Monday, October 4, 2010

A Day in the Life

I've been meaning to write this post for awhile now, but it always seemed I didn't have the time to type it all out. I think I was making it bigger than what it needed to be. Anybody else do this?


You asked. So here we go. A glimpse into our homeschool day.

Let me start by mentioning that we're not a super scheduled family. It has really only been the last year or two that we have had much of a schedule at all. We're just not the put-the-kids-to-bed-at-7 type. We now recognize the importance {for our family} of having a schedule so that we all know what to expect next. But we haven't always been this way. I only mention it because many of my IRL friends have said things like 'I could never homeschool. We're just not organized enough' or 'I can't see myself sticking to a schedule'. Schedules are wonderful, but I don't think you have to be Miss Organization in order to homeschool. Just sayin'.

Moving on ;)

We're not early risers around here. Sierra, Kameryn, and I are out of bed between 7:00 and 7:30. Sometimes earlier, rarely later. Makenna is my late-late sleeper. She typically needs a full 12 hours of sleep. If she goes to bed at 8:30 we can expect that she won't be out of bed until 8:30 or 9:00 the next morning. Every so often she sleeps until 10:00 . . . or later! I figure if she's sleeping, she needs it. I hate waking sleeping children. Hate it. If I can help it, I don't do it. One of many reasons I love homeschooling. Our public elementary school starts at 7:25am. Waaay too early, in my opinion ;)

Okay, getting off track. My morning is spent getting myself ready, a quick check of email, and tending to Kam while getting breakfast for the girls. Sierra starts school at 8:30 and Makenna at 9:00. When I was trying to plan for our first year with two homeschooling, I was wondering how I could be of most help to both of my girls. The solution was to start them at different times. It works great for us for many reasons.

#1 Makenna likes to sleep later. Often times she's not really ready to start her day by the time Sierra is.

#2 Makenna is in Kindergarten. She doesn't need to be homeschooling near as long as Sierra does. When Sierra was in Kindergarten we only spent about an hour and a half on book work each day.

#3 It allows me the opportunity to get Sierra started and settled in before I have to give Kenners full attention.

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As of right now we don't have a set time schedule as to how long we spend on each subject. We start each day with Math. I would say that on an average day Sierra studies Math from 8:30 to 9:30 or 10:00. And Makenna from about 9:00 until 9:30 or so. During this time Makenna and I also discuss days of the week, months of the year, seasons, etc.

After Math Sierra jumps into Phonics and Reading or Language Arts, depending on which day of the week it is {Mondays and Wednesdays ~ Phonics/Reading, Tuesdays and Thursdays ~ Language Arts}. Followed by either Handwriting or Spelling {again depending on which day of the week}. Once I have Sierra settled and have explained her task, Makenna and I start in on Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons. And afterward Makenna works in her Language Arts workbook.

*Usually we have some sort of a break, either after Phonics/L.A. or Handwriting/Spelling.* It typically lasts 15-20 minutes. Sometimes they go off and play, sometimes they are ready for a snack. It is simply a little breather from the extended period of concentration.

*For a more detailed list of textbooks and workbooks, etc. that we use click here. An abbreviated version: We use Spectrum Workbooks for Phonics and Language Arts, A Reason for Handwriting, and I create a new spelling list each week. The spelling lists usually consist of 12 or so words. Some of the words are vocabulary for our history studies, some words are pertinent to other studies. Sierra is given the list. Her first task is to write each of the words twice {this is a great practice for handwriting as well}. On another day she may use each word in a sentence, and finally after we have studied them for a week or two, she is tested on them.

Once we've had a break, Makenna is pretty much done with her "formal schooling", lol. She is free to do puzzles, color, or play. We include her later on in bits and pieces of other subjects, but for now an hour and a half is about all she can handle well. At this point {around 11am} Sierra and I work on either Geography/Map Skills {Spectrum} or History {American Pioneers & Patriots}. We also spend some time on History Pockets each day. We love History Pockets. Makenna joins us for History Pockets. She can't always participate as fully as Sierra, but she enjoys the crafts, activities, and coloring parts :)

Depending on how we feel, we may continue on with Science studies, or we may break for lunch. Typically Kam is ready for a nap around 12:00 or 12:30, so we also take our cues from her. And speaking of Kam . . . What on earth do I do with her while we are homeschooling? If I had a nickel for every time I was asked that question . . . well, I'd be rich!

Kameryn is actually enjoying her time at the table with the big girls ;) She has her own box full of activities. A new Dora coloring book, crayons, paints {I'm brave}, puzzles, and books. And it is THE.CUTEST.THING.EVER to watch her "learn to read" with Kenners. Usually we take our reading book to the floor in the living room so that we can spread out and get comfy. Kam joins Makenna and I, and as we are sounding out letters and words Kam joins in. Once Kenners is done at the table, often Kam will run off to play with her for a short bit while Sierra and I work together.

