When I began homeschooling eight years ago, like many new homeschoolers, I thought homeschooling was the same as (public) schooling at home. Boy, was I wrong! Over the years, with much trial and error, we have finally come to rest in our gentle daily rhythm. This rhythm allows for the inevitable ebb and flow of our days that comes with having three school-aged children, a toddler, and a preschooler.
Early in my homeschooling years, I discovered Charlotte Mason and fell in love with her method and way of thinking. She completely transformed how I saw my children and their education. They didn’t need mom sitting behind a desk in our schoolroom, watching them complete worksheets. They needed to be playing, to be read to, to explore, and to be taught in a way that led them to love learning!
It was this realization that started us on the journey of learning…together.
Our homeschool is a gentle one. I have six children, ages nineteen months to nineteen years. My oldest will be starting his sophomore year of college soon. (Yes, he graduated from our homeschool, which means you can do it, too!) The rest of my crew are three, six, seven, and fifteen years old. The six and seven-year-olds do first-grade work, and my fifteen-year-old is a freshman.
So what does our typical day look like with such a spread in ages? Well, it begins with coffee—lots and lots of coffee!
I have too much going on to make breakfast every single morning. So my answer to that is freezer cooking. I bake copious amounts of muffins and quick breads for the kids to choose from. They also have fresh fruit, yogurt, or oatmeal. Any combination thereof is fine with me, as long as they get their tummies filled.
Once the kitchen has recovered from breakfast, I get dressed, make my bed, and start a load of laundry. I give the ten-minute warning: “I’m reading in ten minutes! Find something to do!” to which the kids respond by running to grab LEGOs®, coloring books and crayons, painting supplies, baby dolls, DUPLOs®, or anything else that’s been deemed a “read aloud activity.”
They gather on the floor and in chairs at the table in our front room (that also has a very cozy couch) to begin playing quietly while I grab our read-aloud basket and another cup of coffee.
Let me stop here and clarify that their response to the ten-minute warning did not start out like that. When I first began implementing our read-aloud time, it was like pulling teeth. There was whining, arguing, and bargaining. “Do we have to?” was a common response.
But let me encourage you, Mama; as long as you stick to it and are consistent, eventually the kids will fall in line and realize, “Hey, I actually enjoy this!”
It’s usually around 10 a.m. by the time I actually get started. Our reading time always begins with prayer. Once we’ve prayed for our day and our homeschool, and implemented the ACTS formula, we move on to Bible reading. We read a chapter a day, plus a Bible story or two. Then I quickly transition to our hymn or poem (depending on the day). I say/sing it aloud and they repeat after me. This simple method is how we do memorization. Small, steady steps lead to many memorized scriptures, poems, and hymns!
Next, come our Miller books. Right now we’re finishing up Wisdom and the Millers: Proverbs for Children. These wonderful stories stick with the kids. Many times when someone has acted in a wrong manner, they (or someone else) will remember a specific Miller story and the verse that accompanied it. I know, it sounds like a lot, but really, by the time I finish our Miller story, it’s only been about half an hour.
I can usually get a good hour and a half, sometimes two hours of relatively uninterrupted reading in during this time. We started much smaller, though; probably fifteen minutes was our original goal.
We are a Sonlight (curriculum) family; so during this time, I also read their science, history, and literature read-alouds. If we don’t make it through everything, no big deal! We can pick up where we left off tomorrow.
Once I’ve finished reading, the kids go outside (weather permitting) and I get lunch ready, rotate the laundry, and check in with my teen. She’s currently working on Sonlight’s Level 100. She has always been an independent girl. She works on her things “alone” but with us. She sits on the sofa next to me while I read to the younger ones, and she reads her own books. Don’t ask me how she does it. She reads or does her math on Khan Academy until lunch time.
After lunch, I put the baby down for a nap and see if my teen needs any help. This is typically when we work on her Latin together.
Around 2 p.m., I gather my first graders for some table work. We do math, geography, writing, and grammar—not all on the same day, of course. This is also the time for any science experiments. We typically work until the baby wakes up about an hour later. Then it’s time to grab a snack, and everyone heads outside.
And that’s it as far as “school” goes. We cook together, clean together; we live and learn together. Teaching our children to love learning and appreciate beauty and goodness knows no ending hours. Homeschooling is a lifestyle that takes place every hour of every day.
Copyright 2018, The Old Schoolhouse®. Used with permission. All rights reserved by Jeniffer Do Nascimento. Originally appeared in the Spring 2018 issue of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, the trade publication for homeschool moms.