A Day in the Life of Elsie, Homeschool Mama of Four
Elsie Ludicello lives in sunny South Florida with her husband and four young boys on a noisy farm brimming with an assortment of animals and tropical fruit trees.
She is an author and speaker with a passion for Jesus and a great love for homeschooling, stories, tea, adventuring with her children, theology, and avocados.
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Elsie writes for Wild and Free magazine and blogs at www.farmhouseschoolhouse.com. You can follow Elsie on Instagram @Farmhouse_Schoolhouse for more updates on the upcoming release of her first book.
Good Morning! Top 5 + Morning Time
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Good morning! This is Elsie from @farmhouse_schoolhouse, here to share a few hours from our life together. Today we are embracing the flexibility of homeschooling and starting a bit later than we usually do. The boys began their TOP 5 after waking up. They made their beds, had individual time with their bibles, exercised and finished whatever chores are assigned to them. We all woke up in various moods today so we appreciated the chance to be alone and take care of a few things before coming together. My little guy helped me make a big German pancake for breakfast.
I’ll share a peek at our morning time schedule (you can also find it on my blog) on stories. This morning we prayed, recited the Nicene Creed, read through our daily portion of “Our 24 Family Ways” by @clarksonfamilyofficial used our character training material from @simplycharlottemason enjoyed logic training with our book “The Thinking Toolbox,” recited our memory work, and nature study using Exploring Nature with Children.
Tomorrow’s morning time will have different things on the menu! We started using restaurant menu covers for all of our morning time creeds, verses, songs, poems, memory work, and artwork. The boys love holding their work in their syrup sticky hands and I love being able to wipe those menus clean! ? the boys are now clearing the table and loading the dishwasher. They get half an hour to just breathe and be before we start our next block of learning time- math, Latin and music!
Educating a Child with Special Needs
Here is the little sensory cave learning space we put together for our youngest son. We are still navigating the world of the spectrum and while we don’t have all the answers, we are deeply thankful for the gift of homeschooling. We wanted him to have the same beautiful education his brothers were getting so we kept him home. People hurled a lot of fear at our heads for this decision, but like any new thing, we prayed and thoughtfully gathered information and resources and put our plan together. There was (and still is) a whole new language to learn so we can speak with insurance companies and doctors and the home education board in our school district. A few resources we are profoundly grateful for:
1) @hslda has been extremely helpful in connecting us with resources and informing us of our rights as parent educators of a child with special needs.
2) @thehomegrownpreschooler gave us a beautiful foundation from which to build that was sensory rich and soul nourishing for all of us!
3) @beautifulfeetbooks gathered full collections of literature that helped us build empathy for the entire family and convey a greater understanding of feelings and social situations to our son(s). We are so grateful to have him with us every day, to learn together and live the best hours of our day with one another. He ultimately enriches our time together because he sees in ways we cannot and thinks in ways we can only dream of. He adds to our perspective and broadens our view of the world. He has taught us to see others. In the end, homeschooling is all about our relationships- and this has trained us to homeschool from a place of love instead of fear.
The Magic of Margin
Finding a routine that works every day for a large group of people is a very tricky thing to do. Humans are not static creatures and it’s difficult to plan ahead for illness and hardships and emotions. One thing that has helped us establish a routine is to first plan MARGIN. Margin is a pretty magical word and wondrous when it’s put into practice. When I first started homeschooling I felt a pressure to prove that we could do it and so I over-scheduled. I added too many things. I spent many months scaling and adjusting.
Finally, I realized that one of the most important things for our family was rest and soul care. So I began with that, I began with margin. I protected time for play and rest. Then I looked at the freedom I had for that and married it to the responsibility of giving my children a thorough education and in that space, we found our balance and discipline.
For our family, we found that year-round schooling works best. 6 weeks on, 1 week off and a whole month for advent. We can’t fit in all the subjects all year round, so we spread out in seasons of higher concentration for different subjects. The only two things we do year-round are writing and math. Everything else ebbs and flows depending on the time of year.
