Here in New England September and October are the months of county fairs and harvest festivals, cider pressing parties and bonfires. Iain often dances at local events and 4-H (did I mention the big boys joined 4-H?) draws us out to others.
Can you tell this post has been a long time in the making?
I’m often asked what a typical homeschooling day looks like for us. That is very difficult to answer because of course there is no “typical”. Another question I’m frequently asked is how we balance schooling so many children of different ages. The answer to that one is a little more straightforward. While each individual child has a nice balance of work and play, free time and structured time, I pretty much “do school” all day long. It’s a little unconventional, but I don’t mind and it works for us.
I thought I would try to post how this plays out on a random day, with a few disclaimers. One: there is no way I remember every last detail, so this is not a comprehensive account, more a general over-view. And secondly, I’m going to try to just mention the school specific activities, but honestly our home life and education are so intertwined that it’s hard to tell where one starts and the other ends because really in most cases they are one and the same.
On this morning Iain (age 14, grade 9) and Elijah (age 12, grade 7) both had their math completed before breakfast. We’ve recently started using the “Life of Fred” series in addition to the “Key To” workbooks that we’ve been using for years. This allows them to do the majority of their math work independently.
Iain is an early riser. He likes to get as much of his school work and chores out of the way as early in the day as possible to leave time for other things later. After he had completed most of his chores and math he settled in to read The Adventures of Robin Hood to Galen (age 8, grade 3), while Galen knitted. He’s working on a pair of mittens for Mairi for Christmas. Shh! don’t tell!*
Over breakfast we all played Timeline. I’m a huge fan of games as an educational tool. This one involves trying to place various inventions in chronological order.
After breakfast and after-meal chores, Iain and Elijah set to work making a Albertian Veil for their perspective drawing lessons. Then Iain went out to work on a landscape drawing, utilizing the veil, while Elijah worked on a writing assignment, then they switched. Galen made his Weather Journal entry for the day.
When I returned from settling the baby for her nap, Mairi (age 5, Kindergarten) was dressed in a mouse costume. My plan had been to do some sort of creative movement/story telling exercise with her. I made sure to incorporate the mouse theme, knowing that would draw her in right away. First we tidied and swept the playroom, to make space to work, while singing cleaning songs (including one about a mouse tidying her house!). I started in on a story about a little mouseling being rocked to sleep by her mama (using the rocker board to rock her and singing a “mouse lullaby”) as the story progressed, the little mouse had a dream about being a seed that got buried under layers of leaves, rain, snow, etc (playsilks), many animals ran over the seed without even knowing it was there (massaging her in different ways to show different animals….a rabbit hopping, tiny nail tip bird claws, etc). We continued on like this…the seed grew to be a tree, stretching towards the sun, being blown about by the wind and so forth, until the whole thing came full circle with that tree creating a seed, which she became. That seed dropped to the ground, all curled up, whereupon mama mouse gently work her slumbering mouseling.
Time to check in with my other scholars. The bigs boys shared their drawings. I looked over their writing and gave them a few suggestions/corrections to be made. I looked over Galen’s Weather Journal. Since it was a cloudy day, I gave him a book on clouds to read aloud. He read the story part. We looked at the pictures together and I explained about the different types of clouds, their names and so forth. This information is in the back of the book, but the presentation is a little too technical so I paraphrased. I set Galen and Mairi up for painting. Galen painting different types of clouds (at my request) and Mairi painting whatever she wanted (it started out as a mouse, but then she decided she didn’t like it and turned it into “blobs of color” instead).
Occasionally Iain and Elijah go to the stables early to get a couple of hours of extra work in before their riding lessons. This was one of those days.
After they left Galen and I worked on his math together. Afterwards I took the three little ones for a nature walk where they identified tracks, scat and trees and played in the woods for a while damning up a stream among other things.
Back at home I had planned on having them help me bake pumpkin bread to go with the soup I was serving for dinner. They asked if they could try to make it themselves. I said, “yes” and instructed and supervised them while preparing my own contribution to the meal.
Everyone was back home by dinner time. After dinner we went through the usual bedtime routine with Mairi (which involves reading a book, singing songs, my writing what she dictates into her journal and saying a blessing). Steve played a game with the boys during this time. Then Galen went up. He’s working on writing a story as a gift for Steve and I (side note: he’s been working really hard on this and I can’t wait until I finally get to read it!). I try to make sure he has some quiet time set aside to work on it. He usually writes for half an hour or so before going to read. I insure the right kind of books get into his hands and he’s more then happy to take care of the rest.
Everyone 12 and up watched an hour long documentary together, followed by the big boys going off to bed to read for a while. At this point I assign them a book a week. They read a lot so they have no problem accomplishing this in addition to whatever pleasure reading they might do.
And that was our day. More productive then some, less productive then others, just a little glimpse at what a random day might look like.
*This is a perfect example of time that I consider to be educational and productive, but that they would never think of as school time. It’s just the way we live life. Really there is a lot to be said for a lifestyle that’s conducive to learning!