A Day in the Life of Jessica + Mark, Homeschool Parents to Two
Hi! I’m Jessica. He’s Mark. And we are stay at home parents to our two kiddos who are 11 and 8. We live & slow travel in our RV (#RVchee). I work remotely as the COO for a company that provides on-site wellness programs for employees. Basically I run all the behind the scenes operations for our company. Up until last November the only outside work that I had done since before having our first child was some photography and the occasional wedding coordinating while my hubby worked full time as a maintenance worker for a municipality in the Bay Area (California) so that I could stay home and focus on raising and schooling the kids. He left that job about 18 months ago so that we could pursue this new lifestyle. This is our 8th year homeschooling and our 2nd year homeschooling together. We’re looking forward to sharing a day in our life with you all!
Early bird or night owl
Can we just talk about mornings for a second. Are you an early bird or a night owl? I think I am legitimately allergic to early mornings. Is that a thing? Ever since I can remember anytime I get up early I get a stomach ache. Weird but true.
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I used to carry a lot of guilt about not being a morning person. Feeling like I wasn’t a good stay a home mom because I didn’t wake up before my kids, dressed and ready for the day. That works for some but not for me and so I decided to stop fighting my natural instinct and truly embrace slow mornings. We wake up when we wake up usually between 8-9. Mark & I have coffee, I sit around checking work emails and the kids eat breakfast and usually watch something. By the time 10 rolls around everyone knows it’s time to get moving.
Our very own, eclectic style
I’m sure if I tried I could peg different parts of our day to different homeschooling methods/styles but instead of trying to label how we school I just say we’re eclectic. We don’t have a schedule per say but our days do follow a pretty predictable rhythm. We have our daily “musts” list which includes math, reading, and writing. Leaving the rest of our day open for exploration and focus on interests and projects especially where science, art, nature, and history are concerned.
I have a secret to share with y’all… we don’t lesson plan, instead we keep a log of what each kid accomplishes that day. This allows us to look back and see what we’ve been working on and maybe what we still need to cover. Do you lesson plan?
Getting the “musts” done first thing
We aim to get all 3 of our musts done before lunch and usually math is chosen first. We’ve tried several different math programs and curricula and we tend to always come back to Khan academy. I love it because not only is it free but I can learn right along with the kids because let’s face it middle school math was a long time ago.
After using Khan for the last few years we’re actually on a little hiatus as the kids have recently rediscovered Prodigy. They love it because they say that they don’t even feel like they’re doing math and they enjoy the “breaks” between questions. And I love it because I can track their progress and set goals for them. My little man even asks to play prodigy several times throughout the day so that’s a win in my book. What math program do you use?
Balancing working from home and schooling together
Our ideal day consists of us all schooling together in the morning after breakfast & coffee. Each of us giving the kids some one on one help.
Working from home gives me the flexibility to still be around and involved with homeschooling. It was definitely a prerequisite for me when I decided to take on a full time job. But as we all know not all days are ideal. I often have days when there is time sensitive work or a conference call that needs to be tended to. Those days I have to fight off the guilty feelings for missing out but I’m so thankful because I know that Mark is here to lead the charge.
Do you work outside the home, have a side hustle, or work remotely?
Avoiding the comparison trap and following each child’s lead
By the time our daughter was four she had already mastered writing her alphabet and she enjoyed and even asked for writing practice. So when my son came along and he wanted nothing to do with writing I was at a crossroads. I could get stuck comparing him to our daughter and other kids his age, buckle down and force him to practice or I could give him the time and space he needs to be ready to write.
I’m not going to lie it’s been tough. 5, 6, 7 came and went and he was still a reluctant writer. We were still having to set writing aside as emotions got high. He knows how to write, his spelling is improving every day, but the physical act of putting pen to paper is just a struggle for him. So we try to get creative, keep practice short, and go with the flow. Like today he drew a picture of Maleficent and wrote two sentences about her then labeled his drawing.
This year I’ve noticed him picking up the pen and writing things of his own accord, coming up with activities that require writing and in those moments you best believe I’m doing the happy dance but more than making me a proud mama it reinforces my hunch that waiting til he’s ready is the way to go. What are some of your favorite non traditional writing activities?
Our family’s awesome RV life
We have lived in our RV for a little over 2 years now. We consider #RVchee our little home on wheels. I tell people we travel slow because we have a great camping membership that allows us to stay 4 weeks at a time at campgrounds all across America although we’ve yet to leave California. There’s just so much to see and do here not to mention family and side jobs for Mark. Living in the San Francisco Bay Area (CA) the housing costs are not only astronomical but were just no longer sustainable for the life that we knew we wanted to live. So Mark left his “good” union job and we ditched the outrageous rental costs and traded that in for a house that we own and we explore and reexplore different towns every few weeks.
Our goal isnt to travel as much as we can as far as we can because that’s just not sustainable for us. We see traveling as a perk of our lifestyle choice. Although we do love to take advantage of whatever is local whether it be a National Park, historic point of interest, always a taqueria and often family and friends we wouldn’t otherwise be able to see.
We may not be your typical full-time RV family but it’s what works for us and we love it! What things do you do to help make homeschooling sustainable for your family?
Bending homeschool “rules”
We’ve been at this homeschooling thing for almost 8 years now and while that’s not the longest time I have learned a few things. Making the choice to not choose a specific homeschool style, not getting lost in all the methods, and through trial and error really leaning into what works for our family is what’s best for us.
If you take anything away from my posts today I hope it’s that you come away feeling like it’s ok to not fit in, it’s ok to make your own rules, and it’s not just ok but you have to do what’s best for your kids and yourself.
When all is said and done, whether my kids were doing 5th grade math when they’re in 8th grade or not writing fluently until they’re 10 if we’ve cultivated a love for learning that is what matters the most.
What kind of homeschool “rules” do you bend?
A father, now coteacher’s, perspective
Even though Mark’s not really into social media I asked my him to share a few words from his POV about becoming a homeschool parent:
“We both knew and planned to homeschool from the get-go. Jess always talked about being a mom & teaching our kids. Since I barely survived traditional school myself, I was happy to have my children learn from home. Both kids have very unique rhythms that we feel would be stifled in a different school setting. From the beginning I have been mostly a support player really only hearing about what they’re learning. Leaving the rat race has allowed me a few precious gifts: I get to actually be hands w/ my childrens’ learning processes.
Experiencing them grasp a concept for the first time & being around to watch as they master something they’ve struggled with, teaching them to push through, to overcome. Another gift was becoming aware (often painfully) of the extreme amount of work that goes into keeping children alive! Let alone thriving! My partner spent nearly a decade working through a lot of the “that doesn’t work” on her own. I am still learning to appreciate all of the labor she has put into our children & our life. I cannot express how grateful I feel to have this opportunity. Learning to spend time and energy on what is truly important to us is a constant goal. We see daily evidence that our children are learning to actually know not just to regurgitate facts, not to comply, not to raise your hand if you want to speak, not that everyone has lunch at the same time, not to confirm to the norm, not that you need to get a good job after 16-20 years of fact memorization.
They learn to ask why, learn to see problems & how to fail, how to find solutions, how to trust themselves, question power and authority & that it is necessary to do so and be present and that there is never just one way. They learn the value of a moment, they learn the preciousness of now. They learn to use there words (voices) and hear the words of others. They learn to celebrate diversity. They learn that there is a far richer beautiful life outside of the box. And they are not afraid.”
The last thought I’d like to leave you with tonight is that so much can be done for free or very inexpensivly. If you’ll notice most of the resources that we use are free or we’ve gotten them for not much money. We’ve never been in a position to buy and try alllll the things. I’ve had to make do with what we have, get creative and stretch my own imagination.
It wasn’t until people started asking me how we afford to homeschool or where I found all our free resources that I decided I should share more about how #WeFreeSchool. So I did what any good millennial would do and I started a hashtag. I’ve been on the gram for a while so its taking me a little while to go back through and tag all my free ideas, resources, and field trips ideas. I’ve also invited my friends to use this hashtag so that we could have one easy place to find all the free stuff!
So maybe you’re struggling financially or maybe you just need some fresh new ideas but you don’t have the time to wade through Pinterest please check out #wefreeschooland I would especially love it if you have any great free tips or suggestions to share them with me by #wefreeschool.
Thank you all for following along and thank you so much @overatalicias for opening up this space for families to share how they are living this homeschooling life!
Thank you so much to Jessica + Mark for sharing their family’s day with us!