Welcome to our homeschool day from years gone by, and welcome to a day in the life of our homeschool today.
As I look back or look to today, I rest in knowing the goals remain the same.
Let me take you back to the year 2003. Welcome to our homeschool, Rancho Mora Homeschool! Glad you could join us! Rancho Mora is a place where learning is individualized, and every child’s passion and gifts are encouraged. It’s a safe place to learn and grow in faith, grace, truth, and love. It’s unique and fits our family’s lifestyle well. There is one principal (my husband), one teacher (me), and six children (This was before we added two teenage boys in 2004) ranging from 3-16.
(Note: These framed pictures were proudly on display in our home for years. Now they grace the Here to Help Learning office reminding us that the goals NEVER change.)
6:00 am- Reveille is played not with military bugles but with the distinct sound of my alarm clock. My automatic response? Hit the snooze button. I allow myself one hit. Alright, alright, I’ll come clean. Besides, my husband is my editor. He wouldn’t let that sentence pass. Truth- I’ll hit that beautiful snooze button a couple of times just to get a couple of extra winks and a few additional moments to snuggle with my hubby. (This is the Hubby speaking now, and yes, I concur that she only REMEMBERS hitting the snooze button a couple of times, but in actuality, she could hit it as many as eight……yes, eight times in a morning…..but I admit, eight is the record.) Beth’s one-word response to the editor: hyperbole!
6:15 am- I’m dressed and ready to go (I shower the night before, that way I can take as long as I want). Makeup is optional depending on what the plan is for the day. (The makeup decision is based on-Am I leaving the house or not?) I look at the time and know I have 30 minutes before all the kids’ alarms go off. First thing that pops into my head? Coffee. Followed by a desperate inner voice that slowly utters, must….. make…. coffee….. The darker the brew the better! While the aroma of coffee soothes my allergies to morning air, I reach for my Bible and journal and spend a few moments with the Lord reminding my soul that this is the day the Lord has made and I will rejoice. I read one chapter from the Old Testament and one chapter from the New Testament, and I pray.
6:45 am-On most mornings, my husband and I can steal a few minutes to talk about the day. My husband is self-employed and can set his schedule based on the needs of his clients.
7:00 am-Years ago, we learned at a homeschool conference to “teach lessons of responsibility early” by providing an alarm clock to your child. That’s a great idea if you have one or two children but if you have six children with six alarm clocks, get ready for a disorganized symphony of noise. It seemed like each alarm clock was set in six different time zones, nanoseconds apart and as close to 7:30 am as they could get, but not synchronized. And let’s just say each alarm clock sound reflected God’s gift of individuality in each child that was displayed by six very different alarms….one Spanish station, one classical station… one just loud static…one bugle….one horns, etc.
With children bright eyed, bushy tailed, and happy, (I don’t really have time to explain my distorted illusion. It’s the way I remember it. Please don’t ask my kids, let’s just continue.) waves of activity swelled and crested in rhythmic motion. I would like to introduce to you the driving force that set the rhythm of shifting tides for the next hour. ….The Penny Jar.
The goal? Fill up the jar with pennies. When it was full, we would take the afternoon off and watch a movie and eat popcorn. It was simple, I asked for five cents.
1 penny-hygiene complete (Teeth brushed, face washed, hair combed dressed for success, meaning garments had to be clean with no holes.)
1 penny-bed made and room straightened
1 penny-morning chores complete
1 penny- breakfast eaten and dishes put away
1 penny-school supplies and books gathered and Personal “school area” around our 10 foot kitchen table ready by 8:00am.
If everyone got 5 cents (completed everything) then everyone got double pennies or 10 cents. So, often I would hear siblings encouraging each other to get everything done by 8:00 so that they could get double pennies! The Penny Jar built excellent habits and family teamwork. It also gave us a common goal and something to look forward to when the goal was reached.
8:00 am– We opened our day together with prayer, scripture reading, and practicing memory verses. When the kids were younger, we did say the Pledge of Allegiance. I am a proud American, who tears up when any patriotic song is played. I wanted to pass on that pride and devotion to country.
8:20 am– We would begin with Language Arts per grade/skill level (spelling, handwriting/typing, grammar, composition, and reading instruction).
10:00 am– Small break with healthy snacks and outdoor play
10:30 am– Math lessons and drills per grade/skill level
11:50 am– House Clean Up#1, or as I liked to call it, “Back to Zero” which meant, return the house to the way it was at 8:00 am. I would often put on peppy music to help quicken their pace.
12:00 noon– Lunch and more outdoor play
1:00-2:50 pm MW-Science TTh-Literature Based History F-Field Trip
I scheduled large blocks of time for these subjects because they usually involved hands-on projects or labs. This gave us ample time to have a relaxed time of learning with room for bunny trail questions, which is where real learning takes place.
2:50 pm– House clean up #2
3:00 pm After 3:00pm is when extracurricular activities/classes took place.
4:30 pm– Dinner Prep/Cook for 8 which includes feeding morphing teenage boys! I’ll save how I did it for another blog.
5:30 pm– House clean up #3 (before Hubby comes home)
6:00 pm- Dinner which includes a lively discussion about the day’s shenanigans and lots of laughs
7:00 pm– House clean up #4, including dinner dishes
8:00 pm– Reading/quiet time/books or stories on tape (that would be cassette tape)-Bed times varied depending on age.
Professional surfers and I have a lot in common. If we turn and face the cresting waves, we are sure to be thrown to the bottom of the ocean to eat sand. But, if we get on our freshly waxed board and point it in the direction of the waves, we are in for a great ride. “Cowabunga!” I believe is the correct joyful shout! I learned to go with the waves and not look at the chaos that a family of eight can generate in a day. More often than not, I felt we were doing a good job riding the waves of homeschool life.
Learning happened… (a wave of memories just made me smile)
Love grew…(another wave of memories made me long for a hug)
At times, I miss those homeschooling days.
Fast Forward to 2015. What’s changed?
Well, it’s just BusyGirl and me.
- I still get up at 6:30am, I still hit the snooze alarm, snuggle with hubby, and drink coffee.
- BusyGirl and I start the day with PE from 7:00-8:00am.
- We don’t do the Penny Jar any more, but we do reward ourselves by occasionally taking the afternoon off.
- BusyGirl and I are desk-mates. I work creating lessons and taking care of the details of business for Here to Help Learning, and she does her academics.
- Our school is year round which leaves lots of room for learning adventures and time for BusyGirl’s creative interests.
- When we’re at home, BusyGirl’s school schedule is about the same as her brothers’ and sister’s schedule from long ago.
- When we’re on the road, it varies greatly. We don’t want to miss opportunities!
- My quiet time with the Lord is now at 10:00 am. I still read one chapter from the Old Testament and one chapter from the New Testament, and I pray.
- I rarely cook dinner. BusyGirl handles it every weekday except Thursdays! That’s her day to go to swim-fit and her youth group.
The homeschool life is a good life. We ride the waves, the ups and downs of life together, learning along the way. The size of the family doesn’t matter. What matters is the goals that never change.
Have a blessed homeschool year. Please keep in touch! Visit often. I like you!
From our Home to Yours,
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