Homeschool Day with Ages 11, 10, 7, 3, and 1

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Even though I took zero pictures this year, I didn't want to miss sharing our 2022 day! 

Wake up and breakfast
I wake up for the last time this morning at 5:05am ;-). 18-month-old George has woken me up in a series starting at 2:30am looking for nursing and comfort. He seems out of sorts and I think it could be because we were out all day yesterday and he didn't get his full nap and was overtired at bedtime.

By the time I resettle him, I am too wide awake to go back to sleep so I just cuddle with my husband (he goes back to sleep!) until the 3-year-old Harry arrives to ask what Ewok character I want to be today (this is a daily question!?!?) about the same time that our 6:45am alarm goes off.

Since Christmas, we have been enjoying a slower pace of mornings and sometimes don't get out of bed until 7:15 or later, but today we are ready to get going as the older kids also trickle in to climb into our bed to cuddle us and baby George who tends to be a little grumpy in the morning.

Daddy gets George ready and helps with breakfast while I enjoy a hot shower and put myself together for the day. Then I start a load of laundry.

By the time I get to the kitchen, everyone is already eating. Our three older kids make their own breakfasts these days. After many years of enjoying a hot breakfast together every day while I read from a basket full of books for our morning time, it was no longer working.

It took a few months of trying out different routines, but now, everyone makes what they want (bagels, eggs, smoothie, cereal, oatmeal, toast) and we do a longer morning time from 10:30-11:30.

Recently, I was diagnosed with Hashimoto's thyroiditus and I have already seen a huge improvement in my symptoms and thyroid function with some nutritional changes. However, my antibodies are still very high so I am following an autoimmune diet (AIP) for 6-weeks along with taking a cupboard full of supplements to see if I can get them down. That means homemade chicken-butternut soup is my breakfast of choice this morning.

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Lesson Time
As we finish up our breakfasts, I change over laundry, check email, and the weather. 11-year-old Peter starts practicing piano because that is what he usually prefers to do first. He has been using Hoffman Academy for 5 years and is in Unit 16. 

Around 8:30, I encourage 10-year-old John and 7-year-old Sylvia to do their simple to-dos. No one is feeling like getting started (including me!) because we took a surprise field trip day yesterday to a local reptile zoo and played at the park. It is always hard to get back into things after a day off. And we all want it to be spring.

Today Sylvia works on Fast Phonics with younger siblings watching over her shoulder while I sit with John who is working on multi-digit multiplication in Beast Academy. Peter joins us at the table and writes up a few paragraphs for his exams on his private blog.

This is the last day of exam week in our homeschool, so I have been asking each child 1-2 open-ended questions per day related to the material we have covered during the 12-week term. To make time for exams, we are only doing reading and math plus morning time this week. Peter has typed most of his answers, John wrote one, but I have acted as a scribe for the rest of the exams as well as all of Sylvia's.

In the past, I have put a lot of thought into creating questions for every subject and almost every book that we have used. But this winter, I decided to simplify so I only wrote exams to get the samples I need for our homeschool portfolio (a legal requirement of our state). 

Peter retreats to my first-floor bedroom where he has a desk with his school books to work on his math (AOPS Algebra) and read some living books that are part of his geography, science, or history studies.

Meanwhile, my husband gets ready and leaves for work and I make a blender full of AIP compliant smoothies to help me when hunger strikes over the next day or two. 

Sylvia is done with Fast Phonics and works on building "rockets" large enough for her to climb into out of cardboard boxes and even recruits Peter to get more cardboard out of our outdoor recycling can, while John finishes up his exams . . . not without some feelings. There is always a situation where my kids feel like they don't know enough to answer a question well! But it all balances out in the end. While each of my children has dictated or written really amazing and thoughtful exam responses over the years, you can be sure that I also have many examples where all I have written from the child is "I don't know anything." 

Now Sylvia and I read Life of Fred together. We are using these to review some concepts and take a break from her current math workhook. 3-year-old Harry also loves to listen to the books and even 18-month-George usually plays nearby or looks at the book while we are reading. John goes into the front room to read a chapter of his book, currently the first Encyclopedia Brown. 

Morning Time
At 10:30, I let everyone know it is morning time and we meet in our family room. George loves napping in the morning so we will do morning time together until he gets too fussy and then the kids will watch CNN10 and our daily SQUILT youtube clip while I lay him down.

