2.14.2016

A Day in the Life: 2016

In 2012 and 2013, I participated in A Simple Homeschool's A Homeschool Day in the Life series. I've missed it the last couple of years - I've been way too busy! - but recently saw this year's version and decided to give it a whirl.

And things have changed around here. For one thing, I closed my in-home childcare service in June 2014. I have been occupied - very occupied! - with another project since then, but our daily dynamics did change once it was "just us." Additionally - as of last month, officially - the girls are now "doing high school." In some ways, that shift hasn't altered our daily routine, but, on the other hand, they are more independent and so my role is different than it used to be.

So, in case you were wondering, take a peek at a "typical" day around here lately:

7:00
I'm a night owl and the girls are in that very real phase of life where their internal body clocks keep them up late, whether or not they really want to be awake. I also firmly believe that one of the many benefits to home learning is the freedom to let kids get the rest their growing minds and bodies need. However, the girls have quite a few early-afternoon activities they don't want to give up, and they've decided they don't want to have bookwork in the late afternoon or evening. So, ideally, we get up by 7:00 - right when my husband is leaving for work - in order to eat breakfast and finish morning routines by 8:00. It doesn't always happen - if one of the girls is sick or has a reason to be particularly tired - we flex. Because we can.

8:00-ish
Regardless of when we actually start the formal academic portion of the day, we begin with Morning Meet-Up. In the past, this consisted of a brief devotional and then group time for a history lesson. However, since we started the girls' "trial run" at high school last fall, nearly all of their academics are now done independently. And I was tiring of pre-packaged devotionals that seemed more like something to check off a to-do list than a meaningful time of spiritual engagement. So now we start out by sharing what we've each read in our own personal Bible study the previous night, trusting the Holy Spirit to guide any insights or applications we might need each day...plus, knowing we'll be talking about it in the morning is great accountability. And then we choose a craft stick from our prayer jar - each stick has the name of a friend, family member, or ministry with which we're familiar - and pray together...for our day, for the name on the day's prayer stick, and for others we know who have current needs.
After that, the girls begin to tackle the day's list on their Weekly Work Grids. The main items in the top section - Reader's Workshop, Math, Work with Mom, and music practice (Piano for Rachel; Piano, Voice, and Guitar for Abbie) - are "assigned" almost every day, as I note for them ahead of time. I don't require that they do those tasks first, but they've both chosen to start there most days. The last item in the top section of the grid - Learning Log - is the girls' reminder to make necessary notations about each day's studies in their record-keeping notebooks.
10:00-ish
Right around 10:00, the girls take a 15-minute snack break. And from there, they begin working on the middle section of their Work Grids, which currently lists Penmanship and/or Keyboarding; Bible; English; World History; American History; Civics; science (Biology and Physical Science/Chemistry for Rachel and Integrated Science for Abbie); Anatomy & Physiology; Home Management; and Other/Electives. We organize these delight-directed formal academics into seven-week "units" and I've helped each of the girls to set goals for what to accomplish during each unit. So they don't need to do activities in every content area every day; they just need to work diligently toward the different goals in whatever order each would like.
My job throughout the morning is to be available. I help with math every day - checking answers, clarifying confusing problems - do brief, individual language arts lessons (Work with Mom), and serve as editor for history essays and book reviews. The girls are great about following the Work Grid and the rubrics in their Learning Logs, but if they need help with other tasks - setting up a science lab or reviewing study guides - I do that, too. In between, I make myself do a cleaning task each day (I have a schedule that enables me to get through the whole house, a little each day, once a week), manage other household needs, facilitate the homeschool support group I founded, and work on my database project.
My Office/Work Space
1:00/12:15/11:45/1:00/1:00
Currently on Mondays, Thursdays, and Fridays, the girls work until 1:00 and then break for lunch. On Tuesdays, they stop at 12:15, and on Wednesdays it's 11:45, in both cases to accommodate the timing of their various afternoon activities.
2:00/1:30/12:45/3:30
The bottom third of the Work Grid lists the girls' various outside activities. On Mondays, Rachel has a piano lesson at 2:00, and on Tuesdays Abbie has voice (1:30) and then guitar (2:30). Both girls take dance on Wednesdays - Abbie takes jazz/hip hop at 12:45 and Rachel is in ballet at 1:45 - but each one does a bit of bookwork during the other's class. And right from dance, I take them to their weekly babysitting job, where they care for the children of Abbie's voice teacher until 7:00 or 8:00 at night. We have a reprieve from most scheduled activities on Thursdays, though they occasionally babysit for a friend's two little girls. Then they have choir and improv on alternating Fridays at 3:30.
3:30/4:00/2:00/2:00
Ideally, we go to the Y four days a week - Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday - for fitness/P.E. I alternate between walking the track and doing cardio machines; the girls prefer swimming. On Wednesdays, their dance class counts for fitness, and I try to get myself to the Y after dropping them off at their babysitting job.

