I wanted to share what we have been doing this summer. We are a homeschooling family with young children. And this is a schedule of sorts to share the whats and whos and whys of our summer days.
The beauty in this is that I am defining for myself what it means to be home with my kids. Not just for homeschooling, because most public schooled children are home now too, but to see what it’s like for kids to be kids….
I am pretty relaxed these days. It may seem like we do a ton of activities and instruction because I share it here, but that really only makes up a very small portion of our days. I actually don’t like to stare at a schedule — this is different from the “college me” — oh how we change and should be open to that change!
I don’t mind if a friend texts in the morning to ask if we want meet at the park in an hour, I am game for picking up everything and jumping in the car. I would prefer it to making plans. Weird right? I never thought that I’d be “Type B” but I guess I am. So, I am planning less and less as I get more comfortable with myself as a mother and homeschooling teacher. I know what I want to teach. I know what I want to be. I know what I want to give. (Here are our kindergarten curriculum plans for John. Here is what I still want to be as a mom.)
If we leave during the day, I will still make a large breakfast, and then go. I try not to leave the house before 8:30, or even 9:30.
I like (love) leisurely mornings. My children do too. My children don’t say that they are bored. They have ample time to imagine, create, build, learn with all of their toys and manipulatives. Sure, they do ask “can we go somewhere?”, and we try to make outings to friend’s houses, the library, grandma’s house, the pool, the creek, the farm down the road.
Our summer days
6am: My husband gets up for work, and John is usually up by 6:30 and May by 6:45. I try to stay in bed until the last possible second (at 7am when he leaves for work or at 5:30am if I’m going for a run.)
Snack first thing: My husband doesn’t have time to do a full blown breakfast for the kids. But he usually give May string cheese and John cottage cheese, both with some type of fruit, while I’m still in bed.
7am: I’ll meander downstairs and the children will play together or independently. I’ll usually read to one of them, and then check my blog and computer.
Breakfast about 8am: I’ll start making a larger breakfast, usually hashbrowns and scrambled eggs. We eat a lot of eggs around here, usually four dozen a week. We like to start the day off right — I also don’t give the kids a snack between now and lunch, so they know that they need to eat it up. They can always have seconds or thirds ;) We usually do our Bible reading after breakfast (I eat too, so not during breakfast).
Learning at around 9am: After eating and cleaning all the dishes, I set out a few learning opportunities on the table. Again, I am not strict on what we do. This may be a Bible craft. Or reading history, practicing handwriting, playing with playdough, or using some Spielgaben, I choose at random, and also depending on the kids’ moods (particularly John’s). We’ll “learn” for a long while: John with his work, and May with some letter activities or art projects. We will most likely come back to it (at the kitchen table) after a break.
My hope is to push this time longer as the fall comes around, as it will be our primary homeschooling opportunity. I see this as being a natural transition, as John gets older, the longer he can focus on a particular work for a solid 15 minutes. In between, we may use brain breaks or run around the house (here are more ideas for keeping active children engaged while supporting their need to move).
Play and movement at 10am: I like to invite (kick) the kids outside for about an hour. I’ll go out there with my own book, and bring their books outside too on a big blanket. They’ll play dragons and sword-slayers and then always eventually come over to the books. They are playing together or independently outside now, on our little play house/swing set or running around — though there are usually 17 fights to break up too.
If we stay inside due to rain, they have lots to use: Legos, dolls, bears, purses, kitchen, house, dinosaurs, books, books on tape, trains, rocks, blocks we love, Spielgaben, anything and everything. Most of their toys and tools are accessible. I will often set a learning activity out for my tot, May. A tot tray or activity to provoke her learning. She enjoys these mostly, but sometimes just wants to play on her own. I find that she is better playing in her own world of imagination than with anything I set in front of her. If she is clingy or “bored”, I will definitely choose to incite interest with a theme-based activity. I also put music on during this time, usually Bible music (we are loving this right now) on our Sonos.
Reading at 11am: We usually find ourselves on the couch, or John’s bed, reading a big stack of books.
Lunch at 11:30: Kids are hungry, so I make a big lunch. Usually a meat or cheese with veggies and fruit (real extravagent). They like simple, probably because that’s what I set out, and it’s good. They love quesadillas or grilled cheese, or salami or turkey, with carrots, cucumbers, peaches, berries.
