A Day in the Life of Amanda, Homeschool Mama of Two
Hi, homeschooling friends! I’m Amanda from @wholenessmom. I live in Dallas, Texas with my husband Mike (the Reverend Doctor Michael L. Gregg, to be exact) and our two daughters Annaleigh and Beatrice, ages 8 and 6. As a second-generation homeschooler, I love the freedom and flexibility homeschooling offered me as a student and how it provides the same breathing space on the flip side as a parent. Before having kids I taught in both public and private schools. While I love drawing from different educational philosophies, Charlotte Mason and Waldorf education really speak to my heart and influence our learning rhythm. Reading, hiking, house plants, all things Scandinavian, and snarky, inappropriate humor are my jam. I love following along with each week’s DITL family and I’m so honored to share our day with you tomorrow. Also, I hope our cray doesn’t scare you away. See you in the morning!
Good morning, Instagram! Welcome to our day!
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When I was first asked to share our day in the life I thought, “Heck yeah! Wednesdays are super predictable for us.” Well, they normally are, but today is the exception to the rule, naturally. Several of our regular activities have been canceled or moved around because of Halloween so today’s schedule will be a bit different. That said, I am full-on Chris Farley excited for you to hang with us today!
True Confession 1: I am not a morning person. Whew. Glad that’s off my chest. While I’m not naturally an early riser, I do like to have a few minutes to get myself together before the girls wake-up. So, I do my best to roll on outta bed by 7:00 or 7:30. The first thing I do is start brewing coffee while listening to a short news podcast so I know what’s happening in the world. I don’t watch the news and I really try to stay off Facebook’s news feed because #anxiety. I find that a short update every day is just enough to help me feel connected to current events. I also get breakfast started so we can hit the ground running when the girls wake-up around 8ish. If they’re sleeping in a bit and I have a few spare minutes, I’ll pull out one of the books I’m currently reading. And yes, I am actively reading this whole stack. I know, I know. I have a book problem. Don’t judge.
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What’s on your agenda today? Any plans changed or canceled because of Halloween/Reformation Day?
After breakfast and a few daily chores, we usually get right into morning time. Our morning rhythm consists of the corporate learning we do as a family: read-alouds, natural history, nature study, and spiritual formation. This morning we’re specifically working on Swedish Advent and Christmas choral music as we prepare to participate in Dallas’ annual Sankta Lucia procession in December. Yes, my family has Swedish roots (where my Nordgrens at??). No, I don’t speak Swedish (well, I can say a few things, but they’re mostly inappropriate). BUT I have big love for Scandinavian culture so we bake Nordic pastries, read books by Scandinavian authors, celebrate all the fun holidays and festivals, and the girls sing in our local Swedish children’s choir. Celebrating my family’s cultural heritage helps me feel connected to the past and gives my girls a sense of their place in this great big world.
True Confession 2: On days when we’re home, we rarely get dressed in the morning and prefer to stay in PJs until lunchtime…or later. We do get real clothes on if we leave the house. And by real clothes, I mean I put on a bra. Usually.
Tell me about your family’s cultural roots and how you celebrate them. Maybe I’ll adopt your heritage, too! I’m an equal opportunity celebrator.
Also, I’ll post a little sample of what the girls are singing this year for Luciadagen in over stories in case you’d like to sing along!
After our morning time, we move on to working on each girl’s individual lessons. Please note that we’re all still in our jammies! Today, Annaleigh (8) is reading and narrating from her American history book and completing a chapter in Math. Bea (6) is narrating an Aesop’s fable and also working on Math. I rotate through our humanities subjects each day so that by the end of the week we’ve covered all of them. Math is a (mostly) every day subject and we also usually use this time for phonics/reading instruction and handwriting/copy work.
Over a decade ago, I was introduced to Charlotte Mason’s philosophy when I taught at a CM and Classical inspired school in Atlanta, GA. Miss Mason’s work greatly influenced my classroom then, and it continues to influence our homeschool now. I’m a big believer in the power of narration as a tool for educating. Narration is such a beautiful and thorough way to see how children are processing and retaining information. Hearing them “tell back” what they’ve heard in their own words helps form neural pathways and solidify what they’re reading and learning.
True Confession 3: I am definitely not a CM purist. I have also found a tremendous amount of inspiration in the teachings of Rudolf Steiner and the Waldorf education community, too. In the early years, our homeschool was heavier on Steiner’s teachings, but as my girls continue to grow and change I find that Mason’s approach fits us better.
What are your favorite educational styles? Are you a purist or do you like blending and mixing styles?
