Here’s a look at the Day in the Life of Amanda, who homeschools her three little ones, and views homeschooling as a natural extension of parenting. At Learning Well, we understand that homeschooling doesn’t look the same for all of us. We understand it doesn’t have to either for us to learn and glean good things from each other. Each Wednesday, on our Instagram feed, we feature a new homeschool mama to take over the feed and show us what her day looks like.
Some of us homeschool for religious reasons and that inspires our homeschool days. Some of us homeschool from the road and never do school in the same place twice. We might have been homeschooling for years and years. Or we may have just begun our journeys. We understand that those details don’t really matter though. The common thread that binds us all together is our desires to educate our children differently.
We might all homeschool differently, but we can always look for ideas from each other that inspire, encourage and equip us in our own homeschool days.
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So, each week, we create blog posts for you to access later of each of those “days in the life”. We hope you keep coming back for more inspiration. Keep going, mama! These days at home are so worth it!
I have loved following and being inspired by Amanda for a long time and I knew she would have fantastic encouragement to share with us!
Get the 6 Secrets to a Simpler Mom Life
Although Amanda has always homeschooled this is technically their sixth year. Amanda has always viewed homeschooling as a natural extension of parenting and just the way they live their life. She feels it’s the hardest but best thing she has ever done and is continually thankful for it, even on the tough days (maybe especially on the tough days!) Amanda has three kids, ages 10, 7 1/2 and 5, one girl and two boys. She lives in Northern California where it’s hot and sunny except when it’s raining like crazy, like this week!
Good Morning friends, from not so sunny Northern California. It’s so fun to join you all and let you get a peek into what our days are like. I post over at @amanda_henninger where I just talk about homeschooling, mothering, Jesus, and all the books!
We are not early risers around here (and we’re night owls too!). I’ve learned to go with it instead of fight against it. So in the morning I let the kids wake naturally and then give them a big chunk of time for free play together. As for myself, after making my hubby his lunch and sending him off for the day, I sit down for some reading time on my own with my coffee.
As is often the case, this guy is the first awake and always trying to make me smile. I do often try to get up before the kids do. Sometimes I’m more successful at that than others. But I also trust that there is something so good in them seeing me reading my Bible and putting this time aside before I get on with the rest of my day. I wholeheartedly believe in the “more is caught than taught” idea and that kids do what they see more often than what they are told.
My morning time books right now – I’ve been reading through the Bible in a year for the first time ever, as well as Elisabeth Elliot’s Keep a Quiet Heart as a daily devotional. And then I always have a stack of other half-finished books that I choose from: currently This Momentary Marriage, The Ragamuffin Gospel (a re-read), and The Scars That Have Shaped Me.
Thanks for following along today! I hope you’ll stick around to see more.
Breakfast & Chores
When the tummies start rumbling (and I can sense the peaceful morning playtime is definitely at its end!), we all gather in the kitchen for breakfast. (We’ve been DIY renovating our house for 5 years now but the kitchen is pretty much done). The kids mostly get their own breakfast at this point with some assistance. Then it’s a flurry of activity as they empty the dishwasher, sweep and vacuum under the counter, we clean up from breakfast, and we all dress and make beds and brush teeth and prepare for our day. If they can get all their morning chores done before I’m ready for the day, they get a little time to play or read. Oh, and I always throw in a load of laundry because….laundry!
Our morning basket is always my favorite part of our day. It’s a great way for us to connect and learn together. It’s where all those special and beautiful and fun pieces that could easily get left by the wayside get a space to be added in.
I have put a variety of things into our basket at different times – always a review of our upcoming day and prayer, but then hymn or verse memorization, math puzzle books, picture books, mad libs, poetry, dictation practice, devotional books. (You can search through my posts on @amanda_henninger for some resources). Then we always end with a few jumping jacks or bear crawls or something silly to get the wiggles out!
For the month of December, in order to slow down and focus, we are switching things up for some #christmasschool so our December morning basket includes just three things – advent devotional cards for kids, math perplexors, and my youngest gets to choose a Christmas picture book for me to read aloud.
World Culture Studies
This year we are studying world cultures and countries together as a family. My goal has been to share with them all the beauty and wonder of peoples and languages and music and religion and foods and work and art and stories and traditions so different from themselves. And for them to take in all that beauty and happiness of all the peoples of the world, before we learn about wars and destruction and politics and current events that more often bring tears than joy.