Today we read a chapter or few pages from the following:
The Aesop for Children illustrated by Milo Winter
Minn of the Mississippi by Holling C. Holling
Blue Fairy Book by Andrew Lang (Free versions on my list of Free Folk Tales and Fairy Tales)

George made it almost until the end of morning time, so by the time he is asleep, the kids are finishing up the SQUILT clip and morning time is over. Now I have a brief window of time to squeeze in some exercise, which is just another piece of my health journey in getting my Hashimoto's into remission. I head down to the basement and get some reading done while riding the exercise bike--a life saver this time of year when I don't have a window of daylight to go on a long walk everyday.

I read a chapter of The Body: A Guide for Occupants by Bill Bryson, one of the titles on my 2022 reading goals list. Harry keeps me company asking me questions about what kind of dragon I would be. He is very into dragons, Harry Potter, and all kinds of magic right now! 

Lunch Time and Read Alouds
I toss together greens, sweet potato, sardines, and sauerkraut for my lunch and eat quickly while getting everyone else to get their lunch together. The kids have their usual lunch of 1 piece bread with topping of their choice + 1 piece fruit + 1 slice of cheese and everyone helps themselves to more food as needed.

While the kids eat, I read aloud from our two lunch time books, currently Nightbirds on Nantucket by Joan Aiken and The Children of the New Forest by Frederick Marryat. 

Eventually George wakes up from his nap and joins us at the table. As he eats his lunch, I work on cleaning up and starting food prep for dinner. My AIP diet means that I am often needing to make separate food just for me to eat. Luckily, tonight I'm going to brown ground beef with onions and garlic and then mix in pumpkin, take out a portion for my dinner, then add the rest of the ingredients for pumpkin chili--spices, peppers, and black beans. Everyone else will have pumplin chili with tortilla chips and I will have pumpkin and beef over cauliflower.

We clean up from lunch and I get the tv set up for a live SQUILT lesson. We don't do SQUILT all year round, but I do like doing it in the winter for three months. It is a big pricey and I think the lessons tend to drag out longer than needed but it makes doing music appreciation super easy! I watch part of the lesson but also sort laundry and tidy up. 

I also put some time into requesting some audio books for 10-year-old John from the Grades 4-6 Mensa Excellence in Reading List. It struck me recently that just because he isn't able to independently read at this level yet, he would still enjoy listening to these audio books and it would help him to branch out. Peter has also been working on this list as well as the next older one and he puts in some suggestions of audio books to request. We checkout Bridge to Terebithia, Hatchet, and Matilda on Libby and place holds for The Books of Three, Tuck Everlasting, and Island of the Blue Dolphins. Peter and John go upstairs to work on projects and listen to Matilda.

Now it is time for me to pay some attention to 3-year-old Harry. I decided to begin working through the k-3 Mensa reading list with Harry because there are a lot of fun titles on their that we haven't revisited in at least a year. So we snuggle up with this treasury which has many of the titles in it and read until George needs to move on to something else.

I call John down to practice piano and remind Peter to practice trumpet. Peter has been attending band class this year at the public middle school a few blocks away and goes up there 1-2 days a week for lessons and class. I start dinner cooking, which is easy since everything was already chopped and prepped in little increments throughout the day. I also record everything we did for homeschool today--from the books to the instrument practice to the squilt lesson and any special crafts a child worked on.

Meanwhile, Sylvia and Harry have been playing outside, inside, and are now playing in the bathroom sink along with George. I take a few minutes to sit where I can keep an eye on things and read a chapter of The Dawn of Everything by David Graeber and David Wengrow, another book on my reading goals for the year.  This is one of the most fascinating books I have read in a long time, but it is meaty and takes some brain power. It is on its last renewal from the library and I am bound and determined to finish it before it is due. I hope I'm not alone in saying that library due dates are probably more responsible for me achieving my reading goals than any other factor!

I change a soaking wet but happy toddler who loves to play in the sink and encourage everyone to help me clean up for a few minutes. Peter and John have a snack and get ready for ice skating lessons. My husband comes home from work and we grab a few minutes to chat before he leaves to take the boys to their lesson. 

