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A Day in the Life of Homeschool Mama Bethany

A Day in the Life of Bethany, Homeschool Mama of Three

I am a Northern Irish writer and mother of three. I have been married to my husband, Sam, for ten years and our kids are Finlay (7), Edith (5) and Jasper (2). We have been educating our kids at home for two and a half years. We are ‘accidental’ home educators but are learning every day how to embrace this way of life. It is not a very common or popular option in Northern Ireland but the Home Education community is growing and it is an exciting time to be a part of it.

Hello from South Africa!

On a normal day, we’d be waking up in our smallholding in Northern Ireland. There would be pigs to feed and eggs to collect. Today, however, we’re in the Eastern Cape, halfway through a two month road trip.

Wherever we are, the day starts the same: coffee with my husband and some food for the soul. Our kids are early risers and I am a reluctant riser. Thankfully they enjoy making their own breakfast. I pay for it in cleanup but it buys me some time to start my day slowly and well. Before long the kids pile into the bed which we’re sharing with my sister’s dog, Daisy this morning. I’m really looking forward to sharing a not-so-average day in our life.

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Any other reluctant risers out there? Please say hello.

Mid-Morning Feast

We gather around the table mid-morning for our ‘feast’. This is a habit I developed in response to how much they love this time. It’s a feast of food, literature and attention from me.

We begin by asking one another two questions: How do you feel? What do you need today? My two-year-old told us yesterday he felt tired and needed goodness. I love to encourage this emotional literacy and for the children to know they are heard and understood.

This is also when we do maths. We operate a Snack Shop where each snack has a monetary value. I then set them a task and they use their boards to complete the sums. So far, this is the only way the kids enjoy maths in a structured context. Every other opportunity to learn mathematical concepts comes from real life experience.

I’d love to hear creative ways you incorporate maths in the day to day.

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 Learnin Outside

We take every opportunity to get outside, whether at home or away. Most of our learning takes place outdoors. My children come alive and their curiosity for the natural world is infectious.

The coastline here is incredible. We love the rock pools and they are full of treasure worth investigating. As way leads onto way, we return from the beach sand-crusted with a huge Kob fish my husband caught. The children help to clean it and tarry over gills and internal organs. As a seasoned fisherman, my husband is well able to field this interrogation.

We will transcribe all the information into our nature journals as soon as we’ve got rid of the fishy smell!

Writing through Following Curiosity

After lunch, we sit down to write. I have one child who loves to read and write and another who very much doesn’t. I find this really challenging. At the moment, the kids are compiling travel journals of our time here. This is currently holding their attention. I have to constantly scale back my expectations and encourage the little they do willingly. All the kids love stories, both telling them and hearing them. The rest will come (she says hopefully).

My experience so far is that the kids will learn the things they need in order to understand the world as it is for them. For my eldest, this doesn’t include writing. When it does, I have every confidence he will master the skill.

As a writer myself, it is important to me that they love the craft. Until then, we’ll get lost in books and take slow, purposeful steps forward. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic.

Exploring + Learning

We headed out to hike the Sacramento Trail this afternoon. Walking and exploring together is our favorite thing. We carry field guides, notebooks for sketching and lots of containers for the creatures my daughter collects as temporary travel companions (we encourage their release).

The trail ends in Sardinia Bay where the kids discovered Surfing Plough Shells. They spent hours studying them, identifying their body parts, watching them move and discovering what they eat. Tears were shed when the snails were repatriated, but so much was learned in the process.

It is here, on beaches and mountainsides that my eldest has become a climber, my daughter an insect-lover and my youngest a headstrong long-distance walker (he refuses to be carried).

We return with shells in our pockets and lots of new sparks to chase.

Do your kids enjoy getting out and about?

Love of Reading

Reading is a huge part of how we learn. I am currently working my way through Charlotte Mason’s writings and finding it very inspiring. I know a lot of you are fans of her approach. I spend a lot of time (and money ?) on good, quality literature. I read aloud to the kids from books such as the ones pictured and chapter books (we’re reading Gentle Ben at the moment). We also love audiobooks. This trip has involved a lot of driving so we have already made it through Indian in the Cupboard and Going Solo.

In Northern Ireland, we start school at age four. Many children attend pre-school when they are three. My son did a year of mainstream education and had a negative experience. Reading has unfortunately been one of the casualties. My daughter, who never attended school, can read and pretty much taught herself. I am confident that my son will love reading as he adores being read too. My confidence, however, is a slippery thing and some days I find it hard not to worry.

Please be free to share your story or just give me a fist pump for hanging in there!

Evening Climbing Wall

We stopped in at the climbing wall before dinner. I was too busy breaking my two-year-old’s fall to get photos so these are yesterday’s!

My husband and I started climbing together when we were first married. It is a joy to share this passion with our kids and encourage their natural ability. This is especially important for my eldest who lacks confidence with a lot of the table-based work we do. Stick him in a harness, however, and he could scale a mountain.

Goodnight from South Africa 

The kids are in bed for 6.30pm and we won’t be far behind them. It has been a pleasure to share our day with you. Thank you to all who commented, encouraged and said hello. This is a great community to be a part of.

Thank you so much to Bethany 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.

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