Homeschool Day in the Life: Ashley, Mom of 5 who just moved across the country!
A homeschool day in the life looks different almost every day, right? Over on our Instagram page, we love to give you a peek into lots of homeschool days regardless of how they change day to day.
Today, we’re going to give you a peek into the homeschool day in the life of Ashley, homeschool mom to five children, who just moved across the country!
Regardless of our homeschool approach, how long we’ve been homeschooling, or how old our kids are, we can all learn and be inspired by one another. It’s not about looking good for social media, it’s about the connection going on inside our homeschool walls and sharing with others what works for us.
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We might all homeschool a little differently, but we can always look for ideas from each other that inspire, encourage and equip us in our own homeschool days. 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!
Ashley is an easy-going, upbeat lover of learning and nature. She’s always loved school and was known to torture her siblings by making them “play school” with her as a kid (she was always the teacher, of course!). Ashley is now in her sixth year of homeschooling her own kids and loves just about every minute of it.
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Her family made a huge life change last year, and jumped on an opportunity to move across the country from her hometown in Maryland to a small town in North Idaho. Her husband went to college here, and Ashley lived here for a few years as a newlywed.
Ashley and her family have spent the last year reconnecting with old friends, making lots of new friends, and enjoying the breathtaking beauty of the Pacific Northwest.
A Little Background
Happy new year, everyone! I’m Ashley from @meaningfulhomeschool and I’m so excited to kick off a new year of day in the life takeovers!
Before I dive into the nitty gritty of our day, I thought it would be helpful to give you some background on our family. My husband, Brandon, and I have been married for almost 13 years and have 5 kids (10, 9, 7, 5, 2). Last year we made the huge decision to move across the country from Maryland to Idaho. While the transition wasn’t easy, it’s been so worth it. We love our new community and have made lots of friends and new connections. We’re so very happy here in the gorgeous Pacific Northwest!
I’ve homeschooled my kids from the very beginning, when my oldest was five (she’ll be 11 next month). We were part of a part-time classical private school for the first two years before my daughter’s reading struggles made that option no longer work for us. It was so hard to leave the comfort of a school setting and go out on my own, but I ultimately realized that we’d have more freedom if I got to choose the curriculum and set our schedule on my own. It was around that time that I attended my first Wild + Free conference and learned about Charlotte Mason homeschooling.
We’ve used A Gentle Feast as our core curriculum for the past two years, and I really love it and see us sticking with it for many years. It’s easy to use and I can modify it to fit our needs. I don’t use it exactly as written but substitute books, drop some subjects completely, and really make it work for us instead of feeling like I have to do exactly what it says. It’s so freeing to use curriculum as a tool instead of a rule!
Good morning! The kids and I all aim to wake up around 7am. When I’m not sleep deprived, I like getting up before them (closer to 6:30) but lately it hasn’t been happening, so these days it’s somewhere between 7 and 7:30.
I wake up, take a drink of water, and make my bed before heading downstairs to make coffee and breakfast. Meanwhile, the kids do what we call their “high 5”:
1. Wake up
2. Get dressed
3. Make bed
4. Pick up bedroom
5. Brush teeth
When they’re done, they head downstairs for breakfast and our lessons, which start at 8am every day. Sometimes we eat breakfast while doing our morning time (we call it “Morning Meeting”), and sometimes we’ve already finished breakfast by then.
Our first hour-long block of subjects is slightly different every day, but it includes all the subjects we do as a family. Right now we’re studying American History, British History, singing, nature study, poetry recitation, and a few others.
Chores + Independent Subjects
After Morning Meeting, we move into our chores and independent subjects (they each take turns working with me on these). In my heart I love the idea of a routine rather than a schedule, but for my large family I’ve found that I really need to utilize a schedule for some things in order for them to run smoothly. I spend a big chunk of time in the summer figuring out a rotation that I think will work well, then tweak it for the first few weeks of school. By this point in the year everyone knows our schedule and it runs pretty smoothly.
The kids take turns doing their chores, working with me, using the computer for math and typing, and playing with Sam (2). Having kids assigned to play with him throughout our independent lessons has been SO helpful to me, and it means that he’s occupied, safe, and not watching a lot of tv (though I do utilize that some days).
We use a variety of resources for our independent subjects, including The Good and the Beautiful, Teaching Textbooks, and Blast off to Reading. This rotation goes from 9am-11:30. When we finish this, our lessons are over for the day (and I’m pretty exhausted!)
