Not Back to School Blog Hop: Day-in-the-Life Week

Well, I can't help but chuckle at the theme of this next week's Not Back to School Blog Hop (for which I'm posting early, for reasons I'll explain next week)...because the name implies that we home educators have something along the lines of a "typical" day. But - as my family has launched another year of home education this month (either my sixth or tenth, depending on one's perspective!) - I've found that nothing could actually be further from the truth.

And this is in stark contrast to at least the secondary level of public education, where I spent nine years teaching English to immigrant kids. There we had a schedule! First hour started promptly with a bell (or "tone!") at 7:30 and proceeded for 45 or 50 minutes (the former at the middle school, the latter at the high school), after which another bell directed the students to their three or five minute passing time and then on to second hour - and so on and so forth through the day until the final bell at 2:45 or 2:57, respectively, informed the students that they were free to leave the building without reprisal. Sure, class schedules changed a bit each semester - for both teacher and students - and some days held surprises such as fire drills or interruptions ranging from assemblies to the occasional disruptive student. But, by and large, we operated under a predictable routine and so a topic such "a day-in-the-life" was easy to address.

But I don't want to regiment my home like that. Actually, in contrast - and with apologies to those who choose a more "school-at-home" approach that works for them - part of the reason I've chosen independent education at home is so my kids don't have to feel controlled by bells and artificial time constraints. But the trade-off means it's just a fact that education around here is a bit more...uh, "fluid" than with traditional, institutional schooling.

That said, I'm not an unschooler either. Because of both my personality and the number of children's needs I juggle, it helps me tremendously to have a general sense of direction each day. And I use a curriculum (My Father's World) that provides - with room for flex and creativity - a systematic approach to covering particular content areas over the course of a specified number of weeks.

So I do have "daily schedules"...and I've even put them into a weekly grid format that I've tucked nicely into my main planning binder, one sample of which for my older daughter you can see here (and click on to make larger):

But I've come to realize and accept with comfort (for the most part!) that the schedule is only a guide, and that it must be willingly "tweaked" as necessary - to accommodate for any number of "interruptions" (eg., diaper explosions, a preschooler's need for extra cuddling, or the older girls' incredible imaginations that might carry them away on one educational "rabbit trail" or another). Likewise, the reader must understand that my "day-in-the-life" example here is merely an idealized guide for me and is not in any way proscriptive of what other home educators do or ought to do.

Furthermore, it's one day. But, as you can see by clicking on the grid example, no two days in a week are scheduled identically, varying according to the girls' extracurriculars and - in the evenings - also by my husband's or my involvement with church or other endeavors. For example, bookwork on Mondays and Tuesdays is shorter than on Wednesdays and Thursdays in order to accommodate afternoon piano and ice skating lessons, respectively. And Friday bookwork is slightly truncated because - though it's not noted on this schedule - I attempt to open up some extra time for my girls to play with the four-year old daycare boy who only comes on Friday afternoons. Furthermore, because we have a year-round schedule, we typically take a week off after six or seven weeks of bookwork and, of course, we adjust things for regular field trips. Plus, the girls have dance (for Abigail) or gymnastics (for Rachel) on Monday nights and both have swimming on Wednesdays...not to mention my worship team rehearsals on some Tuesdays and the enrichment art lessons my husband often (but not always) does with the girls on Thursday nights.

But what I've chosen to share here is a "typical," model schedule for a Wednesday, during which we stay home through the day and take the girls to an extracurricular in the evening:

4:45 - I wake up and head to the Y for my workout. I love exercise and enjoy accomplishing it early in the day, but actually getting there is sometimes a challenge because I am not a morning person!

5:00 - My husband wakes (he is a morning person so he pops right up!) and spends time on work for his ministry, MissionGuides, before getting ready for his tent-making job as a graphic artist.

6:30 - As I return home and do my morning routines and begin my personal devotions, my husband's getting ready for work, and the girls wake up. But we have a rule - which they actually enjoy - that they stay in their room until at least 7:00. So they use that time to do personal devotions and then play and talk with each other.

7:30 - One daycare girl, A., arrives as my girls come down for breakfast and our Family Bible Time. She sometimes joins us and sometimes happily plays on her own.

8:15 - The other daycare girl, N., arrives (by mid-October to be accompanied by her infant brother!). My girls begin their morning routine by following the list on Our Do-It Door. Their motivation to finish quickly (though thoroughly) is free time once their chores are accomplished.

8:30 - I begin K4 learning time (using My Father's World from A to Z) with A. and N. Of course, I have no idea how the baby will fit into all of this once he starts; I guess I'll have to edit this post after I meet and get to know him a bit. For now, though, I'll just proceed as if we seamlessly meld him into the mix!

9:00 - As the little girls and I continue with K4 time, my girls check into school (using a modified version of Sue Patrick's workbox system) and complete two tasks: a Reciprocal Review time together (spelling words, math facts, etc.) and one individual assignment.

