“Not Back to School”

An initial Trojan horse model morphed into a Trojan dinosaur. That’s “Odysseus Fox” in the center compartment.

I’m late in the game for homeschooling bloggers posting their 2019-2020 curricula, because, well. . . we homeschool year-round, and I don’t plan months in advance, so I didn’t think I had much to offer. Because each month depends upon the kids’ progress and interests, I’ve really no idea what we’ll be doing in December. However, as I’ve read through so many meticulously-compiled lists of books, I’ve realized I can offer a glimpse into our rhythm, which is really the heart of homeschooling for us.

We’re just coming out of four months of intensive at-home listening therapy for Pip, which sucked up an hour every day and really limited what we could explore over the summer. Now that it’s done, we’re taking a hiatus from formal therapy indefinitely, and are all breathing a sigh of relief from the sudden freedom. With this new flexibility, this is how our days basically look:

Mondays and Thursdays are “Rest Days.” While I’d love to be out exploring daily, the truth is that Pip needs a couple days a week when he can be sure he won’t face any sensory challenges. He stays in his PJs, and we devote the entire day to homeschooling, um, at home.

Wednesdays we reserve for field trips and outings to the park.

Tuesdays and Fridays the kids go rock climbing (both for fun and during a lesson). I’ll also get the shopping done one of these days (an ordeal for Pip), and we’ll often visit with a friend.

Saturdays are for family, Sundays for church and small group.

Breakfast and Books happens Monday-Friday, and is the core of our homeschool. I read from a variety of sources, mostly ones I choose, while the kids are a captive audience. What we read varies, but it always includes:

  1. a kids’ Bible or devotional (right now it’s God’s Love for You and Indescribable)
  2. children’s literature readings (usually an Usborne illustrated anthology)
  3. and selections from history, geography, or foreign language as needed.

As of this morning, the breakfast table looks like this:

After Breakfast and Books, the next main component of our day is Math, Reading and Writing. We do this most days, although it’s often truncated on rock climbing days. This is the closest thing to seatwork the kids do.

Right now this looks like the following:

Math — Pip (6.5 yrs) — selected problems from a Beast Academy workbook. We’ve been anti-workbook in the past, but Beast Academy’s problems are more like critical thinking puzzles. The textbooks are so engaging that he’s read them already, so we’re focusing on exercises.

Bean (4 yrs) — She loves activity books, so has actually asked lately to do basic arithmetic exercises from a Singapore Math workbook, using interlocking cubes as manipulatives to help.

Reading — Pip — reads a poem aloud to us, from his choosing as long as it’s from a book in this series. He also reads a few pages from Harry Potter on his own before bed every night, and talks with me the next morning about what happened.

Bean — she’s working her way through the books from this phonics series , which has worked really well for her. She reads two pages, then colors them.

Writing — Pip — Lately he’s been filling out entries of a hiking journal we put together, to chronicle his trips in the mountains this summer. Interspersed with that, he’s done Mad Libs. Yes, I actually said it. Encouraging him to write was a nightmare before those books.

Bean — We’ve been super informal in teaching her handwriting. She practices writing her name daily, and then picks a word of her choosing to sound out and write. That’s it.

On Mondays and Thursdays when we’re home all day, after Math, Reading, and Writing, we’ll play some games (the kids can each pick one), and then while the kids have a snack I’ll read some books pertinent to their Exploration Questions, which are points of curiosity that they’ve defined for the month. For September, the kids want to learn about coral reefs, and what life is like in Russia.

Mid-day is time outside, Pip’s therapy (rock climbing counts), and lunch. During lunch, I read to them from a novel; we’re finishing up Tolkien’s The Fellowship of the Ring, and anticipate the remaining two books will occupy us for the rest of the year!

After lunch on Mondays, we do a Building Challenge. I give the kids a picture of a famous building, or give them a problem to solve as a prompt, and they have to create the relevant structure with whatever materials they choose. Recently, a reading about the Trojan horse inspired an attempted model of one, which soon inspired a “Trojan dinosaur” complete with a compartment to hide the Greek soldiers (?!).

On Thursdays after lunch, we devote time to Art. Lately the kids have loved the You ARE an Artist video tutorials in chalk pastels.

That’s it. As the year goes on, we’ll finish one resource, and pick another in a similar category based on what we’ve been doing/ seeing/ talking about. Maybe we’ll swap out Usborne’s fairy tales for a book on Chinese myths. Maybe we’ll go back to ancient history after finishing our tour of the Middle Ages in Story of the World. I don’t know. I’m just grateful for the flexibility, and for God’s grace in giving us these moments together.

8 Comments Add yours

  1. Jeanne A Dedman says:

    Vision therapy and Calvin and Hobbes helped David over the hump of his reading disability. Mad Libs sound great to me! We used them a bit too.


    1. Katie Butler says:

      Calvin and Hobbes! Love it! Thank Jeanne!


  2. Hannah J. says:

    I love this! I’m a homeschool graduate, now in my sophomore year of college, and this post brings back happy memories 🙂 We also schooled year round and we had a more interest-based approach as well. Story of the World was the best! Even through high school, we still maintained this educational style to a large degree. I just want to encourage you to keep it up! As a graduate, I can say this is a great educational style and it does work! I just found your blog the other day from your post on Desiring God. Can’t wait to read more of what you write!


    1. Katie Butler says:

      Thanks so much, Hannah! It’s super encouraging to hear that someone who’s gone the homeschooling route — as a learner, not as a parent! — and experienced a similar approach can vouch for it! Thank you!!


  3. North Academy says:

    I would love to read (and write) comments about people’s daily rhythms. My littles are 2 and 4, and I think we’re doing a pretty-good-but-could-be-better job with the homeschooling PK and PPPK thing. I would love to hear what others are doing and (selfishly) get some feedback on what we’re doing.


    1. Katie Butler says:

      Thanks for your comment! Please feel free to email me through the contact form if you’d like to chat.


  4. Dawn says:

    I love your daily rhythms! What a lovely week devoted to life, love and learning.
    Blessings, Dawn


    1. Katie Butler says:

      Thank you, Dawn! Blessings to you!


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