Ages of children: kindergarten, 2nd grade, 6th grade
Number of Years Homeschooling: 4 years
Curriculum: For each of my kiddos, we use Heart of Dakota curriculum, which is an all-in-one curriculum that includes history, science, Bible, language, math…basically everything. It is Charlotte Mason and I have used it for 3 years now and still LOVE it. Each of the kids has their own spine and are studying their own history. I know many people choose to combine their kids’ history and Bible study, but I like spending the one on one time with each child during the day. It is hectic, but it works really well for us. I do add in Explode the Code phonics, First Language Lessons, and Ordinary Parents’ Guide to Teaching Reading for my younger two. I use Math-U-See for the younger two, in addition to Singapore math.
For my daughter (6th grade), I use Teaching Textbooks for math instead of MUS. I also have Life of Fred fractions for her, but we hit a wall several weeks ago, so I’ve put it on the shelf for now. Heart of Dakota uses Rod and Staff grammar and IEW writing for her grade level.
Our Day: This is our 4th year homeschooling, and after all these years (and a degree in early childhood education) I finally feel we’ve hit our ‘groove’ with homeschooling and I love, love, love it. I am a night owl by nature, and fortunately my kiddos are not early risers. One of the great benefits of homeschooling is that we can school in our jammies at the crack of dawn, or put it off til later in the day and it’s okay!
My goal each day is to have the kids up, dressed, and morning chores completed and ready to start school by 9am. Some days we hit the mark, others not so much. (I find that the closer we get to Christmas, spring break, and summer break, the more we relax the schedule. We school 6 weeks on, 1 week off during the year, and take a month and a half off during the summer.) We implemented our morning chores when our house was on the market two years ago. Every morning, each child is supposed to make their bed (sometimes with my help), eat, dress, brush teeth, clean a portion of the bathroom, fold towels (if there’s a load ready from the dryer), and do the dishes. Since I have 3 kids, these easy chores work perfectly for us: two kids wash the bathroom sinks (they have 2 in their shared bathroom), and one child cleans the toilet. Since I have two boys, having the toilet cleaned even if it’s done by a 5 year old is so important! We only use vinegar/water to clean with, and oftentimes the little one uses rubber gloves to clean the toilet. The kids naturally decided who would clean what and it works well for us. For the dishes, the two younger kiddos unload the top and bottom dishwasher racks while the oldest loads the dishwasher with any leftover evening dishes and breakfast dishes. I usually put away all the ‘high’ dishes the boys can’t reach, and I try to grab the sharp knives before the boys get to work. For the laundry folding, my oldest folds bath towels, the middle folds hand towels, and the youngest folds wash cloths. It’s a great system for us that works so well and is super helpful to me. It doesn’t get done every single morning, but most days it works out.
For school, I try to start by 9am, sometimes we don’t start until 10. I’ve learned not to stress over our start times. We have a great routine and flow to our day, rather than a tight schedule. Tight schedules just frustrate me since I work with 3 children and usually find myself off track within the first 10 minutes. My children each have their own workboxes which I fill with their daily assignments. I keep the boxes filled with the same subjects each day. For example, everyone’s first box is filled with their math work. The kids don’t have to complete their workboxes in order: sometimes they do, but sometimes they mix it up a bit. Since my oldest is in 6th grade, she is required to complete all her independent work first while I work with the boys. I definitely have to juggle my time between the three of them, but they’ve learned to wait for me if they need help. We all work at the dining room table for math, writing, and workbook type work, but then move into the ‘office’ and sit on the floor or sofa for reading, history, phonics, and Bible work. Usually when I work with one of the boys in the office, the other boy makes his way into the office and listens to the lesson.
We stop for lunch around noon every day and sometimes my daughter treats us by making all the lunches. I love when she does that because it gives me extra work time to finish up school with the boys. I set a timer for 30 minutes while we eat so we each can have a complete school break. The kids play and I usually browse Pinterest or read some blogs online.
After lunch, we finish any schoolwork for the boys and I spend the afternoon working with my daugher on her grammar, writing, etc. The boys play really well with each other and stay ocuppied all afternoon. They play outside in the backyard, play with Legos, or other toys, or on the computer. (Computer time, Wii, and movies are strictly off limits during school time. Even lunch. I found that when they played with electronics during lunchtime it was nearly impossible to tear them away.) My daughter and I work until sometimes 4 on her schoolwork, but I’ve learned that by 3:30 she shuts down completely. By that time of day I’m pooped and am ready for a break, too. The kids then play and hang out or watch movies (we don’t have cable) until 5. Until then, I look over any schoolwork I didn’t get checked during the day, and I refill workboxes for the next day. Sometimes I just take a nap. 🙂 At 5 we put away all toys and clean up the house and start dinner. We are gone most nights of the week for soccer and various meetings, so the house has to be picked up before dinner or it won’t get done, and I hate waking up to a cluttered house the next day. The kids help set the table and clear the table after dinner and then we speed to whatever activity we have on the calendar.