A Day in our Homeschool: some principles, rhythms, values and resources

Several people have asked me recently to share what a day in our homeschool looks like. I want to begin by sharing some principles I’ve found helpful in the two years we’ve been homeschooling. I really feel like these principles can be applied regardless of if you homeschool – any time that you have with your family at home can be applied to these same thoughts, I think.

Firstly, we prefer rhythms over schedules. Rhythms give me a general framework for our day, while not putting too much structure on things. I know the general order of what we are doing, but I’m not going to stick strictly to a regimented ten minute time breakdown because as soon as the toddler plays in the sink water, or someone needs to get out their wiggles, or you whelp a litter of puppies (ahem), the schedule can get thrown off a bit. Having rhythms that ebb and flow seems to still provide structure that can be fluid, and helps us have a framework of boundaries to work within as we go throughout our day.

Another helpful point I want to make is that what I’m about to share is what’s working currently in this season. In just a few months I’ll have my oldest in Form 2, which will be an entirely different ball game for our family, haha. A mere two years into homeschooling has already yielded the proof that what works in one season may not work in another, and that’s okay. Being aware of this, recognizing growing pains (and understanding those to be a good thing) and adapting as needed is helpful from season to season. Our children are supposed to grow. We are supposed to be growing and being sanctified. So some rhythms will stay the same, while others need to change. An awareness of this helps us not kick and scream when we experience the growing pains, but instead smile and tackle the challenge of figuring out what’s next.

Lastly, keeping our values in front of us has been crucial throughout our day-to-day living. I absolutely must remember why we are doing this, how this plays a part in God sanctifying both my children and myself, and remembering to depend on the Lord for every step of the way. When I remember these things, I can list out the elements of our day into priorities, and therefore adjust and adapt to making sure we do the most important parts each day. I share our values below, which have been largely influenced by my sweet friend and homeschooling mama, Bethany. Her wisdom in guiding our own values has been so helpful as we understand the vision behind what we’re doing.

One more note before I share our rhythms – we follow a Charlotte Mason philosophy of homeschooling. I’ll link below some resources to learn about this philosophy, as well as the curriculum we personally use.

So, here are our current rhythms. Here’s a short glance and then below I’ll explain more fully:

  • Mom’s Morning Time
  • Breakfast, Habits and Chores
  • Morning Time
  • Book Subjects
  • Independent Skills Lessons
  • Lunch and Outdoor Playtime
  • Reading Hour
  • Dessert Subjects
  • Outdoor playtime and evening chores
  • Dinner
  • Reading and Family Activities / Time

My personal morning time (generally around the hours of 5-7am) – this is when I will read my Bible, pray, exercise and shower to get ready for the day.

The kids awaken at various times, and I let them sleep later if we’ve been up the night before later than normal (hello, baseball season). But somewhere between 7-8am, they each make their way into the living room (or Carmen calls to me from her crib – YES, she’s still in a crib, and it’s glorious).

Breakfast, Habits and Daily Chores – The next 1-2 hours involve these in varying orders. Habits include getting dressed, brushing teeth, making bed and reading Bible. Each child has a designated chore for the day, and the boys each take turns cleaning the dog pens daily. Sometimes the child waiting on the other to do the pens will start on some Math or Language Arts, but I let that be on their own initiation. The boys usually get a chance to play outside for 10-15 minutes before we start school for the day.

Morning Time – We begin with Bible and usually follow Marty Machowski’s Old Story New for a 10 minute reading and devotional. Next we open our Morning Time notebooks, which include our current elements, as well as review elements. I will probably do a post that explains how we use our morning time binders, but for now I’ll try to briefly explain. Each day we cover the current material we are learning:

  • Scripture memory piece (one chunk of scripture for a 12 week period)
  • Hymn (we rotate every 6 weeks)
  • Poem (we rotate every 4 weeks)

And then we will loop through the following “beauty” elements. Loop is just a term that means we don’t do every one of these elements daily, but just move down the list and do one a day and the next the following day and so on. These elements include:

  • Poet Study
  • Composer Study
  • Artist Study
  • Fables or Tales
  • Catechism questions
  • Prayer for our friends working overseas

After covering each of these elements, we loop through our review pages, choosing one of each of the following to review from a previous term so we don’t just memorize and forget:

