Because I’m rather exhausted, though, I’ll go easy on myself and just give you the quick What, Who, Where and When, saving the meaty Why and How for later.
Who Is In the Home
- Infant Son, 9 months old
- Toddler Girl, 2 years old
- Pre-K Girl, 4 years old
- School-aged Boy, 6 years old
- School-aged Boy, 8 years old
- My Husband (A few days a week he is in and out during the day, other days, we see him not at all)
Who Is Doing the Schooling
I am the “teacher” to this wild gang of ruffians. While I lean heavily on my husband for an overall sense of direction, and while he spearheads the training of the little characters in our midst, I am the one to whom the daily task of education falls. When my husband goes off to
blow things up save lives, I stay home to pass out chocolate chips to proper potty goers, keep the dog hair from collecting to the point of a linoleum-to-carpet transformation, rescue the baby from the staircase, and teach the three proper R’s. In short, I get the opportunity to disciple, train, draw forth, teach and love these little people all day long.
Who Is Being Schooled
Well, really I feel like I am the one “being schooled”, and on a daily basis, at that. Our oldest boys, ages 7 and 8, are the official academic students, however, falling into 1st and 3rd grade. Our 4 year old girl receives a very light form of Pre-K, as well.
Where We School
We school outside, we school inside, we school on beds and on couches, we school at counters and in cars, we school at the local wildlife preserve. But mostly, we accomplish school at our dining room table.
When We School
Yearly: We roughly follow a 36 week schedule, this year beginning in August and ending in June. We seem to fall into a nice six week on-one week off rotation, with a few spontaneous holidays thrown in. During the Christmas season we switch to “Christmas School” mode, which tends to look like five weeks of Christmas-realted flurries (crafts, present-making, baking, cooking, holiday singing and reading, with a few academics formally thrown in) from Thanksgiving to New Years.
Weekly: Generally we school Monday through Thursday, using Friday as a catch-up day. Our 36 week plan gives us weekly goals, so we aim to meet the goals each week; it may take us anywhere from 3 days to 5.
Daily: Our days follow a rhythm rather than a strict time schedule, but we do tend to accomplish certain tasks at about the same time each day. We have a morning block for school (usually 10-12 a.m.) and an afternoon block for school (usually 2-4 pm, but could be anywhere between the hours of 1:30 and 5), and then we round out the corners at meal times and bedtime. I make daily assignment charts, but assignments get shuffled about over the course of the week as our needs require.
What School Looks Like
Morning block is Table Time. Boys do Math, Handwriting/Copywork, Spelling/Phonics/Grammar, Foreign Language (the eldest), Music (once or twice a week), Artist Study (once a week), Recitation (very inconstantly at the moment). Our 4 year old girl makes crafts having to do with whichever letter or number she is learning, and she plays. The two year old and nine month old hopefully play as well.
Afternoon block is Reading Time. We knock out Science, Geography, Natural History, World History, American History, Poetry, Literature. (This looks so good when I write it down! I promise you, it’s far more chaotic in real life!) Ideally, at least two small children are sleeping during this time.
Meal Times and Bedtime we round out the corners. At breakfast we try to read from Proverbs and work on our Bible Memory work, and pray together. At Lunch we read Old Testament stories or devotional/missionary books. This happens generally 3 times a week. At bedtime, my husband usually reads from the New Testament.
Once a week we have a Nature Day, where we will spend one of the afore mentioned blocks at a park, on a hike, at the Wildlife Preserve, or just staring out our window watching the
What School Really Looks Like
If the above sounds like an ideal, that’s because it is. We do follow the general pattern on most days, and have found success and peace with it. There are many incredible moments, and often our blocks of time move along at such a pleasant hum that my heart truly feels fit to burst. But really, I can’t think of a single day where all of these things have gone as hoped, all day long. Every morning brings fresh frustrations alongside its joys; and while some weeks we pump out academics like we’re boss, other weeks I truly feel as if we accomplished little to nothing at all. Life can’t be planned. Each day and each week I shoot for the stars, but sometimes the stars I catch hold of are not the ones for which I aimed.
So what does a school day really look like? A school day looks like a constant activity, and almost constant noise. It looks like a dress up clothes explosion, a kitchen set catastrophe, and an art drawer emptying party. It looks like a multi-tasking mother trying to answer multiplication questions while making lunch, editing copy work while chasing a baby, and discussing where exactly the Rocky Mountains begin while wiping the toddler’s bum. School looks like the mama reading a History book aloud in a manner that goes very much like this: “And then John–no, you may not have another pear–Cabot sailed–please get off of your brother!–home again to–okay, Buddy, shhh, just nurse–England–no pear!–once more.”
There is whining, bickering, disobedience, frustration, sticky floors, messy sinks, and sometimes a powerful sense of one’s inability to do it all. But the good moments far out number the moments of difficulty, and the overall sense of the day tends toward happiness and joy. We choose to make it that way (adapting as we go along), and more often that not, the choice yields bountiful returns.