We’ve come to a part of our day that’s a bit wonky. I just dropped the girls off at my husband’s office because I have a therapy appointment at noon. I usually go to therapy every other week or so in the late afternoon, but because of Halloween my appointment is earlier today. My spouse is a Christian minister and has some flexibility with his daily work schedule and can often have the girls come hang for a bit if I need some alone time or have an appointment. We’re fortunate that his staff members love our girls and are always happy for them to come hang at the church. The girls took the work they hadn’t finished this morning with them and they’ll (hopefully!!) complete it with Daddy while I’m gone.
True Confession 4: I LOVE therapy. Seriously love it. Being in an on-going therapeutic relationship with a counselor has been one of the best gifts I’ve given myself. Having a safe space to talk and process and grieve and work through my anxiety is the best form of self-care for me. I mean, dark chocolate and a glass of wine and long baths are cool, but for true self care and growth, there’s nothing like therapy for this mama.
What do you do for self-care? I’d love to hear how you’re actively investing in yourself.
Piano Lessons + Nicknames
After my therapy session, I grabbed the girls and we headed to Annaleigh’s piano lesson. Last year, we used an online piano program, but we decided it was time for in-person lessons this year. We don’t participate in a ton of extra-curricular activities because we really want our girls to have lots of time for unstructured play in the afternoons. Instead, we are active participants in our local Wild + Free chapter and in our church’s ongoing activities. We also participate in the seasonal Swedish children’s choir I mentioned in a previous post. I know there will come a day when they want to do all the things, but for now they’re enjoying the magic of a slow childhood. I mean, I hope they’re enjoying it. I’m enjoying it so I guess that counts for something, right?
While Annaleigh is in her piano lesson, Bea and I are working on reading skills. With both girls, I’ve waited until they were literally begging me to teach them to read because I wanted them to develop a love for reading and not just learn how to crack the code. I read the book Better Late Than Early back before I had kids when I was teaching school and it really shaped the way I have approached teaching reading. Plus, both Mason and Steiner suggested waiting until the child is developmentally ready to read, so that’s what we’ve done.
True Confession 5: I’m a nickname person. Giving folks nicknames is so much fun to me! My girls both have Swedish nicknames, Nina and Pippi, and they answer to them just like they answer to their real names. And I totally call Charlotte Mason and Rudolf Steiner “Charlie and Rudi.”
Are you a nickname family? I’d love to know what you call your children!
Used Book Sale Hunt
True Confession 6: I like old books and I cannot lie! (You totally sang that, didn’t you?) Here’s the deal, I am a book-a-holic and cannot pass up a good book sale. Our local library is hosting one today so we’re here searching for some book awesomeness. Vintage books and living books and Scandinavian books are my top priorities when shopping a book sale. I also love rescuing amazing books and passing them on to friends.
I think I’ll pop on to stories now and show you what we find!
Learning Through Games
On a typical Wednesday we would head from piano to church to participate in a weekly volunteer program where the girls, along with a group of senior adult parishioners, roll toilet paper in small, individual packets. The Holy Rollers (get it?! ) then seal the TP in plastic wrap and the packets are distributed to homeless residents in our city. After that, we would stay for Wednesday night supper at church. One of my favorite parts of our weekly communal meal (besides not having to cook supper) is that both girls sit with their favorite church friends: Annaleigh sits with a group of elderly ladies and Bea likes to sit with the teenagers. After supper, I attend the adult study and the girls attend the children’s cultural and missions programming. But tonight, all evening church activities have been canceled so families can be together for Halloween.
With a free afternoon like this we might normally try to hit a favorite park, take a quick hike, or ride bikes, but the weather today is miserable so we’re back home for a fireside game of Rat-a-Tat Cat.
True Confession 7: It’s been raining cats and dogs here all day so we may not go Trick-or-Treating tonight. My girls are bummed, but I’m kinda okay with it. Don’t tell. I’m also okay with phoning in dinner tonight and ordering take-out.
The girls pulled out some of their favorite games to share with you and want to know what games your kids like to play. Let us know!
You are the best mother for your children
True Confession 8: I had a blast hanging with y’all today! It was so much fun to share even if our day wasn’t quite normal. This tired mama is going to polish off the rest of my Topo Chico, fold some laundry, read a chapter of my newest fiction selection, and hit the sack. Or maybe just the drink + bed part.
Thank you so much, @overatalicias for this beautiful homeschool community. You are amazing and I’m so honored to have been able to be here today. //
And if you’d like to chat more, come find me over at @wholenessmom!
A few final thoughts:
You are amazing, mama! You are the best mother for your children. You are giving your children an incredible gift. Don’t forget to give something back to yourself. You can do this, but not in isolation. Find your people, build your community, or join one that’s already been built. Don’t buy all the newest and brightest things — save that money for awesome books. You are loved and I’m thinking of you tonight. Peace be with you, friends.
Thank you so much to Amanda for sharing their family’s day with us!