We eat dinner together almost every night, just not on Thursdays during these 10 weeks of ice skating lessons. So while my husband and boys are gone, I join Harry, Sylvia, and George for dinner where we eat by candlelight and talk about what we are thankful for today. It is a nice time, even though Harry is a pretty picky eater right now.

After dinner, I let Sylvia know about an audio book I picked out for her. It was one I enjoyed as a kid--The Chocolate Touch. We all listen to it while I clean up and then she and Harry take it into Harry's room when George starts grabbing at the tablet.

George and I read nursery rhymes which are his absolute favorite. I get dinner ready for my husband and the boys when they get home and I hear about their lesson. Then, I retreat to my room for about 20 minutes to work on a couple of tasks and enjoy enjoy the quiet.

I realize that I forgot to remind Sylvia to practice piano. She is our newest piano student and has only been learning for less than a month with Hoffman Academy. We currently don't have a good routine in place for fitting in all these practices. We'll have to work on that in the coming weeks as we take a week off from school next week and then resume our lessons when we start Term 3. Oh well, we'll get to it tomorrow.

Evening Routine
My husband gets Harry ready for bed around 7pm and I say goodnight to him. They are reading Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone which helps Harry enjoy going to bed in a big way. As soon as he is behind closed doors the other kids come to ask to play video games. 

I'm always wondering what is the right amount of screens and video games. This winter, I've felt comfortable with having the older kids play after Harry has gone to bed. They take turns playing Civilization IV and Roller Coaster Tycoon for about an hour.  They cast their game to the tv so that everyone can watch them play. 

Meanwhile, I get George ready for bed around 7:30 with Sylvia's help. It is a nice time of day for us to connect with each other and enjoy singing and playing with George. She helps me tuck him in and turns out the light for us while I lay down with him and read a book on my phone-- The Witch Hunter by Max Seeck until he goes to sleep.

After George is in bed it is time to unload the dishwasher, prep my food for our Wild + Free nature group tomorrow and make some tea and a snack of olives. My early wake up call has me feeling tired--but tired in a good way. It is a marked contrast to how I had been feeling throughout 2021 when I didn't realize that I had hypothyroidism and struggled with low energy and mood problems. I'll be ready to go to sleep very quickly tonight.

Thursdays are "Dungeons and Dragons night" so my husband and the big kids--Peter, John, and Sylvia get ready for their weekly game. They will stay up past their normal 9pm bedtime and play for about 90 minutes, skipping their night time read alouds--currently Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and The Martian (language edited on the fly)--to make more time for their game.

I snuggle up with my tea and olives and read more of The Witch Hunter; it is all I can manage at the end of this day. The kids finally go to bed and Matt and I watch a Seinfeld episode together and get to bed ourselves a bit before 10pm. 

Typical Day?
I don't know! Every day there are lots of books, but today there were more than normal. Sometimes there are games to play or doctors appointments or someone gets passionate about a project or craft or wants to bake something. Sometimes we watch an episode of a show we are into--like All Creatures Great and Small or Avatar the Last Airbender or Alone. Sometimes I ask for and receive a lot more help with chores and dinner prep. 

Usually George interupts lessons a lot more! He loves to get into the art cabinet, climb on the table, and touch computer and tablet screens. And because this was an exam week for us, we didn't even do all of our typical lessons.

Winter time is different too. Other times of the year we spend more time visiting parks and walking together. One day the kids worked together to build a huge fort that took up an entire room. One day, they all had a blast playing games in the basement. Last week, the weather was just warm enough that several kids played outside in the mud for an hour.

We are also at the point in the year where people seem a bit more irritable with each other. We spend a LOT of time together this time of year. The week before this one, we missed our weekly nature outing due to icy roads. That made the coming week harder because we need that time with friends in the outdoors to really be at our best mentally. But we had a warm day for a field trip and playground visit yesterday which helped us all get along great today.

For the last 6-weeks we've been more unstructured that usual. This was a great idea for us to help us get through the winter doldrums. But we are all feeling like some more structure right now. So when we start Term 3 we will be shelving the things that we didn't miss during this relaxed time aka Plutarch :-( and trying new things like a new science study for Peter and John to work on together. 

So that is our somewhat atypial, always changing 2022 homeschool day in the life. For a look back: