A Day in the Life of Ashley, Homeschool Mama of Four
We are the Key family and I’m Ashley (the mom)! We live in Southeast Texas and we’ve been homeschooling since 2011 when our oldest son started Kindergarten. (He’s now in 7th grade!) My husband served in the military for 8 years and he now serves our community as a police officer. All the while I’ve been serving our family as a stay-at-home/homeschool mom. We have four boys ages 12, 10, 6, and 3, so our homeschooling landscape is very broad! Our homeschool style is largely inspired by Charlotte Mason’s gentle approach, but we are also somewhat eclectic in our curriculum choices and we tend to follow the ebb and flow of the tide, so to speak. In a house full of boys I’ve had to learn to lighten up and allow the rough and tumble that inevitably happens on a daily basis. I’m so excited to give you a peek into our homeschool here on @learningwell!
Good morning, Learning Well Community!
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I’ve been an IG follower of this community for a couple of years now so I am so excited to be here!
What an honor it is to open our home to you guys today… our home which is our newly-inhabited-first-ever-home-purchase that is still full to the brim with unpacked boxes! (I hope you’ll bear with me as I find ways to take pretty pictures amongst all of the chaos going on over here today!)
Our homeschool days typically start out with Dad’s facilitation here (because he works evenings and we have him all the morning long!). Most mornings at breakfast he’ll gather all the boys (and me) around the table or onto the couch (or my new favorite place— our back porch!) and he’ll read the daily passage out of “My Utmost for His Highest” by Oswald Chambers. (I believe this is our third year reading “My Utmost”… we love it!)
This typically opens up doors for all kinds of discussions. Sometimes it’s just dad and me talking while our little fellas listen in, but we also like to ask for their input as well to see where their thoughts are leading. Lately we’ve also been enjoying an additional book called “The Book of Mysteries” by Jonathan Cahn, which is helping us to think outside the box with our faith. (Swipe to see our morning books!) Does your family have a book that you reread each year?
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Morning Trip to the Park
After our breakfasts have settled we usually take a trip to the park to burn off some energy. While I am very much a homebody and would be happy to stay home indefinitely, my husband loves to get out and be active (in fact, he has years of experience as a personal trainer!).
Our boys love to get out too and more often than not they’ll spend their time at the park playing basketball or football. They love this time with their daddy and we have made so many cherished memories amongst these trees and trails since moving to this beautifully forested area of Texas several years ago.
It’s also a great place to gather curiosities for our nature studies! A few days ago my 6 year old came home with some pecans that we promptly used in a taste test to compare with store bought pecans… the park pecans were the clear winners!
Time to Hit the Books
Once we get home from the park it’s time to hit the books! The remaining hours of the morning are typically spent doing independent work by my oldest two boys.
We use Teaching Textbooks for math in the older grades, which has been such a huge blessing to our homeschool over the years, and has taken a massive weight off of my shoulders as teacher. We’ve tried other math curriculums in the past but the result was always tears. (Hooray for amazing homeschool resources!)
While they are on the laptops they’ll usually do some keyboarding with the Keyboarding Without Tears program, and if they have time left to spare I’ll usually allow them to play the Prodigy math game for fun, which little brother happily joins! Do you use technology in your homeschool? Educational app/program suggestions are welcome!
Homeschooling in the Midst of Moving
After Dad heads to work for the afternoon/evening we pull out all of the other school books and really jump into the meat and potatoes of our homeschool day. Here is a list of all the core curriculums we’re using this year:
•LANGUAGE ARTS: The Good and the Beautiful; Simply Charlotte Mason•SCIENCE: Apologia Anatomy (7th grader); Exploring Nature with Children (Everyone)
•HISTORY: Beautiful Feet Books Early American History (7th grader); The Playful Pioneers (Everyone)
•MATH: Teaching Textbooks (7th + 4th grader); Right Start Math (1st grader)
(My oldest alternates science and history days so that he’s not overwhelmed.)
By the way, after you absorb the “beautiful staging” of our books in that first photo be sure to take a peek at the devastation that is our current school room in the second photo. Have any of you ever moved in the middle of the school year?? Any tips for how to stay on track in the middle of the storm?
Homeschooling on the Go
This year has presented some new challenges for us because it’s the first year we have been heavily involved in sports. My 7th grader recently wrapped up his first season of tackle football and our basketball season has only just begun. (We are incredibly blessed and thankful to live in an area where homeschool sports are a thing! There are amazing programs here!)
