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What Our School Day Looks Like (On a Good Day)

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8:00 “Emmie and Gareth, school starts at 9:00. That means it’s time for you to get dressed, eat breakfast, make your bed, and brush your teeth. Emmeline, I mean make your actual bed. Leaving a pallet on the floor doesn’t count.” Emmeline cries profusely since she has a love/hate relationship with her bunk bed, but she finally emerges from her room at 8:13, and her bed is made.
Gareth meanwhile pops out and proudly exclaims, “I’m all dressed, Mommy!”
“Did you change your underwear?” I’ll take his immediate return to his bedroom as a “No.”
8:53 The five minute warning to the two minute warning. In our house, this is an actual thing.
8:58 “Kids, school starts in two minutes. Get your snacks now.”
9:00 School is supposed to start, but we spend the next three minutes filling up cups with those snacks they were supposed to grab two minutes ago.
9:03 Morning Time, aka, sing a hymn, poetry and Bible verse memorization, read the Bible, read a poem, and today since we have a few extra minutes, we do our picture study. We’re studying James McNeill Whistler. I hand them each their pictures and tell them each to look at it without talking for two minutes. “See, kids, I’m setting our visual timer for two minutes so you can see how long it is.” Only five minutes later I realize the visual timer app I use is broken. But on the flip side, they looked at the picture quietly for FIVE MINUTES!
9:20-9:40 Math. Teach Emmeline new concept, start her workpage, spend five minutes counting with Gareth, give him a math toy, go see why Amelia is screaming, help Emmeline, and count the sides on the shape Gareth has made with the geoboard.
9:40-10 Spanish! This is new for this year and we’re having a lot of fun. We’ve learned a few very useful words so far, such as hello, goodbye, teacher, student…turtle…and rabbit.
10:00-10:15 Break time! I’m trying to teach them some Swedish Drill since it’s a great way to keep working on the skills they were learning in occupational therapy (i.e. listening, following directions, standing still, bilateral coordination, etc.). But it is a STRUGGLE for them. We’ve spent all week learning how to form a line. Then after two minutes Emmeline is crying and covering her ears, so I send her outside to jump on the trampoline, threaten Gareth within an inch of his life (OK, not really) if he doesn’t LEAVE HER ALONE, and I go take a quick shower and kiss Amelia, who is spending time with one of her favorite babysitters, Trotro the Rabbit.
10:15-10:45 Read aloud to Emmeline for 15 minutes then give her crayons to draw her narrations, so I can read to Gareth. I show him the book and he goes, “Oh, that one? I remember it. We already read it.” He has a freakishly good memory and can recall books he listened to when he was THREE. But it’s too bad for him because these are the kindergarten books. We have them, and we’re reading them.
10:45-11:00 Emmeline reads to me. We’re working on A First Look at Animals Without Backbones by Millicent Selsam to introduce the idea of her reading her own schoolbooks. It goes well until she gets to “elephants,” and she’s convinced it says “elpenats,” and we hang out there for a while until she finally uses her finger to read the word more slowly.
11:00-11:20 Copywork and dictation (aka spelling). My analytical daughter has to know why all the things in the world work the way they do, so she is relieved to learn that we are going to do spelling words so that she can learn some more phonics rules. Then she grabs A Handbook for Reading and ABC’s and All Their Tricks and asks to look at them by herself. Meanwhile Gareth and Amelia are running through the house screaming, first because it is their favorite game, second because at some point she grabbed his doll stroller with his Bitty Twin in it and he wanted/needed it back. This of course results in an interruption from school while Emmeline covers her ears and starts crying because of the noise. (She only did that twice today! It was a good day.)
11:20 We have ten minutes left so I get out a puzzle that ends up taking 20 minutes. Gareth wants to help, but he and Emmeline really cannot share a puzzle, so he throws a screaming fit and then does a different puzzle and then takes up his screaming fit again.
11:40 Education is a lifestyle, but the 2.5 hours of scheduled, academic learning is through for the day. The afternoon is for all that “schoolwork” that’s super educational and teaches you a lot, even if you have no idea you’re still learning. These are things like playing outside, drawing in our nature journals, quiet time (OK, this is usually just ABC Mouse or Netflix. This is not educational), free reading, snack time, listening to classical music, and chores.

That’s how we do it. And tomorrow? Breathe. Grab more coffee. Pray. Repeat.

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