Homeschooling Day in the Life: Lydia, Homeschooling Mom to four who loves unit studies

Day in the Life Lydia

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 Lydia, homeschooling mom to four children, military wife, and lover of unit studies!

We can all learn and be inspired by one another, regardless of our homeschool approach. 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.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!

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Meet Lydia

Meet Lydia

Lydia is a partial nomad–a hazard of being an Air Force wife–and a homeschool mom to four wonderfully creative kids. She’s a curator of her home library, adventurer wherever God has put her, and a homebody who loves a good nap. You can find Lydia on Instagram @happilyevercaffeinated sharing fun unit studies which include creative art projects, good books, and ways to layer hands-on learning.

Good Morning!

Good morning

Good morning, friends!

Get the 6 Secrets to a Simpler Mom Life

I am Lydia and I’m so excited to be back sharing a snapshot of our homeschool. We have a 14, 12, 10, and 7 year old in our homeschool with different strengths and challenges, and big personalities and opinions (as it should be!). Things get pretty lively around here!

Most early mornings (because that’s when the quiet happens), you’ll find me on my couch reading my Bible and praying, coffee in hand. When my quiet time is over I usually start grabbing options for things to do or cover for the school day. I don’t “plan” in the expected meaning of the word. I tend to brainstorm weekly, hold those plans loosely, and then daily wing it based off that plan according to our natural pace and life.

This morning I grabbed our read alouds, some art & science resources, & a couple of Mary Blair books to go with our current unit study on 17th Century art history (I’ll talk more about how we do unit studies soon!).

Unit Studies

Unit Studies Lydia

“Study the science of art. Study the art of science…Realize that everything connects to everything else.” – Leonardo da Vinci

Unit studies are our bread & butter. I choose a book & start building a unit: how can I include science with art history? Can we see the culture & history in the art? And who are these masters that paint light & shadow to perfection? What was their world like?

These are this year’s units beginning with our current unit:

I, Juan de Pareja + Benjamin West & His Cat Grimalkin: art history, art, history of 17th Century Spain & Dutch Republic, science of light, color, optics, etc.

Endurance/Mr Popper’s Penguins: earth science, water cycle, history of navigation, geography, animal science, writing, leadership traits, etc.

A Christmas Carol: Dickens author study, themes, culture of Victorian era, social concerns, Industrial Revolution & technology, cooking, poetry, etc.

The Scarlet Pimpernel/Beethoven: history, revolution, Napoleon, Beethoven, music study, geography, far-reaching implications, art, science of the guillotine, etc.

Journey to the Center of the Earth/Skunk & Badger: earth science, geological features, rocks & minerals, literary themes, history of science belief, etc.

With unit studies, all of my kids can stay on the same page, learning both together & to their own abilities, and saving my sanity. God didn’t create a world of separated subjects, he weaved science with art with history with music with maths etc to create a gorgeous tapestry of wonder & beauty for us to live in.

Homeschool Seasons

Homeschool Seasons

It’s appointment time for one of my kids! We’ll head to the library to pick up holds on our way home when he’s done.

Last year I was doing school on a Costco folding table we were borrowing from our neighbors. We had just moved here & our furniture had gotten damaged in our move. Most of the year we used that table and had a wonderful, relaxed school year.

This year we have our newly restored table but it’s been a much harder year. Our time is more limited because of necessary appointments & therefore the slow days are fewer & the rest of the days feel like a sprint before we have to leave the house. I don’t like it.

I recently listened to a podcast & the guest talked about how “the hardest thing for a homeschool mom is to be okay with the season we’re in when it’s not the season we’re envisioning it should be.”

I’ve had to look harder to see that we are still getting things done. Learning to balance the must-do with the fun stuff has been necessary. I’ve had to claim two appointment free days each week since several days have weekly commitments. I accepted lowering expectations—not of the kids, necessarily, but of myself. I adjust what’s within my power in order to make our weeks doable for all. Mostly, I’ve had to pray for and choose contentment. But like the season of the folding table, our hard, busy season won’t last forever. Neither will yours.

