Here we are, ending our third year of homeschooling!
It was harder than I thought to document our homeschooling doings for the day.
But, because I’m a diligent gal, I kept the camera by my side all day to share with what a day of homeschooling/farming/blogging looks like!
I realized a few days ago that I haven’t spoke much of homeschooling for a while. Some of you were probably wondering if we still were homeschooling at all!
Year THREE of homeschooling, still goin’ strong!
About 3 years ago, I yanked my kids out of school in the middle of the school year and we’ve never looked back.
Our first year was truly the best, and I learned a lot about myself and my kids.
Because we wanted a FULL detox from school, curriculum, worksheets, and labels, I chose to dive right into unschooling for our first year. Unschooling is where you take a pause from standard schooling to learn from the world around you. You explore, create, and simply experience. And in doing that, life (and learning) becomes much more enjoyable. There are a host of unschooling resources, and we had some fun experiences that I shared in my unschooling updates HERE and HERE.
You might be surprised to hear…
We don’t unschool anymore.
We actually do a mixture of different styles, unschooling included. Just like how labeling your kids as learning disabled or geniuses can lock them into a corner, so can a religious adherence to a homeschooling style.
If homeschooling’s taught me anything, it’s to go with the flow and be receptive to change whatever that may look like. The important thing is that you’re intuitive to your family’s needs and you put THEM above what people may think.
Unschooling was an amazing experience for us, but then I found my kids wanting more structure, and asking for more organized school.
We focus on the things that are most important, things that we know will make our kids successful and confident in their abilities. So, we do math, english, writing, and music every day. History and science are still ‘unschooling’ subjects in our house, as our kids are naturally fascinated by both and learn these simply because they love it. It isn’t uncommon for Ethan to be found with his head buried in a book about weather, or Lydia with an incessant need to figure out how a rabbit’s digestive system works. Google, encyclopedias, and the library are all our friends.
My main reason for not incorporating curriculum for history and science yet is that when our kids hit high school age, we’ll be doing full courses which will cover all those lovely biology classes. We don’t see the need to pound “the mitosis of cells” in their heads now, when they should be able to absorb that information at 14-15 and check it off their list. Same with history.
We also incorporate philosophy, ethics & culture studies. Our kids (especially Ethan) are fascinated by cultures/religions/legends. Ethan loves mythology and recently declared his favorite is African mythology.
I should also mention, we recently joined a homeschooling co-op where Ethan takes Debate and Marine Biology. Even though these are high school level, we look at them as more like extra-curricular activities than curriculum. We also felt it was a good idea to get him in a situation to learn away from Lydia for a few hours a week.
Are my kids (gasp!) on track?
You can probably tell by the title that, no, we don’t care if our kids are on track with other kids their age. However, we have found that they are roughly on the same level as other kids.
Like I said before, Ethan (13) is a lover of science, and we’d considered putting him in a college-course because he has such a passion for it. We signed him up for National Geographic lectures instead and it was hilarious how much he loved it. A 2-hour speech by an 80-year old woman who was the first deep sea diver, was his favorite (Kevin struggled through that one, haha). He’s also just starting 7th grade math, when his peers would be finishing theirs. This doesn’t worry us because, well, people are different. That’s okay. He’s also a great musician and plays the piano and baritone sax. He is an auditory learner so you can see why he flourishes in this area. He’s also very observant of the world around him, and is concerned with the ethics of the world. It’s fun to watch him develop his philosophies on life.
Lydia (11) is a go-getter type of gal. She sets a plan, writes to-do lists, researches everything, and basically is like me in every way, haha. She speeds through math (she’s in 7th grade math as well, when she technically would be in 6th). At times we have to reign her in so she really can take time to retain what she’s learning. She doesn’t like to read big novels like Ethan, but she is an avid storyteller and writer. She loves projects and loves cooking, science, etc. She also keeps me on my toes and makes sure I know about every homeschooling event happening in the week. She loves to be social and be active. She plays softball and is diligent about practicing. I wouldn’t say she struggles in anything or that she’s behind in anything (though we wouldn’t blink if she was). She’s just happy Lydia, happy to do school, happy to play, happy to experience life.
A Day in the Life of a Homeschooler
I have to admit, I LOVE the flow of our days. We all work together and it constantly feels like a Saturday in the summer around here. Sure, we have our days where the house is a mess and nobody wants to do anything, but those are honestly pretty rare. The not wanting to do anything, not the messy house—it’s always that way.
7:00am WAKE UP, MILKING, ANIMAL FEEDING, BREAKFAST
About two times a year (April and November) here in Arizona, the weather is *just right* for outside sleeping and that’s when the kids grab their sleeping bags and head for the tree house.
