One of the most popular questions we get asked is “What does your Homeschooling Day look like?”
Today, I’m gonna share a bit about what our homeschooling rhythm looks like and hopefully it’ll shed a bit more light 🙂
(Click here if you’d rather watch the episode)
Let me start with this quote by Richie Norton, that I love:
“Intentional living is the art of making our own choices before others’ choices make us.”
For us, homeschooling is one of those gifts that enables us to craft the kind of life that resonates with our values.
Today, I’ll be taking you through our home-schooling rhythms.
And I say rhythms because we don’t necessarily follow a strict set of schedules, we more want to aim to establish a set of habits and a familiar flow for our day, so we know that one thing typically comes up after another; as opposed to a set schedule with strict times.
And some days, it takes longer, and on some days it might be shorter, but we just basically know how our days flow.
And also, I guess it is a little bit flexible, to allow other little things and disruptions to happen 🙂
So yeah, let’s get into it.
WHEN WE WAKE UP…
So last year, I read the book, “5am Club” by Robin Sharma. And I must say, it’s really something that has changed my life!
And trust me, guys, I am like, the furthest from a morning person, the Absolute Furthest, ok?!!
So if I can wake up at five o’clock, I feel like every single person in the entire wide world can; because I really, really, really struggle every single day haha!
It’s really a struggle for me to wake up at 5am. But I do so, because I have just seen the change that it has made in my life.
So for me, for most of my waking time, I’m with the children. And for half of the day, I home-school, and the other half of the day I run my businesses.
And then there’s the evening! If you’re a parent, you know, there’s a crazy evening slot where you’re cooking, you’re feeding and bathing people and trying to put them to bed and stuff!!
So, for me waking up in the morning just allows me that peace of mind early in the morning; that I don’t get anywhere else, except when I would like, go away by myself or when I go out and have a coffee by myself. You know; when I can just be alone with my thoughts.
And I must say, it’s also really increased my productivity. I typically wake up, and exercise for about 30 minutes or so. Then I spend some time in prayer, reading the Word and journaling. And then lastly, one thing that I realised that I didn’t have time for as a small business owner is just working on the business and building myself up in terms of my skills.
As I mentioned, I do my work in the afternoons. However, that is usually working in the business but in the mornings I’m actually able to work on my skills.
As much as I’m not always consistent, those times that I am, I’ve been able to do that, I really just feel like personally I grow so much.
KIDS WAKE UP
The kids wake up around 7am. And because my attitude and mood while I’m home-schooling matters a lot, (like you know, I want to be a nice Mother & a kind learning companion), I try to ease myself into the day 🙂
So I try to not get too involved in the morning routines haha! Because, no one needs that kind of stress that early in the morning lol!
I don’t want to be fighting with people to get dressed, I don’t want to be trying to get people to finish their food. I don’t want to be fighting with people about which cereal they want to eat and what they don’t want to eat; and all those lovely things that happen in the mornings!
So my husband’s the superhero who does that 🙂 I try avoid Morning Situations lol!
So he usually wakes them up in the morning, and helps them to get ready.
We’ll get into our morning routines and age-appropriate chores on another post soon. But generally, when they wake up in the morning, these are the things they do:
- make their beds,
- get dressed,
- clean up their room,
- brush their teeth,
Then they come downstairs for breakfast, and one of Kumi (our 9 year old)’s chores is to make breakfast for her siblings.
LITTLE DISCLAIMERS BEFORE WE GET INTO IT 🙂
DISCLAIMER #1: WE’RE ECLECTIC HOMESCHOOLERS
Before I start, let me just explain that we don’t follow a set curriculum. We follow what’s called an eclectic approach.
I know, I know, some people are just like, “eclec-who”??! haha!
It’s just a fancy term in the home-schooling world, that means that we don’t follow one set curriculum, but rather, we go out and find resources from different places and sources. Resources that we feel will accomplish our educational goals.
Setting goals is something that I think is important for every family to do. We did this a number of years ago, where we wrote our vision and our goals for home-schooling. Firstly, why we homeschool, and secondly, what we’d to see from our homeschooling.
And I think when you write these down, that helps you to determine what your homeschooling day and year needs to look like.
OUR HOMESCHOOL #GOALS
I think it’s really important because it will help you determine what you ultimately get up to in your school day. When you know what your goals are, what place you’re trying to get to, or what you want your education to look like; then it can help you decide, what your days need to look like.
