daddy is not in bed, Miles gets up and heads downstairs. Usually my husband is the first one up, but today he’s already on the road, heading to an early morning appointment.
I hear familiar voices drifting upstairs coming from the home video I’ve heard a thousand times. Miles must have pulled up a chair to the tall bookshelf to retrieve his iPad.
I take advantage of the situation and quickly wash up and get dressed. I hear Julia getting up minutes later. She joins Miles downstairs and fixes herself some cold cereal.
7:45 a.m. Make Breakfast
Breakfast foods bore me and I never know what to eat anymore. Today I’m in the mood for something sweet, so Miles helps me put together some baked oatmeal with blueberries.
He was too hungry to wait the 30-minute bake time, so he had a pre-breakfast snack of cold cereal with milk.
Julia finishes her breakfast and heads to the dining room to start working on grammar, vocabulary and keyboarding.
This Julia’s last year using Keyboarding Without Tears. She went from hunting and pecking to typing faster than me. I am so glad we used this program with her, because she loves to write. Now she can type her stories in no time at all, and we’re using far less paper!
8:30 a.m. Eat Breakfast
I wash up the dishes and join Miles at the table. He finishes his cereal and I get to start my breakfast. He decides he wants some baked oatmeal too. Who could resist?
9:00 a.m. Break & Dress
Julia takes a break from her work to play with her gerbils. She’s been reading online about snacks that are safe to give them besides their typical dry pet food. Today she treats them to Kix. Miles loves watching their little mouths nibbling one puff of corn as if it were candy. Julia picks them up and lets Miles pat them.
Miles sees the laptop has been left on the table and immediately runs over to lift the top. “I do x’s.” That means he wants me to open up a blank word document so he can type letters. This started months ago when he was constantly getting into our laptops. He really wanted to do what he saw the three of us doing, so knowing he could recognize letter x, I told him he could “make x’s.”
While he stands there informing me about the button that makes big letters (caps lock) and sings the ABC song, I manage to dress him. Then we head off to brush our teeth.
9:15 a.m. Work Time
Julia works independently for the next hour on reading and writing. She’s reading several books that have been nominated by a group of librarians for the Maine Student Book Award. In April, children across the state in grades 4-8 will voice their opinions by voting for the best children’s book that was published in 2015. She’s currently reading an adventure story called The Doldrums by Nicholas Gannon. For Julia, Fish in a Tree by Linda Mullaly Hunt, Masterminds by Gordon Korman, and A Handful of Stars by Cynthia Lord are all contenders. She’s going to have a hard time choosing just one book.
Now that Miles is older, he can do more structured activities with me. Days that I neglect to prepare something for him to do are always harder. Sometimes all it takes is my pulling out a toy bin that has been in the shed or a new kitchen tool he can manipulate.
I’ve been reading about Maria Montessori’s methods and philosophies and am slowly trying to implement some Montessori based activities with Miles.
I really like the 3-period lesson approach to teaching vocabulary. Using these beautiful Arctic animal cards I first read through the cards one by one as Miles listens. During the second period, I place several cards down on the table and ask him to find specific cards; “Can you point to the polar bear?” For the third period, Miles tells me the names of the animals when I point to them. Since our stack of cards is rather large, he hasn’t mastered them all yet.
Today we play a matching game. I place 14 cards (7 sets of different animals) face up on the table. Miles makes matches, and we name the animals as he finds them. As you can see from his expression, he really enjoys this activity.
Practical life activities are the focus for preschool age children in Montessori education. These activities aim to help children learn coordination, how to care for themselves and their environment, and how to interact appropriately with others.
In this simple pouring activity, Miles pours white beans from a small pitcher into two smaller silver cups. When he pours too fast, the beans overflow onto his tray. After some practice he successfully fills the two cups. He really enjoys this sort of tray work. If I leave the tray out for too long, he tends to use the beans for other purposes, like filling his dump truck or mixing in his blender.
Next we read Polar Bear, Polar Bear What Do You Hear? by Bill Martin Jr., Arctic Foxes by Downs Matthews and Miles’s favorite book, Best Word Book Ever by Richard Scary.
10:15 a.m. Snack & Read Aloud
Although this read aloud is for Julia, we try to make it a family affair. We get snacks and cuddle on the couch. Sometimes Miles nurses; sometimes he plays on his own; sometimes he interrupts us constantly. Today he chooses the latter.
On days like these I’m not sure how Julia comprehends anything that comes out of my mouth. I read a sentence, then correct Miles. I read a fragment, then speak to Miles hoping to get him interested in a toy, and on an on it goes.
Today we struggle through. He snacks a little, plays a little, but what he really wants is for us to put the book down and pay attention to him. I know this because his wooden stick becomes a hammer (or drumstick) for everything in sight and he refuses to give it up. My intervention leads to his meltdown, but closing the book is the key to calming him down. Fortunately, we’re at a good stopping point in our book.
11:00 a.m. Music
Julia practices her clarinet that she started playing this fall. It’s amazing how well she can play already. She has surpassed all the other beginners and most of the 6th graders. Her teacher invited her to join the band, but it didn’t work with our schedule this year.
I give Julia’s homeschool co-op music teacher credit for preparing her. Since Julia’s been learning to read music for the past three years, playing clarinet is more about learning correct fingering and blowing properly than deciphering music notation. I wish I could have learned to play my flute so easily.