Both of these sports programs are between 30-45 minutes away from our house, which means we’ve been on the road a LOT this fall. Since we spend so much of our mornings soaking up time with Dad, we’ve had to find creative ways to fit all of our reading in.
Enter the homeschool-on-the-go bag! We stuff this baby full of all of our “morning-time” books, and we have morning time (or what we call “together time” because we never do it in the mornings) on the road. While I drive, big brother pulls out each book and reads the section or chapter for the day. This has been a game changer and has helped us stay afloat this semester. Once we get settled into our new house I’m thinking about investing in the Audible app so that we can listen to audio books as well.
Have you ever had to find creative ways to get school done? (Swipe to see the books I’ve snuck into the bag for myself recently… with the hopes of starting one!)
Homeschooling in the Early Years
The most common question I’m asked about homeschooling is what we do for the early years. I always have to be really honest and admit that we don’t do any kind of formal schooling until about age 6, and even then the work load is VERY light.
My three year old, pictured here, only carries the workload of free play on his shoulders. His days are full of being curious and exploring, sprinkled with the occasional listening in and absorbing like a sponge. I’m always amazed at how the trickle down effect works for younger siblings… they learn so much simply through exposure!
My six year old is still learning to recognize his letters, and after the two brothers that have preceeded him I have learned to be OK with that. I don’t have girls so I can’t attest to their eagerness to learn, but for my boys I have learned that they WILL learn in their own time if you allow them to!
Our Family’s Love of Reading
After the school day has wound down, the boys take a little time to read. Probably our most favorite thing to do at our house is read. My husband and I are both avid readers and I’m so glad that our boys have started to carry that torch as well.
However, it wasn’t always so! I remember trying to read aloud to my oldest when he was in first grade and it was like trying to pull teeth! He HATED reading in any way, shape, or form! Looking back, this was probably because I was expecting too much of him too early in the way of reading and it had left a bitter aftertaste.
So we took a year or so off from trying to read aloud. I thought all hope was lost. But when I picked a book back up again, suddenly the spark was lit! I still remember it now… the book was “The Wizard of Oz.” It was the very first book we ever read together and it completely changed our homeschool! Now I’ve lost count of the number of books we’ve read aloud and my oldest has read almost every book on our shelves!
If you have a kid that hates reading, take heart! You may yet be able to light that flame in the years to come!
Making Time for “Mother Culture”
Something I’ve had to force myself to make time for (at least weekly) is “mother culture.” There is already so much on our plates as homeschool moms… so much of our children’s futures depend on what we get done in these 18 years that we have them!
But I’ve learned the hard way that you can’t pour anything into others if you yourself are not filled with something first. For me that looks like reading and being creative in some way. I’m currently hosting a Charlotte Mason “Home Education” book club on my blog/Instagram and it has been so fun! (We’re about halfway through the book but you can see all of our past live discussions on my IGtv channel.) She truly was an intellectual and had such a passion for empowering mothers to educate their children. This is my first time reading through her Home Education series and I am blown away by all I’ve learned so far.
To stay creative I love home design (something I have a degree in but have never used!), I love to write when I have the chance, and I also love to draw and paint. These things have taken a backseat lately with our big move, but I can’t wait to get settled so that I can hang up all of my decorations and pull out my paints again!
Is there something you make time to do to fill your soul up every now and then? Even mamas need to come to the well for a drink every now and then!
Ending Our Day Slow + Quiet with Books
When the day comes to an end, the boys and I gather together in my room for our bed time book. (Currently “The Five Little Peppers and How they Grew” by Margaret Sydney). I love ending our days in this slow and quiet way, cuddled together and making memories for a lifetime. Most nights the two littlest boys will fall asleep to the sound of my reading while the big boys stick it out until the chapter ends and try to stay up until Dad gets home again. We’ve made our way through some of our most favorite books and series during these last dwindling hours of our nights… hours I will cherish forever!
With that, I will call it a night here with you wonderful folks, and tomorrow our home will start up in a similar way again. Although these days are ordinary, I think that collectively they are the makings of a life well lived, and I am so thankful for each precious one!
Thank you so much for spending your day with me today, and a special thanks to @overatalicias and the @learningwell team for allowing me the privilege to share here on this platform. You guys are all amazing and I’m so very blessed by this community! I hope y’all will head over to @growingbrave to keep in touch!
Thank you so much to Ashley for sharing their family’s day with us!