A Day in the Life of Kate, Homeschool Mama of Four
Hey! I’m Kate from over at @kateoliver15 . My husband and I live in southeast Michigan with our four kids, ages 8,6,4, and 2. As a mom who was homeschooled for a few years myself, I was drawn to the freedom homeschooling could provide for our family. I love that every day can look differently if needed and over time I have learned how to better embrace the constantly changing seasons that come with schooling four young children with very different needs and interests. I research everything and have been learning about different philosophies of education from when my son was a toddler, but I feel like it took until this year to know what works well for our family. I found it so easy to get distracted by all the wonderful ways people are homeschooling and loose sight of what our goals as a family were. In this season of life we draw heavily from a Charlotte Mason literature based philosophy. I also find a lot of inspiration from the Waldorf philosophy when it comes to our home atmosphere. Because we inevitability spend so much time in our home it has been very important to me to create an atmosphere that is calming, filled with beauty, and inspires my children to dig into their passions. I find a lot of energy in creating places in our small home where my kids can explore with all of their senses and where we can get cozy together and read a good book. I am looking forward to sharing a peek into our daily rhythm tomorrow and I would love for you to join along!
Good Morning from our Early Rising Family!
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Good morning everybody! We have been up for almost an hour. We have a house of little early risers. It feels like a really good day when I wake up and realize they have slept into 6:00. Our routine around here is for my husband to get up with the kids and start on breakfast, while I take some time for myself. It is hard for me to hit the ground running like my kids, so having this time to ease into the day is so nice. Usually my youngest finds me and nurses off and on for the first 30 minutes. This is precious time because I know it will not last much longer. I would like to say the rest of the kids have a calm and crying free start to their day, however, that usually is not the case. They are loud and crazy from the moment their eyes open. My husband does a great job of loving on them as they begin their day. He makes them breakfast while answering their million questions, reminds them to start their chores, and breaks up their bickering. He also uses this breakfast time to sing hymns together, memorize verses, and listen to all their stories. Daddy time in the morning is pretty awesome. It is loud and crazy, but pretty awesome. Also, if I could keep the Christmas tree up all winter I probably would. It makes everything feel magical, even when you want to crawl back in bed and stay warm.
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Special Morning Time with the Middle Kids
As of recently my oldest has been spending two hours, three mornings a week at my mom’s house. During this time he works on his reading lesson, math, guitar, and my mom spends some time reading to him. This new arrangement is so special and has also been so helpful to me! It gives me a chance to do some one on one time with my middle two, but it also allows someone else to pour into my son for a bit and he always comes home feeling filled up and loved. I know this kind of arrangement doesn’t work for everyone. Just a few years ago we were living so far from family and this would have never happened. But in this season, with four young kids, a struggling reader, and constantly changing rhythms with a growing toddler, I will gladly take all the help I can get. During this time with the younger three we will do a reading and alphabet lesson, math, and ukulele practice. After that they will play until my son gets home. For this age group I think play is the most important thing they do during their day, so I am happy to create lots of free time.
Our Morning Collective Time
After our son gets home, usually around 10, we do our morning collective. This is when we work through a stack of books I have picked out for the week and rotate through listening to classical music, memorizing poetry, or learning about different artists. Basically I try to cram in as many beautiful things as I can into these 30 to 45 minutes. During the next four weeks our books will have a Christmas or advent theme. The kids play quietly as I read, though some are better at being quiet than others. I love this time because everyone is involved. Even though the youngest aren’t always paying attention, they are learning to appreciate beautiful work right along with us. I hope that this time will expand and develop as our kids grow older, but for now this short time works well for our family and is an anchor in our mornings.
Special Therapy + Exercises for Dyslexia
About a year ago I knew that Grafton needed some extra help in regards to reading. He was struggling with some basic things and I knew it was more than just being a late reader. I’m all for letting your kids learn to read at their own pace, and I don’t think there is a magic age where kids should be reading. However, I also am all for getting help when it is needed. We had ( and still have) questions about whether he may have dyslexia. With the suggestion of a friend we switched our reading program to one designed for kids with dyslexia which has helped a lot. However, we also had his vision tested by a behavioral ophthalmologist. We learned that he had so many different vision issues that made it nearly impossible to learn to read fluently. Things began to make so much sense. Now he has vision therapy once a week and he practices at home almost daily. We have seen major improvements in his reading and comprehension and I am excited to see the steps he will take as we continue down this road.
Special Book Mail
A few months ago I opened an Instagram used book shop and this week we held our monthly sale. This means school has looked a little differently the last few days. The kids come along with me to book sales, and have helped me sort, package, photograph, and ship books. It is a family endeavor around here and I love all that my kids are learning from this experience. Cute story… yesterday as I was packaging books, Grafton got inspired to ship some books himself. He got his money out and paid me for an envelope, found a few books from a pile we were going to donate, sealed and addressed the package, and couldn’t wait to ship them to his cousins today. I really have no idea what books he stuck in that package, but I’m sure his cousins will get a kick out of it!
Sacred Quit Time
Quiet time around here is ever changing. I work hard to preserve our quiet time because I know I need the break. As an introvert I am itching for some space halfway through the day. We have had season where there have been no electronics, just quiet play. Other times I will turn on an audio book and the kids will listen and play on their own for an hour. We are currently in a season though where most days I will turn on a show in order to truly get a break from the crazy my four year old brings to this house. I try to stick to some educational shows like Magic School Bus or Wild Kratts, but I have had to let some guilt go in the area of television during the week. After a break though we are all less cranky and ready for the rest of the day, so I call it a win.
Making Outdoor Time Intentional – Especially in the Cold!
After quiet time, before we have tea time and do some reading they usually go outside. During the warmer months we are basically outside all day, but when it gets cold we have to be more intentional. It is bitter cold today and I struggle to get out in weather like this, but thankfully my kids don’t mind!
A Little More Learning + Tea to End the School Day
In the afternoon we usually get in a little more school while the kids have snack. We call it tea time, though we don’t always have tea. And we don’t always set the table, however it helps me to get excited which most days I need right about now. The older two usually do some copywork while they listen to me read. Sometimes we will focus on a specific artist or composer. Sometime we will focus on geography. It is always changing every few weeks, but it allows us to focus more intensely for a season. We are currently going through an advent curriculum that we love. Tea time marks the end of our school day and they spend the rest of the afternoon playing. Things are about to get crazy.
Spending the Evenings as a Family
Our evenings are very similar to our mornings. Controlled chaos. When Matt gets home we eat while everyone talks a mile a minute. Sometimes we go out to eat with family, often we have people over for dinner. A couple times a week we head to the climbing gym and climb as a family while some of the kids take classes. We try to not fill our schedules with too much and focus on doing things together as much as possible, because some day soon that won’t be an option. They are growing up quickly and we will be going in opposite directions, so I am thankful for the evenings we have together. Night time usually ends with a book. Matt has been reading Harry Potter to the big kids for the first time (though tonight was cut short by a little person freaking out about a loose tooth.)
Our days don’t all look the same. When we have our co-op the big kids are gone all day. We have vision therapy which takes up a chunk of another day. We also spend plenty of time doing field trips and seeing friends. This is one of the things I love the most about homeschooling! It fits with our family and our goals. We are slowly finding what works for us and changing things up when needed. There is not one way to homeschool and that is what makes it so great. What you got a peek of today is what is working for us in this season. I’m sure a year from now a lot will have changed, and there is so much beauty in that! Thank you for following along today! I hope you were able to find some encouragement.
Thank you so much to Kate for sharing their family’s day with us!
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