A Day in the Life: Flashback to Amy's 4th Grade and Preschool
As we round the corner into my daughter's junior year of high school, I've been feeling very nostalgic about our homeschool life. I rounded up this old post chronicling a day in the life of our early homeschool—when my daughter was in 4th grade and her brother was a tag-along preschooler—for the summer issue.
We didn’t set out planning to homeschool, but traditional school stopped working for us by the time our daughter was in second grade. So we pulled her out and dove into homeschooling with no idea what we were doing. We’re still figuring things out, and our typical homeschool day definitely reflects that work-in-progress feeling. Still, if we’re going to stalk other people’s homeschool days, it seems only fair to share our own.
I’m scouring my favorite websites for a good story to post on the Atlanta Homeschool Facebook page before the day starts in earnest. I’ve been up for a while, responding to email, updating the calendar on the website, and trying to find a photo for a story in our winter issue, but finding a good morning post is proving elusive.
The kids are still asleep. When we first started homeschooling, I worried about them getting up at a regular time, but their natural rhythm seems to be waking up later and staying up later, and since there’s no real reason to push them in another direction, I’ve tried to just go with that. Honestly, I enjoy having the morning to myself.
Jason and I are having coffee on the couch and trying to make sense of his schedule for the day when T comes running downstairs. He stops off in the schoolroom first and then races the rest of the way downstairs.
“We do have Hogwarts letters!” he says.
This year, we’re doing a Hogwarts correspondence program, so most of the kids’ assignments get delivered (by owl post, of course) to their designated Hogwarts mailboxes while they are sleeping. There is a lot of prep work and planning involved in this, but the kids love it.
T wants cereal and milk for his first breakfast (the kid eats like a hobbit), so I pour his Cheerios while Jason gets ready to teach his math lab at a nearby group that offers homeschool classes.
O’s still sleeping, but T can’t wait any longer to open his Hogwarts mail, so I tell him he can wake her up. I gulp the end of my coffee and run to check my email one last time before school starts.
We always start the day with a readaloud, so T and I snuggle up on the couch while O grabs a strawberry smoothie from the fridge. (She won’t eat breakfast these days, but she loves fruit smoothies.) We’re reading Dealing with Dragons as part of our Care of Magical Creatures class for Hogwarts and comparing literary depictions of dragons.
Sometimes T kind of drifts off and colors or builds with his math manipulatives while I read, but today he’s very interested in how the princess in the story is going to do a spell to make herself fireproof. O reminds him of the time we had a Girl Scout science class here, and the instructor taught us how to soak a dollar bill in alcohol and set it on fire. (The bill stays intact and unharmed, which made a big impression.) I jump in, too, and it takes us a while to get back to the story.
The kids tear into their Hogwarts mail, which turns out to be a letter from Professor Sprout telling them that it’s time to learn about chamomile, an herb that has the power to calm people down. O starts to make a page for it in her Herbology notebook, then flips open the Rodale Illustrated Encyclopedia of Herbs to find a picture to copy. The picture in the book isn’t very good, so I grab the laptop and google “chamomile.” O finds a picture she likes, and we print out a copy for her so she can use it while she’s working. While she carefully draws and labels her chamomile, T is drawing dragons in his notebook. He wants me to write down their names and a story about them, so I do. I suggest that he could use his alphabet stamps to write the dragons’ names, and he says okay—but he’s actually more interested in just randomly stamping letters, which is fine with me. For now, anyway.
O tells me all about chamomile, and we decide to have chamomile tea with lunch. She asks if we can grow our own chamomile, and I suggest she see how she likes the tea before we start growing anything. (I’ve learned that automatically agreeing to every project means we start a lot of things that we don’t follow through on—which is okay sometimes, but I want to also introduce the idea that we can be thoughtful about what we choose to do.)
Jason isn’t home for lunch, so I make grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup for lunch. We eat at the table—O is reading her American Girl magazine, and I’m flipping through an old issue of Smithsonian.
The chamomile tea isn’t a big hit, so we pour it out and have orange juice instead.
O and T remind me that I promised I would watch an episode of Beakman’s World with them after lunch, so I remind O that she still has some Latin from her Monday Hogwarts Ancient Runes assignment hanging around to finish. Does she want to finish that before we watch Beakman?
“Maybe not all of it,” she says, but she sits down and works on her translation. (We use Ecce Romani for Latin, so each chapter has a short story to translate.)
We watch an episode of Beakman’s World, a show about a wacky scientist and his curious sidekicks that my daughter loves. We’re doing Herbology, of course, and a little chemistry in our Potions classes, but I feel like we’re a little light on general science this year, so I am happy to let the kids squeeze in a little Beakman science.
After the show, O decides she wants to work on her Littlest Pet Shop village, a project she started a week or so ago with her friends J and C, so she heads up to her room. At first T goes with her, but he comes back down to me complaining that O is too boring, so I offer to paint with him. I tell him to put on an old T-shirt while I check my email. (I check my email a lot.) While I’m at the computer, I see a tweet about a homeschooling article that looks interesting, so I post it on the Atlanta Homeschool page. I’m also thrilled to see that an expert I’ve been waiting to hear from about a story has gotten back to me with a great answer, so I send off a quick “Thanks.”
3:00 P.M. T and I are painting peg people at the school room table when Jason gets home from class with a few bags of groceries. I take advantage of the fact that he’s home for a few hours and wrap up our painting project so I can work on a few articles. O asks if she and T can play Fossil Fighters for a little while, and I give them the go-ahead while I’m cleaning up the paint and wiping down the tables. I realize that I meant to work on the letter of the week (It’s H) with T and didn’t get around to it, but I figure I can let it go for today.
I’ve put in a couple of hours of work. The kids have been in and out of the house a few times, but now they’re back inside since it’s O’s night to cook dinner, and we have to serve it before Jason heads out for his evening tutoring classes. (He’ll leave around 6 p.m. and be back home a little after 9 p.m., which makes today a fairly light day for him.) O makes scrambled eggs with cheese and broccoli, and I help her out by making toast and keeping it warm in the oven while she’s cooking. Most days of the week, we manage to squeeze in a family dinner, though there are days—like Thursdays, when Jason’s only home between 4 p.m. and 5 p.m.—when we eat at weird times and end up having a dinner-snack later in the evening. When I finish the article I’m writing, I’ll knit on the couch while the kids watch a movie.
This article was in the summer 2018 issue of HSL.