Oct 19, 2015

A Day in Our Homeschool

October means Table Time in costume regalia

I am thrilled to say that we are in the middle of October, and our new schedule and study outlines are still going strong! It has been so helpful to me to have a plan that fits right into a routine that can still be flexible and fluid, depending on the timing of the day.

I think others might benefit from "seeing" what one of our homeschool days looks like, so here goes... Hang on to your hats while I present our "Keppnergarten" eclectic and quirky learning experience!

Morning Busy-ness

Since we have a young adult who nannies for a local family, and teens in our home that attend LDS Seminary class at the local charter school, we are still tied to a school schedule. Our cute nanny needs to leave our house before 7am, so we all get up early for family prayer. 

As soon as she takes off, the teens all get showered and ready for their classes, which start at 8am. That means that I also need to get ready during that hour in the morning, since I am their ride. It has been really good for me to recognize the need to be more self-disciplined first thing in the morning, rather than getting lost in my email or on Facebook. So I briefly read my scriptures, and then get dressed in my "mom uniform"*.

SIDE NOTE: I am not one of those moms that can stand having homeschool lessons while everyone is in their pajamas. Neither the kids nor I feel ready to work and engage when we are lounging around in pj's. To each his or her own, but this is what works for US.)

The teens and I race out the door at about 20 minutes (ideally) before their final school bell rings at 8:00am. On my way home from the daily drop-off, I have a heartfelt conversation with my Father in Heaven. I know from personal experience that if I take the time to get my scripture and prayer times in, I will somehow be a better mom and have a happier day. It's a true principle that proves itself day in and day out.

Where was I? Oh, yeah. on the road... Seminary class lasts for about an hour and a half. That gives me time to come home and cook breakfast. We prefer to have a homemade breakfast, instead of cereal, for a couple of reasons: 

1) We are CHEAP thrifty people and cereal for a crowd like ours get expensive. (We would go through 4-5 boxes per breakfast, y'all. And with the high cost of milk, too, that adds up!)
2) We have kids with food coloring sensitivities. Translation: Our little sweethearts turn into holy terrors when they get a huge shot of sugar coated in Red-40. It is NOT pretty. You have to trust me on this!

Okay, to cut to the chase, I make breakfast while listening to a podcast** or LDS Conference talk. (This also helps with my goal to be a nice mom.) Then it either goes in the oven or it is served the younger kiddos. I return to the school to pick up kids after the first hour class at 9:30am. My 12 year old son does the babysitting during these brief school runs, and he has done well with it.

We all eat breakfast, then quickly do our after-breakfast chores. If we are doing really well, and the kids don't avoid their chores for too long, we are on track for our...


Table Time is what I have christened our "let's sit at the table and learn" time. The kids grab our box of binders, our pencil/crayon caddy, and the basket of handwriting notebooks and workbooks, and we are off!

Here is where Charlotte Mason (CM) resources have come in beautifully handy for me. At the end of August, I was reading all I could about her methodology, and had a few BIG planning days, where I mapped out all the subjects and books I would use to teach those subjects.

Now, I am usually a seat-of-my-pants girl, but I have LOVED following my plan-- for once in my life! The cool thing is that I have a plan for each day of the week, but if I want to shake things up a bit, I can switch the order of whatever it is I have planned for that day. Spontaneity can still exist! But now, I am not so overwhelmed by possibilities. I have already made those decisions, and there is great peace in that!

Here's what we do for Table Time EVERY day:
  1. Prayer
  2. Scripture Memorization (Old Testament/Pearl of Great Price)
  3. Copywork (They copy the scripture we are memorizing that week, focusing on their penmanship.)
  4. Scripture Story (Old Testament)
  5. Hymn Study and Singing
  6. History Read Aloud (Different history each day of the week.)
On every Monday during Table Time, the kids can also pass off their memorized scripture from the previous week to earn a little treat. They have been doing so well!

MATH... Dun-dun-dun...

After Table Time, the kids each take a turn doing their math on one of our three computers. We use two online programs that have worked really well for us. 
  • XtraMath: This is a free website that helps kids drill basic math facts up to basic division. A parent has to set up an account for each child, but then they can sign on easily with their own PIN number.
  • CTC Math: This subscription website has been a LIFESAVER for me and my older children. I love that the lessons are NOT Common Core aligned (They are based out of Australia), and that the instructor is so good at explaining each lesson. The kids have never asked for my help with math since they began this program. They can independently learn without the distractions of other subjects and fun videos. (Which has been our issue with Khan Academy.)

