Wednesday, September 28, 2016

How and What We're Doing: Homeschooling Year 7

     This past summer I read the book Teaching from Rest by Sarah Mackenzie and had several light bulb moments. If you are a homeschooling mom reading this and you have yet to read Sarah's book, stop reading my blog and go get your hands on it STAT. Seriously, I was so encouraged by it and it helped me to narrow my focus as a homeschooling mama. Sarah gives practical ideas and speaks to the heart of the reader, and she does it all succinctly because she knows we all have a million plates we're trying to keep spinning. But since this post was not intended to be a book review I will move on...kind of. One of the biggest take aways for me from Teaching from Rest was thinking through what I want my kids to get or remember from our time homeschooling together. The other, which is closely tied to the first, is that I need to teach in a way that works with my strengths and not the way I've seen other moms teach, otherwise I will end up spinning my wheels and feeling exhausted. In thinking about those two things, how did I want to/need to change what we were doing to make sure that I am spending time on the things that I value the most in a method that works with my personality and strengths. Pretty much figuring out how to work smarter, not harder as a homeschooling mom.
The kids with Miss Elisabeth, a homeschool graduate, now Liberty University student, who used to be my mother's helper.
     All of this came together at just the right time as our family's babysitter extraordinaire, Miss Elisabeth, just left for college and is not coming to help with the little ones while I do school with the older two this year. I was freaking out about how I could possibly handle schooling a sixth grader, a fourth grader, and a kindergartner, with a three year old tagging along. But I'm probably giving more details than you need. The short version is I decided to change up our schedule and do more together. More together meant rearranging our school room. At the same time that I was thinking through all of this, my amazing husband has been growing in his woodworking skills and offered to make me new bookshelves and a school table. 😍 I'll post pictures of the table, please let me know if you have any questions about how Pete built it. I'd be glad to share. (Here's a link to the original plans I found. We did use this Ikea table top x2 instead of making the top)
Our brand new school table! I'm so excited and the kids are loving it, too!
Here's our general* schedule for this year**:

~Older two boys (4th and 6th grade) work on their CC Notebooks doing basic copywork of this weeks memory work, trace maps and prepare or practice their presentations
~I get my breakfast shake and my coffee and orally review the memory work with Will (5)
~Maggie (3) usually eats breakfast during this time, she's my late riser
~Older two boys do their history class. It's an online self-paced class from Veritas Press. They really enjoy it and it gives me about 30 minutes to work with Will one on one.
~Will and I work through Saxon 1, 2 pages of Handwriting Without Tears, and 2 pages of Explode the Code. Then we read one leveled reader together.
~Maggie usually colors or plays with stickers while we do these things. Sometimes she watches the history lesson with the boys or watches a show on tv.
~All together we have "Morning Time"
Morning Time starts with singing the Doxology, then learning a hymn together adding one verse at a time until we can sing it without looking at the words. We just finished learning Holy, Holy, Holy. After that we share prayer requests and I write them down in a prayer journal. Then one of us prays. After that we do one or two of a few things: -read a few fun poems; learn about an artist or piece of art; learn about a missionary; read about a Bible verse and how it can help us in our day to day lives; or read a seasonal picture book(s)
This is a piece that we just began adding and it has quickly become a favorite for all of us. The kids are loving the poetry-which I was nervous about adding-and the older kids truly love reading the picture books even though they are older. They have caught on to the hymns and remind me of prayer requests. Really this part of our day has blessed me more than I imagined and I'm so thankful!
10:30-11:00 Read Aloud

Reading Ember Falls together 
~We start this time all together, and if the younger two get bored they are allowed to leave and go play quietly. Initially I had hoped this would be a together time, but coming on the heals of sitting and listening for Morning Time, I have decided to roll with this and make this time more for reading books the older two can enjoy. That said, I still need to work in a more consistent time to read other books with the younger two.
~The older two take turns doing math (Saxon) with me for about 15 minutes, then work on their own.
~Will plays Wii U or iPad for 30 minutes
~Maggie either plays with Play-Doh or paints with water or something like that
~Will and Maggie play together
~Jon and Sam read non-fiction books that I've gathered from library that coincide with the science and history that we're learning about with Classical Conversations.

Sam and Jon reading in one of the two book nooks they've made recently
~Older two do Duolingo to learn a little Spanish for our upcoming trip to Peru!
On a rainy day, playing keep the balloon off of the floor works for recess!
Older two report back to work on Essentials
~Chart copying and sentences
Younger two play together or separately. Maggie often goes to play with her neighbor buddy! :)

My 4th and 6th graders copying charts for Essentials 
~Day 1 Write a Key Word Outline
~Day 2 Write a rough draft
~Day 3 Add dress ups and stylistic techniques
~Day 4 Finish final draft
~Day 5 Go to class and read paper and learn about the new chapter
2:30-3:30 Quiet time for ALL

*One of the biggest lessons I'm learning is holding my plans and my schedule loosely. We've had two rounds of viruses run through our family and my plans have had to go right out the window. I just keep coming back to God's plans are better than mine. He knows what these kiddos need and what I need and loves us even better than I could even begin to imagine. More important than covering all the lessons in the math book is being present with my kids and pouring His truths into their precious hearts and souls. I have a feeling that this lesson is going to take a while to get maybe the rest of my life. ❤️
You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for the LORD God is an everlasting rock. Isaiah 26:3-4

** This is our schedule Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. Tuesdays we go to our homeschool community group, Classical Conversations. It's definitely a highlight of our week!

There is a Target right next door to our Classical Conversations location, so we often stop there on the way home. The kids love to pose in the circle. 


  1. Could you point me to a link or elaborate on your CC memory notebooks? Might be just the thing for my 5th grader.

    1. Sure, Rachel! I posted about them earlier this summer. Here is the link to the blog post:
      Let me know if you have any questions! :)