Piles of washing and mountains of love

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Piles of washing, still waiting.

I probably should have spent the morning at home. There are dirty dishes in the kitchen and piles of washing waiting to be put away on my bed. I haven’t even finished unpacking from our mini holiday last weekend. But this morning called us to something better.

Over the years our homeschool life has gradually grown from a very free, natural learning style to a more structured approach. This has suited our family well, and helped us continue to love learning whilst also maintain a forward momentum. We have a rough plan, which involves Prince and Princess completing all the work on their ‘learning fun’ chart each day, preferably in the morning. This is mainly self-directed work, allowing me to get housework and other chores done as well as encouraging Prince and Princess towards autonomous learning.

This structure and set work has many benefits. Even though it isn’t always as ‘fun’ as I’d like to believe, the kids both work at it with very little complaining. It is good for us all to have some discipline and work ethic, and I wouldn’t want to drop it all together at this stage of our lives. But at the same time I never want our homeschool to be school at home. In the midst of structure, we still have space for freedom and flexibility. We have the blessing of being able to look at a sunny spring day and throw everything else aside to delight in it! And because we can, we did.

As we walked around Nymans with friends this morning, I smiled. “No one ever regrets spending ‘too much’ time with their children – only too little,” I said.

Prince’s drawing of him and me; mountains of love.

We all know that children grow up fast. Way too fast.

So sometimes it’s best to leave the piles of washing and bask in the mountains of love we share on our journey, together.

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My Homeschool Day in Life with an 8 and 10 year old

Every year Simple Homeschool runs the Day in a Life series. I love how every homeschool life is different, and I am always on the lookout for great ideas to incorporate into our own daily rhythm. I also love taking part in this (even when it’s my only post of the year!) as it is an opportunity for me to reflect on how we grow and change through the years. Some changes are down to finding better ways to do things, some to changing interests and still others to the natural changes that occur as my ‘babies’ are growing up.

7:30 am

My alarm goes off. A combination of the tail end of a cold plus an emotional week has left me more tired that usual, so I hit snooze and catch an extra 15 mins of light sleep. I can hear the happy, soft voices of Prince and Princess in the background – my favourite waking up sounds. At 7:45 I wake fully, and pull open my Bible which lives next to my pillow. Personal time with God is how we all start our weekdays. I am reminded how much I love not having the school rush in the mornings, giving us the freedom to linger and fill ourselves up with the Lord for the day.

Science & snuggles!

8:30

When I’m done upstairs, I come down to find the kids already finished their Bible time and Morning High Five. They have started working; Prince is on the computer doing French on Duolingo, Princess at the table writing in her journal. I drink my water and grab a piece of fruit for breakfast, then potter around tidying the kitchen and sorting out washing. I have learnt over time that I find these kinds of job easiest in the morning, so I never worry about leaving last night’s dishes out. Work is always easiest when you find your personal rhythm, something I try to apply to Prince & Princess when I’m planning our schedule.

9:00

Wednesdays are our day for majoring on subjects we don’t get to every day, so I pull out one of our science books and we snuggle on the sofa to learn about muscles and tendons. We examine some of our own tendons and marvel at their strength. Then I do a quick search and pull up a few videos clips on the same topic for the kids to watch. Learning happens in different ways for different people, and so I like to solidify our understanding of topics through a variety of mediums.

9:45

As in previous years, I like us to have a morning walk at least most days. There is nothing like stretching our legs in nature and fresh air. It’s forecast for rain today, so we get on our wellies and waterproofs and head out to Nymans, my favourite place in all the world. As we walk we talk about nature, and how things are changing in the spring. There are plenty of puddles which provide much delightful splashing, and I feel my spirit soar as I walk through the incredible wonders of creation in the company of these two incredible children.

Strolling down the Lime avenue at Nymans

11:00

After a deliciously beautiful (and dry!) walk drinking up the spring beauty we get back in the car and head over to Little Crafter’s Pottery to pick up the ceramics we painted at a half-term family outing. This was a fabulously fun activity, and we are all delighted with the finished products. In the car we listen to our history CD, Story of the World. This is one we’ve used for a long time, and done several reviews of, but we all love it so much that the kids beg for more and I am only too happy to oblige.

11:45

Once we get home again the kids head upstairs to play while I prepare lunch: scrambled eggs and veggies, a staple quick fix at our house. When lunch is ready I set mine aside and while the kids eat I pull out the Kindle and read the next chapter of our current read-aloud. We are working through the Anne of Green Gables series and we’re in book two, Anne of Avonlea. I love the wonderful use of language, which stretches both our imagination and our vocabulary. After reading a chapter I turn on BBC iPlayer and let the kids watch the next episode of The Big Painting Challenge. The series is meant just for fun, but it includes some great art tips for my budding artists, and I know it will fire them up with enthusiasm. While they watch I eat my own lunch, check Facebook and do some more pottering around.

1:30

Predictably inspired, the kids pull out the painting supplies after the show and get to work on some masterpieces.While they delve into the world of acrylics I use the time to have a deep clean of Prince’s bedroom. Although they both tidy their own rooms regularly, every once in a while I like to do a major sort out. Feeling focused I plow through it and feel very satisfied with the end result. I always have high ambitions it will stay this way, but experience tells me it never does…

3:15

By now the room is tidy and the painters have packed up, so we return to some of our daily work – music practice. Prince has recently decided to try out the flute instead of drums, and is enjoying it so far. I help him with this, as I have been progressing well with flute myself. I’m considering doing a grade five exam this year. After flute Princess gets out the violin. She’s still doing keyboard (taught by her lovely older cousin), but has been wanting to do violin for a while as well. She is blessed to have an aunt who plays wonderfully, so we have picked up some tips and she is starting to learn the basics.

3:45

While I do my own flute practice the kids get on with some geography games I’ve set for them. Then we pull out our geography book and snuggle back on the sofa to read about the core of the earth. Prince remembers a model he made several years ago and runs to get it for a visual aide while we read. Princess colours in a card she made for one of her cousins while she listens.

4:30

Tae Kwon Do buddies

We eat early on Wednesdays, as the kids and I have Tae Kwon Do, so I work on dinner while the kids do some tidying. Daddy comes home just as I’m serving up – perfect timing! I love it when we eat together at the table.

5:30

We start getting ready for Tae Kwon Do. This is something the kids and I all enjoy very much. The three of us don our doboks and belts and we all head out the door. The kids train from 6-7 while Ben and I enjoy watching and chatting. Then my hero husband takes the kids home, where he reads them some of their bedtime read-aloud, Lord of the Rings. In the mean time I get to enjoy an hour and a half of Tae Kwon Do. I’m so thankful for a husband who helps me do the things I love.

8:45

Prince is still awake when I get home, and greets me with a big hug at the top of the stairs. He’s nearly as tall as me now, but I love that he still wants to cuddle. After kissing him goodnight, Ben and I enjoy the rest of our evening close together, chatting and watching things together.

We are in a phase of life where each of our days are different, but they have a common, comfortable rhythm. We are flexible, and fallible. Some days don’t work out as planned. But we have fun. We learn. We love. There is so much beauty in our homeschool lives. Thanks, God.

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