It has been more than three years since my husband and I decided to keep our daughter at home for her preschool years. We also just started using the label homeschooling last year because my daughter was really just too young before then to be doing any “schooling.”
Little T is now six (and not quite so little) and her brother Little Sir is three. We enrolled Little T last year with Kolbe Academy, a homeschool provider based in the U.S., for accreditation purposes.
However, we use Five in a Row as our main source of learning inspiration and Kolbe’s course plans as a general guide. For Little Sir, we just started to do what I call AlphaBooks, which is really just my time dedicated to reading and doing some activities with him. He’s been asking for “lessons” of his own.
Take a peek
Take a peek at one of our homeschooling days. This was Wednesday last week, and I only got to write about it now. Not all of our days look like this. We don’t do hands-on activities all the time, and I only go out once in a while for errands and meetings. The kids, though, do play outside several times a day.
I wake up to the ringing of my husband’s alarm clock. He never wakes up to turn it off himself. I get up, turn it off, go back to bed beside my daughter, and say a little prayer. I head to my laptop to start an article, answer emails, and reply to comments and messages on The Learning Basket’s Facebook page.
Little Sir wakes up smiling (as usual) and starts talking right away. Little T stirs a little and I kiss her. I remind her of our plan to tie-dye t-shirts today as part of our learning agenda. She gets up sleepily and we all go downstairs together.
My husband heads to the kitchen while the rest of us settle in the dining room. He boils the white shirts in a water and vinegar mixture. Little T is supposed to help but is still too sleeeepy. At some point, I read A New Coat for Anna, our book for the week. It’s a lovely story about a little girl and her mom who have a coat made after the end of World War 2 by bartering their things for wool, yarn, cloth, and finally, a new tailored coat.
With breakfast over, the kids go outside to play in the garden while I make two sandwiches for my husband’s lunch. This is a good day, as I remember to prepare it! I then go to the laundry area to load a basket of clothes in the washing machine. I ask our house help to hang the clothes when the machine stops.
I call the kids back inside to start the next process of tie-dyeing. I put water in a pot and ask the kids to scoop four tablespoons of turmeric – it’s a natural dye! I put the shirts back in to simmer for an hour. We head out to the lanai where we usually hang out in the morning.
Little Sir sits on the table and we pretend to be Mama J and Baby J looking for each other. He sees his “Jesse Bear toys” and plays with it. These are actually a generic dress up bear puzzle and a bear lotto game that we use as go-along activities with Jesse Bear, What Will You Wear? I read all our other “J” books to Little Sir because “I want my Mama first.”
Little T plays with the sequence cards that we made the day before. She usually practices her cursive writing at this time using Handwriting Without Tears but is not in the mood for it today. (Just a quick note: she’s learning how to write in cursive because she wants to be able to write like her older cousins. It is self-directed learning and 100% her own desire.)
Little Sir is settled with his puzzle and lotto game (for now) and I call Little T to sit on my lap to read Charlie Needs a Cloak by Tomie dePaola. Little T and I talk about how it is similar to A New Coat for Anna: both books are about the process of making clothes from shearing the sheep’s wool, making yarn, dyeing the yarn, weaving the yarn to cloth, to actually sewing a garment.
We take particular note of what kind of dye is used in each of the books – lingonberries in A New Coat for Anna, and pokeweed berries in Charlie Needs a Cloak – and compare with the turmeric that we used earlier with the shirts.
Little Sir gets bored with what he’s doing and wants to climb into my lap. He commands me to do “my lesson and not Ate’s.” I give him crayons and a coloring page. He excitedly says, “He’s jugg-uh-ling!”
The little boy occupied once again, I help Little T make paper strips using a paper cutter. I also show her how she can weave the paper strips to make a placemat. At some point, Little Sir sits on my lap and I read to him The “J” Book as his sister continues with her weaving, which is part of the process of making cloth.