For example, one of our goals is for the children to learn to love God and people, to grow an intimate relationship with God and to grow in godly traits. That’s really something that we value.
And so, how does that translate into our home-schooling?
It means that because we have set that as a goal, we’re able to incorporate things that will make sure that we are able to achieve those goals. So, for us, we have daily devotionals as part of our day.
Another example is travel. One of the goals we also have is that we want our children to be well travelled. We want to see the world together as a family. And so we try to make sure that at least once a year, we get to travel together as a family.
And yeah, listen….. travelling as a family of six is quite expensive, but we just drive everywhere we possibly can 🙂
And international travel as well. We are trying to expose the children to other countries as much as possible, especially on the African continent. So, so far as a family, we’ve been able to do two countries outside of SA together and we’re hoping to see even more countries.
So once again, the aim for us is not to let a curriculum or somebody else dictate what education looks like for our children or what our children learn, but rather it is to set that vision of what we want our education to look like and then find resources that will enable us to then accomplish what we want to see. So, we use resources as a tool to serve our vision.
And we don’t want to be a ‘slave’ to any curriculum but we want it to serve us and our values and what we want to see.
And generally, even some families who do use or follow a particular curriculum, you’ll find that sometimes they will supplement because most probably no curriculum will 100% have every single thing that you want for your children.
Some of them might have a lot of things that would fit your educational goals, but sometimes families find themselves having to supplement.
And as a black family, one of those things is diversity, inclusion or representation in books. Even for those who do love and strictly follow a particular curriculum, some do find themselves having to go out and look for books where their children are better represented.
It’s a reality: most of these resources are American, and aren’t very inclusive; or sometimes they come from European nations. But even the local ones, sadly enough, don’t tend to be very inclusive.
Sometimes you’d find that there’s a math curriculum that you are following, or a certain book that you’re supposed to do in this curriculum, for example, but it’s just not working for your child. And perhaps it might have even worked for your other child, but because children are just different, you might find having to replace a certain subject in the curriculum.
DISCLAIMER #2: WE ARE RELAXED HOMESCHOOLERS
I’m not a teacher, I’m not running a school here; I am just a mother who’s on a learning journey with her children.
We’re also not on anyone’s schedule, so we’re able to comfortably learn at our own pace. We learn the things that we’d like to learn; and not because we’ve got an exam on it in six months time or something.
And as I also mentioned, in the previous post, we are guided primarily by our goals, and also the interests and the passions of each child. So we don’t necessarily have a standardised system of “when a child turns seven, they’re going to learn the anatomy of a plant”. We really try to be guided by what the children are into.
And yes, there are some helpful resources that we will go through with each child. For example, when a child is learning the alphabet, we usually use XYZ resource. But most of the time, we just allow ourselves to be guided by the children’s interests.
DISCLAIMER 3: WE DON’T DO ‘SCHOOL’ MONDAY TO FRIDAY
We don’t follow a five-day school week. We start our ‘school’ week on a Tuesday; so we do a four-day week.
On another post, I’ll go through the reasons why we’ve actually chosen to do a four-day week as opposed to the typical five-day week; but actually even some curriculums give you the option to or ask you if you’re doing a four-day or a five-day week.
I’ve been saying, you guys, if you haven’t subscribed, please, please do so. I have so many posts planned, so much to cover, but also I don’t want each one to be super lengthy (I mean, this one has been so long, and we haven’t even gotten to the actual schedule yet!).
Ok, back to it: So, Monday is our family day; we hang out, we go out, we eat out, we go see places! Everyone knows it’s a day where we as a family just take out some time to rest and just enjoy some quality time.
Okay okay…it’s time we got into the real topic of the post….. 🙂
OUR HOMESCHOOL DAY
Our day starts off with devotional time.
The expectation is that each member of our family has regular devotional times and so we try to instill this with the kids as well.
Baba typically does Bible time with them; and depending on the day, or on the lesson, sometimes they will go through some readings, sometimes they will watch an episode.
They really love watching Superbook, it’s a bible-based cartoon. I love that it’s online and it is free. Sometimes they’ll do an activity; sometimes they’ll sing together, and then there’s prayer time as well.
And this time; I’m usually having breakfast, brewing coffee and getting ready for the day, pep-talking myself on some “Yeh wena san, uyiskhokho yazi! You’re gonna do this; you’re gonna be awesome!”