My beloved Mary Englebreit weekly planner, from whence all homeschool planning flows.

A Change of Pace

In my last post, I talked a little about Swedish Drills, so I won't go into them in detail, but we do that next, after moving into our living room area. I have found that it's been really important for my kids to have different types of things to do. Table Time is sitting at the table, math time is at the computer, drills take the kids moving all around the house, and reading aloud times are spent lounging around on furniture. The variety keeps them excited and their minds ready for new things.

Each day of the week, we focus on a different read aloud subject from "living books," as Charlotte Mason called them. So I am reading aloud from a few sweet, old books I found for free, or VERY cheaply, on Kindle: 
  • "Famous Men of the Middle Ages" by John H. Haaren
  • "An Island Story" by H.C. Marshall (British History)
  • "Shakespeare's Stories for Children" by Edith Nesbit
  • "The Boys' and Girls' Plutarch"
  • Various classic fiction (We just finished "the Light Princess" by George MacDonald. It was so wonderful!)

One of the things I really love about Charlotte Mason, is the idea that lessons and read aloud sessions should be SHORT. This has kept my kids interested and engaged, even when they are young. Another thing I have added after every thing I read is Narration. This is a CM activity that solidifies what was just read in to the children's minds. (I also like to add in some Socratic discussion, as well.) Narration has been extremely helpful for my kids' attentiveness. They listen much better during our read aloud sessions, as a result.

Weekly Subjects

As you can see from the photo above, each day we focus on a few different things. I love the variety it brings to keep interest high, but also helps me to cover the subjects that I've always intended to study with the kids, but never could fit in.

Here are the subjects we study once a week:
  • Mondays- British History, Poetry
  • Tuesdays- Plutarch, Music Study
  • Wednesday- Middle Ages, Art Study
  • Thursday- Latin, Shakespeare
  • Friday- Homeschool Classes with TJLA (I take the big kids and disappear for a few hours to teach a Shakespeare class.), Handicrafts with big sister
One thing I have not written down is Nature Study/Science. This is one area that I leave completely free-form, and strongly encourage the kids to head outside as much as possible. It's still HOT here right now (90's and low 100's), but as the weather gets gorgeous this winter, they will be outside more and more. With a couple parks within walking distance, we are ready for Nature study!

Afternoons and Evenings

This is the time each day when Nature Study occurs, as well as independent study for older kids, projects, and lots of PLAY time. (This is when mom can clean, read, do laundry, write blog posts, go shopping, etc..)

If there is a subject like Art or Music study, or some reading aloud that we didn't get to in the morning, I can easily slip that subject in randomly in the afternoon hours. 

Evenings are when we all wind down and enjoy one another's company. (Though I do spend a little time running a daughter to ballet lessons 2 evenings a week.) This is Dad's favorite time to read aloud to the kids. He is in the midst of reading "On the Banks of Plum Creek" to our little girls, and they love it!

At the end of the day, we gather for family scripture study and prayer.

Peace and Progress

I have had such a wonderful time seeing my children improve in their studies! They can look through their penmanship notebooks and already see their progress as the time has slowly rolled on. When I review their math studies, I can see what they have worked on, where they are succeeding, and where they still need to work. I wake up in the morning and already know what I will be teaching in the new day!

My hours of planning in the late summer has given me such peace in the here and now. It was worth all the hard work and time that it took to learn and to work out a schedule. Who knew that being prepared could be so much fun?! 

Wishing you all the best,

* My personal "Mom Uniform" includes a skirt, a comfy blouse, and an apron.
** My favorite podcasts include Dave Ramsey, BYU Speeches, and Power of Moms


  1. Being prepared and having a plan has allowed my family to find so much more joy than flying by the seat of our pants . . . as long as we've allowed ourselves to be occasionally open to flying. :)

  2. Thank you! This was very nice to have a "visual" of your schooling changes. It's always inspiring to "see" how others do it! I did was wondering, what your older children are doing, and active in? You mentioned seminary and your co-op classes.


Be nice, kids!