Tuesday, April 12, 2011

A Day in the Life, Part 1

I don't know about you, but I find it completely fascinating to read about other people's day to day lives. I know that homeschooling is probably unfamiliar to a lot of people, just like it was to me before we started a couple of years ago, so I thought you might be interested in a little peek into a homeschool day at our house.

Now, in interests of fairness, I am going to tell you about two very different kinds of days. In reality, we have lots of good days, lots of just okay days, and a few really bad days. But here are the two extremes (Part 1 and Part 2- this is Part 1). (This is not an exact reporting of a real day, more like a composite of different days we've had).

*Disclaimer: I know homeschooling is not for everyone. This is just what works best for us. You know what works best for your family. If you think you are going to be offended either by a super rosy description of a day, or by a super negative description of a day, please don't read!*

A Very Good Day

Up early, long before anyone else. Peaceful dark house, sun barely making the sky gray yet. Coffee, email, quiet time, exercise. Get the proper load of laundry (as per the schedule) started. Throw French toast casserole in the oven. Plan for dinner. Head upstairs to shower just as the first kids and Hubs get up.

Back downstairs, ready to start the day (i.e. hair and make-up, dressed). Breakfast is finished and we all sit down together. Seth has time to eat with us, since the morning was so peaceful. The kids do their chore packs and get ready without being asked. I have time to braid Olivia's hair "like Laura from Little House on the Prairie" without having to rush. She asks me some tricky questions about God, and I have time to focus and think about my answers as her hair runs through my hands.

I put the baby down for his morning nap. When everyone is ready for school, I spend some quality time with the two-year old while the big girls start their workboxes (handwriting for Olivia, letter tracing for Amelia). We move through the rest of our subjects happily. In history, we are mummifying a chicken to show how the Egyptians would have made mummies. The kids are fascinated and engaged, and I know they will remember the Pharaohs for a long time.

We take a break after seat work, and Daddy calls to ask if we want to come have a picnic at the farm. Of course we do! We quickly throw together lunch for the guys in the shop and head down the road. We have a picnic on an old quilt at the farm. After we eat, Daddy reads from our read-alouds, and the kids beg for more chapters. (Feel like a spectacular mother if they are asking for more chapters from the Bible). During nap time, I listen to the big girls chatter and play pretend and love on each other. I am reminded that homeschooling gives them the opportunity to be best friends, without worrying about who is "too old" to be friends with their little sisters.

After nap time, while we fold laundry together, the oldest reads to the littler ones. An encouraging card from a friend in our homeschool group comes in the mail, reminding me that I am just the Mama these children need (group trip to the symphony next week). I print out the scope and sequence for the next grade up, and realize that Olivia has mastered most of that already. Later, we take a walk in the pasture, and one of the girls makes a connection to something we read in science.... hallelujah!

About 4:30, we stop and pick-up the house to get ready for Daddy to come home. I realize that we are making progress in working together with cheerful hearts, a character issue that we have been reinforcing little by little. Again, be grateful that homeschooling gives plenty of opportunities (and TIME) to recognize character issues and work on them together. Small sibling squabble. I gently remind the girls of how we treat each other in our family, no matter how we are feeling. They reply "Yes Ma'am" and hug it out.

Grandma stops by; we decide that she is going to go home and bring Grandpa back here for dinner. (Not stressed out-planned dinner this morning, remember? Easy to add two more). The house is peaceful (and clean!) when Hubs gets home, and the kids make a mad dash to welcome Daddy. Muddy farm boots taken off by the door. The kids watch a little TV while Seth and I share a beer and talk and finish dinner.

Grandma and Grandpa are back for dinner. Tiny hands folded for grace. Kids actually remember to use the manners we taught them. After the kids leave the table to play, the adults sit and talk, and end up lingering over pie and coffee. Worn socks on long man legs under my table. The usual farm talk. Rough hands picking little pieces of pie out of the pan an hour later.

There is no homework, no practice to get to, no early bedtime for school tomorrow to worry about. We can say YES! to picnics with Daddy and impromptu dinners with Grandma and Grandpa. The kids have time to explore and discover and just be kids.  They have the kind of tree-climbing, hours outside, reading on a picnic blanket childhood we want for them.  Seth and I are convicted to see and work on character issues that we may have missed otherwise. We are reminded that we are responsible for training these babies into virtuous and healthy adults.

Like I said, this is not any one real day, more like a story about our good days.  (Don't ask my kids about mummifying the chicken, we haven't done it yet.  I am....er....chicken.)

Now, if that was a little too Pollyanna for you and you feel like killing me, (and I bet you do), just wait for Part 2....A Very Bad Day. It's not all sunshine and roses.