Lol! No, I’m joking. Honestly, it’s not that deep, but yes to the coffee part 🙂
COUCH TIME / READING TIME
Couch time is really my favourite! And this is a part where we just sit together on the couch and we’ll read a short story.
Sometimes we do audio stories, and sometimes we’ll read from physical books. And we’ve recently just been using Nalibali, which is a great resource; also free!
I love that their stories are local, and there’s lots of representation in them as well 🙂 #RepresentationMatters, ok? 🙂
And also, my children can honestly relate to them. We’ve also tried other audiobook providers, and we just really just struggled to keep up. Sometimes it’s the foreign accent, sometimes the kids just can’t relate to some of the stuff that they’re talking about, or sometimes it’s just been the length of the stories. But, yeah, we’ve really just found Nalibali stories to be perfect for us.
(We’re still looking for more audio book providers, so if you guys have any recommendations, please do just drop us a comment below, we’d really appreciate it 🙂
MATHS & LANGUAGE
The next part of the morning is usually maths and language. Because they are at different levels when it comes to language as well as mathematical concepts, each of them get their own one on one time when it comes to those subjects.
We typically use different resources with each child, depending on what concepts they’re currently learning. And one of the posts that I’d like to do for you guys (because I get asked about resources a lot) is actually just going through all the resources that we have personally found helpful.
But from the top of my head, some of my favourite when it comes to language are:
And so in between their individual time with their maths and language, they’re usually playing, doing their handwriting practice; or maybe doing other things like building puzzles, playing with Lego, or whatever else.
And typically, somewhere, when we are then done with that, we’ll just take a small break, maybe 30 minutes and have a snack and play, etc.
And sometimes (rarely, though..maybe when I feel like we need a sprinkle of fun), we will find a dance or exercise video. Sometimes we’ll play, or we’ll take a walk, etc…depending on what we feel like on the day.
When it comes to other subjects, we typically just write out themes or just ideas of stuff that we’d like to learn throughout the year. And then we’ll take a look at those.
So whether it’s in geography, history, science, social studies, etc, after we come back from our snack break, then we usually get into our other subject lesson for the day.
I know some people like doing a few subjects in one day, like a bit of science, a bit of geography, history, etc today, and then another day, they’ll also do a little bit of science, a little bit of geography, etc.
What I’ve found helpful for myself is just as immersing ourselves in a subject for the entire week. That’s typically called unit themes or unit studies.
We choose a theme for the week, and stick with that for the whole week. So, for example, if we’re learning about birds this week, we’ll take out the entire week to learn about birds. We’d look at different things like the anatomy of a bird, reproduction of birds, habitats of birds, etc.
And I always try find ideas to make the education come alive.
When we do our lessons, we don’t just read books, we try to find video content, to find related crafts and stuff we can do, and if we can find a place to visit to learn a bit more about whatever subject, then we’ll do so.
For example, if we are learning about birds one week, and there’s a bird park that we can go to, then we’ll definitely go visit the Bird Park in that week.
And also we try to make sure that we involve as many senses as possible. I remember particularly with the bird theme, we ended up also creating a nest and a bird feeder. And the nest was actually one of the kids’ ideas; as we were learning about birds’ habitats, and going through how they build their nests, one of the kids was like; “Mom, can we actually build a nest?”. And then that’s what we did 🙂
And this is what I meant about not having a rigid schedule, but making your schedule flexible and for it to allow for little distractions and deviations, because sometimes it can really just be fun trails to go on.
And this particular one ended up being so much fun for us – we had been learning about the kind of materials that birds usually use to build a nest, like twigs and leaves. We now took ourselves into the world of birds and started building this nest and it was just a fun and memorable time together. And the kids actually, to this day, still remember and talk about that.
FAQ: HOW DO YOU TEACH SUBJECTS YOU DON’T KNOW MUCH ABOUT?
I know that sometimes people fear homeschooling, because they’re just like, “How do I even begin to teach about things that I don’t know much about?”. But the great thing about home-schooling is that homeschooling resources are actually written with the parent in mind. So, the people that make all these resources know that the person who is facilitating these lessons is not an expert in this field, they know you’re not a teacher. And so, they are written in such a way that enables you to come alongside your child and learn, as well as facilitate their learning.
And, as I also mentioned in the previous post that, I never want to come off as the teacher who knows it all. I don’t approach home-schooling as, “Okay, I’m coming to teach you guys all these things!”, but I approach it as being a learning companion to them.
