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A Day in Our Homeschool

December 31, 2008

 I am writing this account with those people in mind that ask me ‘what’s it really like?’, and interested family and friends. 


I hesitated about posting this on my main site, because I don’t presume that this will be interesting to anyone other than family.  Honestly, though, I have read other family’s schedules and it is interesting to me.  Maybe you are interested in homeschool, or like me, like to peek into other’s lives once in a while.  If so, read on.


What is homeschool really like?  After only five months in, I’m not sure I can adequately answer that question.  But I can tell you what it is like for us so far.  Coco is my twelve year old in seventh grade.  Soleil is five and in kindergarten.


A typical day starts with the girls getting up and doing their morning routines, which include their personal prayer time and simple chores.  We eat breakfast together and head for the gym for Coco’s PE (and mom’s too). 


After the gym, we have a quick break and then have our Morning Mingle, aptly named by Coco.  This is probably our favorite time of day.  During this time, we go over what we’re doing that day, write out assignments, and recite scripture.  Usually I give a little message from the Bible.  We also sing a few praise songs and do calendar and weather. 


During our mingle, the girls also receive “Tech Tickets” for chores completed cheerfully that morning. Each ticket is worth five minutes of computer or video game use and can be redeemed during special free-time I set up during the week. They may also save enough tickets to watch a movie, though no one has done that yet!  Weekends and days off school are free for electronics, no tickets required.


After the Morning Mingle, Coco has her math lesson.  Next year, I plan to use a CD Rom math program for Coco, which will give me more time with Soleil, who will be in first grade.  It will also give Coco a higher level of math than I am currently capable of doing.  While I still plan to learn alongside her, it will be nice to have some back-up as we enter Algebra.


Soleil does independent seatwork while I am giving Coco her math lesson. It is always review, either something she learned the day before or needs extra practice on.  Sometimes it is simply coloring. 


She is getting quite good at sitting and working on her own for fifteen minutes a day.  A couple weeks ago, she grabbed the stack of seatwork I had set aside for the week and did it all in one sitting before I noticed what she had done!


I have a “quiet play” station set up for Soleil to do when she finishes her seatwork.  This gives me the opportunity to wash up while Coco does her math problem set. Quiet play ranges from things like puzzles or blocks or play doh to free-form art projects or dramatic play with dolls or her play kitchen.  The biggest hit by far, though is when I give her a big tub of water to bathe her Barbie dolls in.  Once in a great while I’ll let her play an educational video game. 


After I am ready, we head outside for a fifteen minute brain break.  Then, for the next ninety minutes, I spring back and forth between the girls. 


During this time, I do phonics, writing, math, reading, Bible, and a circle time that includes language enrichment, character development, and health and safety with Soleil.  


For Coco, it’s grammar, vocabulary, spelling, and Bible.  We’ll also correct her math together. The bouncing back and forth is not as hard as I thought it would be, in fact it is quite manageable.


Soleil’s entire school day will usually be done by lunch and Coco will be ready for a break.  So will mom.


After lunch, Soleil gets cuddles and story time while Coco curls up on the couch and reads independently (a novel of her choice that correlates with her history studies). 


Then, while Soleil is resting, Coco and I do Science or Social studies together, usually for about 90 minutes.  For some of this time, she is reading or working on her own.  Experiments and projects are also worked on during this time.  Social Studies is one of her favorite subjects right now and we have lots of discussion times.  Soon, she’ll also be starting a computer Spanish program that will add another 30 minutes to her day.


After this, we straighten up our school area and when Soleil wakes up we head outside for play time, or to afternoon lessons and sports.  Sometimes I do social studies, science, or art with Soleil in the afternoon.  These subjects are project-centered at her age so she just loves it.  We don’t really call this time of day school, it is more like fun activities. 


Coco is currently working on a fiction book during her free time.  She isn’t doing a formal creative writing curriculum (though I am already looking for one for next year!).  She just started this on her own and works on it in the evenings and on weekends.  It’s coming along quite nicely, she already has her own way with words.  She will probably finish her book before I finish mine, as I believe she has greater discipline and far more perseverance than her mother. Thank God for that.


At bedtime, I read aloud to the girls, usually from a middle-level book.  Right now we’re loving The American Girl books.  They’re easy enough for my five year old to follow along, but still interesting to twelve year old Coco.  They also correspond to periods in history we’re studying.  Next, we’re going to read kid versions of the Iliad and the Odyssey. 


Once the kids are in bed, I try to look over lesson plans for the next day and get out any materials.  I don’t generally have much grading to do, as I automatically grade most lessons, usually having Coco correct mistakes instantly. For Coco, I plan lessons a quarter (9 weeks) at a time, and then on a weekly basis I refine those plans and study what it is I will be teaching.  I do the bulk of my planning over the summer.


I plan Soleil’s lessons each week, because much of her science, art, language enrichment and reading will be based on what she’s interested in that week, or what is going on around us.  For math, writing, and phonics, I simply progress one lesson each day.  I love kindergarten!


In addition to our “at school” time, we squeeze in lots of fun, educational field trips. There are also plenty of activities to keep us busy.  We have a weekly Bible study group for girls at our house and a regular park day we attend with other homeschoolers. 


The girls also attend a “Girls Club,” where they meet with other homeschoolers and have a Bible study and fun activity once a month.  Coc is in volleyball now and Soleil hopes to start swimming lessons soon.  Coco takes voice and plans to start piano lessons soon as well.


This all seems so cold and factual, and doesn’t contain any of the moments of blissful joy or head-banging frustration …so somehow I don’t feel it is an accurate portrayal of our day.  I can’t say this is what homeschool is really like, because it’s so much more.  However, it is a simple picture of a basic school day. 


The thing about homeschool, though, is that your school day is never really over.  There are endless opportunities in day-to-day life to have interesting discussions, delve into new subjects, discover the inextricable relationships between peoples, times, and places, or just appreciate creation. 


While what we consider a school day is finishing the required subjects, the learning continues until our heads hit the pillows.  Then it’s off to another day in the life of a homeschooler…





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