That's not to say that every day is easy. We've had trying days. Days when Kameryn is louder, needier, and grouchier than normal. On those days we simply do the best we can. If Sierra were in a classroom with 30 other children, I know there would be interruptions and distractions. And yes, there are occasional distractions here as well. If Sierra is taking a Math test or working on another task that is especially demanding of her attention, she has the option to work in the peace and quiet at a little table in our spare bedroom. But 99% of the time she is at the table with us.

So, where was I? Ah yes, lunch. We take an hour or so for lunch. It gives us time to relax, and gives me time to get Kameryn down for a nap . . . ahhhhhh :) Some days we are done with our studies by lunch time, others we aren't. If we still have subjects to complete {Science, History Pockets, and also a super FUN Kids Bible Study we've started} we wait until Kameryn is napping and finish them then. Otherwise we enjoy the rest of our afternoon!

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And that's our day!

Any other questions? ;)

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Colleen said...

Well, when you describe it like that, it seems so easy :)

jennykate77 said...

I LOVE it! Before I was a mom, I was a teacher. I often thought about homeschooling Isaiah. I miss lots of things about teaching and would love the one-on-one time with Isaiah, but for now I have to work. I have a friend who works full-time 4 days a week and homeschools her boys in the evening. I don't know how she does it.

Sounds like a great "schedule" to me!

Kelli said...

What a day! You are so great to take the time to teach your beautiful babies. I love reading about your schedule and all that you do. I hope you have a great year.

Jenny said...

I agree, public school starts WAY to early and ends too late! There is no way I'd be able to get me and Abby up and ready to be at school that early.

Sounds like a great schedule!

Busy Bee Suz said...

Wow. You do get a lot done in a short amount of time...I imagine since you can focus solely on two (or three) a lot can be done in the early part of the day. (as opposed to a class of 30 wiggly kids)
Did you hear that our Pres is thinking of extending our school year in public schools? Just to keep up with other countries that are far ahead of our kids. My girls will faint..perhaps they would THEN prefer for me to home-school them??? :)
Thanks for sharing!!! Your kids are so lucky to have such a caring and patient Mama!

angie said...

I'm so glad you took the time to write this. I've always wondered exactly what a day is life for homeschooling parents, and if it works when the parent is NOT super organized.......Kudos to you for doing such a HARD thing (because I really think it is to homeschool ones children)!

Becca said...

Thanks for sharing with us - It sounds totally manageable and (dare I say) fun???


shortmama said...

Your day sounds very much like how ours will go!

Foursons said...

I like that you start one of their days before the other. I think that's genius.

Grace Wheeler said...

Love this post! Thanks for telling us about your days! I always enjoy hearing how other homeschool moms do it!!!

Jen said...

I have to say - I could NOT imagine homeschooling. At least not the big two. They would make me nuts :) lol! It's just chaos around here when all four of them are home. Homeschooling is VERY popular here in Virginia, as I think the laws are fairly supportive of it - several of our neighbors homeschool, and I'm always amazed at how easy they make it look :) I changed my major from El Ed to Business in my sophomore year in college for a good reason, I guess :)

~~Mel~~ said...

Liz you are such a great mom and I know you are a great teacher to your little girls. I love your laidback attitude!!!

Miller Racing Family said...

Very interesting. We were worried Trey wouldn't get into a public preschool this year so I did a lot of research into homeschooling. He did get into a preschool but it seems to be more of a social time, so we are doing our own version of homeschooling during Lila's naps to supplement.
Thanks for the links I will have to check them out.
Have a great day!

Connie W said...

i loved learning about your day! And thanks for the links!

Kelly @ Blessed Mommy, Blessed Wife said...

Thank you so much for writing this out! I was one that really wanted to hear about the "how" and I'm glad you broke it down! I really think this is in our future but right now Noah is in public school. We're choosing to view it as social time right now because the work is SO not impressive. He seems to be having a blast so I am okay with the situation but I feel like there is going to come a point in time where homeschooling is going to be the right answer for us. In the meantime, I just pray (A LOT) and ask for God's direction in this area :)

You're a great mom and I think what you are doing for your girls is an awesome testament to this fact!

Kelli @ RTSM said...

Liz you are such a great homeschool mama! I love that you even though you say you aren't scheduled, you really do try have a pretty good schedule worked out! I love that you alternate days between some subjects, and that you let Kam join in on the fun! I don't know how you do it though. Eli wants to join us in the afternoons for homework sometimes, and he is so distracting. I guess maybe I need to get him some paints:)


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