Heading Into High School

High School Lydia

It’s almost time for high school! WHAT?! How does one even do that? My answer is, I don’t know! BUT this year has given me both a boost of confidence & a shot of excitement to try!

If you’re curious what we’re doing for 8th grade he is reading books I think he should read. That’s the theme. Books he’s read this year:

  • 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
  • Trapped: How theWorld Rescued 33 Miners from 2,000 Feet Below the Chilean Desert
  • James Herriot’s All CreaturesGreat & Small
  • Animal Farm
  • J.R.R. Tolkien’s Letters From Father Christmas
  • Jack London’s White Fang & Call of the Wild
  • Huckleberry Finn
  • Gates of Splendor (current read)

The discussions are so good! After years of slowly pointing out literary elements over & over again, he notices them! He thoughtfully considers theme. He points out difficult moments & pulls from the text. Mamas of littles, it’ll happen.

I also assigned him the book of essays, Breakfast on Mars & we discussed essay writing, he did weekly freewrites & ended last semester with a fully polished essay.

Science: Apologia–We’ve been bouncing around the text & I assign chapters as they come up with our unit studies. He leads & explains the labs. He answers the questions. During units that have less science, I might assign a random chapter or a living science book. He’s really enjoyed Apologia this year & we’ll probably do something very similar with Apologia biology next year.

Math: Mr. D Math has taken the tears out of math & replaced it with goals of calculus. No. Joke. He loves it. We do the self-paced & it works!

History: mostly with us, though sometimes his literature lines up nicely & corresponds. With unit studies, there is often a project to display your knowledge. Next year, I’ll add more independent history reading to deepen his understanding.

Spanish: Homeschool Spanish Academy. This year is our first year & I think we’ll continue through high school. One on one tutoring with a native speaker.

Creative Writing: with Jonathan Rogers through Compass Classroom. It’s a high school 1/2 credit which he’ll do this spring. Next year, I’ll count essays/papers for history/LA + his reading for the other 1/2 credit.

Strength-Based Learning

strength based learning

Have you heard of strength-based learning?

Last year I had them create a biography project on a person who is known for their work with animals. One chose to write & insert comics. One chose a illustrate a picture book. And one built a diorama. And this perfectly describes how my boys learn. One writes. One draws. One builds. One loves words & language. One thinks in pictures. One is figuring out how go together.

Whether it’s the end project of a unit study or their own passion project, they love to display what they know through their strengths. (Isn’t that true for us? You won’t hear me singing an aria about nature, but I might paint you a picture).

As we discussed end projects for our current art & light unit, one is thinking about more of a written report on light & optics & color with supporting illustrations, one wants to do a series of drawings & paintings, and one…honestly isn’t sure what he’ll do yet. But I’m giving them time& space to use their strengths (and the littlest will decide later, too!)

Clearly this doesn’t mean ignore challenges they have. But in the same way that I prefer to learn in a certain way, work on my issues little by little, and play to my strengths, I allow that same grace to my kids. And you know what, they flourish & blow me away with their knowledge and how much they grow in their challenge areas, too!

End of the Day

End of the day

I’d like to say everything gets cleaned up & put away at the end of the day, but it rarely does. Instead I manage the piles & put them away on the weekend. So what you see here are art journals left out to dry, a box we’re saving for a pinhole camera experiment, reading curriculum, our devotion book, a mirror for self portraits…you get the idea. And it’s all nested under a glorious painting my son did when he was 3 & the canvas was bigger than him.

This is our homeschool.

I hope you enjoyed a peek into our world & I’d love to see you over @happilyevercaffeinated where we are constantly adjusting & pivoting to our current homeschool season & needs while savoring creativity & wonder. I hope you take the plunge to truly customize your homeschool, get messy at times, and lean into the strengths of your children.


Day in the Life Lydia

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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