Homeschooling: The Typical Day

 

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I’ve had requests for a post about a “typical” homeschool day at our house.  These requests usually come from moms with toddlers who are busy trying to do double duty or moms with larger families. I don’t blame them for asking.  I wish someone would show me how to do it too.  🙂

*warning*     This post contains graphic descriptions of chaos that are not for the faint of heart.  If you’re a mom considering homeschooling….  Come back to this blog when you’re ready to quit.  At the very least it will convince you that if my kids were successfully educated;  yours should go to Harvard.

*disclaimer*    My current days bear little resemblance to the early homeschool ones, because while  I am a mom of seven, only one is left in the house.  Homeschooling my present senior is its own blog post, but I’m not brave enough to write it yet. 🙂

 

I remember my first year, in a burst of zealous excitement I posted a schedule with start and finish times for each of the different subjects.

That went the way of the dinosaur the first time we tried to do an ABeka math page.  Seriously, there were not enough hours in the day.

I think I initially had visions of freshly scrubbed faces eagerly anticipating the day’s lessons. Reality looked more like little kids following me around asking what to do next with cheese puffs stuck to their socks.  I had anticipated organization and order.   I  just hadn’t quite foreseen how quickly the toddler could get to the toilet while I was trying to explain fractions for the umpteenth time.  Sopping wet sleeves and cries of “ewww gros” were not necessarily part of an organized homeschool lesson.  Unfortunately, if you barricade the bathroom none of the short children can get in.

Reality looked much different than my expectations.

 

One morning during Bible time a flea had the audacity to jump on my arm. I realize this was not a national emergency, but I do not “do” bugs.  I’m originally from Buffalo, New York.  It’s too cold there for bugs.  No one has bugs.  I was certainly not going to have bugs.   Additionally, we were new to the area and renting. I had already heard horror stories from long time Oklahoma residents of what happens if fleas get in your carpet.   Apparently you may as well move out, because they will take over.  Somewhere in the reading of that morning’s chapter this lone flea invaded my space, then promptly jumped off and escaped into the vast expanse of a roomful of carpet.

I was frantic.

I could see it multiplying exponentially in the very fibers of my front room.

Bible time was over.

The kids were sent to the table to do work pages while I dealt a death-blow to the looming infestation.

I only had a few minutes.

Work pages will only keep kids busy for a blip of time, and there was always the toddler waiting for the chance to have a tea party on the commode. I ran to the cupboard, grabbed the flea spray which was in a distinctively shaped bottle, and vigorously sprayed.  If you are serious enough about spraying you can cover about three-fourths of a room before the smell of the spray even catches up with you.  I know this to be true because when the smell did catch up with me, it had an unexpectedly strong bleachy tang to it.  Apparently the bottle shape was not as distinctive as I had thought.

In case you are wondering…..

Yes, I really sprayed almost an entire roomful of carpet with Lime-Away.

Yes, it does change the color of the carpet………quickly.

No, the color change will not be uniform; but it will be permanent.

Yes, I promise you your husband will notice.

Yes, I am still married.

No, we never saw anymore fleas.

 

Organized lessons looked different than I thought.

Have I mentioned that my kids are intense?  In my experience most homeschool children tend to be pretty intense about their interests.  In our family, it’s extreme, because it’s a a function of both homeschooling and genetics.    One of my middle children (If you have 7, you technically have 5 marvelous middle children) was the first to funnel that energetic intensity into bugs. You are already aware that that particular inclination is not in my DNA.

Anyhow, it all started with a BJU earth science text that had a myrmecology experiment in it.

No, I didn’t know what myrmecology was.

As a general rule….Never agree to science experiments that have words in them you do not know the meaning of.   It always ends badly.

This very intense and completely engaged child successfully performed the experiment.  Myrmecology refers to the study of ants; and as the text predicted,  the ants really will follow each other up from the nest along a stick and into a jar creating a nifty homemade ant farm. It really was amazing with one or two minor issues.   The first was that she went on her own to find the ants while I guarded the toddler and the bathroom, and took the first ants she saw.  Fire ants are apparently the easiest to find.  Unfortunately, at that point in my life I didn’t have instant recognition for fire ants.  I also didn’t realize that ants that harmlessly fall back in the sand all day as they try to crawl out of the jar will be instantly enabled when you turn out the lights.  They will stay in the jar contentedly all day long looking like industrious oversized regular ants and suddenly turn into a bloodthirsty hoard flooding through the air holes the minute darkness hits.

There were a lot of ants in that jar, and they all escaped to exact revenge.

I could go on and on……

 So, what’s the point here?

The point thankfully is not how many idiotic things have happened in my household as I’ve schooled over the years.  Though I hope you find some comfort in the image of my kids with cheese puffs embedded in their socks it isn’t my main thrust.

I honestly think it’s important to know that all moms have “those” days.  Actually, all moms have lots of “those” days, and because homeschool moms have extra work they have more opportunities for “those days”.

It’s not about the day.

You will have those days that are close to perfect and beautiful to see, but more often the days will have flaws.

Some days like these will be ridiculous.

Some will be difficult.

Schedules get interrupted.

Things break.

Kids get sick.

Crisis moments come.

The point is that homeschooling is a marathon of days, and it’s the cumulative race that wins. No single day, week, month or year makes your homeschool a failure or a success.

That’s the whole beauty of Deuteronomy 6.  It’s that constant walking together, teaching as you go that disciples young children into mighty men and women for God.

I think sometimes we’re guilty of thinking that learning should always look like a school.  Then if life doesn’t look quiet, organized, and orderly, we think we’re failing.  Actually God made children for families, and educating them was His idea first.  It’s ok if your homeschool looks more like a family than a school.  It’s supposed to.  Just be faithful.   Establish what routine you can.  Walk day by day in it.  Use the best books you can afford. Cherish the beautiful moments (there will be lots of them). Laugh at the ridiculous ones.

And above all….

Believe God.  He is the one who called you to this.  He is the one who will honor your effort.

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