9:30 - With perfect timing (!), I wrap up K4 just as my girls finish their tasks! The little ones enthusiastically head to the playroom (that's reality - they love playing together!) while I launch into Group Time with the older girls, consisting of half our My Father's World: Exploring Countries and Cultures core lesson (in geography and/or ecology) for the day.

10:00 - We all take a snack break (which is, of course, exactly when Baby needs a quick diaper change and a bottle!).

10:30 - The little girls play again and the older girls and I do the second half of our Group Time.

10:50 - My girls begin their individual workbox activities, some independent and some "work with mom." One box for each girl at this time is always piano practice (need cover that before nap time!) and another is a special activity with the little girls - reading aloud to them or doing a K4 curriculum-related hands-on activity. My girls are refreshed from that break from their academics, and the little ones love that the big girls spend time with them. If I don't need to supervise piano practice, I check my email (or manage a small household task, though email is admittedly far more appealing!).

NOON - After my girls do three boxes each, it's time for lunch (which I somehow have time to prepare!). I have a bi-weekly lunch schedule to make my life easier, so the girls likely have either fishsticks or English muffin pizzas as our entree on a Wednesday. Though in the past I've done a curriculum-related read-aloud at this time, my husband has happily agreed to do those at bedtime this year since I'll likely be tending to Baby while the girls eat.

1:00 - One of my daughters does storytime with the little girls while the other helps out as necessary with other tasks to clean up or prepare for nap/rest time. N. is already four and A. will be before the end of September and each seems to be on the verge of giving up her nap. But we're still not sure about that. In any case, though, I'm a firm believer in "rest time" so they will at least have that.

1:30 - Nap/rest time starts and my girls head back to their workboxes, finishing up the day's four remaining academic tasks.

3:00 - By this time - and hopefully sooner! - the girls are done with bookwork. And nap/rest time ends. Some days it's just play time for all the girls - they do love playing together, the four of them - and I get them outside for that whenever weather permits. On Wednesdays (and Thursdays), though, A. spends a few minutes with me working on handwriting (the Handwriting without Tears PK book) while N. plays with Rachel and Abigail, and then we switch so N. gets her handwriting practice. Free time continues for my girls all the way until dinner.

3:45 - A. gets picked up, usually like clockwork.

4:30 - Sometimes quite a bit earlier but for sure by now, N. and Baby are picked up, and Teachers' Tots closes for the day. Though it's hectic having this in-home daycare, I often remind myself that my "full quiver" momma friends home-educate with many little ones around, too...and I at least get to sleep through the night!

5:00 - My husband returns from work, and we have our dinner hour, ideally using my monthly dinner schedule.

5:50 - One of us - probably me, since my husband takes care of Monday night extras - drives the girls to swimming lessons at the Y. Sometimes while I watch, I read that day's morning paper - hey, better late than never! - or my WORLD magazine, and sometimes I chat with another mom.

7:30 - Lessons finish just before 7:00, but it takes a while to change around and (in winter) bundle up to get home. When we do get here, the girls run through their evening routine using Our Do-It Door.
8:00 - My husband does read-aloud time, incorporating curricular books and other titles. If I haven't done so earlier in the day, I set up the next day's lessons (workboxes and group activity materials).

8:30 - Lights out for the girls, though they listen to a CD for a while before falling asleep. My husband often does more MissionGuides work, and I often use this time to write (for Celebrate Kids, The ChatterBee, or other venues); blog; catch up on email, Facebook and The Homeschool Lounge; or make phone calls.

10:00...or later - If I catch a second wind, I might stay up until 11:00 or even later - I am a night owl by natural inclination! But, if I'm especially tired, I watch a little TV and doze off by ten. Hopefully, it's uninterrupted (usually it is) and I remember to set the alarm for the next day's trip to the Y!

Now, when I write it all out like this, it seems overwhelming...and, yes, sometimes I get worn out. In fact, it's not unusual for me to "crash" for an entire Saturday afternoon once or twice a month in my body's attempt to "catch up," at least a little. But - because I home educate as a clear part of God's call on my life and will do whatever it takes (i.e., the daycare) to make that possible - it usually works overall. I have no idea how my life equates with anyone else's - home educator or otherwise - but it's my life...and it's a good one.

This wraps up the Not Back to School Blog Hop series. But, if you missed my earlier, related posts, you may find them here:


Monica said...

Hi - Wow... what a day! I know I need to get up by 6 am to get my reading and chores done in the morning too. Good for you working out! I always plan too. ugh
Thanks for sharing! I would like to see your monthly meal plan too.
Monica at discovertheirgifts.blogspot.com

Courtney (Women Living Well) said...

OOOOO I love this! Thank you so much for sending me this link! I love seeing other's schedules - and yours is greatly detailed! I love it!

Seasons of Life said...

Great schedule and how wonderful to incorporate the little ones you watch into the learning that takes place there...a sure blessing to their parents.

May it be a fruitful and blessed year for you...

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