Snow Days and Samwise Gamgee: Homeschool Day-in-the-Life, Year Five

Rock climbing was out this year. Tolkien, tutorials, and loads of hikes were in.

What a heavy year this has been. A pandemic with an ever-rising death toll; riots, violence, and hatred broiling in the streets, even in our nation’s Capitol; jobs threatened, businesses shuttered; routines and traditions turned upside down, and patterns of fellowship we hold dear completely dismantled. It’s hard, when reflecting on it all, not to despair, and to let the depravity of the world burden our hearts.

And yet, each day the sun rises. Each day, the kids whom God has given us to shepherd awaken, tug on clothes all by themselves, and pepper us with questions, dreams, and requests to mend the seam of a cherished bunny, or to make stir fry for dinner. The call to love neighbor endures. Christ’s love endures. The call to raise up our kids in the Word, so that they might love others as Jesus has loved us, tolls louder than ever.

Our days have looked different this year, and our hearts are heavier, but God’s grace remains apparent throughout. Here’s a glimpse. Pip is now almost 8 (!) and is in second grade; Bean, 5.5 yrs, is in kindergarten.

Morning Before School

One of the joys of homeschooling, I’ve found, is that it allows the kids ample time just to be kids. Everyone wakes up around 6:30 am, and before breakfast the kids each have their chores to do (usually involving helping with breakfast prep in some way), but when they’re done, they’re free to play on their own until breakfast at around 8:30. This week, that meant that they had time to play in the snow before we even hit the books. Other times, they act out elaborate scenarios with their toys, mashing together all sorts of mythology to make my head spin. While they play, I take care of housework (there’s always something), and then have my personal devotions and pray.

“Animal school” is a routine occurrence before our day officially begins!

Breakfast and Books

We begin our learning over breakfast. I started doing this early in the homeschooling journey, when wiggly kids seemed to wiggle less when they were already sitting down eating. Every morning I sip a cup of coffee and read aloud, and we have discussions. We do our devotions during this time, and also cover history and geography. The specific resources vary throughout the year, but right now Breakfast & Books looks like this:

  • Devotions:
    • Open in prayer
    • We read an excerpt from the Bible every morning; we just finished the Psalms, and are now reading John.
    • We read an entry from The Gospel Story Bible (which I’ve reviewed in an earlier post). While eventually I see ourselves transitioning entirely to God’s Word, I still like to read from a Bible storybook at this age, to give the kids a solid overview of the gospel narrative.
    • We’ve recently partnered with a missionary, and daily read about and pray for one of the families she serves.
  • Professor Noggins Cards:
    • These trivia cards span all sorts of subjects, and the kids pick a topic monthly. Last month, we learned about the U.S. Presidents; this month, they wanted to go to the rainforest!
  • Breakfast Potpourri:
    • I call our last reading of the morning “potpourri” because it’s a moving target, led by the kids’ interests or by my sense of how we need to round our curriculum. Last month, the kids wanted to work through the Sir Cumference math storybooks, and we read one daily; this month we’re doing picture studies, daily reading an entry from the Usborne Book of Famous Paintings

One-on-One Time

The kids and I cover the three R’s individually, as well as one “delight-driven” activity that they choose monthly. While one kid works with me (usually for an hour, sometimes 90 minutes), the other has free time to play. . . more independent discovery time! This is the most intensive part of our school day, for obvious reasons, and is when I’m careful to leave my phone in another room. Here’s how 1:1 time looks for each right now:

Cozy-Up Reading

After 1:1 time, the kids have snacks, and we curl up on the couch and read some good literature together. Without fail, this is the part of the school day the kids relish the most. When we can’t squeeze in everything on an atypical school day, they both still want to do this:

Moving Around & Lunch

After Cozy-Up, the kids either head down to the makeshift gym in our basement (when the weather’s bad) to swing on the rings and ride their scooters, or we head out to a playground. Afterward is lunch (later than many other families), during which the learning continues! I read a children’s novel to them while they eat. Right now we’re reading Mary Poppins; other books we’ve loved this year have been The Lord of the Rings, and The Wingfeather Saga .

