A Day in the Life

Just for fun, I wrote a "day in the life" post about this time last year, documenting the progression of a "typical" day in our home learning enviroment. I decided when I saw Simple Homeschool's recent "A Homeschool Day in the Life" series to do a new one for this year, and it seems like a perfectly good Weekly Wrap-Up topic as well.
So, in case you were wondering, take a peek at a current sample day around here:

Friday, February 1, 2013

5:00 AM - Much to my chagrin, my alarm does not go off as it was set to do! I'm  not a morning person, and it's difficult for me to get up this early. But I had really wanted to usher in February with an early-morning workout at the Y. Once I get there, I love exercising. However, I don't wake up until...

6:30 - when the phone starts ringing, startling me awake. And, when I realize my husband has just gone into the bathroom, I bolt out of bed, race through the dark hallway praying I won't trip headlong over any toys, and scurry down the stairs, hoping to catch the caller before it goes to voice mail. After all, such an early-morning call must be important. And it is in a way - it's my husband's sister calling to wish him a happy birthday - but 15 hours later I still wish she'd waited to call him at work. I'd wanted an early workout, but not that type of adrenaline!

7:00 - After handing the phone to my husband, I'd headed back upstairs to hunker down under the blankets for a few more minutes. But, when he comes up to say good-bye (leaving early to get birthday doughnuts for his co-workers), I force myself up and faithfully make the bed - a new habit for me since the start of this year (I know, I know...but I've never claimed to be "Susie Homemaker!"). My 10-year old, Abigail, gets up about then, too - right on schedule for her - and we settle in for our morning cuddle-time routine, joined as always by our sweet, fragile old cat, Clawde (the tan and white kitty pictured here with his "baby sister," Sapphire).
7:30 - Rachel, my 11-year old, makes her way downstairs. Rachel is not a morning person, so I wake her when she's not downstairs by 7:40, but sometimes she does come down on her own. Some days I think I should let her sleep as late as she'd like and then let her stay up later as well - after all, I'm a Night Owl, too - but I'm not ready to lose my evening quiet time just yet. So I impose a bit of my own routine on the girls' sleep schedule. But I'm so thankful that homeschooling affords me the freedom to insure that they get enough sleep.

7:40 - Abigail starts putting together the girls' breakfast - banana quick bread, nuts, milk, and fruit - while I take a shower. Until recently, I'd made their breakfasts each day and we often did devotions while they ate. But, not being a morning person myself, I've really enjoyed the fact that they like taking ownership of their breakfasts now. That helps me start my day more slowly. (And, no, it's not unusual to find a couple of cats on the table at any given time.)
8:00 - After my shower, I check my email, post a question on The Homeschool Lounge (THL), and make a quick scan of Facebook. The girls take showers this morning in anticipation of a special event this evening - our homeschool association's annual Father-Daughter Valentine Dance - and then tackle their morning chores and do personal devotions.

