Preparing for a Typical Homeschool Day

Not that long ago, I was asked to describe a “typical day in your homeschool”. I remember staring at that line on the questionnaire for many minutes wondering how much space I would be allowed to attempt that. It’s hard enough to describe our “typical” for a 5-day series of posts (which I’ve done, here and here), never mind condensing it to a paragraph. Now, here I am attempting to describe “typical” again – a few paragraphs that give you an idea of what a typical week is like. It’s hard to do, because every day is different.

A Day in the Life of a Homeschool Family series at The Homeschool Post

Every day is different, but there is one thing that is pretty constant, and that is how I start each day.

Our typical days are definitely not all sunshine and lollipops. Typical days might include oversleeping, procrastinating, complaining, and bad attitudes. They might also include last minute changes, thrown-together meals, the occasional argument, and at least one of us scrambling to get caught up. That’s the real world we live in. But that’s exactly why the start of my day is so important. I made a commitment a long time ago to start each day with my own quiet time spent reading the Scripture, and I can tell you that making my morning coffee break with God a top priority has meant our typical days go much better than they otherwise would! Without that start to my day, my own attitudes and failings would take over and I wouldn’t be able to cope with the challenges that come from anyone or anything else!

Monday is usually a day to stay home and set the tone for the week. Generally we don’t need to go out during the day, so getting a decent start on the day and hitting every subject is the goal. On the flip side of that is the fact that the kids are almost always up late on Sunday night, so they struggle to get out of bed on time.

Tuesday is the hardest day to get anything done at home, because music lessons, gym class, choir rehearsal, and Civil Air Patrol all land on Tuesday. I figured out a couple years ago that it worked out best to do almost all of the running around on one day of the week and just accept the fact that we likely weren’t going to get math done that day. This way we only “lose” one day each week to outside activities. I also try to do as many of the errands as possible, so I grab groceries while the kids are at gym and we stop at the library/bank/pharmacy/whatever on the way home. And anything I miss on that trip I can try to do on the evening trip for choir and CAP. It’s an exhausting day, but fairly efficient. Except for meals. Tuesday meals are always rushed, and are most often leftovers or what I call “shoot-yer-own dinners”.

Wednesday and Thursday are most often stay at home days for me and the middle school daughter, and I try to plan on working with her on science and social studies. The high school son has a part-time job, and works these two days. So the neat thing is that his flexible homeschool schedule allows him to work during the day and put in at least 16 hours on only two days. The not-so-neat thing is that it leaves him only 2-1/2 days to get schoolwork done, and he is not really a fan of catching up in evenings or on weekends.

Friday … if all goes well, we’re all home on Friday again, and we can try to get things done that we should have done earlier in the week. Yeah. That’s the plan, but it doesn’t always work out that way.

We don’t use a set schedule for what time of day to do certain subjects, or even which days. I do set some expectations, such as some math and reading every day. There are deadlines for assignments, but they are pretty flexible when things come up. We’ve settled into a few routines that help us keep some rhythm and pattern to our days. I have regular reminders that pop up on my phone to help ensure that we get started on time, keep our lunch break from lasting until dinnertime, and leave the house on time when we do need to go out. Some days those safeguards work and some days they get ignored.

Few days include breakfast together, but every day starts with coffee and high hopes for a productive day. We no longer have family read-alouds or subjects that we study as a group, but there are still a couple of subjects that I do one-on-one with each kid. We do fewer field trips and co-ops, but we do keep our days flexible enough that we can take advantage of the most interesting and valuable learning experiences when they come along. Our typical homeschool day now is so different from what it was like when we were just starting this journey, or even from a few short years ago when there were four students instead of just two. Sometimes I miss the days of read-alouds while snuggled on the sofa, and three or four kids all working on a unit study together, but I am finding that I enjoy our current normal just as much.

If you’ve been homeschooling for very long, you learn that what worked last year might not work this year or next. Some things change, and some things stay the same. Stay flexible, and enjoy each stage on the homeschooling journey as it happens. And whatever your typical day looks like, I encourage you to prepare your own heart for it by drawing strength from God’s Word.

So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom. Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days. ~Psalm 90

Teach us to number our days

 

 

 

Kym (3 Posts)

Kym is in the middle of her 17th year of homeschooling her four kids, two of whom have graduated. She and her husband of 27 years are Canadians transplanted to Maryland. Kym loves coffee, history, and homeschooling, and you can join her for coffee break at her blog, Homeschool Coffee Break.


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DIY Totally Safe Art Supplies for Toddlers (and their older siblings)

Guest Post by Lisa of School at Home Mom.