Enrichment

Afternoons have always been devoted to enrichment activities. Pre-COVID, these consisted of rock climbing lessons, a homeschooling program at our local wildlife sanctuary, and respite care or hospital visits for friends in need. Since March 2020, all of these have been off the table!

While nothing can really replace the above, we’ve been grateful over the past year for the availability of so many fantastic webinar and subscription programs. Here are those we’ve used regularly:

Recent masterpieces from a chalk pastel tutorial

Free Time, Quiet Time

The kids have about 45 minutes of free play time after we’re done with our enrichment activities, and then another 45 minutes of quiet time, during which they can do whatever they choose as long as is subdued and independent. Quiet time is essential for these high energy but introverted kids to decompress, and is also the sliver of time I have to get emails and writing assignments done (I’m writing this during quiet time right now! Book writing doesn’t happen until the hours of 9-11 pm, when the kids are unconscious.)

Evening

The kids have evening chores; we have dinner together as a family; then after dinner we have family worship, with Dad leading us in a Bible study, and then singing a hymn (badly) all together. Then the kids have some fun time with Dad reading or watching cartoons, and it’s off to bed (and Dad and I take a breath), with a prayer of thanks to the Lord for providing for us, and for leading us on this journey.

14 Comments Add yours

  1. Marilyn Perry says:

    This is just amazing, your kids are are very fortunate to have home schooling them. Your day sounds very busy, yet so interesting. Thank you for sharing.

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    1. Katie Butler says:

      Thanks so much, Marilyn! It’s a joy, really. Love and peace to you.

      Like

  2. Rebecca Brotzman says:

    Thank you for sharing these details of your days. I have enjoyed gleaning book and game suggestions from your annual homeschooling adventure posts. I have two school-aged boys (K & 2nd grade) that are home full-time as a virtual option from their public school this year – a great opportunity to supplement how we want (never as much as we’d like with Google Meets to attend and assignments for teachers) and enjoy more time together and outside on our little piece of land. Perhaps we will pursue homeschooling after this year…

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    1. Katie Butler says:

      Thanks so much, Rebecca! I’m glad these posts are helpful. If you have any questions as you deliberate steps forward, please feel free to contact me! Blessings to you

      Like

  3. Jeanne A Dedman says:

    David sat his stuffed animals on the table during school at least once, so he wouldn’t be the only student! That was fun.

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    1. Katie Butler says:

      So much fun!! 🙂

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  4. Your “typical day” sounds amazing and I love the “animal school” too 😍

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    1. Katie Butler says:

      Thanks Victoria! It’s a joy. Blessings to you.

      Like

  5. jsmith1054 says:

    Katie,

    Look how big they are getting. Your post brings back lots of the great feelings that accompanied homeschooling and the way of life that it allowed for our family and for our children.

    Life is good here in CA, and it helps to live in Coronado where there are no days when one can’t get outside and enjoy God’s creation.

    I go back to the oncologist at the end of the month after a scan and bloodworm to see what is going on in my body but until them I do my best to let go of any pull to pay attention to anything cancer related. Enjoying the time away from it.

    Blessings to you all,

    Jan

    >

    Like

    1. Katie Butler says:

      Hi Jan, I’m glad our craziness could bring a modicum of good feelings and nostalgia back for you. 🙂 I’ll be lifting you up in prayer as you await your follow up visit. Grateful for you, and for God’s continued work through you and your family.

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  6. Denice says:

    just found your blog. so dear. thankful that pip and bean are getting such a rich unhurried education full of joyful discovery and an attentive wise mom. Oh how I yearn for all the kids to have this! 😦 Praying now for you and this endeavor: 2 Thess 1:11-12
    I’ll try to check back now and then!

    Like

    1. Katie Butler says:

      Welcome, Denice, and thank you so much for your encouraging comments! Blessings to you and yours.

      Like

  7. Amy Sloan says:

    Such a delight to read this day in the life! We love the D’aulaires’s books as well!

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    1. Katie Butler says:

      Thanks Amy! 🙂

      Like

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