Maple Syrup and Mythology: Homeschool Day-in-the-Life, Year 4!

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It’s hard for me to wrap my mind around the fact that we’re entering the spring of our fourth year of homeschooling! As those who follow this blog know, homeschooling was never our “plan,” but rather something to which the Lord drew us against our every expectation. As each year passes, His graces to us through this avenue become more plentiful and apparent.

This post is another installment for the Simple Homeschool “Day-in-the-Life” linkup. For those new to our meanderings through life, I’m a former trauma surgeon turned author and homeschooling mom to Bean, now 4.5 yrs, and Pip, who is 7. We have an eclectic approach to homeschooling that’s heavily interest-led and flexible to accommodate Pip’s needs as a twice-exceptional kiddo. One of the great joys and blessings of homeschooling, is the freedom to tailor the day to your kids’ needs, making it as challenging or as gentle as they require in the moment.

I’ve found homeschooling this year to be much more time-intensive than in the past, because both kids are sufficiently different now that they require some one-on-one instruction regularly (I used to be able to teach them together all the time!), and also because they’re eager to keep learning until late in the day. We still have a rhythm rather than a rigid curricular approach, but there is a definite pattern to what we do, to keep us all sane.

Our weekly and daily approaches follow:

Weekly Schedule:

Monday — Full homeschool day. The kids stay in their pajamas and we stay close to home, with most of the day devoted to formal learning. These homebound days are not only focused on learning, but they give Pip a much-needed sensory break.

Tuesday — Rock climbing lessons, grocery shopping. We have an abbreviated homeschool morning before heading out, and do some art after lunch when we get home.

Wednesday — Enrichment Day.  This is our day to visit museums, participate in a homeschooling program at our local wildlife sanctuary (this was a favorite — they tapped trees to make maple syrup!), hike in the woods, or go to the library (with poetry teatime afterward).

Thursday — Full homeschool day.  Another homebound day to give Pip a breather. On Thursdays, the kids dedicate some time in the afternoon to their exploration projects (see below).

Friday — Rock climbing lessons, respite visits with ill or elderly friends. On Friday mornings before rock climbing, we gameschool for a change of pace. After rock climbing lessons, we visit with friends in the hospital, or help out an elderly couple at home.

Saturdays are spent together as a family with Dad home; Sundays are church and small group (which we lead and host).

Homeschool Day Schedule:

Early morning: I wake up around 5:30 or 6 am, and get work done (writing, editing, etc) in the quiet dark. The kids usually wake up around 6:30, and know to play quietly in their rooms until 7, at which point I get ready for the day. We pray with Dad at 7:30, at which point he leaves for work and we transition to chores — Pip does his gymnastics rings (part of his sensory diet for SPD), sets the table and takes out the recycling; Bean feeds the cats and prepares fruit for breakfast; I cook breakfast.

Breakfast and Books: I’ve found meals are a great time for read-alouds, as the kids are a captive audience (and they get too wiggly if not occupied while eating!). Over breakfast, we cover the following:

  • Devotions, usually consisting of a chapter from the Bible, as well as a reading from an illustrated kids Bible or other Christian book (right now we’re reading The Ology)
  • Professor Noggins questions — We grab a couple boxes of these and daily read a card together, with map placemats on hand to point out relevant sites. They’re a fun way to expand the kids’ sense of geography and history.
  • History — we use The Story of the World as a spine, and supplement with additional, story-based history books as appropriate (the kids particular love the “If You Were a Kid In. . . ” series).

After breakfast, I clean up (and maybe cram in vacuuming or a phone call), and the kids play for a while on their own before:

One-on-One Time: This year I’ve started devoting about 45 minutes to each kid one-on-one with me to cover the essentials, namely reading, writing, and math. I used to cover these subjects with them both at the same time, but they’d distract each other so frequently that we had diminishing returns. In the current setup, both kids have some time to play independently (which Pip especially relishes), and they both thrive on the individualized attention.

  • Bean has her time first. We cover:
  • Pip’s time is a bit more eclectic, because he’s so asynchronous with his learning. To be more specific, he’s grade levels ahead in math and reading, but has dysgraphia, and so anything that requires handwriting pitches him into frustration. His one-on-one time includes the following:
    • MathBeast Academy has been so pivotal for Pip, because it introduces content at an accelerated pace, emphasizes problem solving, and yet does it all with goofy monster comics. Ingenius!
    • Reading — Pip reads independently and fluently on his own (right now he’s working his way through The Hobbit), but I do ask him to read aloud every day to become comfortable with the practice. Oftentimes he’ll recite a poem from one of these great anthologies; right now, he’s chosen to read Bean and I a page from Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets daily.
    • Writing — Pip gets so frustrated with handwriting that I don’t push him, but gently want to get him used to writing something by hand once daily. He finds cursive easier than printing, and so will work through the Handwriting Without Tears cursive workbooks, or he’ll respond to questions I pose in a journal.
    • Typing — This year I decided to teach Pip how to type, so that his motor dysgraphia doesn’t sour his love for the art and craft of writing. We’re using the free curriculum on, and he loves it and is making great progress.

On days when we have rock climbing lessons or another outside activity, One-on-One time is truncated (see above schedule). On days when we’re home, however, our next activity for the day is:

Cozy-Up Reading: Basically as it sounds — we cozy up on the couch, they munch snacks, and I read to them. Anthologies of myths from around the world are a favorite for this time (Chronicle Books and Usborne have some great ones). We’ll usually also cover science during this time, and any reading relevant to the exploration questions they’ve formulate for the month (more on that below).

After Cozy-Up Reading, we either head to a park, head outside to play in the yard, or head into our basement for Pip to get in some sensory therapy on the gymnastics rings.

Lunch is a an opportunity for more reading. The kids help make their own meals, and then I read to them from a novel while they eat. This past year, we adventured through Middle-Earth in The Lord of the Rings trilogy; we’ve since moved on to the Green Ember series.

Art/ Exploration Time happens after lunch.  Art is usually freeform for us — I provide the materials (pastels, markers, paints, construction paper, clay, etc), they dive wherever their imagination guides them. We do use the You ARE an Artist! curriculum from time to time as well, and often I’ll pull an artist biography from a shelf to read while they work (we particularly love this series).

On Thursdays, instead of art we do our exploration projects. Every month I ask the kids to formulate a couple questions they’d like to answer over subsequent weeks (this month, they asked, “What dinosaurs lived in different eras?” and “Why did meteors make craters on the moon?”) We search out the answers together. Pip is at the age when he can start recording and reflecting upon what he’s learning, so on Thursday afternoons he compiles his findings into a book or creates a timeline.

If we have any extra time, we’ll play some educational games together.

Quiet Time happens from 3:30 (ish) – 5 pm. The kids have tea and a snack, and read or play quietly in separate rooms while I try to crank through some work (never as efficiently as I hope).

At 5 pm, it’s time for evening chores, dinner, evening devotions, and bed time.

The next morning, just before sunrise, the kids stir from sleep. Another harried, full, beautiful day starts all over again, inviting me to explore life with these little image bearers of God, to sigh and groan in the hard moments, and to thank the Lord in everything.