For me, it’s more like a research project. Like, if I am trying to find out how, for example, to be a photographer, what I will do is: I’ll find great books on the topic, I will probably find some YouTube videos on it, I will find some courses, etc. And so, in the same manner, I also try to teach our children how to learn.
So, in the same way, if we’re trying to learn about animals, for example, we’ll find good books on animals, we’ll find videos, we will go out and see animals. For me, that is a meaningful education.
And then when we’re done with that lesson (I don’t always do this all the time, I don’t always get the time to), but I do try to incorporate a fun element in the day.
As the person who does the work with the children (and I mean I do try to make our schooling environment a fun one), I don’t want to just be the parent that is doing the things that are not fun, haha! So, at the end of our day, I try to spend some time playing games with them or doing fun stuff; maybe taking a walk or, just doing something to connect with them especially if we managed to wrap everything up in good time.
But a lot of the time, we don’t ..lol! & I’m usually rushing off to start with my work 🙂
So a few more questions that I usually get:
DO I TEACH THE CHILDREN MYSELF?
People ask: do I teach the children myself?
Yes, I do most of the teaching myself.
I know some people do get tutors to assist them, but I also know that majority of homeschooling parents usually do the homeschooling themselves. But obviously, depending on the situation, sometimes people get tutors and sometimes people choose to do online schooling, etc. But I teach/facilitate the lessons myself.
One change that we’ve actually made, is that although I had previously done everything myself, in the past year, we’ve actually gotten a tutor/au pair on board.
And this is solely because we have 4 children, and as the children were getting older, they needed more one on one time with me, which means that we were spending more and more hours in a day. But, as mentioned, I homeschool the children for part of the day but I also work from home which means that for another part of the day I need to be doing my work.
So what I typically do that I assign half of the day to home-schooling and then the other half to work. So then I decided to get someone to help me so that I could be done with home-schooling at a certain time.
And obviously some families don’t have those restrictions, they have the entire afternoon to homeschool, but I had to get someone on board so that we’re able to wrap up the day much sooner. And so, what happens is that I’ll plan the entire day and what everyone is doing on the day, and she comes alongside to assist, and she mostly helps me with the smaller ones too.
So while I am doing, for example, language and maths with the older ones, she will be doing similar things with the younger ones, and then we’ll come together to do some of the things together.
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE?
So, it really depends on what you’re doing as well as the ages of your children, but for young children, like our two year old, 30 minutes in a day, doing stuff with them, is a lot.
We do around 9am to around 12/1pm, depending on the day, and then the children have the rest of the afternoon to play, do their own things or even extra murals on some days. We don’t have ‘homework’.
WHAT DO YOU DO WITH YOUNG CHILDREN?
To be honest, guys, having young children, in a homeschool environment can be quite challenging. But I’ve personally taken it as just part of life. Like I said, we’re not a school, we’re a family learning together.
A lot of the times, especially when the youngest was one and under, I spent a lot of the time breastfeeding her. And a lot of the times, we didn’t get to finish what we’d aimed to finish for the day, because she needed my attention.
I know sometimes it can really get frustrating. But I was just like; “Listen, this is what our family looks like at this at the moment, and it’s not going to last forever”.
So what can you do but just roll with the punches? And trust me, I know how frustrating and exhausting it can be to have to be there for your little one while trying to cater for your older ones too.
And it can also be sooo disruptive! I remember Inala would often find us doing an activity and first thing she would do was to break everything down!
But the season does come to an end eventually. She’s just turned two, and now she actually wants to be involved. When people are reading books, she wants her own book; when people are writing she wants her own material.
So yeah, it’s a season and it can be a really tough season when your energy and your time is divided, but those are just some of the cons, I guess, of learning together as a family. But like I said, for me, it’s just part of the package; and overall, I’m still happy with homeschooling, challenges and all included 🙂
AND THAT’S OUR DAY!
And that is what our day looks like. And we do try to vary it here and there. One of the goals that we have is to expose our children to a broad education. So when we can, we do try to incorporate different things, different topics and different skills here and there. And of course, we always try to have fun while doing it!
This was a very long answer to our typical homeschool day but I hope it has been helpful.
If you have any questions from this post/episode, please drop them in the comments below.
I also did a Live Q&A session on Instagram, so you can find it on our IGTV here.
As always, if you have any friends or family that you think can benefit from this, please do kindly share….even on your own social media would be wonderful 🙂