Homeschooling Day in the Life: Lydia, homeschooling mom of three boys in a military family
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 three boys in a military family!
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.
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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!
Lydia @happilyevercaffeinated is a homeschool mom of four (three boys and a girl) and partial nomad thanks to her husband and his Air Force career. She is an expert mover who has moved across the country twice in the last two years and at least 10 times during the last 18 years.
When not moving, Lydia and her family enjoy exploring wherever God has placed them but are also homebodies who love to hang out reading great read alouds and creating everything from sketches and book projects to muppets to set designs from recycling.
After pulling her oldest two boys from public school, Lydia found that homeschooling worked best when she taught in a hands-on, multi-sensory, creative, and interdisciplinary style that allowed plenty of freedom for strength-based, interest-led learning.
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My name is Lydia, my boys are 13, 11, & 9 and my daughter is 6. This is our 5th year homeschooling and along the way, we’ve learned to get math done first thing, before breakfast. Actually, two of my boys like to get it done first thing, the other one likes the idea of getting it done early, but he usually isn’t quite awake enough to do it and will do it later in the day.
While they work on math, I make breakfast. I started making breakfast for them in an attempt to curb the homeschool hobbit habit of eating nonstop all day. For the most part, it works! I’m nearby to help with questions while I cook. My goal is to have breakfast ready around 9ish and that’s usually when we’ll begin with our Bible, read aloud & whatever else I’ve decided to throw in that morning.
Today will be a different because everyone is anxious to get outside and play in the snow!
It took me a long time to feel comfortable and embrace what works for us. I had the public school mindset, and it was hard to be different! It was hard to follow curriculum when I just wanted to do my own thing. It was hard to trust my instincts and lean into their strengths and interests.
When I decided to accept who I was, how my kids learned, who we are and how we were different, I threw away the planner, ditched *most* curriculum, brain-stormed potential ideas, and then trusted my instincts. We started making our read alouds the center of our shared learning and pull from all sorts of resources to create unit studies as we go.
We have been known to take a simple idea and over complicate it so that it becomes a multi-week project. But it works for us, and it fits who we are.
Sometimes we share interests, and sometimes they do their own thing. Many times their own thing is inspired by our shared learning and manifests into amazing individual projects.
Past creations include: elaborate salt dough maps, a Greek mythology giant poster, muppets sewed by hand, settings built out of recycling, painted masterpieces, creative books & fan fiction.
Narrowing in on each child’s interest & strength has created an environment for them to excel as well as work on their weaknesses without feeling any pressure. And our family culture has blossomed into a love of stories & creativity, with plenty of messes.
We do a lot of family learning together, even with the oldest being 13 and the youngest at 6. For the most part, it’s still working for us. However, each kid has their own independent work, like math & handwriting.
Encouraging more independence, I gave my oldest his choice of history this year. We worked together to come up with a project and found books for him to read. I’ve assigned some literature and he is free to choose from the rest. Last fall, he learned about the Middle Ages in England, painted a map, drew armor and weapons, and wrote a historical fiction story which not only used elements from the assigned literature but also incorporated information on cathedrals, mystics, monks, and the societal system. This spring he’s learning about Samurai and has a new project. He will also will end the year with a short essay comparing knights and samurai. And to beef up his science, he’s got extra reading. I’m available to discuss books regularly, be a sounding board, guide, help, make suggestions and keep him on track, but it’s mostly on him to get it done.
My middle kids are focusing on spelling and mechanics, so they practice in a variety of ways, including traditional writing and copywork, gameschooling word searches, and hands on manipulatives. They each usually have their own creative projects or interests too.
My youngest is learning to read, which we do in a variety of ways. Games, scavenger hunts, and Bob books are some of the most common. Her handwriting practice is also a sight word book to reinforce those tricky words.
When they choose to get it all done during the day is up to them, but I’m available to help as needed. It’s a bit of a time management life lesson.
Being in the Air Force, we never live in any one place for long. Whenever we move, we make a bucket list of places to visit in our new home or on the road trip. We often adjust our learning to include whatever it is we want to see.
After we read Island of the Blue Dolphins, we took trips to tide pools and the sea lions that claim the beach as their own. We read books and watched documentaries about Yosemite and the Redwoods before exploring and hiking the trails. Last year we lived in Virginia for only a year, so our social studies focused on early U.S. history and the Civil War. As we learned about different things, we visited Jamestown, two presidents’ homes, Yorktown, and five Civil War battlefields. And just this past weekend, after a month learning about wolves, we visited a wolf refuge and saw those majestic creatures up close. We even got to pet one!
Learning beforehand helps prepare them for the experience, and then seeing and experiencing firsthand what they’ve just learned creates lasting memories!
Freedom to be different, to follow interests, to find what works, to embrace your family culture, and to switch gears.
I remember really understanding what freedom meant the year October tried to kill me.
Anyone else have kids who get ridiculously unfocused the week before a particular holiday at the end of October where they leave the house empty-handed and bring home loads of sugar and candy? To combat the high energy, I came up with Spooky Week in an attempt to harness their energy “for good” and save my sanity. We take a break from the normal routine and academics, and completely change it up.
We have themed days of typical “spooky” things & focus on learning about them.
Animal day: spiders, owls, & ravens.
Art: we learn about an artist and then create a piece inspired by them. We’ve created Picasso-inspired cubist Frankenstein’s monster, Edvard Munich’s The Scream, and Salvador Dali-inspired clay melting clocks.
Mad Scientist Day: science kits, forensic bugs, slime galore, and dissections.
Game Day: I’ve created an escape room for them, but by the 4th day, I’ve learned I need a break. We gather spooky stories & short mysteries to read before switching to spooky games such as Ghost Fighting Treasure Hunters or Murder of Crows or Clue.
Spooky Poetry Tea Time: the grand finale! We enjoy enjoy themed treats, tea, and take turns reading spooky poetry/stories. Or we focus on a famous author and their work. We’ve covered Mary Shelley & Frankenstein (adapted) and Edgar Allen Poe and a few of his poems. Following the elaborate tea time, they usually ask to write their own spooky story or poem before we clear the table, and the monster crafts begin. Sometimes I visit the Dollar Store for supplies and other times it’s a bit of recycling and whatever leftovers I had from previous years. And they will craft for HOURS!
Instead of forcing the usual academics on them and being miserable that week, we embraced the freedom homeschooling gives us. Spooky Week is full of learning and now one of our favorite family traditions.
The Places we Gather
As an Air Force family, we don’t often live in a dream home with beautiful storage made for homeschoolers. More often than not, we make use of every nook and cranny, use inventive storage, and play furniture Jenga. Moving is a fun hobby.
We do math at the kitchen counter or outside, read on the couch, play legos and games on the floor, but most of our shared learning time is done at the dining table. I found starting school at breakfast kept mouths full and therefore quiet, and hands stayed busy so I could read aloud in relative peace.
Sadly our dining table didn’t fare so well during our last move. It’s currently broken and unusable. And because it’s an antique and the table I grew up on, I’m waiting until the local antique restorer is ready to take it on and repair it correctly. Until then, we gather round a Costco folding table my sweet neighbors are lending us. It’s not really big enough for our messes. And it sure isn’t pretty! BUT IT’S FINE. We gather round, hang out, share stories, and create together—all smushed on top of one another.
That space where you gather together, learn together, and make memories together—it’s precious! The counter, dining table, sofa and floor can work beautifully as you cram together to read, discover, learn, and play.
Thank you for joining me today! It was a privilege to share a bit of our homeschool with you! Join me over at @happilyevercaffeinated for more messy, creative, hands-on learning!
Thank you so much to Lydia 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.