5:30
As part of the Home Management credit(s) each of the girls wants to earn, they take turns at cooking from scratch at least four times during a seven-week "unit." Rachel prefers just making entrees right now - she often refers to her Better Homes & Gardens cookbook - so when she does that, I prepare the sides. Abbie, on the other hand, likes putting together whole meals, sometimes even including dessert; her current favorite source for recipes is Creation Illustrated magazine.
For a while, we got out of the habit of eating dinner around the table; instead, we lounged in front of the TV most nights. But we know better and really enjoy that time together so we all held each other accountable to getting back on track. Sometimes the girls have a girls' group activity on Friday nights and right now my husband is facilitating a class on Sunday nights, but most other nights we can purpose to eat together.

Evenings
Once a month, I have a Thursday evening worship team rehearsal at church and occasionally have other meetings or dinner out with a friend. The girls have a girls' small group that gets together about once a month on Fridays and they sometimes attend our homeschool association's monthly Tween Group activities on Friday or Saturday night or have a babysitting job. My husband is always juggling several things at once so it's not unusual for him to be out at least one night a week for one reason or another.
But even with all of that, we are all home more often than not. One night a week - usually Fridays - we keep for Family Night, and we rotate choosing the activity. Otherwise, we each enjoy doing our own thing for a couple of hours. My husband reads or does ministry work; Rachel reads or works on the various essays and fiction she's always writing; Abbie knits, sews, or draws; and I organize the next day's Work Grids and Learning Logs and work online (writing for various publications, moderating my homeschool support group, updating my database). The girls and I like having old comedies, news, or HGTV on in the background.

When my husband is home, he still does a "bedtime routine" with the girls, just as he did when they were little so I could have a bit of a break. Of course, they don't now immediately go to bed after this time anymore, but it remains a sweet tradition of Bible reading/discussion, reading aloud at least one chapter from a good book, and praying together.

~ ~ ~
As "routine" as our usual schedule is, there are, of course, days when plans go awry: one of the girls wakes up too sick to function; our furnace goes out or the dishwasher breaks; I have to run an unexpected errand. Now that the girls are so independent, they can continue with most of their bookwork even if I'm temporarily distracted, but sometimes even that doesn't work. And we still take sabbath weeks - currently after every seven-week "unit" - and those days - along with the summer season, when academics continue but outside activities are mostly on hiatus and we take time for a couple of camp experiences - look entirely different than the norm. I also know that patterns will change over the next few years as the girls add activities and jobs. And that's one beauty (among so many others) of home learning - i.e., we have the freedom to see that daily schedules and routines - whatever they are - work for us. Whatever each day holds, the structure is our servant, never our master.

1 comment:

Camie Madsen said...

It's nice to read about other teens and how they homeschool. Thanks for sharing your routines and how your girls stay organized. I too appreciate homeschooling's flexibility.

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