A Day in the Life, Harris Family

 

 

What is homeschooling really like?
Well, each family is unique, and, therefore, each homeschool is unique!
“A Day in the Life” is a series of blog posts featuring real Idaho homeschool families.
In this post, we introduce you to the Harris family, home educating their three children ages 7, 5, and 2.


MORNING

7:00am – My alarm clock goes off. I get dressed and say goodbye to my husband of ten years, as he heads out of the house to commute to work.

7:15am – James, my youngest child who will be three in June, is awake.  He is knocking loudly on his bedroom door and calling for me. As I slowly open the door, I smile, give him a huge hug, and plant a kiss on his forehead while he rubs the sleep from his eyes with the back of his right hand. I guide him to the hall bathroom and encourage him to “go potty,” then wash and dry his hands. He does so while I pick out his clothes for the day. As we work together to get him dressed, we decide it would be nice to bake blueberry muffins together before his big sisters wake up.

James assists me from his wooden stool with some measuring and pouring gluten-free ingredients. But those don’t get mixed right away as my son proceeds to stuff his mouth with blueberries before I even wash them! So I stop what I’m doing and wash the remaining berries at that very moment. Then I smell something foul. I rush my little man to the hall bathroom again only to discover it was a false alarm. We are still potty training.  Back to the muffins!

I mix the batter by hand, fold in the blueberries, drop the mixture into the greased muffin tins, and pop the pans into the hot oven. I quickly wash up the mixing bowl and utensils as I encourage James to take out “kid” plates or bowls of his chosing from the drawer for himself and his two sisters.  He says their names aloud as he places the dishes on the kitchen table with a grin. I return the smile and offer a “high-five.”

8:00am – My daughters, ages seven and five, are noisily coming down the stairs to join us in the kitchen. To my delight, they have both brushed their teeth, one brushed her hair, and both dressed in the clothes I laid out for them the night before. What a great start to the day!

We check all on the muffins by peering through the illuminated oven window (numerous times) while we all work together to put away the clean dishes, flatware, and drinking glasses from the dishwasher. They girls repeatedly ask to have a certain muffin (or two) based upon counting the number of bubbling blueberries on top. I nod my head in agreement as I enjoy the pleasing aroma wafting from the oven.

9:00am – The girls begin their school day in THE classroom. I converted an upstairs bedroom by simply moving in existing furniture from other parts of the house. The room now holds two bookcases, two child-height tables and two matching pairs of chairs, previous bedside and table lamps, a torchiere floor lamp, and a comfortable blue wingback IKEA chair. The classroom is adorned with a small faux crystal chandelier leftover from the girl’s nursery, a huge world map, the alphabet, two different colorful maps of the United States, a globe, various school supplies, toddler games and educational toys, the children’s home library of books collected since birth, our homeschool texts and curricula, artwork made by my children, and a few completely assembled Lego Disney princess sets. I chose this room for the nearly entire wall width window, which allows lots of natural light. Here we also have great views of weather conditions and a direct view of local wildlife living in or visiting the two-story pine tree growing just outside the window.

My children gather at the window, observing and discussing the busy female robin’s progress building a nest in the tree as we watch the male robin quickly respond with a furious flapping of wings to a surprise visit by a squirrel. The squirrel we have previously spotted hunkering down on another horizontal branch and tucking his tail to avoid strong winds.  I somehow transition our impromptu discussion about the bird’s lifecycle to the weather, days of the week, month, etc. My five-year-old daughter, Kirsten, confidently answers these daily morning questions as she physically corrects and rearranges the magnets of My Daily Calendar by Melissa & Doug. She declares with a grin that the current holiday magnet should read, “Mother’s Day.”

My oldest daughter, Molly, age seven, is seated at the table with pencil in hand nodding her approval. I place her assignment from Saxon Math Book 1: Part II on the table. She reads the instructions on her own and knows to ask for clarification or an explanation if she gets stuck. I turn to my son, James, and set out several different educational toys on the carpeted floor of the classroom. His current favorites are a magnetic animal puzzle by JANOD; a felt woodland themed puzzle by DJECO; a geometry, fraction, and shape sorting-n-matching set by PLAN TOYS; and a 14-piece magnetic wooden block set by TEGU.

Kirsten is tasked with tracing and writing numbers 13, 14. She also hunts for the numbers in a scramble, cuts and pastes pictures into groups, draws specified shapes around groupings of 13 and 14, and identifies groups of 13/14 objects. Her math and writing assignments come from worksheets torn from PreK and K Scholastic Jumbo Math Workbooks.

I sit and play with James on the floor in between bathroom trips, then help him clean up and put away his toys on the bookshelf. We are nearly ready for a snack break. While the girls independently finish their work, James and I set the kitchen table and select a healthy snack. He chooses fresh pear and gluten free pretzel twists. By the time I finish slicing two pears, the girls join us at the table.

While my three children chat and leisurely enjoy their morning snack, I run upstairs to the classroom and check the girls’ work, grab a basket of dirty clothes, and load laundry into the machines back downstairs. We all assess the chilly morning weather by physically stepping outside and decide together to take morning recess indoors with the promise of finishing our school work outdoors in the afternoon when it will be warmest.