  • Scripture memory
  • Hymn
  • Poetry
  • Folk Songs

We conclude morning time with our singing, which loops through the following:

  • Folk Song
  • Sol-fa lessons (2x a week)
  • Spanish song
  • the Doxology

The next element we usually do is our book study time. This is literature based learning, which I absolutely love. We loop through these subjects as well, not doing them all in one day, but doing them each a few times a week. Here’s a sample:

  • Monday: Spanish and Natural History
  • Tuesday: Geography and History
  • Wednesday: Spanish and Natural History
  • Thursday: Geography and History

We then move into what I call independent study time, or skills lessons: Math and Language Arts. Since these differ for each child, I work independently with each of them in these areas. Sometimes they do these simultaneously, but more often than not recently, I’ll let one play with his sister while I do the lessons with the other (especially when it comes to Math).

We usually wrap up before lunch and the kids eat and play outside for a while. If the dog pens weren’t cleaned before school, now is when they get done.

Carmen goes down for a nap around 12:30 or 1pm and sometimes around 1:30pm, the boys start reading hour – they sit in the living room and can read or rest for a full hour. Very rarely do they actually fall asleep anymore, but it can be known to happen from time to time. The start time for this comes after I am sure they have had sufficient time to play outside. They almost always play a sport – basketball, football, baseball, golf, etc. They’ll usually wander in sometime between 1-2pm and that’s when I can tell they’re ready to sit and read and rest a while. I try to join them for reading at least part of this time, too, depending on my responsibilities and if I need to get other things done as well.

Lastly during our school day are what we call dessert subjects – a sweet way to end our feast for the day! These loop through the following: Poetry Tea-time, Nature Study, Read Aloud, Art, and Handicrafts. These don’t all get done every week, but we do our best and aim for as many elements as possible, depending on our afternoon schedule.

Each evening differs depending on sports’ practices, church services, vet visits, and scheduled dinners with friends. I’m definitely in favor of the slower evenings that have us at home, eating dinner together and reading before bedtime.

Lastly, I want to share with you our value and vision sheet. So much of this comes from my friend, Bethany, but I hope to share here in case it encourages others like it has me. Praying you find it helpful.

As always, when you read posts like mine or anyone else’s – be sure to be encouraged and inspired, if applicable, but take guard not to compare. God made each of our families so unique and it’s a joy for each of us to be on our own journey to figure out what works for our specific family. So take ideas and try new things if needed, but remember that you are the best one to discover and curate the path God has for your family. Enjoy the work and stay at it!

*****

VISION AND VALUES FOR OUR HOMESCHOOL

In our home we cultivate…

1.)   Stories and Conversations

2.)  A Feast of Wonder and Beauty

3.)  Diligent preparation

4.)  Shared joy and adventure

5.)  Growth in faith and character

6.)  A Missional worldview

VISION AND VALUES APPLIED

1.)   Learning through living books; read aloud, read alone, and talking about the stories and the ideas in those stories

2.)  Poetry, Shakespeare, music appreciation, picture study, nature study, hours of imaginative play

3.)  Math, Reading, writing/narration, furnishing the mind through memorization

4.)  Nature adventures, field trips, road trips, RV travels, celebrations and traditions, free time to chase the spark

5.)  Personal devotions, Morning Time, family worship, discipleship (tend to attitudes, habits, etc.)

6.)  Geography and cultures – literature based, biographies, mission trips, opportunities to pray and serve, Foreign Language

*****

OTHER RESOURCES I RECOMMEND:

5 Replies to “A Day in our Homeschool: some principles, rhythms, values and resources”

  1. Umm didn’t know you had this blog! But I love this. Specifically y’all’s values and ideas you have for them!

  2. Hello,

    I’m looking into incorporating morning time into our homeschool and I remembered your post! How do you incorporate Spanish? Do you use a curriculum?

    Thanks! Bri

    >

    1. Hey, great question! So on my schedule, Spanish comes right after morning time, but my kids might even think it’s part of morning time because it piggy-backs off of it, haha. Morning time is a great time to incorporate review of foreign language into your day! Spanish is part of our AGF curriculum, and she uses Talk Back Spanish!

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