Reading at 12:30: I try to have a “quiet time” but this really isn’t working, so I need to have a new game plan. Often instead of quiet time, we’ll jump into a reading session from one of the books I have laid out in our Kindergarten curriculum, either our read-aloud, American history, or our enrichment/comprehension book. John and May love this time, so again, it doesn’t feel like school, it feels like “us.”
More play at 1:30: Writing all this down does make me think “what do we truly do all day?” Well, they play. A lot. This is not without massive arguments, fights, blood shed, many tears. Because there are. Our days are filled with yelling, and forgiving, and screaming, and I’m sorry’s. I think that is what accounts for some of this time. The discipline of these times. And the s
Video at 2:00pm: If we are home, usually 3-4 times a week, I will let the children watch a movie. Usually a Bible movie, Leap Frog or other learning movie, or sometimes even a Disney (I like Bambi, Jungle Book, the classics that I was raised with). They know that this is the only time they can watch, so they aren’t asking all day, or even in the afternoons. They’ll wait for me to announce it and they’ll squeal with excitement. This is a nice time for me to be able to do my work uninterrupted, if for a short time. I set out a small snack of popcorn and dried fruit, or cheese and apple slices. Something simple, and they watch and laugh together. I am not anti-screens, but I don’t give them screens. This will change eventually, but for now, this is working.
Outdoors or simple learning activity at 3:00pm: We’ll take a walk or go outside if it’s not too hot, or raining. Or the kids will play more.
What do my kids do? They play. Throughout the day, I am watching them. And if they are playing a fun game with dinosaurs, I’ll bring out all of our dinosaur books and lay them out next to them. Or if John is playing with his rocket ships, I am set out our space books. He was interested in pirates last week, so I asked him if he wanted to create a pirate ship out of his recyclables collection. He tried, but got very frustrated, so we’ll come back to it. Their play is child-directed, as it should be. And I do enjoy seeing their excitement when I can extend their interests with a stack of books or a question to entice them to create art (for May, at our art area), or for John to role-play with his stuffed animals. The sky’s the limit. And play is the game right now. They are only kids once.
Play and dinner prep at 4:30pm: My husband comes between 4:30 and 6pm. The kids are excited, and I usually grab 15 minutes on my computer before getting to work on dinner, whether it is planned in the crock pot, meat is thawed, or if I have no idea what I’m going to make. I usually like this time to think and be on my own, cutting and humming. We usually put music on our Sonos and play more, usually outside. May often joins me in the kitchen, and I try to give her little jobs. John likes to meander in as well. It’s hard when they both want to help because it (always) becomes a big argument and a big cry-fest and then no one is able to help. I sometimes move some of my prep to the table and give them opportunities to help, though it will take longer to prepare.
Dinner at 6:00pm: We eat at the table. Always together. Every night. I love this time. I don’t know how I’ll trade it for “every activity known to man” that people say school-aged children and high-schoolers are in. Don’t get me wrong, I want my children to do something, and invest in something, that they love, but for now, we eat together. We have a hard time with John and his active behavior, though we don’t mind if he jumps or needs to walk, but the kids are learning table manners and respectful speaking through our modeling.
Bathing, reading, bed at 7:00pm: Clean up the table, I do all the dishes so there is nothing left for me in the morning. I’ll then take a shower and shower and/or bathe the kids. We’ll brush teeth, read two books on the couch, and I’ll put John down and may husband will put May down by 7:45pm. This is ideal, but usually we are extremely lucky if we can have alone time by 8:00pm.
8:00pm: Free to work time. I love my time on this blog, and on my Usborne book business, so I usually dive into my computer in the evenings. I also like to pour over homeschooling curriculums, interesting classical articles, books I’m reading (this or this right now), or we like to watch a movie once or twice a week on the couch together. I am lucky if I’m in bed by 11:00pm, and I really need to make my bedtime 10pm. Still working on eating, sleeping, relaxing, and taking care of myself and giving my body and brain the rest it needs!
And there it is. Our homeschooling schedule and days. There really is no rhyme or rhythm to our summer schedule. And since I do have curriculum plans and ideas, I really can’t call it “unschooling” (and I dislike that term), but perhaps that is what we are doing. Moving through the day, changing according to needs, and loving a leisurely summer.
How do you “homeschool” during the summer? I’d love to hear from you!