A Day in the Life of Growing Independent Learners

Growing Independent Learners

We have five children ranging in age from 15 down to 7 and we have been homeschooling throughout their lives.  With each passing year and with the development of each child, our daily routines have considerably altered.  It’s not bad…it’s just different.  It has truly been a gradual, necessary transformation as our children have grown in their maturity, confidence, and independence.

I vividly remember that, just five short years ago, I used to spend a few hours each day in very hands on school work with our three  elementary aged children, an active preschooler, and an ‘into everything’ toddler.  They were enjoyable days, but bone-weary and challenging.  I loved that we were able to enjoy so many activities together and learn as a family, but I also distinctly  remember feeling very divided among each child since they all needed so much of my attention and direct teaching or assistance. 

from 5 years ago…

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to today…IMG_2210 (2)

Now, our school time gets spread  out longer over the course of the day and we are not able to study as many of our subjects together.  However,  those once elementary aged children are all now either middle school or high school aged,  are much more responsible for their own learning, and are developing interests which I see them taking time to pursue in their ‘non-school’ hours.

It has been rewarding to see our older children begin to ‘own’ their school work, take initiative, and be self sufficient.  We have seen them develop into independent learners!

 

 

So, what does a typical school day look like
for our homeschooling family at this new stage?
 

Well, you might be a bit surprised.

I will be the first to point out that, as the kids have developed and progressed in their autonomy, my own role has changed considerably – from direct teacher to more of a facilitator for most of the kids as they learn.  This has been a difficult process for me as I feel a lot of guilt for not being as engaged and directly involved as I once was in their education.  However, I am confident (as is my husband) that this is what our kids need in order to succeed.  So, I‘ve been gradually and intentionally giving our children more options, space, and time to learn and flourish.

 

Here’s a sample day!
(a full day at home, one without music lessons or other outside learning with friends)

Morning

  • Our 6th grader is habitually up around 6:00am to start his schoolwork.  He chooses this time of day because it is quieter and there are no distractions.

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  • I’m typically awake between 7 and 7:30am.  I check in with our 6th grader and then do my Bible reading/memory work, showering, eating, and a bit of computer work.  Characteristically, I am ready to dive full force into school with the kids by 9am (well, after I start a load of laundry =) ).  (This is so different from my former season with lots of little ones.  Then, it was critical for me to be awake before all of the children so that I would have ample time to get ready for the day and have a quiet time with the Lord.)
  • Our 4th, 8th, and 10th grade girls wake up and get moving around the same time as myself.  They can be found doing their own morning routines which includes Bible devotions and AWANA work.  Our oldest often begins schoolwork during breakfast at the kitchen  table. The other girls prefer to start working at their desks in the school room.
  • As for our second grader, lately, I have been having to wake up him up -no later than 9am.  (Can you say ’growth spurt’? LOL.)
  • I usually start the school time by listening to all of the kids’ AWANA verses and helping the youngest two to memorize their Scripture work.
  • I make sure to check school work that has been completed by our 6th grader and review/assist him with any errors or misconceptions that I may notice that he has.
  • Next, I devote a large chunk of the morning to focus on our 2nd grader.   As is to be expected, he still has lots of ‘work with mom’ subjects.  These include Bible, AWANA, All About Reading, book basket reading, read-alouds, English, and spelling. He does pretty well with math and just needs some assistance with it from time to time as well as direct teaching for brand new concepts. His Xtra math and piano are independent. He is then free to play until I call him for history and science later in the day. (Our 6th and 4th grader complete a Bible study together during this time as well as work on other subjects independently, coming to ask questions as needed.)

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  • Mid-morning, kids may get a snack.
  • After working intensely with our youngest,  I usually take a break to check in on our 8th and 10th graders to see how they are progressing and to see if they need help with anything.  (By the way, several of our 8th grader’s subjects, such as math, Spanish, and literature, are online. Our 10th grader takes an online math course, but she has chosen more book based subjects this year. )

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  • Reading and discussing literature as well as dictating spelling with my 4th grader is commonly next. 
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  • After that, I’ll try to sneak in a few minutes to ask and discuss science with our 6th grader.
  • As lunch nears, if it works with what she is doing, I try to work on Literary Analysis with my 10th grader.
  • Right before lunch, I, once again, check more work and meet with kids as needed for corrections and assistance.

Afternoon

  • Then it is time for a much need lunch break all together, followed by the completion of kitchen chores.  I also check the menu plan and start the crockpot (if it is necessary) as well as  make sure to switch laundry (if I have forgotten it earlier in the day, which is quite typical ;-) ).
  • After lunch, it is usually history time.  I like to do history with our 2nd and 4th grader first.  Afterwards, I call our 6th and 8th grader to work on history together.

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  • At this point, many of our children are finished with their school day. Our 6th grader typically spends his afternoon free time on coding/ Khan Academy, constructing intricate paper modeling, building with Legos, trying out a cool science experiment that he has found, or either reading or listening to a book for his enjoyment.  The 4th and 2nd graders are usually off playing together.
  • I once again check in with the 8th and 10th graders to see how they are progressing and to see if they need help with anything.  (Our 8th grader is also normally finished with her school day by this point and enjoys reading for fun, checking out new recipes to try, sneaking in some additional piano practice, or hanging out with her siblings.)
  • I’ll meet with our 10th grader to go over her daily end of chapter history questions and, once a week, her weekly end of chapter health questions.  We’ll also discuss her writing assignments.
  • As for science with my 2nd and 4th grader, um, well, in all honesty, we still haven’t started it yet.  Sigh.  But, over the years, I’ve learned that  we will get there eventually and it will all work out by the end of the school year!
  • Laundry and dinner prep sneak up fast at this point of the day.

Evening

  • We then have dinner as a family, followed by chores.
  • After chores, we may have evening commitments outside the home or a time of free choice for what the children desire to do.
  • In the evenings, right before bedtime, my husband has been reading a YWAM Missionary Biography with all of the kids as well as leading a prayer time for missionaries and for our sponsored compassion child.  (He used to try to do this in the mornings, but as the kids grow, they tend to need more sleep.  So, our schedule has been adjusted accordingly.)

Throughout the Day

I delight in listening to the sounds of the piano, cello, and violins as the kids take turns practicing when the ‘music room’ becomes free.  I also get to witness gymnastics and crazy sibling antics, aid in resolving sibling squabbles, hear lots of ‘mommy, look at this’, answer tons of questions, refer them to God’s Word, and experience lots of hugs.  I truly do LOVE them and enjoy that I get to be home for them!

IMG_2613 IMG_1079 IMG_2798

 

When we first started on this homeschooling journey with lots of little ones,
I would never have been able to envision the relatively calm, productive days that we experience now.
 

Yes, our days are still full and busy, but it’s a different kind of full, a different kind of busy.  These days require much pre-planning to ensure our children’s independence and lots of intentionality to guarantee I am taking time to come alongside our kids and meeting them where they are each day.  It’s far from perfect and I admit that I’m not the greatest at juggling this new stage, but I’m thankful that God is challenging me and growing me, too.   It is a great privilege and season of joy as I get to spend time with my favorite people, guiding them as they develop into independent learners who love the Lord.

 

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Past posts on a typical homeschooling day for our family…
Homeschooling – Day in the Life (K, preK, toddler, and expecting our 4th)
A Day in My Life – as a 9th Grade Homeschooler

Our 2017-2018 Curriculum

Workboxes – a stepping stone to independence

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