What do we do all day?
That was the topic of a recent update over at the NCHENZ website. It seems that even if you are currently home educating, your curiosity about how other people do things is still alive and well.
The short answer is – there are as many ‘typical’ days as there are families following this educational path.
In our family we identify as eclectic home educators. What that means around here is that we do what works for the kids and try to marry up our own slightly opposing views that kids learn best when engaged in the things they love and our desire to cover all the basics in a logical way. In practice that means we do a small amount of formal work, a lot of trips, the odd class or two, watch a whole bunch of interesting documentaries and allow for a whole heap of play time.
We do try to follow a similar routine each day. We start slowly and gently in the morning as we’re not in a rush unless we’re going out somewhere. The start of the day centres around a bunch of regular everyday life skills like making their breakfasts, tidying their rooms, getting dressed and doing whatever household task they have for the week. We’re no different from most households in that I still have to chivvy them to move along, but the general routine is understood and they know that their free time is delayed by as long as it takes them to get it all done.
Once the ‘life skills’ and PE* is done for the day we move on to the more formal learning section of our day. At the moment this takes in history, science and maths. Instead of re-inventing the wheel, we are giving Pandia Press a run in the History section at the moment. It’s not intensive stuff. A bit of reading, a bit of writing, some art and crafts thrown in, and when I find appropriate short videos – they get to see them too. But just you ask what the Sumerians invented and you may just regret asking. Or laugh, depending on your level of sensitivity to toilet humour.
The mathematics I’ve spoken about before. Miss Oh is working through the My Pals Are Here series from Singapore and is blasting her way along. It seems to pretty much be at a level that is just challenging enough but not off-putting, which is exactly what we aim for. Currently we’re working through fractions, learning to compare them and beginning to add them. This is fairly new – the adding bit anyway – and we’ll probably hang around here for a while until I’m comfortable that she’s got an understanding of the basic ideas.
Master Oh is showing interest in numbers at the moment, so we’re doing a lot of the basic stuff I did with the Miss previously. The 100s Board on the iPad, skip counting on the iPad and a lot of real life number identification and use.
Finally we ‘do’ some science. At the moment the choice that they want is to catch really old episodes of Bill Nye the Science Guy on Netflix. So that’s what they get to do. Sometimes it’s only an episode, sometimes they gorge and watch multiple ones. I have a couple of Pandia Press science curricula waiting for me to get organised, but as they can cover 3 grade levels I’m not in a rush to introduce them all at once.
If everyone stays vaguely focused this is all done and dusted well before lunchtime.
Life skills time kicks in at snack time and lunchtime with the kids organising their own food, and occasionally doing it for each other too. After lunch, depending on the day, it’s free time and they can do as they please or we have outings or regular classes to attend. This is the variable in our days… what we do with our afternoons.
And of course, this ‘typical’ day isn’t taking into account the myriad random conversations that pop up during the day or all the learning that happens in the extra-curricular activities. But you get the general idea.
As they get older and their capabilities grow, then this routine will alter and grow with them. I think the main thing for us is finding a gentle routine to follow and then keeping to it. Rhythm is a great thing, but the flexibility we have to alter this when needed, cannot be underestimated. When everyone is sick, or tired, or run down for any reason… we rest. We don’t force ourselves to get through it. We don’t have to. We have plenty of time to catch up on anything we might have done.
But please don’t get the impression that life goes smoothly and easily all of the time.
We have hard days. Days when everyone decides to go on strike. Thankfully they are not as frequent as they once were and I put that down to the Teacher relaxing in to her job and not being inclined to get quite as tense about cramming in screeds of work well beyond the interest and/or capability of the children. When you start seeing the knowledge settling in and being used by your kids, that tense ‘need to teach everything known to man’ sensation starts to wear off. You realise that force-feeding makes for misery – yours and theirs – and that there are plenty of other ways to skin a cat.
So there you have it… a rough sketch of ‘What we do all day.’
I hope that satisfies any curiosity you might have on what home education ‘can’ look like.
If not, feel free to leave a question in the comments, and I’ll be glad to answer you.
- this is our walks around the block, or in their case scootering, and is currently weather dependent.