8:15 - Leah, the sweet toddler girl for whom I'm privileged to babysit, arrives for the day. She's probably the most easy-going child I've ever met, and she immediately runs off to the playroom to find her special baby doll. I ask if she'd like to watch Sesame Street, and she grins. She doesn't sit in front of it for the whole time it's on - in fact, my daughters pay more attention to it when they come downstairs than she does - but she likes Elmo and a couple other puppets. She doesn't get to watch much else when she's here because of the girls' lessons, and we don't turn it on every day, so I feel no guilt about indulging her now and then.
8:45 - Abigail has been on a kick lately to begin lessons earlier than our usual 9:00 start time - much to my chagrin because I've really enjoyed having until nine to gather my wits and accomplish some of my personal and household tasks. And Rachel has jumped on board with this the last couple of days, too! But I made them a deal: they can start early as long as their first tasks aren't "work with mom" ones. So they check their work grids - an organizational tool I started using last August so the girls can each decide for themselves what to do when - and get going, Rachel on piano and Abigail on math, using our new curriculum, Teaching Textbooks. I figure I'd better (finally) grab some breakfast before we really get going.
9:00 - Sesame Street is over, so the TV goes off for the rest of the day, and Leah happily continues playing with her babies and the toy shopping cart and plastic food. I help Rachel with her new song for this week. She's done around the same time Abigail finishes math, and then Abigail does piano while Rachel chooses "tot time" with Leah, a "task" I schedule for each of the girls with Leah each day. For 15 to 20 minutes, they can each read to her, do a simple craft or age-appropriate learning activity, or simply play with her. Today Rachel asks Leah if she wants to color, and Leah hops up and down enthusiastically at the thought.
9:30 - Abigail grabs Leah for some reading time while Rachel heads over to do math and I field a phone call. I don't answer most calls between 9:00 and 2:00, but caller i.d. tells me this is from a local printer set to deliver an order to me later in the afternoon, so I pick up. Afterwards, while Rachel is still working through math, Abigail and I do literature together. Though the girls are very capable of reading on their own - in fact, they love reading and each almost always has at least one book going for enjoyment during free time - we all still relish doing "buddy reading" for the books we use for our official literature lessons. So Abigail and I cuddle up on the couch and take turns reading pages from Chapter 12 of The Wide-Awake Princess by E.D. Baker. In addition to the beneficial bonding time, this activity allows me to keep tabs on their decoding, vocabulary, and comprehension abilities without having to do more formal assessments - a win-win all around.

10:30 - Rachel wraps up math right about when Abigail and I finish, so we break for snack. In good weather, the girls often go outside for 15 minutes, but today the high is about -10 (yep, negative 10 for a high!) so they go to play upstairs. Leah enjoys Cheerios and pears, and then it's time for a diaper change.
10:45 - We gather for our first group time of the day - history (using The Mystery of History, Volume 2). Today we wrap up a week's worth of lessons by putting up some timeline pieces - for St. Patrick, Attila the Hun, and the Fall of the Western Roman Empire. Then the girls each draft a paragraph about one of the week's main topics. I started this task last November, after we'd successfully worked through several months of the Institute for Excellence in Writing's Student Writing Intensive A (IEW), and it's one of the best things we've ever done. I don't make them write about all the topics; instead, I let each one choose from among the week's three lessons (they can choose the same one if they'd like because I know each will approach it differently) and have them each use IEW techniques to compose a detailed paragraph. Much to my surprise given that they'd been used to writing only brief one-sentence summaries before, they've embraced this weekly assignment. And they're producing really great pieces!
11:20 - I squeeze in a morning snack for myself - a couple of rice cakes. When the girls finish their essays, they keep going through their remaining tasks. Abigail wants to do spelling, grammar, and Amish reader corrections with me in one fell swoop, and Rachel works on her literature project. That's another aspect of our literature studies: each time one of the girls finishes a book, she makes a creative project and uses it to share an oral book report with the family. Rachel's working on some paper dolls and detailed backdrops for The Meanest Doll in the World by Ann M. Martin and Laura Godwin.
NOON - How is it noon already?! I'd thought our plans for the day wouldn't take that long, but each of the girls still has a few things to do - and then we have another group time for science. Rachel begins reading the science lesson, and Abigail occupies Leah while I put together the toddler's lunch. She usually eats with the girls, but they've both said they'd like to finish everything except our remaining group time before lunch so they're willing to wait on food. But Leah can't wait - she has a little tummy and her mom comes to pick her up before 1:00. So she enjoys her little lunch while Abigail reads science and Rachel and I tackle her music theory page and then her spelling, grammar, and Amish reader corrections.

12:45 - Abigail finishes while Rachel and I work together, so she starts to gather lunch fixings and helps Leah clean up some toys. Then I make an executive decision to have our science group time over lunch. We usually do devotions then - a story from a toddler Bible for Leah, a short reading from the Apologia worldview series, and a section from Catherine Vos's story Bible - and I don't feel good about skipping that. But we have a couple of special projects to do in the afternoon so I'm feeling pressed for time. And at least our science curriculum, the Answers in Genesis God's Design series, is Christ-centered. So I quickly change Leah's diaper before her mom arrives. We pause our discussion about fossils at 1:00 to send her on her way, but then get right back to it.
1:20 - Special project #1: making rice krispie treats to share at the Father-Daughter Dance.
1:45 - Special project #2: the girls making birthday cards for my husband, which they start as I take a phone call from a fellow homeschool mom seeking some guidance about a curriculum fair she's coordinating in March. We have a nice chat, and I agree to be one of the speakers for the event.
2:30 - I finally grab some lunch - better late than never! - and sit down at the computer while the girls head upstairs to play. They have an incredibly creative Barbie "game" going and relish all the time they can find to add twists and turns to the plot line. I spend some time on THL and Facebook. But I'm feeling a little guilty because my Microsoft Office Reminders program dutifully shows me that I haven't yet accomplished today's main household chore.

3:40 - I'd rather skip the chore - cleaning the basement bathroom - but I ran out of time to do it last week, so I can't justify that. I deep-cleaned it a few weeks ago, though, so it doesn't take much time or effort. I feel good about having been diligent.

4:15 - The printer's delivery person arrives with my order. Then it's time for the girls to get ready for the dance. They both want me to curl their hair and ask for some of my "big earrings." When my husband gets home from work, they give him their cards, and then he gets himself ready, too.
5:20 - They head out to dinner (at Noodles and Company) before the dance, and I'm left alone in the house for the evening. I consider going to the Y, but decide that I'm really not up for competing against Friday Teen Night chaos; I'll go in the morning...but not too early. I grab a bag of microwave popcorn for dinner - I know, I know - and ponder my options. Finally, I decide to take care of business before pleasure. I enter the day's lessons into the girls' weekly learning logs, do a little prep work for next week, and make up my grocery list for Saturday. I don't usually spend Friday nights doing "school work" - in fact, if I hadn't talked to my friend on the phone, I would have finished much of that in the afternoon. But duty calls. And once that's all done, I check emails and Facebook and start this post.
10:00 - My family returns, happy but exhausted. Abigail can barely keep her eyes open, and even Rachel - my girl who struggles with insomnia - says she thinks she'll fall asleep instantly. At 10:15 - and hour later than usual - I head up to do my nightly check-in with her. We usually chat for a bit and then I pray for her, but tonight she doesn't have energy for talking. When I come back down a few minutes later, my husband is ready for bed, too.

Tomorrow will be pretty open-ended - I will get to the Y and maybe do an extra long workout, and then I'll grocery shop. The girls and my husband will likely make their weekly trip to the library - my husband has an "assignment" to gather some King Arthur resources for next week - but not much else is on the docket during the day. In the evening, we're hosting one of our interim pastors for dessert, and I'm really looking forward to spending time with him.

As for today, it was as typical as any homeschooler's "day in the life" can be. We like to follow a general daily routine, but it does vary from day to day, depending on our outside activities. For example, we have piano lessons on Monday afternoons, art class on Thursday afternoons, and we usually have musical rehearsal on Fridays. And I also care for a baby - Olivia - on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, which certainly affects our scheduling. We also don't do every "subject" every day, and I'm willing to make adjustments - as I did a little today - when things go longer than I'd expected. But that's one of the many beauties of home learning: we get to make the rules and call the shots according to what works best for us on any given day and through any season of life. I really wouldn't have it any other way...

just in case you were wondering.


Conny said...

I,for one, enjoyed hearing about your day! BUSY BUSY BUSY ... but a wonderful life!
PS Enjoyed seeing your kitties ... we often have some on our table too!

Amy said...

Tina- I enjoy hearing about your day. Makes ours feel more 'normal'. As homeschoolers we aren't always sure what goes on in other peoples' homes but I am always curious. Thanks for sharing!

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