In honour of Simple Homeschool’s 10th Annual Homeschool Day in the Life link-up, I thought I’d show you one of our recent days of homeschooling. But actually, I’ve decided to cheat and show you two contrasting days: one structured, following-the-plan type of day and another more off-schedule, creative style of day.
As I mentioned in this post, our full year involves periods of more intense academic work punctuated by plenty of holidays to relax and explore the world. A large percentage of our academic work is completed in the darker, colder months of autumn, winter and early spring, leaving more time to explore the outdoor world during long holidays throughout the warmer, lighter months of late spring and summer.
We’re just about to finish an eight-week period of study before heading off to Dominica for some winter sunshine. But even within these more intense working periods, there are days when we slack it off (I always write my schedule in pencil so I can I just rub it out when I need to!) and do something completely different, as we did last Wednesday.
But first for our more structured Monday from this week; here’s what it looked like:
6:45am – 8am: Wake Up & Breakfast
I wake up to MrJ’s alarm and drag myself out of bed to get dressed and start the children’s breakfasts. Bean9 has already been awake for a while but he reads snuggled up in his bed until the rest of the household gets up. Bean10 normally rises shortly after me and by 7:15ish we gather together in the kitchen for breakfast. Bean10 pulls out the cereal whilst I make Bean9 his bacon sandwich, which is particularly painful this morning as I’m attempting the 16/8 hour fast for health reasons, in which you fast from 8pm until noon the following day, so no brekkie today for my rumbling tummy…
8am – 9:15am: Morning Basket
By 8am, we’ve moved into the homeschool room to start our Morning Basket time. This part of our homeschool is about starting the day with joy, beauty and pleasure, in the form of prayers, singing, great literature & poetry, art & music appreciation, languages and really anything else that we love.
Today, we begin by each saying a prayer out loud: either a homemade one if we wish to pray for something or someone specific, or alternatively one from our prayer book which we say together. Next is our hymn – we’re currently attempting to improve our rendition of All Over the World!
After singing at the top of our lungs (in possibly not the most beautiful way…), we move onto Spanish and complete a track of Michel Thomas’ Perfect Spanish course. This morning he’s teaching us about the use of the simple past (I ate) and the imperfect (I was eating) tenses in Spanish, showing us how to use and conjugate with any exceptions. We’ve recently covered a lot of different tenses, such as the present, future, conditional, past perfect and now these two, so I make a note on my planner to factor in some time to review them all. I’m feeling a little confused so I figure the Beans must be too.
Next up, we review the passages they’ve already memorised from Henry IV, Part 1 and Macbeth, with the Beans acting them out for me. We use the book How to Teach Your Children Shakespeare which is giving them both a love for and an excellent grounding in the works of the Bard.
Then, we read a section of this Evolution Revolution book about the work of Mendel, which we’ve been studying in our genetics work. The Beans think there is a mistake in the book about which features of pea plants are dominant, so we investigate further. This leads us to the discovery that in pea plants, the green pod colour is dominant to yellow, but for the colour of the seeds inside, it’s the other way around: the yellow colour is dominant to green. Who knew!!
Our final section was their favourite part: listening to some Baroque music from the SQUILT curriculum whilst doing some art. We’re completing the Easy Peasy All-in-One Homeschool Drawing & Painting curriculum right now, currently working on shading.
9:30am – 12pm: Lessons
After a short break we move onto the rest of our scheduled lessons for the day. Some days their work is more autonomous than others. I’m normally quite hands on during Mondays, switching between the two children, but by Friday, they tend to be focused on more independent, creative activities leaving me freer to get on with my own pursuits (see this post for a view of our homeschool week).
Bean10 covers the following:
- A Math-U-See Algebra lesson on fractional exponents – she’s nearing the end of the Algebra curriculum and it’s getting quite tricky, so recently I’ve been watching the lessons with her and sitting next to her whilst she works through the sheets to make sure she fully understands the concepts. This is really helping. Today’s lesson is fairly simple though and she doesn’t have any problems with it.
- Romeo & Juliet – she’s currently rehearsing to be the understudy for Juliet in an upcoming production at our local theatre, in which she’ll get to do one of the performances as the lead. To say she’s excited about this would be the understatement of the year! She’s already read the play and learned all of her lines, but I thought I’d take the opportunity to study the play in more depth with her. So, we’ve invested in this GCSE text guide and associated question book. Today, she reads the introduction and analysis of Act One before attempting some of the related problems in the question book. Together, we discuss the conflicting emotions portrayed by Romeo throughout the first scene in his outpourings of love for Rosaline.
- A lesson from Grammar for the Well-Trained Mind curriculum by Susan Wise Bauer about common confusions between some possessive adjectives and contractions (its/it’s etc) and compound plurals.
- Piano practice & theory
Bean9 covers the following:
- A Math-U-See Zeta lesson on subtracting decimals – he’s just started this decimals & percentages curriculum and is finding it easy, so I can leave him to watch the DVD lesson and complete the worksheets on his own.