This December we are setting aside our regular world cultures study and focusing on how various people throughout the world celebrate Christmas. (And I know not everyone celebrates Christmas of course. I’m choosing to use this holiday to connect my kids to the people of the world, focusing on the similarities. We have been studying other holidays and religious traditions.) Each day as we countdown to a Christmas we have a new country and a few new things to learn about their celebrations. We’ve started in the “warm weather” countries which we all find so fascinating (especially since we don’t have “white christmases” where we live either!
During the school year after our morning basket we always have a family lesson we do together and then individual lessons. For our family lessons we usually gather round the table. Monday is for grammar, Tuesday – social studies, Wednesday – writing/literature, Thursday – science, Friday – creative arts.
For our individual lessons, the kids often head off in various directions of the house or backyard, hollering at me for help when they need it on their math and handwriting and writing. (Except the littlest guy. He’s always near me). For December our lessons look like coloring pages for our world study while listening to audiobooks or watercolor lessons online or math/logic board games together or some other crafts or baking. And always Christmas music in the background.
Lunch & Read Aloud
When they finish their lessons the lure of the backyard (and the trampoline!) calls. Eventually I call them in for lunch and our read aloud. We eat and then they play and I read. Busy hands make for listening ears.
We’ve gotten a little “behind” in our book list this Fall. We finished Lassie recently and Anne of Green Gables before that. We’re currently reading Where The Mountain Meets the Moon. Then Sadako and The Thousand Paper Cranes, The Jungle Book, The Sign of the Beaver, Old Yeller, Pollyanna, and so many other great ones on our list for the year. I often share about the books we read over in my posts. You can find all our past read alouds. I started reading chapter books aloud when my kids were 4 & 2 and it has been a highlight of our learning together.
After lunch and reading we all take a break in our day, our quiet time. As an introvert (and a busy mama!) this probably is more for me than for them but I know it always helps reset them for our afternoon/evening. They each go to their room/our den by themselves and can read or play or nap.
I then try to figure out what to do with my own time! I remember when my daughter was a newborn and she would nap and I’d have to quickly decide between a shower or food or a nap myself! I feel that way now though with so many more things vying for my attention – homeschool planning, exercising, showering, general house keeping up, individual reading, work I’m doing for a ministry with our church, Instagram writing and posting and scrolling – and then of course now add in all the business of holiday planning and preparation. So yeah I choose one of those for my restful “quiet time”.
A homeschooling, stay at home mama isn’t a “job” I originally thought I’d have and there have been times I’ve lamented the tiny little world I live in. But my heart has been so totally changed to see the great and valuable role I get to play in molding and training and encouraging these three little lives.
Friends Like Family
And I’m going to end my time on Learning Well with this horribly dark and grainy photo of my family last night at our town’s annual Christmas tree lighting that we attended with our church family because I think it’s a great representation of how we spend so many of our afternoons/evenings – with our church family. You see, home-schooling by it’s very nature has a tendency to isolate, but life was never meant to be lived alone.
When we showed up in this town 6 1/2 years ago for a “temporary” job assignment, we had no idea the family we would gain. We’ve bought a house and had a baby here but also joined a church family. Our people. Many of us homeschool together. We parent together. We learn and grow in our walk with Christ and we are changed, together. We minister alongside one another and to each other. We challenge each other. We do life together.
Six years ago my little family of four went to our first Christmas tree lighting and I remember awkwardly talking to a few people at our new church’s booth. This year my kids were running around the streets of downtown, happy and smiling with all their buddies. Not socialized? Not our kids! And as for me, as a stay at home mama, I have been so blessed with dear friends who I consider family that make me a better mama and wife and a stronger woman, more humble, less selfish, and I am so thankful for them.
So if I could leave you with one piece of encouragement it would be this – don’t do this parenting thing, this homeschooling thing alone. Find your people. Find lovely people online to encourage and motivate you and find people in your every day life to challenge you and keep you connected and accountable. This gig is hard work but like I’m always telling my kids, we do hard things!
Thanks for having me today? I’d love to connect with you more over on @amanda_henninger
Thank you so much to Amanda 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.