LATE MORNING

The kids watch two different episodes of The Magic Schoolbus in the bonus room. I pay utility bills online at my desktop computer nearby, speak with a U.S. based nonprofit organization via telephone about a vision trip to Haiti in November, and discuss colors and shapes with James after he builds skinny towers and an “elevator” with MegaBloks. I also tend to the laundry and start preparing lunch.

AFTERNOON

The girls have cleared the table; located a blanket, gathered writing, cutting and coloring tools; and proceed taking turns in
the bathroom. We are ready to continue our studies outside in the backyard! We position ourselves in the warm sun, on the grass, nearest the swing and slide set.  The kids head off in various areas of the yard.

Kirsten collects a few “roley poley” bugs and proudly shows them to me, James gathers a substantial bundle of dried and broken red raspberry stems also known as  “sticks,” and Molly reaches for the sky on the swing. I begin waving furiously and ask politely for the girls to join me on the blanket.

Molly and I go over the math problems she misread or misunderstood, she makes necessary corrections, I address her questions and concerns, and we begin a collaborative activity in the second part of the lesson, about polygons.

While Molly finishes her work, Kirsten curls up next to me on the blanket.  I read excerpts from the books Lizard Lou and The Zigzag Zebra, and we play riddle/guessing games from the All About Reading: Pre-Reading (AAR) program.  Today, Kirsten is working on the sounds of the letters: U, V, W. I also focus on her articulation. Kirsten most enjoys completing the AAR hands-on crafts. Today, she cuts apart four drawings, says the name of each aloud, and identifies which start with the appropriate sound. She then pastes three of the four pictures in the correct location, and colors in another worksheet from the AAR Book of Letters: Learning Activity Book. Upon successful completion of her day of schoolwork, Kirsten runs off to swing and slide with her little brother, James.

Molly is now laying on her back on the blanket, shielding her eyes from the sun. I notice the warmth of the sun on my own exposed arms. I briefly appreciate the opportunity to naturally absorb Vitamin D. Molly listens carefully as I clearly dictate two sentences containing contractions, two commas, and two periods. I’m reading an exercise from Writing with Ease: Level 2 by Susan Wise Bauer.  Molly furiously begins writing after verbally repeating the sentences back to me. Next, I read a passage from The Borrowers by Mary Norton. I ask Molly questions about the selection to first test her listening ability and second to identify central details in the description. She is expected to answer in complete sentences and if she responds in a fragment, I answer the question in the form of a sentence. Molly knows she must repeat it back to me.  It’s a little tough for her today as it’s a beautiful day outside and she is fidgeting. She complains about the warm temperature and eventually runs back into the house to change into shorts.
When she returns we all meet at the outdoor playset. Molly and Kirsten climb and slide as I shout above the din a warning that they have so much time left before we prepare for their dance lessons. James requests my presence at the swings with an outstretched hand and I push him in his toddler swing in between lots of smiles and tickles.

LATE AFTERNOON

The children and I hurry inside with books or blanket-in-arms to get the girls dressed in delicate pink tights and stretchy leotards; and twist their long locks of hair into slick, tidy, ballet buns.

On the car ride through town, we listen to First Language Lessons For The Well-Trained Mind: Audio Companion for Levels 1 & 2. The girls often request these classic short stories and poems while their brother comfortably naps in his carseat.

While the girls are in ballet and jazz lessons, James and I typically read sturdy board books together, play the “ThinkRolls” app on the iPAD, sing the traditional alphabet song, and/or make repeated trips to the water fountain.

EVENING

After a quick, homemade dinner with my husband back at home, we head outside to ride bicycles and scooters through the neighborhood and enjoy the sunshine as it begins to set.

We visually check the cattails at the nearby pond for a certain mama duck and her eight ducklings. We take pride in our dutiful protection and feeding of the mama duck when she was nesting for approximately fourteen days below the mature pine tree located outside our kitchen window. She is now swimming around her ducklings,  who have all grown considerably since our last sighting!

8:15pm  All three children are bathed, dressed and nearly ready for bedtime. Tonight, is extra special because we received a large box via UPS delivery while at ballet. Inside are numerous completely free books I earned by hosting an Usbourne Facebook party recently. I carefully select one book for each child from three stacks of beautifully illustrated, sturdy, educational children’s books.  James, Molly, and Kirsten are overjoyed by the surprise and dive into their books. They look up once in awhile to share new facts and figures, demonstrate the lift and close flaps, and ask to help press faux piano keys.

My husband and I have to regrettably stop the reading party and collect the books as
we remind the children of their bedtime.  I suggest they pick up their new books first thing in the morning and enjoy reading as soon as they wake up. The kids fall asleep happily and quickly in their separate beds, after reciting their evening prayers in unison.

11:00pm  I reflect on the fantastic spring day I enjoyed spending with my children learning, exploring, baking, playing, dancing, and reading.

I share with my husband my gratitude and express how much I appreciate his perseverance, dedication, and continued efforts at work – which afford us the opportunity to homeschool our three children.

We are also certainly blessed to have the freedom to choose how, when, where, and with which resources we educate our young Idahoans.

– THE END –


 

Looking for more in this series?

Meet the Millers! 

Committed to helping parents fulfill their God-given right and responsibility to educate their own children.