Homeschool is not a fixed entity. It lives. It breathes. It evolves, ebbs, flows, and shifts with the seasons, our interests, and our lives. This is one of its many beauties.
It’s also not a prescription, even if you fly the banner of one designation or another. “Classical homeschooler.” “Charlotte Mason eclectic.” “Unschoolers.” “Traditionalists.” “Waldorf homeschooler.” “Montesorri-inspired.” “Project based.” No matter which school(s) of learning philosophy you identify with, you aren’t required to stay loyal to them, nor must you follow all of their principles. That is another one of its beauties.
We are one of those hyphenated homeschool families. Right now, I suppose we are “Charlotte-Mason-inspired, nature-based, interest-led, unschoolyish-at-times” homeschoolers. But I do believe in rhythms. Not schedules. Not checklists. Rhythms. (For a look at what I think about academic checklists, read The Three Non-Negotiables of Our Homeschool Day) And so, I try to embrace and honor the rhythms that naturally form with the changing seasons.
Our winter rhythm has, surprisingly, become one of my favorites yet. Surprising because I am not a winter person. I dislike it so much, in fact, that we moved to Maui for a year and a half to get a break from it (among other reasons, of course.) When we came back, I vowed to try my best to find the beauty in winter. Homeschooling helps.
Here’s what a typical day is looking like for us, now that the holidays are over and we are learning our natural winter flow:
We have big dogs and we live in an apartment, which means every day starts with taking them out. I decided this was an opportunity, so we made this into “playground time.” This is what the girls named it, because we always end our walk at our “playground,” a little clearing along the creek that the girls have claimed as their spot, because it always has ducks and the best sticks along the bank to build with. I let the dogs sniff and the girls play. Sometimes this lasts half an hour, sometimes it lasts all morning long.
Someone has been making arches, wreathes, and sculptures all over the creek bank. Every morning, we look for new ones. This one appeared today.
Inevitably, one of the girls will stumble upon something that ignites curiosity. Today, it was a piece of a wasp’s nest that had fallen to the ground. Blake was tentative at first to pick it up, but once I assured her there were no wasps inside it, she became engrossed. This meant that our first order of business was to learn more about wasps nests, and how the wasps make them.
Blake brought the wasp nest home and looked at it under her magnifying glass. While she dug in, I pulled together our morning basket and the things we would need for “table time” later in the morning. Brice changed into her bathing suit. This has been her homeschool uniform of choice the last several days. Don’t ask me why, I couldn’t tell you. 🙂
Blake decided to add a picture of the wasp nest to her nature journal. Then she wanted me to pull up a picture of a wasp for her to draw next to the nest, so I grabbed Nature Anatomy and our Rocky Mountain Insects book for her. She told me she noticed that the wasp was skinny in the middle, and the bee was more rounded.
Morning basket is probably one of my favorite times of the day. We snuggle on the couch, light candles, turn on the fireplace, and read and read and read. Our basket usually has a mix of fiction and non-fiction, and usually includes a game to play in front of the fire when we’re done reading (today it was Bananagrams, Jr.) Today we read two books about Martin Luther King, Jr., a book about red foxes (Blake’s selection), two books about seeds, and a chapter from Sara, Plain and Tall, our current Brave Writer Quiver of Arrows selection.
After Morning Basket, it’s time for either art or music (they alternate days.) For art, we follow Blossom and Root Kindergarten‘s art curriculum. Today we did a picture study of Picasso’s The Old Guitarist, then did free painting using different blues. While they painted, we listened to Mozart, our composer of the month. During our music days, we either do SQUILT (we’re so excited to start our SQUILT Live Membership this week!) or we watch scenes from ballets.
(Did you know you can purchase the arts curriculum for Blossom and Root Kindergarten apart from the rest of the curriculum? Learn more by clicking here.)
After the arts, we do a couple of very short lessons at “table time.” This never lasts longer than ten or twenty minutes. Brice is working her way through Blossom and Root Early Years, Volume 2. Today she worked on forming the letter M with play-doh and matching upper and lower case letters. Blake, who is wrapping up Blossom and Root Kindergarten, made words from the “op” and “ip” families with letter tiles. Both of them worked on making patterns with Unifix cubes.
Around 11:00am, we’re ready to get back outside, so we usually head out for the next several hours. The girls watched an episode of The Magic School Bus while I wrote some quick emails for work and packed a lunch. Then we left for Meyer Ranch Park, an open space forest in Jefferson County, about fifteen minutes away.
Brice, as usual, focused on climbing and running during our outing. It was warmer than usual for January (much warmer) so it didn’t take long for her to layer-down. She did leave her brand-new snow mittens on, of course.
Blake, on the other hand, was interested in more artistic pursuits today. She found a rock with a “mouth” which inspired her to make a face out of snow, pinecones, pine straw, and stones. She was so proud of her creation, and fretted about what would happen to him after we left.
We headed home, and I put on Little Women, per Blake’s request, while I got some work done at the kitchen table. Brice ran around, jumping off the couch, dragging a cardboard box back and forth from their bedroom (a space ship today) and asking for snack after snack. Around 4pm, I set up their little table by the window so we could enjoy the last of the buttery daylight while we had our poetry tea time. Today, I read a handful of Carl Sandburg’s poems while they drank hot cocoa with marshmallows.
The remainder of the afternoon, they were steeped in imaginative play together while I worked and made dinner. My husband came home around 6:30 and we told him about our day while we ate at the table.
Our bedtime basket is a little different from our morning basket. We start with Life of Fred (tonight it focused on counting by 5’s), then Blake reads her book of the week (a Bob Book this week.) Next, we read Brice’s choice (almost always a Gerald and Piggy book) followed by Blake’s (a fairy tale and a page from her animal book.) We finish with a few songs, and talk about our favorite part of our day. For Brice, it was climbing the rocks in the forest. For Blake, it was making her “rock man.” Then it’s lights out for them, and I hunker down for the second big chunk of my work day (the first happens before they get up in the morning.)
Everyday is a little different, but for the most part, this is the current rhythm we follow.
- “Playground time” by the creek
- Interest-led investigation from our time outside / nature journaling
- Morning basket and gameschooling
- Arts rotation
- Table time
- Forest time
- Cocoa and Brave Writer (sometimes Quiver of Arrows, sometimes freewriting, sometimes poetry tea)
- Plenty of free play
- Bedtime basket
What does a typical homeschool day look like for you right now?