One Homeschool Week

Monday, April 6, 2020

I've had a lot of requests for "a day in the life" post to show how we homeschool, but it hasn't made any sense to me because every day is so different! But when Lea requested a "week in the life" post, that made more sense! So here we go...

 Everybody woke up early, so we managed to get started reasonably early and finish everything by about 9:45 (except John Paul, who chugged away at his math until lunchtime, at which point I realized he was downloading games for the virtual calculator he's been using for his online math course. Not cool.).

Many mornings, I'm collecting everyone after breakfast (and here's how we handle that, if you're curious) when they've all eaten and then gone off to play or read. Monday was no exception - the twins had already gotten dressed and gone down to the pond to check the water level, and were back reading totally random things (an advanced Life of Fred math book for one, easy readers for Peter for the other). But we regrouped and they were willing to get to work pretty quickly, hence the very quick school day!

Every single day we start with religion, then do history, literature, and science/art/music, depending on the day. On Mondays the twins each get read an Aesop story and narrate individually, and the rest of their narration is just them tagging along with the older kids' readings. Next year they'll be responsible for more!

They generally do their math and handwriting individually before I get started with our readings (although it often spills over afterwards, and a lot depends on Lucy!), and then everybody listens to the readings around the table. John Paul does copy work or dictation in the morning, then math on the computer when we've finished everything else.

Lucy mostly insists on having me hold her, which can make things take a LONG time. If I can get her to sit in her high chair with snacks for a while, that will usually buy a little time. Or sometimes she'll be happy destroying an area of the living room for a little bit... Then I have to read Little Blue Truck to her 75 times in a row.



Lucy is not at her best today. Lucy is rarely at her best. But today she has a diaper rash and KEEPS pooping and making it worse, so she's particularly miserable. She will alternate between nursing and crying all morning, thankyouverymuch. Oh, and perhaps a side of pulling laundry out of the baskets?

Tuesday/Wednesday/Thursday John Paul and Cecilia add grammar to their list of subjects, just one quick lesson in their respective books. John Paul gets to do a typed narration on his blog, and he has chosen to do a saint story from a book of very brief saint biographies for the past few months, because even though he is ridiculously smart, he is also remarkably lazy. I let him do that while the girls work on their math and handwriting.

Oh, but first I have to find the girls. It seems they are upstairs playing "Bitty Baby School" and their Bitty Babies are so busy learning that the girls can't possibly stop with the game to do their school. Soon enough, though, it is time for Bitty Baby naps and the girls pull out their math and handwriting. Cecilia and Mary Claire finish very quickly and start an elaborate Play Doh game, but Elizabeth is doing a long unit test and it takes her FAR too long to finish up, ultimately bribing herself with getting to play with Play Doh for a few minutes for every ten problems she finishes.

It's not difficult. It's just hard to focus when all your siblings are running amok all around you. I like to think that if we had a dedicated school room it would be different, but truly? They will find distractions anywhere.

Meanwhile I am still not dressed, most of us aren't, for that matter, and Lucy has been attached to me nonstop so I haven't been able to sit and start our readings. Finally I bring the books to the couch and nurse her while doing the readings. Usually she's not okay with this, but she's so miserable that she's clearly going to need to nap early, and doesn't try to rip the books out of my hands like she usually does. (Edith and Peter are happily playing with Play Doh this whole time, wonderful children)

We finally finish up right before lunchtime, which feels frustrating after how quickly yesterday's schoolwork went, but every day is different!


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Oh good, it's another Play Doh day. They've been deeply immersed in The Wingfeather Saga, and spent much of Tuesday making sugarberry tarts and totato soup, so they're back at it immediately after breakfast. The table is already so covered with dough and accessories that I just have them bring their workbooks to the living room to avoid having to clear the table. Honestly, if they play with the Play Doh while I'm reading to them, it's not a big deal - it keeps their hands busy! But they need to knock out math and handwriting first if possible, or else it drags on all day.

Lucy is velcroed to me as usual, so John Paul gets started on his written narration (he's been reading brief presidential biographies, once again because he's lazy. Next school year he's going to be doing most of his reading independently and doing a lot more written narrations, so we're slowly adding more, but it's still going to be a struggle, I think, because he just plain HATES the physical effort of writing.). Well,  he's supposed to get started on his written narration. Instead he just reads random things from his book (which is an excellent book, I'll give him that). It takes far too long for him to actually finish, with several threats.

