I’m not a scheduler by nature.
I can sense my husband nodding his head in agreement as he reads this line… But guess what, I still homeschool… and if you’re not a natural scheduler either, let’s just throw our hands up in solidarity and do this thing of teaching the children who are sitting before us.
Let me give you a snapshot of an unscheduled day at our house.
6:30 am: I sneak out of bed to go join my early morning reader boy who has just made his way to the living room. (He has the built in DNA to be a farmer rising at the crack of each dawn..)
7:00 am: Two more of the troops arrive and I serve them up the best home cooked bowl of cereal a mother could whip together.
8:00 am: I’m drinking hot coffee, everyone is fed, and we’re tuning in for the daily address from the Prime Minister about this whole Covid19 crisis we’re all in the middle of.
8:30 am: I’m exercising quickly before my husband turns our bedroom into his office for the day and starts Zoom calling with his co-workers. My kids are all on the couch watching Donald Duck, because that’s what mama needs right now.
9:30 am: I’m cleaning the kitchen, serving snacks, and throwing confetti in the air because Save-on-Foods just delivered $300 worth of groceries to my door.
9:36 am: I’m a tiny bit sad because as we sift through our order we realize what’s missing… we realize that all the stores are out of cheese, but we collectively decide that eating cheese quesadillas (a favourite food around here) can still be done without the cheese. Not a big deal.
9:45 am: I FaceTime with my friend and her kids talk to my kids, then we say “Run away!” and we get a few minutes to talk to each other, and IT’S THE BEST.
10:00 am: We still haven’t done a lick of school, but there’s an unwritten rule in our house that if the brothers are playing nicely together I don’t disturb them unless I REALLY have to.
10:09 am: They start wandering in looking slightly listless… and that’s my cue.
It’s time to do a chunk of schoolwork. THEY ARE READY, and SO AM I.
That’s when I pull out our Language Arts bin and I very CLEARLY tell the boys the 4 things we’re going to do without whining and complaining.
1. Handwriting or printing: We use Handwriting without Tears, but you could literally use a post-it note and copy a grocery flyer if you wanted to. Don’t stress.
3. Reading: (Read to me, read to your brother, read to the wall… just please read, for heaven’s sake…) If you need a helpful book list check out Read-Aloud-Revival or Vooks which is a virtual picture book site offering a free 30 day trial.
4. Writing: Go on and write me a page in your one single notebook that we use for all your writing ever.
Today a paragraph was written on “How much I love using our bread maker that we found in the give-away pile in our old building filled with rich people who gave away awesome things…”
Yesterday a paragraph was composed on “What the video game Super Mario Odyssey is all about and why it’s the best.”
I’m all like…
“Write your paragraph, don’t worry about spelling, just get your words down. Ok, now we’re going to dictate it (DICTATION MODE FOR THE WIN) into the iPad, onto Google Docs, and then we’re going to go back through it and change anything we need to, and also add more details to make it more interesting. Maybe you can even draw a picture to go with it…
AND THEN, we’re going to pull out some of the words that you had trouble spelling, and you can copy them out 5 times each in that same notebook you use for all your writing ever.”
See what just happened there? Spelling, computers, typing, editing, writing, reading… AND, that can happen all over the course of three days, do one bit at a time if you need to at the beginning, or do the entire thing in one shot. Read the room and DO WHAT IS BEST FOR YOUR KIDS, AND WHAT IS BEST FOR YOU. (The new seasonal theme…)
That took us to a snack break and a declaration of “Do your math and you can have a liquorice from the care package Grandma and Grandpa just sent to us through the good old Canadian postal service! Liquorice is a powerful motivator. (We use Jump Math books, available on Amazon for 11 bucks, but if you don’t have a math book, just grab a deck of cards or some dice, roll them, flip them, and add or multiply that way… Done like dinner.)
12:15: I decide now would be a good time to fry some bacon. (All the non-schedulers without a meal plan are like “Yah, I get you girl…”)
12:16: All four children are asking for help with their math.
12:17: I’m flipping bacon while helping my oldest (who is sitting on the kitchen counter by the way) with using variables inside a numerical equation. Sounds fancy right? Don’t worry, it’ll all come flooding back to you, and if it doesn’t, Khan Academy literally has all the math help you and your kids will ever need during this quarantine.
12:30 pm: I’m teaching my five year old to count by 2’s while sitting in front of our magnetic 100 chart attached to our dishwasher. I’m checking my 8 year old’s division skills in his book (Did everyone actually get the same amount of cookies on their plate??) and I’m calling out, “One slice of bacon for all y’all, don’t get greedy mmk?!”
12:40 pm: “Ok, go grab a book, find a spot, and read on your own and I’ll make lunch.”
1:00 pm: Lunch on the patio, because… hello fresh air and sunshine.
1:01 pm: I suddenly remember we were wanting to watch the live stream science show Mark Rober is doing every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 1 pm. So we gather in front of the tv and finish our food there. (For more science check out Mystery Science or for cool science crates that come to your mailbox look at Kiwico.com.)
2:00 pm: Room time. For a whole hour. “Stay in your room, only come out to sneak to the bathroom and then get your little self BACK IN YOUR ROOM.” We all need a break in the afternoon, some quiet, some Adventures in Odyssey audio stories (which is free right now for the next 4 weeks, praise the Lord.) Elevation Church also has a kid’s audio adventure story podcast called Into the Portal.
Can you see the rhythm of it all? What did we do on THIS DAY?
We played, we read (Try Barefoot Books and Starfall for the little ones), we wrote, we worked with numbers, we took breaks, we EXERCISED (try GoNoodle, Fitness Blender Kids) we quieted ourselves, we read our Bible (Grab any kid Bible and JUST START READING a little bit EVERYDAY) we sat outside, we practiced Spanish with the Duolingo kids app, we played games, watched drawing shows like Mo Willems lunchtime Doodles, spotted an Eagle out the window (and shrieked with glee), we ate candy, and started watching a movie.
We listened to songs like Graves into Gardens and The Blessing, (There’s even an at home quarantine version that’s beautiful) and we watched kid’s videos from Life Church which have categories for all age groups. And for all those times where I’m cleaning up the kitchen I’m happy to be listening to podcasts like, Foundations by Ruth and Troy Simons all about teaching Biblical truths to your children, and Don’t Mom Alone by Heather Macfadyen. (She has some amazing guests.)
Tonight there will still be dinner, and “You need to CLEAN UP THE HOUSE before I feed you any dinner.” There might be baths (They are surely more frequent than pre-quarantine…) bedtime reading, some more news watching, and some more talking to our friends and family over FaceTime. And at 7:00 pm every surrounding apartment building has people standing on patios banging pots and pans while cheering for every health care professional on the front lines of this whole mess. I tear up EVERY SINGLE NIGHT with gratitude and respect.
Even though it’s new, it’s working friends… This necessary unscheduled schedule.
It’s a slow paced indoor-only rhythm, still filled with some tantrums and arguments, but lots of hugs and kisses too.
God bless you all.
If I could see your face I’d happily remind you THAT YOU’RE DOING SO GREAT, THAT I’M PRAYING FOR YOU AND YOUR FAMILIES, AND THAT I AM SO PROUD OF YOU FOR DOING EACH AND EVERY DAY.
And I’d also remind you that your job is JUST THAT. Your job is to do TODAY. And here’s some good news…
“God is already in your tomorrow,” Pastor Steven Furtick told me so in his online message last Sunday.