As a mom of an active 21-month old, I am always looking for new ways to excite his curiosity and sustain his focus. Early childhood learning is so much about hands-on experiences and exploration, and art activities are a perfect way to delight a child’s senses.

Up until about last week, though, my little artist was still putting everything into his mouth – or coating his hands with everything and then putting them into his mouth!

So, I decided to hold off on splurging on art supplies and make my own food-based materials. This way, he could explore freely, and I wouldn’t have to constantly be on “DON’T EAT THAT!” patrol.

Most of our DIY supplies use only a handful of ingredients that can be stored at room temperature in a kitchen. Just about everything we use is something we’d want to keep around for baking or cooking anyway, and can be found in every grocery store. What could be easier?

DIY Totally safe art supplies for toddlers: homemade play dough and finger paints

Benefits of DIY (besides saving money!)

My son loves to make his own art supplies. He runs to the cabinet where we keep our projects stocked and opens it up, declaring, “Paint! Paint!” and eagerly gets his smock on so that he can help me mix the ingredients.

Some of the skills we can work on while creating and using the art supplies:

  • Cause and effect
  • Colors and color mixing
  • Opposites (wet/dry, big/little, open/shut, soft/hard, slow/fast, etc.)
  • Hand-eye coordination
  • Hand & finger strength

If you have more than one child, these DIY projects are perfect! The older children can help to prepare the supplies in a more scientific way, observing how changing the quantities or process changes the outcome. The playdoh project uses more precise quantities, and would be perfect for an older child learning about customary units of measurement and fractions.

Kool Aid + Baby Cereal + Water = finger paint!

Kool Aid + Baby Cereal + Water = finger paint!

DIY finger paint

Ingredients:

  • Small amount of water
  • Baby cereal
  • Kool Aid or food coloring

Procedure: Mix the dry baby cereal with water to desired consistency, then mix in the coloring.

 

My son's masterpiece, created with Kool Aid, baby cereal, and water!

My son’s masterpiece, created with Kool Aid, baby cereal, and water!

Fun with painting!

Fun with painting!

3/4 of the fun was making the paint ourselves. My son loves watching the powder mix into the water!

3/4 of the fun was making the paint ourselves. My son loves watching the powder mix into the water!

My son was never a fan of baby cereal, so we ended up with a whole open container of it that we didn’t want to throw away but couldn’t donate. Using it up as thickener for finger paint was the perfect solution!

Note: we do not drink Kool Aid, but we do keep packets stocked for use in projects. I order them in bulk on Amazon so that we can get a variety of colors, and they’re widely available in grocery stores too.

Kool-Aid (or anything else with food coloring) will stain hands and whatever else it gets on, so an old shirt or smock would be great. My son gave himself a red belly button from one of his early painting sessions before we invested in a smock! Personally, I don’t mind – I abide by the saying “If he got dirty, he had fun today!”

For kids who don't like the feel of finger paint, a piece of plastic wrap taped over it will let them explore and play.

For kids who don’t like the feel of finger paint, a piece of plastic wrap taped over it will let them explore and play.

My son loved using one of our basting brushes to explore the paint materials. And I didn't have to worry about contaminating the brush!

My son loved using one of our basting brushes to explore the paint materials. And I didn’t have to worry about contaminating the brush!

After a number of successful experiences, he couldn't resist touching it!

After a number of successful experiences, he couldn’t resist touching it!

My son actually hates the feel of finger paint, or anything else that is the least bit goopy or sticky. After he made it clear that he was not going to be touching the paint directly, I taped a sheet of plastic cling over the goop. Then he loved it! Later, I gave him a basting brush, and he got into moving the thick finger paint around with that.

Once he got the hang of the brush, I decided to move on to regular paint. My 2 ingredient recipe for that is next!

DIY paint

Ingredients

  • Water
  • Kool Aid packet

That’s it! Mix & enjoy.

My son LOVED watching the different colors mix!

My son LOVED watching the different colors mix!

The Kool Aid produces a vibrant color, especially if you use a slightly more concentrated amount.

The Kool Aid produces a vibrant color, especially if you use a slightly more concentrated amount.

The finished product!

The finished product!

After my son had an epic painting session involving like 8 packets of Kool-Aid, we ran out! So we substituted regular food coloring instead. He loved watching the drops of coloring diffuse out into the water. It turned into a bit of a science experiment!

Other paint making ideas:

  • Using water mixed with spices and flavorings
  • Using water with food coloring & salt, for a glittery effect

Another variation: sprinkle the Kool Aid on the paper first and then paint with water – your child will be able to see the powder mixing in a bit at a time. My toddler was mesmerized!