Suddenly I remember that on Monday I instituted the "three almond system" (stolen blatantly from a friend), where I put three almonds in front of their books, and every time I have to direct them to stay on task, I eat an almond. Any almonds left at the end of school, they get to eat. It worked well! But I have to remember to actually do it...

The girls finish their work very quickly, even though Elizabeth was convinced that she couldn't possibly do it because her math was too hard (introducing multiple-digit multiplication, which I'm pretty sure I wasn't doing in first grade?). Shockingly, after I gave her a quick lesson, she realized it was easy. Who would have guessed?

We read (and they narrate) about a Eucharistic miracle, Junius Brutus, Odysseus on the island of the Cyclopes, and learn about snapping turtle carapaces. Well, in between Odysseus and Minn of the Mississippi, I take Lucy upstairs for a nap. Then we finish up our reading, John Paul gets started on his math (he now has a 30-minute time limit to cut down on funny business), and I fix lunch.


We're almost done!! More math and handwriting done in pajamas, because that's just the way things work around here... Generally by the time they finish their independent work, I send them upstairs to get dressed. Everybody is dressed by lunchtime, I promise!

Yesterday afternoon John Paul read about dandelion root coffee in a field guide, so they spent all afternoon digging up dandelion roots, washing them, dehydrating them, and grinding them. This morning they're drinking "coffee" with their breakfast, and filling handmade gourd flasks stopped with old wine corks that Cecilia whittled into stoppers. Never a dull moment! (The taste is... not unpleasant, but I can't help but wonder how much dirt is still in the mixture...)

Cecilia has finished her work and has decided to work on an interesting art project in which she glues a bunch of old gum wrappers to a piece of cardboard. Apparently she's been saving them for this moment. Alas, she has run out of gum wrappers. Never fear, John Paul has been saving HIS gum wrappers, too!! Lucky day for her.

We read about Pope St. Leo confronting Genghis Khan and saving Rome from being sacked, what happened next with Junius Brutus and Tarquin the Proud, and read through the next scene in The Comedy of Errors (this No Fear Shakespeare series is GREAT because I can read what things actually mean while we read the play, so it all makes a lot more sense. Nobody asked what a "consort" was, and the off-color jokes go totally over their heads, thankfully.).

Then we read about Rachmaninoff in our music book (I wouldn't recommend this one for young kids, actually, it goes into unnecessary detail about the romantic lives of composers and I think that's neither here nor there, but it's a book I already had so we use it), and listen to a Line Rider video of his Italian Polka, and then watch the video. It's interesting to me that even with just two listenings, I generally find the kids humming the music study pieces we've done weeks and months later!

John Paul reads half a chapter of his Archimedes book, does a quick written narration, and then we're done with school for the week. We only do school Monday-Thursday so that Fridays are free for field trips and activities (none of which we have right now, so Fridays are just free days), and I hope we can continue with a 4-day schedule as long as possible!

By 11:30 it's lunchtime and Lucy's down for her nap, so the kids eat, I wash dishes and eat something, we pray the Angelus at noon, and then they're outside until at least 1:30. The penalty for coming inside during "outside time" is that they have to clean up ten things and then go back outside. If they continue coming in, they have to stay outside an extra 5-10 minutes after each infraction. This is my only quiet time, so I take it seriously!!

Monday books:
Story of the Church (Slightly dated but engaging and really well-done)

Our Island Story (I do love her writing, but she's rather anti-Catholic at times, so we balance it out with Saint biographies and the book below)
Sing a Song of Seasons (really sweet illustrations, one poem for each day of the year)
Aesop for Children (love this illustrator!)
The Tree Book (SUCH a gem!)
Little Blue Truck ;)

Tuesday books:
Made for Greatness (a journal on virtues, we're using it all together)
The History of England for Catholic Children (only goes to 1850 but provides much-needed balance when combined with Our Island Story)
English Fairy Tales (cute but I would appreciate a nicer edition)
Yourself and Your House Wonderful (dated, but sweet language, particularly for younger children. Rather a teetotaling perspective, so I added a lot of side notes during the section on alcohol)
Primary Language Lessons
Intermediate Language Lessons

Wednesday books:
Heavenly Hosts (really good! The kids have all read it on their own but we're going through each story in preparation for the twins' First Holy Communion this year)
Famous Men of Rome (I keep finding this lying around for pleasure reading, it's a big hit here)
Children's Homer (I honestly feel like we will never finish this one, it is so long! Beautiful language, but after having read The Aeneid AND The Iliad, I think I'm just done with this genre. But we'll finish it anyway)
Minn of the Mississippi (Holling C. Holling is just the best.)

