Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Our Typical Homeschool Day in the 2016/2017 school year

  I have been meaning to write more about homeschooling and a couple have readers have prompted me to do that now.

Here is our basic day:
The kids get up at 7:45 am or earlier and are supposed to be dressed and ready for the day and ready to help by 8 am.

They all have a chore or so (and that some days is cooking breakfast) before breakfast at 8:30 am.
After breakfast we read a New Testament chapter while still sitting around the table.

Then we clean up from breakfast. Mara sweeps the main area, Jonathan empties the dish drainer, Aaron clears and washes the table, Megan rinses dishes and helps clean off counters and I wash dishes and work on cleaning off counters. I consider working on household and homesteading chores to be as important of an education as book work. If my kids can do algebra well but can't cook or care for a home then I will feel like I have failed. While we are cleaning up we are also working on memorizing scripture. I can keep the Bible propped up on the shelf above the sink to keep us on track and we recite together while we work. Currently we are working to memorize the book of Philippians and so we do that each day and most days we also review a book or chapter that we have memorized in the past (we rotate through those). We haven't always memorized as much. With littler kids you can start smaller and work up.

Next we do music. This can vary a little from day to day and one morning a week when I have early music students it tends to get skipped. It also can get skipped on Homeschool co-op days and nursing home days (both once a month). Anyway our general routine is to sing a round together accappella (I think this helps the kids to learn to hold their own part better and to be able to hear harmony), then we sing a Hymn while I also play the piano (this is to worship and praise our God and also to work on training voices. I also use it as a time to talk some about music theory.). Next we do a couple of bluegrass songs together with everybody playing and singing. One is a review/warm-up song and the other one is the song we are currently trying to get good at.

Next we do stretching and jumping jacks which only lasts around 3 minutes. We generally get done with all of this somewhere between 9:30 and 10 am.

Now each of the kids do their individual work (and 2 mornings a week I am teaching music lessons during a portion of this time).

  MARA -We have had a major change this year with Mara doing college online. She is a junior in highschool and in MN you can choose to go to college for free during your junior and senior years. She could go to classes at a school or she can do it online. I didn't really care for the idea of her going to the local university at this time (and she doesn't have a drivers license yet so it would have been a lot of running for my anyway) and so we chose University of Northwestern  which has a biblical world view. She isn't allowed to take Bible classes with the PSEO program (the state funding) but the other classes that she does take can have a Biblical rather than secular world view and we are happy about that. This past Spring found me figuring out how to make a transcript and helping her with the application submitting.

   So for Mara she took English Comp and Spanish 1 last semester and this semester she is just starting on Spanish 2, Chemistry and Theater. We are all kind of excited about the Chemistry class as she was sent a big kit with chemicals, beakers and so forth and we all hope to watch what she does with it. We also found it quite curious that the only book she was sent for Chemistry was "Miracles" by C.S. Lewis. This looks like it is going to be a fun class. :-)

  Mara has also worked on Math (Saxon advance math) some on her own and is working on an essay this semester that I asked her to do for a contest.

JONATHAN - Jonathan is in 9th grade this year. He is doing Saxon Math Algebra 1. He mostly works on his own and will just call me to help out as needed. He tends to need help with around 2 problems every day. Algebra has been challenging for him and so when he started this book last year we decided to just do 1/2 a lesson every day so that it wasn't so overwhelming. This year he has made good progress and really seems to be understanding things better and is able to work on his own more so that has been wonderful. Jonathan also has a spelling workbook that he works on and he does 15 minutes of copy-work from the Bible every day. We do copy-work as a way to work on handwriting and also to help the kids learn good grammar and sentence structure.

   I also assign Essays from time to time (he is currently working on his second one this year) which we then send off to different contests. Right now the older two are working on ones for the Stossel in the Classroom Essay contest. If you have a highschooler that might be something fun for them to try. Mara has become a semi-finalist before and won $100. That was pretty fun for her. This is Jonathan's first year to compete in this one. We did find out he won at the local level for the other essay contest that he entered this year which gives him $25 (this is his 3rd year of winning at that level and one year he also won at state which gave him another $50).

AARON - Aaron is in 7th grade. He is my guy who is great in Math and Geography but was slow to learn to read (he loves to read now however) and still struggles with spelling and writing. He does Saxon math 87 which I generally read through with him and then he does on his own, very rarely needing any help. For both Aaron and Megan, I only ask them to do every other problem as there is a fair amount of repetition and they grasp it pretty easily and so doing them all is unnecessary. However if they get one wrong they have to go back and correct that one and also do the problems on either side of that problem.  For spelling I am working with him using concepts that I am finding in the book "The Logic of English". I think we are making some progress this year. Spelling has just been a super hard subject for Aaron. He also does 15 minutes of Copy-work from the Bible. He does it very slowly and carefully which is fine - this isn't a speed subject as much as Megan thinks that it should be. He has to do it in cursive and he still refers back to a cursive chart fairly often while he works.

