This is our first “official” not-back-to-school year as a home-schooling family! Harmony is two years and two months old, and we have been planning on home-schooling for a long time.
Our family is a little out-of-the-ordinary because my husband and I work jobs at weird hours. He, Chris, is an employee at a local grocery store, where his work hours change every week and range from six in the morning until ten at night. I am a classical guitarist and classical guitar teacher for children, so I teach lessons Monday through Thursday from approximately four to eight o’clock, along with attending or performing other music events during the week. We’re very blessed to have income and be able to take turns caring for our daughter. My sister, Em, who lives with us and my mom who lives nearby also help with babysitting, usually once a week. Plus, since my mother home-schooled my sister and I all the way through high school, we know that they will be fully supportive of our decision to home-school Harmony!
Here is an example of one of our typical days home-schooling. Of course, she is two, so most of what we do is simply try to help her blossom as an individual, build her practical knowledge, gain physical skills, and just ENJOY being a child!
7:30 a.m. After a restless early morning, we all finally get up somewhere around this time. Harmony still comes into bed with us around midnight or later (we co-slept until a few months ago), so it’s cozy to curl up together in the big bed. We eat breakfast and Harmony requests “dancing music”. After some trial and error, we find that she means several specific Youtube videos, which I have put into a playlist for her online because she likes to dance and listen to the songs.
8:10 a.m. A morning romp on the bed where we play hide-and-seek with the pillows and blankets! Chris is off work today, so we will enjoy our time with him.
8:30 a.m. Chris mows the lawn before it gets too hot, Harmony watches from the safety of the front door, and I jump at the chance to take a quick shower ; )
9:00 a.m. Harmony and I play with scissors (safety scissors, ya’ll!) and paper, then paint a dollar store sun-catcher. We counted the triangles she accidentally cut from the paper too. At this point, she can count to ten, so we’ve been practicing numbers up to twenty. After getting paint on her fingers she decided that she wanted to play with water in the sink to wash her hands, which turned into rinsing our dirty dishes off. Sounds good to me!
10:30 a.m. Harmony and daddy play an alphabet game with the iPad. Our approach to technology with her is based on minimal exposure, as we’d rather have her develop physical, social, and developmental skills aside from technology, but we do allow some interaction. Sometimes she will watch an episode or two of “My Little Pony” or “Magic Schoolbus” in the morning, and she has an alphabet video and a numbers video by Richard Scarry that she likes.
The one thing we do not limit is listening to music! Almost all day long music of some kind is being played in our home, whether from Youtube, iTunes, the radio, the CD player, or live as Chris or I play an instrument. Sometimes Harmony even likes to listen to the soundtrack to Mary Poppins with our headphones (we make sure the volume is low). We also have a growing collection of musical instruments and have made sure that there are enough child-appropriate instruments for Harmony to play as well.
11:00 a.m. I can tell that she is getting tired of the iPad, so we create our grocery list for the store.
11:15 a.m. Grocery shopping! Harmony enjoys this weekly trip because she gets a free cookie, which is a special treat : ) We are learning the names of all the items we purchase. Harmony often helps me cook, so she is getting better at knowing the more particular names of fruits and vegetables.
12:00 p.m. Harmony plays with her ponies by herself or wanders around the house singing while I make lunch. She helps Chris with some chores, too. It’s been easier lately for her to play alone, which is good because for a long time she refused to do anything unless one of us was actively engaged with her. It’s good for her to develop some independence.
12:30 p.m. Lunchtime.
1:00 p.m. Reading books is one of her favorite activities. We read some of the books from our collection and some that we rented from the library this week. She insists on eating a carrot while reading “Gregory the Terrible Eater”! This summer she always wanted to eat blueberries when we read “Blueberries for Sal”. We have fun stories and books about the alphabet, calendar, numbers, colors, and seasons. She sings or speaks many of the nursery rhymes along with me. We’re also learning how to hold up numbers on our fingers and play finger games.
1:45 p.m. Time for a nap! I will often get some writing done during her naptime, answer emails, read, do quiet chores around the house, or prepare dinner. Today Chris and I cleaned out the refrigerator (my most hated task), then I read a book for a bit before beginning to make dinner.
3:15 p.m. Harmony wakes up to the sound of a storm. She sits with us and we talk about weather for a while. Then she alternates between helping me finish dinner or sitting next to Chris reading books to herself.
4:00 p.m. Chris and Harmony go into the den to play with her ponies. Her “My Little Pony” figurines are her most beloved toy! She plays with them constantly and carries them with her everywhere. Harmony keeps going to the window to see if it has stopped raining because she wants to play in the puddles!
4:30 p.m. I leave for work; on the other days I leave at 3:30. While I’m gone, Chris and Harmony watch the rain and lightning out the window, play with other toys, and eat dinner. Once the rain stops, he takes her outside to jump in the puddles for a while.
6:45 p.m. They come inside to get pajamas on, read more books, and sing songs. Her bedtime is between 8:00 and 8:30.
As an example of how the rest of our week goes, here’s what we have done/will be doing:
Monday – Errands in the morning, chores, and our weekly much-anticipated trip to the library. Harmony loves to come with me and help with the shopping. She also enjoys assisting around the house with our chores. At the library we check out a stack of books and I write down the titles of ones she enjoys so that we can remember to rent them again later.
Tuesday – Usually I will attend a study all morning while Harmony plays in the nursery with other children, but since the study hasn’t started yet we went over to a friend’s house to play. Auntie Em took care of Harmony in the afternoon while I was teaching until Chris came home from work.
Thursday – This morning, we’re going to a field trip at a local fire station with other home-schooling families. The trip is intended for preschool and younger. Afterwards, since Chris is home today (his days off are always random) we’ll spend time with him, and he will do some “school” activities with Harmony in the afternoon after her nap while I’m teaching.
Friday – We will either do some activities in the morning or go play with a friend. Since I don’t teach on Friday, we have more available time. As Harmony gets older, we’re hoping to do something fun in the evening, like play music together as a family or go on a hike.
Saturday – Chris’s family is coming into town, and we’ll most likely do something with them that Harmony would enjoy, like the zoo, or the Japanese Festival happening at the botanical gardens, or the children’s science museum, etc.
So there we have it, folks! Our family’s unique schedule is working well for us. In the future, things might look different, as we either go for more of a formal home-schooling route or more of an unschooling method depending on Harmony’s personality and interests, but for now, it’s all good : ) Happy not-back-to-school week!
Linking up with the 6th Annual “Not” Back-to-School Blog Hop at iHomeschool!