Thursday books: 
Saints and Festivals (I really, really love this text, though it's not complete biographies of saints, but more lesser-known stories about saints that you might already know. Lovely language, very sweet.)
No Fear Shakespeare: The Comedy of Errors (The kids LOVE this and think it's so funny, and this edition is really helpful because it "translates" everything, although not always in the most appropriate manner - is Shakespeare ever entirely appropriate anyway?)
Encyclopedia of Music
Archimedes and the Door of Science (John Paul is reading this independently and loves it!)

And there you have it! Hopefully this is helpful for some of you? I know I don't include outdoor nature study in this post, but it's pretty constant. And we are... not good about doing art frequently.

Any questions?


  1. We have a lot of overlap in our readings! What are you using for math? We’ve been using Right Start. While it’s high quality and rigorous it’s very teacher intensive. At least in the lower grades there’s no way the student can get it done by themselves. That worked for the last two years but next year I’ll have three, maybe four in math and there’s just not enough time for one mom and multiple grades...

    1. We use Math-U-See and John Paul is using an online program right now—MUS is definitely not teacher-intensive, which is a big reason I chose it!!

  2. This is great! So glad we're not the only ones doing lessons in pajamas and having each day look different.

    1. It's partly frustrating that I never know how each day will go, but at least it's an exercise in abandoning oneself to God's will!

  3. Love the variety of books you're reading! Curious about how long you read from each one? A chapter, till they get bored, do you do all the reading aloud, etc. Thanks so much for sharing! Great photos!

    1. Generally a chapter/section, no more than 15-20 minutes (often shorter) and then they narrate (tell it back to me). John Paul will be doing most of the readings himself next year but for now I read to everyone so we can learn together!

  4. Thanks for this:). I sure enjoyed reading about your week. Sounds a lot like our days when mine were young. We often did a portion of our day with them in PJ's. I did lots of reading aloud, while they played with Legos or matchbox cars and colored (I had found lots of great coloring books to go along with our history reading and they loved them). We did narrations too. We generally followed The Well Trained Mind for K-4. I don't remember exactly what we did for 5th and 6th now but I'm sure it was somewhat along the lines of WTM. And we always took Fridays off for co-op or field trips. We started using IEW for writing in 2nd grade and I have always loved how it guides them in learning to write. We are using it now, since we are back to doing some homeschooling with everything shut down.
    I currently have them doing an hour of math, an hour of writing and 15 minutes of grammar. We are reading aloud To Kill a Mockingbird and discussing it, along with reading from the Bible, reading a daily devotion, and also reading from The 6 Most Important Decisions You'll Ever Make (A Guide for Teens) by Sean Covey, the same author that wrote The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens (he includes a chapter summary of this book also). So we are spending about 4 hours a day but I am not having them do any history or science. I think they need the extra work in math and writing more than they need history or science for now...because they don't get quite enough of it in public school, especially writing:).
    We all have mixed feelings about being back into homeschooling. They enjoy sleeping in, having more time to do other things and working at their own pace but they miss their friends and their daily interaction with others. I enjoy having them around more, appreciate that they are spending more time on writing and math than they get at school....a lot more on writing. They don't receive much feedback on their writing nor do they go through multiple iterations of improving a piece of writing before being finished with it. I see this as a huge failing of public school here.
    Sorry I'm writing a book here. Thanks again for your post. I so enjoyed it. Your kids are adorable and I love it when kids love to read. Mine did for years but somewhere around the puberty phase they really changed in that regard, for some reason I still haven't figured out.

    1. I think intensive math & handwriting is probably a good plan! Science is so hard when you don't have the materials they would have in school, particularly since they'll be moving on to lab sciences come high school! Hopefully they can get back to their friends soon :)


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