They’ve been sleeping out here for a few days and just like most days, they wake up and milk the goats before Kevin and I can pull ourselves out of bed (usually around 7:30am for us).
We have a rule that they can watch morning TV if they milk the goats first. (That’s why they get ‘er done so early)
8:30am START ON SCHOOL
The kids have learned that it’s much more fun to get school done right away, so they usually dive right into it without us prompting them.
They probably spend about 30-45 min. on Khan Academy math, with Kevin (the resident math teacher) close by. Math is touch and go with our kids. If it’s easy to understand, they like it. If it’s difficult, it’s an all out tear-fest for Lydia and head-desk poundings for Ethan. Kevin is a GREAT math teacher, and I’m amazed at his patience. He speaks quietly and is great at explaining things. Also, he gives good hugs and motivational speeches when everything seems impossible. I’d probably be able to understand math past 6th grade if I’d had a teacher like him.
Next, we have two different kinds of English curriculum, Learning Through Language Arts (which we’re considering dropping this year) and Excellence in Writing (which we LOVE and can’t say enough good things about!). Learning Through Language Arts is a workbook for all things grammar-related. You know, like pronouns, conjunctions, etc. Excellence in Writing is a FANTASTIC course on HOW TO WRITE A STORY. Andrew Pudewa (the creator) is a genius. From the first level course, our kids fell in love with writing stories and their skills are impressive. We’re still researching what we’ll do to replace the Learning Through Language Arts workbooks (it’s a little too structured and religious for our taste), Kevin’s wanting to try a few online programs, so we’ll see where we end up.
Finally, they finish music lessons (piano for both, then baritone for Ethan and clarinet for Lydia). Their music is their ticket to a college scholarship haha. So we’re powering through with those!
9:30am OUTSIDE PROJECTS AND WORK
Once the kids get started on school, Kevin and I usually head outside to survey which household projects to tackle. This week we are trying to complete a make-shift goat area by the garden because Luna (our Nubian goat) is due here in about 3 days — eek!
We are doing a BIG renovation for a new goat area and it won’t be ready in time, so we have to improvise in the meantime. We usually pop in and out of the house to check on the kids, and I usually sit down to answer emails n’ such during this time, too.
10:30am MORE PROJECTS or LOCAL HOMESCHOOL EVENTS
It’s hard to define what happens in the time when school is finished, but it’s not yet time for lunch. It varies day by day, but it’s usually either household projects or errand running. A couple days a week we have other homeschooling events during this time like park days, homeschool band, and Ethan’s extra-curricular classes.
Today was all about cracking pecans from a neighbor’s tree. Yesterday was juicing the last of the pomelos from our tree, and the day before that was giving the dogs haircuts and cleaning my car.
Just life, I guess. But we ALWAYS listen to music while doing it. THAT, is a must.
Lunch is usually leftovers from last night coupled with whatever’s growing in the garden. And just so you can see how on top of things I am, here’s some gorgeous pics from my Instagram feed! Not that every day looks like this. But in a perfect world, they would!
We always watch a show together during lunch, because we’re obsessed with different series. We’re currently loving the new season of Dr. Pol. It’s my favorite part of the day, lunchtime. I love sitting down after all the morning school and chores and watching a fun show with the kids.
1:00pm FREE TIME!
After lunch the kids are pretty anxious to get on Minecraft to create, edit, & upload videos for Ethan’s YouTube Channel, TheLunarExplorer. His channel is a fun, clean way for kids to watch videos about minecraft. If you’ve got kids who love Minecraft, send ’em over to Ethan’s channel!
They get an hour of playing and an hour of watching TV shows or Youtube videos, then it’s outside to play or create or explore.
This is the time I usually get back to work with blog life, or just business tasks in general.
3:00pm GARDENING & FRIENDS
By about this time I’m ready for some outside time and the kids are ready for neighborhood friends to come over and play.
I love gardening with the sounds of children running around and laughing in the background. We’re lucky to have some homeschool friends right here on the street along with a bunch of school kids that get home and run to our house. It’s the stuff of dreams, man!
When it’s time for everyone to go home, we’ll have dinner and Lydia will beg everybody to go outside to play catch.
7:00pm MOVIE AND NIGHT CHORES
We usually watch a movie together, then it’s time for the kids to do the dishes and milk the goats once again.
8:30pm SHOWERS AND BEDTIME
Pretty self-explanatory! The kids take showers then snuggle in bed with a book and their doggies. We talk about the next day’s happenings and have deep conversations about life during this time.
Life is good.
This is a pretty standard day for us! I love the slow days here at home with lots of time to complete projects and make good food. With softball practice and games, errand running, band, and Ethan’s extra-curricular activities, we spend enough time away from the home. So I always savor those days of being home all day long!
What does your day look like?