Hi! My name is Michelle and I have been a homeschooling mom for almost 20 years now. (Can it really have been that long?) It has definitely been an incredible roller coaster ride!
Our homeschooling journey is supported by my wonderful husband who works full-time in the tech industry. He often gets to travel for his work and we have been able to join him at times to places like Ireland and and various parts of Canada. His job has also offered us the opportunity to live in three different parts of the U.S., allowing our family to explore what each area has to offer.
My older two children have their homeschooling years behind them and have followed in their father’s footsteps. Our oldest son graduated from Engineering a couple of years ago, is married, and working full-time. Our daughter will be entering her final year of Engineering this year.
Being a mommy-come-lately, we added a second son to our family 8 years ago. That morphed to the point where I eventually had one child in college, one in high school, and one just entering kindergarten.
I’ll give you a minute to process that.
Our mornings get off to a fairly relaxed beginning. I am an early riser, usually waking before 6:30 am. I try to use the time before my youngest wakes up for quiet, personal time, but he is also an early riser and can be up anywhere between 6:30 and 7:00 am. Now that he is a little older, he is able to find things to keep him busy until breakfast. Sometimes he reads or plays with Lego. Other times he just hangs out on our bed chatting with his dad before my husband needs to get ready for work.
A bit before 8:00 am I get my son his breakfast. The rest of us fend for ourselves and eat whenever it is convenient. We will sometimes do a larger breakfast on the weekend, but during the week we keep a selection of cereals, bread for toast, and bagels on hand to choose from.
Between 8:00 and 8:30 am, my son goes through his morning routine where he eats his breakfast, brushes his teeth, gets dressed, sorts his laundry, etc. I use this time to make my husband’s lunch, empty the dishwasher, and perhaps run the washing machine.
By around 8:30, we are ready to begin our school day. This isn’t a rigid starting time like it once was, since I only have one younger student and we have the ability to be more flexible. Our current homeschool day in no way resembles the one I used to follow when I was teaching two kids that were three grades apart and we were busy in the afternoons. I find it sometimes takes awhile after the school year starts, but eventually we slip into a daily rhythm that works for well for our family. The following description is what is currently working for us in this season of life.
During the quieter summer months I carve out some time to create a personalized daily schedule based on all of the books that I have assembled for my son to complete throughout the upcoming school year. It is a bit of extra work upfront, compared to using a packaged curriculum, but I feel comfortable doing it and it allows me to customize my son’s learning based on his strengths and interests. Based on this pre-made schedule, my youngest generally selects what books he wants to do and in what order each school day. I am really not concerned with rigidly completing subjects in a certain order, just that they get completed by the end of our day. (Again, this is possible because I am only teaching one child. This is not at all how our two student school day was run.) Once a book is done, it gets highlighted on our chart and a new subject is selected. My son’s current preference seems to be a warm-up using one of the thinking skills books that we use like Critical & Creative Thinking Activities, followed by math, handwriting, and language arts.
At this young age, we generally stop around 10:00 am for a small snack or drink if my son wants one and he is sent off for some playtime for about half an hour, allowing me to do a few things around the house.
As 10:30 approaches, I usually call my son back to our school room to work on a few more books before we break for lunch. This tends to be about an hour more of work, at which point I dismiss him to go and play again while I fix lunch for the two of us.
Like breakfast, lunch is based on a selection of foods that I keep on hand like soup, sandwich fixings, hummus, leftovers, fruit, and yogurt.
My son and I tend to take a longer lunch break and don’t generally re-group to begin school again until about 1:00 pm. This gives him some time to run around outside or keep working on his latest project.
Unlike some families who may have outside obligations that begin in the afternoon, we are home all day, every day during the week, giving us the opportunity to work on school as late as we need to in order to get things done without rushing. This has proven to be especially helpful since my son seems to enjoy regular breaks, and is completely unfazed if he is still finishing off the last of his workbooks at 4:00 pm.
Our afternoon of school begins with reading…lots and lots of reading. I keep a stack of the books we are currently using for school beside my bed and the two of us go upstairs for “reading on the bed” time. Over the course of the next hour or more, we will cover Bible, science, history, art, and read aloud readings. My son will also read his reader aloud to me during this time to give me a bit of a break.
It is then back downstairs for a quick snack and drink and then we revisit the school room to finish whatever tasks need to be completed. Not all of our school is workbook-based and we tend to do a variety of activities in the afternoon. My son enjoys puzzles, thinking activities like Q-bitz or Equilibrio, and drawing using the Draw Write Now series.
School isn’t finished until the school table is clear, with all of the books, pencils, and other supplies put away.
As we draw close to 4:00 pm, my son is starting to wind down and I will let him watch a show or two on Netflix while I begin thinking about preparing supper. I’ll admit, I don’t really plan this out too much ahead of time at this stage in my life. Menu planning used to be important when I was cooking for two adults and two nearly grown children, but for the most part, cooking for two adults and one child isn’t as big of a deal. It has been interesting to watch our meals go from simple because they had to be (due to time constraints, etc.) to being simple because they can be.
I aim to have supper ready in about an hour as that is about how long it takes to make a pasta dish and salad or meat, potatoes, and a vegetable. Most evenings, it is just my son and I eating first, with the two of us joining my husband while he eats after he gets home from work.
The evening seems to go by so quickly. Supper dishes get cleared and then, on the days my husband can be home a little earlier, he usually takes our son swimming, which gives me at least an hour of alone time.
Other evenings we might play a few board games together or watch some YouTube videos (the two guys love to watch science or woodworking videos!) before it is time for my son to go through his bedtime routine of showering, pajamas, brushing teeth, putting away clothes, etc.
My husband and I usually have a couple of hours of time together after our son goes to bed.
Just for Fun:
At this point, we are able to keep our homeschool day fairly consistent because it is rare for us to have outside obligations during the week. We operate under the premise that if my husband is at work, then it is a school day for us…even if the public schools have the day off. (We have one exception to this rule and that is that when you are homeschooled, your birthday is a holiday and you get the day off!) The corollary of this means that if my husband has the day off, then we also have the day off. This has allowed us to travel with him, take advantage of museum days or other activities in the city, and spend time when family or friends come to visit.
My son does participate in extra-curricular activities such as karate and swimming, but for the time being, we have been able to keep those events sequestered to the weekends where they don’t impact our school day.