We work alongside the weather in our area- so our lightest workload falls in the winter so we can enjoy the beautiful Florida weather as much as possible. We make margin in our year for this and it is of profound importance to our family. We spend time cooking and doing handicrafts and nature hikes. It’s a rich time!
Friend, I encourage you to find MARGIN in your life. Part of homeschooling is modeling that balance for our kids. Don’t read that and feel guilty if you don’t have balance yet. Read and feel resolve to press on and keep trying! Put on your detective hat, gets your kids input, talk to a friend that knows you well. Find the margin!
Family Blessing Hour
Blessing hour has been a part of our lives since the first toddler uttered the words “me do it.” It didn’t have the name back then, but the spirit was the same. The tots were eager to do work themselves and so we created safe boundaries and let them go for it. This resulted in years of chores taking way longer than they needed to because teaching requires more time and the children were apt to take their sweet time with it.
As they grew we gave it a name, blessing hour. We defined its purpose: “to work together cleaning the house as a way to bless our family so we can have restful evenings together once dad comes home.” Don’t see perfection here guys, this is a static picture on Instagram. You can’t hear the chaos and the fart jokes or feel the exhaustion. There is grace and cooperation some days and there is all out war and disobedience on other days.
BUT blessing hour is something we desire because we have experienced the rewards of a restful evening. We’ve soaked in time around the fire pit or playing music or playing games or watching a family movie or reading Tom Sawyer. We have our motivation. Time together. The house is divided into zones and the kids switch zones depending on the day of the week. I shadow the youngest since he is still learning how to do some of the chores.
The dishwasher is unloaded, garbage removed, floors swept, laundry put away, school room tidied, sliding doors wiped, counters cleaned, the horrors of the boys’ bathroom attacked. This is the daily gift we give our family. I don’t think it steals from their childhood, I believe with all my heart that it adds to it. They give meaningful contributions to the running of and success of, our homeschool. I’m not stumbling around carrying this whole operation on my back, I’m walking through it alongside my children. We share in the building of this life.
Ending our Day with the Closing Board
My little guy erased the board before I could get a picture, so I have to use an old one! This is how we end our classes each day. For years we started the day full of intention and meaning with our morning time but by the end of the day, we’d disperse (or collapse) in a disjointed way. Then about a year and a half ago, I had an idea to have a closing board.
We get our whiteboard and gather round. The boys start sharing about their day and we write it up on the board. The best things they learned, their favorite stories, the things they conquered. If any relationship issues arose we can clear the air and talk about it. This is a great time of day for me to publicly apologize for any mistakes I made or hurts I inflicted so that all the children can see me model the importance of contrition and repentance and acknowledging wrongdoing. Sometimes we go around and talk about what we are thankful for if it’s been a day full of hardship (or complaints).
This isn’t a time for lectures, just a time to reflect and be together. Sometimes everyone is too tired and we don’t do this at all. But when we do it’s such an encouragement. We love ending with this intention. We sing the doxology and then everyone is off to climb trees or build a campfire, notebook about dragons or read about marine life.
I usually sneak away to eat a piece of dark chocolate and read something that lifts my spirits. Sometimes if I’m feeling frustrated or angry, I push past whatever lies are circling in my head and I’ll run outside and PLAY WITH my kids.
This board is what launches us into the final phase of our day. A phase full of leisure and joy and conversation—- and sibling squabbles and broken dishes and discussions about bills and whatever other completely humans things happen between the hours of 4 and 9. Ending class with intention, with communication, leaves us all on the same page and ready for our evening together. Dad comes home soon!! Hooray!
Thank you for following along with us today.
Thank you so much to Elsie for sharing your family’s day with us!
If you want to see more Day in the Life photos and videos, be sure to check out our Instagram profile. There are highlights of each takeover at the top.