Miles makes a drum set with Tinkertoys. He names all the different drums and even makes a pedal for his bass drum. I think it’s adorable how he takes his sock off to play.
Miles loves, loves, loves drums and will pound on anything he can get his hands on. Sometimes he gets the privilege of playing his daddy’s drum set, but today it’s packed away, so he has to be creative.
While I run downstairs to look over the math lesson for today, Julia sings a few songs with her microphone. Meanwhile, Miles discovers that standing on a pillow gives him the height he needs to reach my jewelry box. I find him on the floor in my room trying on bracelets and spinning necklaces in the air creating a tangled mess. But if he’s happy, I’m happy.
11:30 a.m. Math
Julia and I work on a brief math lesson while Miles sits on my lap. He’s hungry, but I know the math won’t take long, and I want to get it finished. Miles scribbles on some paper and plays with the mechanical pencil while I talk about decimals and fractions.
11:45 a.m. Lunch
Julia plays with her dolls, and Miles plays with the salad spinner while I make lunch. He likes to fill it will clementines from the fruit bowl, wooden eggs, or anything else that looks interesting.
After we eat our sweet potato, peas and macaroni and cheese, I do the dishes and Julia reads.
12:30 p.m. Chorus
Julia takes chorus at the elementary school. Usually we walk her to the school and Miles and I enjoy a leisurely walk around town, but at 10 degrees with a brisk wind, I’m sure the wind chill is at least zero.
I think this is the first time all winter we’ve had to drive because of weather. It’s been relatively mild and dry, but this week, winter showed up.
It’s a beautiful day despite the cold. Yesterday it snowed all day and night, so we drive around snow-packed roads that are finally melting in the mid-day sun. We drive down to the waterfront to enjoy the view and take a few pictures.
Then we go to post office to mail packages and stop by the library for a brief visit. Miles picks out some new books and plays with some trucks and stuffed animals. Today Clifford is his friend.
1:30 p.m. Home Again
We pick up Julia from school and get settled at home. I print off Julia’s Latin homework that her teacher emailed. It’s been a crazy week with two snowstorms, and her teacher doesn’t want the class getting behind. You don’t always get snow days when you homeschool!
2:00 p.m. Naptime
I take Miles up for a nap. I sing him several songs; he falls asleep nursing. By the time I sneak downstairs at 2:30 for my break, Julia is finished with her Latin.
I make a fresh cup of coffee and grab my go-to snack of peanuts and dark chocolate chips. Then I settle down on the couch with my laptop to check email and do a bit of writing.
Julia uses her break time to eat a snack, watch a video on her iPad and do some more reading.
3:15 p.m. Naptime Ends
I hear footsteps on the stairs. Miles is awake, sort of, and on his way to find his mama. He climbs into my lap and sleepily makes all indication that he wants to nurse again. I love this ritual of his. Looking down at him, cuddled up in my blanket and nursing, makes me remember how little he still is and how attached he is to me.
Julia’s curiosity about this “day in the life” post, leads her to Simple Homeschool where she reads about other homeschool families like ours. I get distracted since she’s sitting beside me, but enjoy reading too.
3:45 p.m. Ballet
My husband gets home just minutes before we need to leave for ballet. We hustle to get ready to go. I quickly do my daughter’s hair. We grab snacks, put on our coats, boots, hats and mittens and head out the door. We pick up another girl we carpool with on our way. It’s time to catch up with my husband and sing some Music Together during the 30-minute drive.
Today is special. It’s Julia’s very first pointe class. My husband watches Miles so I can take pictures as Julia learns to tie her pointe shoe ribbons and dances combinations at the bar.
I am amazed at how far she’s come and how natural she looks. I keep wondering if her toes hurt or if her feet are fatiguing. If so, I’d never know by looking at her. It’s as if she’s been wearing those pointe shoes for months.
7:30 p.m. Dinner
We get home late on ballet nights. Dinner is leftover lasagna for the girls and stir-fry for the boys. Then we start our nightly routine.
8:00 p.m. Showers & Exercise
My husband takes over kitchen duty while I hop in the shower. Then my daughter takes her turn. We spend the next half hour doing yoga while my husband and son shower.
9:00 p.m. Bedtime
Our bedtime routine begins with a family prayer. Then my husband reads the next chapter in Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry to Julia while I take Miles upstairs to bed.
We do the same thing we’ve been doing every night since he was born. I sing to him and he nurses to sleep. Some nights he’s talkative and wants to interact with his stuffed animals, but tonight he’s tired and has no trouble settling down to sleep.
9:30 p.m. Game time
On Fridays and Saturdays we allow Julia to stay up late with us to play games. Tonight she chooses Uno. After six rounds and declaring the winner, she says her goodnights and heads to bed. Usually I stay up later with my husband, but he too says goodnight, because he was falling asleep reading to Julia earlier. That’s what getting up while it’s still dark to shovel the driveway will do to you. We’ll have to get our time tomorrow night.
10:00 p.m. Quiet time
The house is quiet. I am a night owl, so I revel in the stillness. I take some time to write about my homeschool day and then go upstairs to read before calling it a night.
11:30 p.m. Bedtime
I stay up reading until 12:30 a.m., because I’m too engrossed in my book. Maybe I’ll be the one saying goodnight early tomorrow.
What is a day like in your homeschool?
To find out how much life has changed for us since last year, read Lisa’s Homeschool Day in the Life (with an almost 10 & 2 year old).