So, after my extremely long “ghosts of homeschooling past” post, it is time for my follow-up post about what homeschooling looks like for me today. My boys are only 8 and 5 and if there is one thing that I know for sure, it is that how our daily lives look will change many times. I truly believe that children’s play is children’s “work” and the best thing we can do for them is allow them ample space and opportunity for play. I believe in life learning and playful learning and that we are learning all the time, not just when “doing school.” I also believe that most people are “meant” to live home-based lives, spending a good deal of time in the company of their personal “tribe” and in their own homes (or those of people close to them), rather than in institutional settings (whether that setting be a schoolplace or workplace—as a companion to this thought though, I also feel like adults are also “meant” to spend time each day on “work” that is not parenting, whether it be grinding corn, or something else).
So right now, our daily “structure” looks like this:
- 8:00, wake up—day feels bright and full of promise!
- Boys play Minecraft on computer or play with toys in living room or draw. A favorite is these amazingly awesome complex map-type drawings using newsprint paper on a roll (see pictures below). They also draw comic books and write stories.
- I do yoga
- I fix breakfast and we all eat
- Boys continue playing whether on Minecraft or outside or with toys, or draw or play sort of acted-out-video-game-adventure-type-storylines
- I work on my online class or grades papers/homework or prepares materials for the week’s classes—sometimes with “bonus time” (if Alaina keeps sleeping), writes blog post or works on lessons from own doctoral program.
- Around 11:00ish, Alaina wakes up. Boys run to play with her. She is wiggly and smiling and “look, world! I’m BAAACK!”
- Do things like listen to radio and dance together (today, it was Madonna, which the boys said was “laser tag music!” so we then danced/listened and played laser tag. Alaina was in pouch and I held the target and ran around with it to add an extra level of challenge while boys battled it out and attempted to also shoot the target).
- Do some household chores with Alaina in pouch.
- Go outside to let out chickens, play, swing on swings. When weather is nice in fall, go into the woods by big rocks to play and explore.
- Make lunch and eat. (Boys draw or play while I fix it. Alaina rides in pouch and supervises or plays on floor with boys.) Today I also made four loaves of pumpkin bread for our work co-op this weekend with Zander stirring/measuring and Alaina supervising, while Lann drew plans for “jet shoes” he would like to invent.
- Do school with boys. This consists of a combination of options from:
- Reading Eggs
- Starfall (we pay for the “more” version)
- Leapster K and First Grade
- ClicknRead Phonics
- Videos from Harry Kindergarten
- In the past, we have also used Dreambox & Time4Learning
- I also have approximately 499 educational bookmarks on my computer that we do an assortment of things with.
- I get the Clickschooling daily email which often has something good to check out.
Recently, we’ve been doing reading and math worksheets from their Comprehensive Curriculum of Basic Skills workbooks every day. We stop as soon as they say they are bored and don’t want to do anymore, because I don’t believe in setting up an atmosphere where “learning” equals bad. Every day, they also each read me one new Bob Book for reading practice. Z reads the early reading ones and L is into the first grade series. I am crossing my fingers hopefully that Z will learn to read more quickly than L has learned. Just this year, reading has finally clicked for L, but he still isn’t exactly proficient or fluent in reading skill. Since I, personally, learned to read so early, this is really hard for me to deal with.
- Sometimes we don’t make it to school before Alaina goes down for nap at about 1:30. So, sometimes we do that after I get back up from lying down with her. Sometimes they watch an episode of something they are interested in on Netflix while I’m putting her down for nap.
- At about 2:30, boys go to visit my parents at their house. While there, they—surprise!—play some more.
- If the stars are well aligned, Alaina naps while boys I gone and I frantically work on all tasks I imagined doing in the morning, while also feeling guilty about trying to finish my blog post rather than visit with my mom when she comes to get the boys.
- Once a week we go to homeschool playgroup and we do other homeschool events as they arise like bowling, skating, plays/shows at the university, occasional field trips, pumpkin patch, etc.
- Alaina wakes from nap and we snuggle and nurse and play and I marvel at her fundamental awesomeness.
- Boys return and I start trying to work on dinner (usually with Alaina in pouch). Sometimes while visiting with my mom (who plays with Alaina while I cook).
- Mark gets home from work at close to 6:00.
- I lament briefly about all the tasks I thought I would complete that I didn’t get finished.
- Berate self for complaining and for whining at Mark when he has just gotten home, rather than be delightful company.
- Finish dinner and eat. While eating, we usually do “high-low” of the day—each take turn saying our “low point” and “high point” from the day.
- Clean up dinner and go outside for our evening walk. Boys ride bikes and are extremely loud and Mark and I try to talk over them.
- Boys shower, brush teeth and I read to them from our current book and then snuggle them until they go to sleep (Mark gets Alaina in her PJs, pottied, and teeth brushed, and sometimes a bath).
- Lament a little more about what I still haven’t gotten done.
- Watch Netflix with Mark in bed while nursing Alaina to sleep.
- Feel dismayed at pile of laundry still needing to be put away.
- Imagine hopping up and whirling through the house in a blaze of productivity, but decide going to sleep makes more sense.
- Review things I expected myself to get done—such as working on books, completing massive projects, writing dozens of blog posts, doing dozens of school assignments, etc. Feel vague sense of failure about the day—never having “caught up” or gotten “finished.” Feel guilty about times I snapped or said, “just a MINUTE!” or didn’t stop what I was doing to look.
- Wonder why I forget to include, “sustaining life of small, wonderful person” on my list of “accomplishments” for the day.
- Berate self for not being nicer to self. Berate self for berating self for not being nicer to self.
- Vow that tomorrow will be a “better day.” Vow to be more patient, more responsive, more mindful, more spiritual, more attentive, more cheerful, more delightful, more zen-like, more inner-peace-full, more better. Berate self for always making same vow. Briefly berate self for self-beratement.
- Feel bad for not spending more rose-smelling time or time snuggling with my husband or visiting with my mom. Remind self to be generous with self. Retain secret sense of certainty that it is possible to get everything done tomorrow.
- Read my current book (or books) until I’m almost falling asleep (around midnight).
- Nurse baby much of night.
- Wake up full of awesome and ready to do it again!
Things I envision our daily life including, but that rarely manifest:
- Drumming and musical instrument fun
- Family games
- Making small animals out of moldable beeswax
- Meditation and other peaceful, contemplative spiritually-oriented practices in perfect harmony with all children participating
- Wool and wood toycrafting
- Nifty Waldorfish or paganish seasonal cycles of learning coolness of all kinds
- Relaxing on back deck porch swing with cup of tea
My friend, Hope, has a great blog post about what homeschoolers “do” every day, which seems to be the number one question of mothers who are thinking about homeschooling their own children.
Here are some pictures of what our lives look like during the day:
I’m really, really, really grateful that I have two boys who are such good friends for each other!