- An All About Spelling Level 6 lesson about adding the suffix ‘ly’. This is one we do together and takes him around an hour, once he’s reviewed his problem words, read the word banks, discussed the new concept with me and completed the dictation sentences.
- A lesson from First Language Lessons for the Well-Trained Mind Level 3 – today is about writing letters.
- Piano practice and theory
12pm – 1:30pm: Lunch and Play
By 12, we’re ALL starving, so I make them some lunch which they eat while reading copies of the Beano! Towards the end of their sandwiches, my mum, recently back from her holiday, joins us and tells them all about colourful Costa Rica, before they head off to play outside in the fresh air.
1:30 – 2:45pm: Afternoon Lessons
Usually on Monday afternoons, they spend time following their interests; Bean9 works on engineering building projects and Bean10 on her acting pursuits. But as we’re due to go on holiday later this week, I’ve rejigged the schedule slightly. Instead they have a small Story of the World history lesson about the Haitian Revolt. My mum helps me out by listening to the CD passage with them, asking them questions and supporting them in writing a short summary of what they’ve learned. Together, we all look on the map to find Haiti and note how close it is to our upcoming holiday destination!
Bean9 then reviews some of the vocabulary he’s learned from one of the chapters of Practice Makes Perfect, Basic Spanish. Bean10 has this on her planner as well, but we decide she has too much piano practice this week, so she ditches the Spanish in favour of practising her songs.
By 2:45pm, they’re both finished work for the day.
2:45pm – 5:45pm: Play and Dinner
We’re picking up a friend from the local school today and had planned to walk up there, but the rain is relentless, so we take the lazy driving option. Once home, the three of them play all afternoon, rotating between games that involve running around the house making a lot of noise (it’s still raining heavily) and more sedate board games. All whilst I’m trying to help the plasterer, who has been working on our bathroom today, to restart his van which has died, sadly to no avail. I invite him in to make some phone calls with a cup of tea (which nearly always makes everything better!), while getting on with making some fajitas for the kids’ dinner.
The fajitas go down a storm with our guest who rates them a 10/10, and by 5:30pm his parents come and collect him. We quickly clear up and get ready to leave for the evening craziness!
5:45pm – 9:15pm: Evening Activities
I managed to hold off on a lot of extra-curricular activities for many years, but now they’re 9 & 10, and both with clear passions, I’ve been sucked into a busy schedule of acting as their chauffeur, driving them to a plethora of clubs. Tonight, it’s a cricket session for Bean9 at the indoor nets from 6-7:30pm, so I drop him off and head home for Bean10 to practise her Juliet lines.
At 7pm, I drive back out to drop Bean10 at her rehearsals and then over to watch the end of Bean9’s cricket (and see him get bowled out…). But I do get a chance to have a good chat to another mummy, so it’s not all bad this chauffeuring business! MrJ is home before us, so once Bean9 is in bed and I’ve finished off a few jobs, I scoot out again to pick up Bean10 at 9pm. She needs to wind down before going to sleep so we chat to her for a while before taking her up to bed by 9:30pm. It’s a late one for her, but hopefully she’ll sleep in tomorrow to make up for it.
By 10:30pm after what felt like a very short rest, MrJ and I crash into bed!
A very busy day on all fronts. But thankfully, it’s not always like that or else I think I’d burn out in a week! Here’s a contrasting, much quieter example of a day.
A Creative Wednesday
At the start of 2019, we went on a three-month trip to New Zealand, Australia and Indonesia, and had the best time of our lives. I took a ton of Go Pro footage to capture our adventures, but being a technophobe, have failed to do anything with it since.
Last Wednesday, we decide to clear our schedule, other than a short Morning Basket session reading Who Was Napoleon, and spend the day working out together (I thought they might be better at it than me) how to use the free video editing software, Lightworks.
Our morning is consumed watching the introductory videos and playing with some of our own footage to test how everything works. Here’s the initial video we make (it’s basic, we still have a lot to learn!):
Then, Bean10 takes over the reins and makes her own video using footage she’d shot whilst hiking in the High Atlas Mountains in Morocco last September. While she’s working on this, Bean9 reads and practises his bowling down my hallway… Here’s what she creates:
Finally, it’s Bean9’s turn. He needs a little more support than her but is clear on his vision for a short video about our Shotover Jet experience in New Zealand. While he creates, Bean10 continues writing her story to enter into the BBC Radio 2 500-word story competition. Here’s Bean9’s video:
We have such a fun and relaxing time creating all day that we’re planning to make it a regular part of our schedule. I’ve even booked the children onto an intensive film making workshop in May to further their expertise. Hopefully they can teach me how to do it once they’ve finished!
In summary, it’s practically impossible to show you a ‘typical’ homeschool day since, as you can see above, one day can look so vastly different to another. But I hope the above gives you an idea of the diversity of our days, all of them enjoyed, but some much busier than others 😊