I mentioned screens in my last post and wanted to talk about that a bit. Bran and I decided early on in our marriage that while we aren’t a screen-free family, we would not have video games. We know how addicting they are and decided to draw our line there. Our kids have all played video games at friends houses and occasionally get to play multiplayer Mario Kart on my phone with their cousins from the other side of the country. However, we don’t own a game console and don’t have plans to.
We have iPads, chromebooks, and kindles (the kids paperweight version), and use them mostly for lessons with the occasional exception. I love the Reading Eggs app and after their reading lessons with me, Ella (7) and Will (5) each get 20 minutes on that. They have to complete a lesson on the app first, then they can use the rest of their time playing reading games in the app. Emma and Jack (10 and 9) each got a kindle for Christmas and read and listen to audiobooks on those.
We love movies and watching tv as a family, so on dark cold winter nights that’s what we do before the kids go to bed. Lego Masters, The Amazing Race, Meat Eater and Chopped are some of our favorites!
Not having video games was a tough decision for me because ironically, I’m the one who really enjoys them! We’ll revisit this when our kids are older, but for now it’s working well for us.
Lunch + Quiet Time
After our lessons are done, we move into our lunch block. To make it easier on myself this year, I started using an app called emeals to plan our dinners for the week and I put our breakfasts and lunches on a rotation. We eat the same thing for breakfast and lunch each day of the week (so every Monday is oatmeal and grilled cheese, Tuesday is yogurt parfaits and ham and cheese sandwiches, etc.). It’s enough variety that it doesn’t get old, but it’s also super easy for me to make it happen. I love not having to think about what we’re having every day! I usually end up reading aloud from our current family literature book at lunch while the kids eat, then eat my lunch later.
Most days the kids and I head outside after lunch. If the weather is decent, we’ll walk a few blocks then hang at the park across from our house. When its cold and rainy we take a quick, wet walk around the block and call it good. One of my goals for this year is to get myself outside for at least 20 minutes every single day. We’re almost two weeks into the new year and I haven’t missed a day yet, which is saying something when it’s been cold and rainy for most of that time!
After our walk the kids have two hours of quiet play time. Sam (2) naps, and Will and Ella (5 and 7) play in our playroom. Emma and Jack (9 and 10) spend their first hour practicing instruments and doing independent reading. When they finish they’re free to build legos, play with Ella and Will, draw, listen to audiobooks, etc.
While the kids have quiet time, I check off some of my other daily habits. I usually start with my Bible reading plan (I’m doing the Bible Recap this year and am loving it!), then some Yoga with Adriene on YouTube. If I have orders to send out for @meaningfulmenus, I’ll work on those during this time, too. I use an app called Productive to keep track of my habits and check them off as I go.
I briefly mentioned that Jack and Emma practice their instruments during quiet time. Jack (9) is learning piano with the Hoffman Academy online lessons and loving it. Emma (10) badly wanted to learn guitar, so we had her start with some free YouTube lessons from Marty’s Music then subscribed to Yousician. It’s been a great experience!
Ella would love to play violin, so I think finding her an in-person teacher for that is my goal for next year. I’ve never played a stringed instrument, though I did take piano lessons and a very short stint with guitar.
Is your family musical? I enjoy singing, and played piano and flute when I was young but never very well. Bran would tell you he enjoys playing the radio ?.
Dinner + Bedtime
After quiet time we don’t really have a super set routine. I usually start working on dinner around 4 so we can sit down to eat when Bran gets home from work at 6. The kids play outside while I do that, or sometimes we’ll turn on a movie.
We eat dinner as a family around the table as often as possible. About once a week, Bran and I feed the kids and then order takeout for ourselves. One of us puts the kids to bed while the other one picks up our dinner. We eat late then watch a movie and hang out. We call it an at-home date night, and with so many kids it’s way easier than hiring a sitter!
The kids go to bed at 8, but aren’t usually asleep until closer to 8:30 or 9. The big kids listen to audiobooks on their kindles while the younger ones listen to stories on our echo devices. We’ve got the boys in one room and the girls in another which is working well for now.
Once the kids are down, I’ll do yoga if I didn’t get to it earlier while Bran does the dishes from dinner. Then I’ll grab laundry to fold while we watch tv together.
And that’s it! It looks like so much seeing it all written out like that, but really because we’ve developed good habits and routines, most days go pretty smoothly.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this look into our home! If you’d like to keep up with me, you can find me at @meaningfulhomeschool and @meaningfulmenus
Thank you so much to Ashley 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.