If you homeschool multiple kids: Your older children will enjoy writing secret messages in white crayon and then painting over it to reveal the hidden words! Or, how about a secret “math code” using number sentences or patterns?

Speaking of practicing math and reading, I’m a big fan of using manipulatives and hands on materials to make abstract concepts more concrete. This next project will provide a sensory experience for little ones, while your older child can use it to make numbers and letters, or even cut it up to model fractions!

DIY Playdoh

There are plenty of recipes for playdoh, but many of them use salt – which doesn’t work for my son’s eczema-prone skin. Here’s one that was gentler for him, and still used food-grade ingredients.

Because this recipe uses heat, you won’t want to prepare this one with your toddler’s help. Once it cools, you can enlist your child’s participation for mixing in colors.

Bonus: This recipe is gluten free, if that’s a concern for you.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups baking soda
  • 1 cup cornstarch
  • 1 ½ cups water
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • Food coloring of your choice (if desired)

Mix the ingredients and cook on medium heat. Stir constantly and watch for when it begins to thicken. When it thickens enough, take it off, allow it to cool, and then mix in the colors.

This playdoh recipe is easy on sensitive skin.

This playdoh recipe is easy on sensitive skin.

My son was actually willing to touch the playdoh - big victory!

My son was actually willing to touch the playdoh – big victory!

The texture of this playdoh is soft and a bit sticky at first (if it’s too sticky, add more cornstarch). We were able to keep it in the fridge for several weeks. We allowed it to warm up a bit before playing with it.

Enjoy!

 

 

 

Lisa of schoolathomemom.comLisa has been a special education teacher for 15 years and is looking forward to wrapping up her final months of her teaching contract so that she can homeschool her young son. She is also eager to help other homeschool families who can benefit from her years of experience working with children with many different learning styles, strengths, and needs. If you are new to homeschooling, her 100 Day Countdown begins on April 21, 2015! In addition to her years in the classroom, she has also traveled to 6 continents and participated in endangered sea turtle conservation projects and archaeological digs. Lisa currently works for the Museum of Natural History developing curriculum and teaching enrichment courses and camp sessions to children ages 5-10. You can learn more at her website, http://www.schoolathomemom.com.

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Homeschool Blog and Tell #HSBAT April 2015

 

The April Homeschool Blog and Tell is brought to you by Lamp Post Homeschool. You can save 20% on Alpha Omega curriculum through the end of April. Use code AOP20 at the checkout.

 

Lamp Post Homeschool Alpha Omega sale through April
Welcome to the April Edition of the Homeschool Blog and Tell Linkup!

This is our monthly link-up that allows you to show off what is going on in your homeschool!

In honor of National Poetry Month, we’d love to see you share something poetry-related from your homeschool! Or just tell us what you’ve been doing this week, or any cool projects you’ve done recently.  Our theme this month is A Day in the Life of a Homeschooler, so if you have a post about your homeschool day, link it up in our blog hop here!

We have created a Pinterest board just for the Homeschool Blog & Tell, so you can see your posts featured there:

 
Follow The Homeschool Post’s board Homeschool Blog & Tell #HSBAT on Pinterest.
 

Grab a button for your blog!

 

The Homeschool Post

 

Through the end of this month, link up your homeschool-related post and we’ll share it with our readers.

So, show us what you got!

Now for a few guidelines: (I know…no one likes a lot of rules, so there are not many.)

  • Please direct your link to a certain post NOT your home page. We have the right to delete your link if this is not followed.
  • Use a least one photo in your post. We want to SEE what you have done!
  • Link your specific post to The Homeschool Post. (Again, we have the right to delete your link if this is not followed.)
  • These can be OLDER posts. We are okay with that – we want to bring new readers to your blog!
  • Please link back to us or use the button above in your post or on your blog somewhere. We want everyone to know about the link-up and share it with their friends! Thanks!

If you have ANY questions, please feel free to ask! We are here for ALL homeschoolers and truly want to bless you guys!

If you are on Twitter, Google+, or even Instagram please use the hashtag: #HSBAT.

 

 



 

 

 

Sara (58 Posts)

I'm a reader, writer, dreamer, wife, and homeschooling mom of 3 girls. We take a relaxed, eclectic, Charlotte Mason-leaning, Montessori-ish, literature-rich, delight-directed, almost unschooling-at-times approach to learning. Lots of unit studies, field trips, and lapbooks, too. I like to blog about our learning adventures (plus faith and encouragement) at Embracing Destiny.


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