MEGAN -Megan is in 5th grade and tends to enjoy schoolwork quite a bit. I don't think she would mind to much if we had quite a few workbooks but that isn't our style. She does Saxon Math 65. She used to struggle with this more because as she worked on her pages she tended to doodle (she loves to draw and whenever she can get her hands on pencil and paper at the same time a picture tends to appear) and then her page would get very messy and sometimes when she went to do her correcting (Yes I have my kids do all their own correcting as that saves me a lot of time) she wouldn't be able to read what she wrote and would thus get it wrong and then would have to do more problems too. That led to a frustrated little girl. I made a rule not to doodle but she just kept having problems with that. THEN... one day on accident a solution was discovered. She has a typewriter and decided to type out her lesson one day just for fun. That days math lesson went by super quickly. She didn't get any problems wrong. There was no doodling on the page! So the next day she tried it again - similar results. This was discovered by accident but it has been wonderful!!!

 Megan also has a spelling/vocabulary workbook which she find rather fun and she also does 15 minutes of copywork. She loves writing in cursive and is proudly zooming through her writing of the various books in the New Testament.

On Fridays the spelling and copywork is skipped and we try to watch an educational video and write a letter instead.

Voluntary reading is a big part of education around here too.
We try to have all the book work stuff done before lunch.
After lunch we have a read aloud time. I usually read a portion from 4 different educational books and have the kids tell back to me (one child per book - I rotate who does which one - they haven't figured out my rotation method so it is a surprise to them) what they learned from what I read in the Charlotte Mason style. Then we also read 1 fun book.

 In our educational books we read a chapter from the Old Testament, and then we cover history, science, geography, health, poetry and so forth. We don't have every subject all the time and sometimes more than one book is on a certain subject. As we finish a book then I just find a new one and on we go again.

Currently are books are: "Jeremiah" (in the Bible), "The Church in History", "Observing God's World" (and Abeka science book), "Halley's Bible Handbook", "Fanny J. Crosby and Autobiography" and then we currently have a bonus book (I found it at the library and knew the kids would find it interesting too so added it to our current reading schedule) "The Man who Mistook His Wife for a Hat and other clinical tales". The last one is an interesting true book about Dementia and it was in the adult health section at the library but we have all found it very intriguing and interesting and the kids think that is our current "fun" book - Fanny Crosby was supposed to be but they said it doesn't quite qualify.

Some art time in our school. :-)
 That is our formal schooling but education goes far beyond that. I could go on and on about the other ways of learning and how important that is too - things like art, survival skills, robotics, mechanics, wood working, cooking, business, government, politics, website design, sewing, childcare and much, much more! Hopefully I can write a post about that soon too. You can go to a couple of older posts where I also talk about learning from life as well. Here are some from 2013 and 2014.

  I would love to hear about what works for you in homeschooling, and please feel free to share any questions or tips that you might have.


Mrs. Chrissy T said...


I loved reading about your day. I was just thinking today when I was walking of doing a homeschool post on my blog going over our day. How funny. Your day sounds somewhat similar to ours.

Jodie Freed said...

I love reading about other homeschooling families! Lovely post! Do you assign any independent reading for your kids?

Amy and Mark said...

Thank you for sharing!! I love reading (and re-reading!) your homeschool posts. As we are in the early years, our homeschool group is all 2nd grade and younger and I don't know anyone with older children still at home. I am always curious about what the days will look like as our children age.

Abbi said...

Thanks to all of you other homeschooling moms for sharing in my day with me! It is fun to compare notes and see how others do things. Sometimes we can get good ideas and sometimes we realize that we are happy with the way we do things already. :-)

Jodie - I have very rarely assigned any reading. My kids are all avid readers, they read every afternoon rest time and before going to sleep at night and often in between as they have a chance. I try to have a good selection of books on our shelves (we have around 1000 books) and they have access to books at my parents (who also have around 1000 books or more) and we go to the Library. I do really discourage books that are modern time wasters and we try not to have those available on our shelves. Every so often a child will ask for me to find them a good book as they feel like they have already "read everything" and then I will suggest some. I have found that my kids are better at reading the classics than I ever was (and I was an avid reader too). The other evening I went up to kiss them goodnight and found Megan reading Shakespeare, Jonathan reading Dickens and I believe Aaron was reading a Mark Twain book - Mara's wasn't reading a classic that night but she has read tons of them. So with having a good selection to choose from and severely limiting TV and movies my kids read a lot!


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