With the shirt simmering away in the kitchen for more than an hour, we get up to check it. We jump over a candlestick on our way. It’s a repeat of what we did last Monday, our first “J” day, when we read the nursery rhyme Jack be nimble, Jack be quick. I rinse the shirts and cry in dismay.
There’s something wrong with how the shirts were tied so the outcome isn’t as expected. Oh well. I hang them out to dry outside. I then slice a mango and some watermelon pieces for a healthy snack. Lunch is just an hour away and I don’t want them to feel too full.
The kids slip past me and go to the garden again. They like visiting their secret spot. I love it that they get to spend time in a patch of green space everyday. I snatch a few minutes on my laptop and cross out some items on my to-do list.
We eat lunch with the kids’ grandparents. Little Sir has a big appetite for once and eats a lot of crunchy fish.
I give Little Sir a bath but am then ordered out of the bathroom. In the playroom, Little T asks me, “how old was your grandfather in 1827?” She usually asks questions like this. Today, her question is triggered by what she’s reading in an I Wonder Why book. She doesn’t yet fully understand the progression of time, so I take out the timeline that my husband and I made about two years ago.
Little T excitedly takes out the photos of our extended family (grandparents, aunts, uncles, and their families) from a drawer. She then puts each person’s picture on his or her birth year after she asks me for the birthdate. I take the opportunity to squeeze in some math questions. When she asks me how old a particular cousin was on a particular year, I throw the question back at her and I help her figure out the answer.
I convince Little Sir to get out of the bathroom, as he’s already a very wrinkled “baby dog” (this is what he calls himself). Little T takes a bath by herself. I know it’s quite late for a bath, but after months of trying to make them take their bath before settling down to learn, this schedule seems to work better for us.
I leave the kids in the playroom to go upstairs and get ready for my meeting with our friends from The Learning Library in Katipunan. But there’s a bomb threat in Ateneo, so we postpone the meeting and I head out to run errands instead.
I go downstairs and find Little Sir asleep and Little T is busy reading Enid Blyton’s Island of Adventure. I hardly leave the house and usually spend afternoons working while the kids are asleep or playing quietly with each other. Early afternoon is our down time.
I arrive to see the kids having a snack on their own. I give Little T some books that I got from my sister’s house, one of my stops earlier. She reads one, the second book in the My Book House series. I then read to them a book about Saint Bernadette, whose feast day it was the day before.
The kids are off to the garden again to do some “adventuring.” Little T gets to act out the adventures that she reads about in her favorite adventure books: Bobbsey Twins, Boxcar Children, Enid Blyton’s Adventure books, etc. I work a bit, though I’m hopelessly behind my planned tasks.
It’s dark outside and the kids call out for me to join them. Having been chastised the night before by Little T about always saying no to go barefoot (ouch!) I take off my slippers and sit on the grass. The kids invite me to lie down with them on them, and I do so gingerly. Little T says she’s “admiring the moon.”
They really want to stay outside some more, but I insist on having dinner. It’s only the three of us and the kids get rowdy with each other in no time. It escalates and I see it as a discipline situation. I manage it and we finish dinner.
The kids take a bath and we are finally ready to go up to our bedroom. I wish I could say that they fall asleep right away. But that doesn’t happen until way past 9:00 p.m. Little T plays the piano for a few minutes while I clean up. (Long story why the piano is on the second floor.)
9:00 p.m. onwards
I read several books to Little Sir and tell a “When I was a little girl” story. Little T loves such stories so I make sure to choose memories of when I learned something or did something nice! When the kids fall asleep, I finish the article that I started in the morning. My husband arrives from work and we talk a bit about our day. We take our places beside the kids and go to sleep.
Looking at our day, somebody might see it as not school at all. The subject matter seems light and we “just” play all day. To me though, this is a perfect day of learning gently (our tie-dyeing experiment), playing to our hearts’ content (time at the backyard), exploring questions that interest us (timeline activity), pursuing what we love to do (piano), and taking care of attitudes, both mine and the kids’ (handling the discipline situation).
How does your homeschooling day look like?