Monday, August 22, 2016

First Day Back to Homeschool 2016

What is more fun than getting a peek at the first day of the homeschool year? My children have been pretty anti-camera today so most of the pictures have things in them, not children. Use your imagination and just add in 6 redheads, 2 dark blonds, and 1 brunette. That's my children in a nutshell.

My alarm clock rang at 5:00am and I got up, dressed, and started putting away dry dishes because our dishwasher broke last week and so the evening dishes were left to dry overnight. Tobias, the 9 month old, woke up at 5:15am for a bottle and diaper. Because it is Monday my husband is home and was able to take care of that. Makayla, the 10th grader, woke with her alarm at 5:20am to get ready for seminary, her morning scripture study class. At 5:40am she and I climbed in the van and headed to her teacher's home and I dropped her off and came back to my own house.

Back at home I ate breakfast and read my scriptures, looked over a few things for the school day, and then started turning on lights to wake kids at 6:30am. It's not my week to run the carpool after seminary so I didn't have to go back to get Makayla. My husband and I worked together to get kids into the school morning routine:
  • Get up.
  • Take care of bathroom  needs.
  • Get dressed.
  • Come downstairs for breakfast.
They had until 8am to eat breakfast but all were done well before then. This opened up time for them to play, craft, create, or do their chores (which are not required to be done until the afternoon). Children chose a mix of those options. Makayla arrived home shortly after 7am during this.

At 7:40am I pulled out a surprise - window markers. Kids went through the house decorating all the windows. Here are a few samples for you to enjoy.

At 8am the whole family gathered to the couch for morning basket time. Today that meant I played a YouTube video on the tv of our hymn to sing along - If You Could Hie to Kolob. We had prayer. I read a scripture and quote about developing our talents and using them to bless God's children and we talked about that for a minute. Then I introduced our 50 states study. We are learning the shape, name, and capital for each state, reading a couple books about them along the way. Today was Alabama. Why? Because we're going alphabetically. And of course I introduced my children to the 50 Nifty United States song via YouTube. There were some singing along and some rolling their eyes. As that finished I introduced them to Bev Doolittle, our artist for picture study. We learned a little about her history and looked at her painting called Pintos, as well as two others.

This brought us to 8:30am and table time. Younger children got playdoh while I taught math lessons to Joesph, Emma, Daniel, Oliver, and Caleb at the table. Today was reviewing exponents, multiplication, subtraction, and counting depending on age. Then I taught our first All About Spelling lesson to Joseph, Emma, and Daniel. Oliver listened in because he wanted to, Caleb did an alphabet page, and Daddy played with Tobias and Samuel. Mason was still doing playdoh. After spelling I did All About Reading 2 with Oliver. 

During all of this Makayla was working independently on literature (reading a chapter in The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom), history (reading part of a chapter in The Medieval World), Geometry (watching the first lesson on dvd and doing a practice page), and writing (the first day of The Power in Your Hands).

Around 9:20am I regathered kids from K-6th grade to the table. On the board I wrote a few vocabulary words for each child to define. These will come up in our reading of Beowulf this week. This is one fun part of working as a group - none of the kids had a huge list of vocab because they divided it up among the group. While they jotted down notes about their words I introduced them to the early middle ages with a book. Then it was break time. The whole family gathered to have a snack.

As snack finished Joseph, Emma, Daniel, Oliver, and Caleb went to their independent work - literature and scriptures. They each read or listened to 1 chapter in their new literature books, and if they can read independently they also read a chapter in their scriptures. Younger boys played upstairs with toys. Nobody was allowed to talk to mommy or Makayla because it was our tutoring hour.

During this hour we will work on whatever Makayla needs or wants help with. It's similar to office hours for a college teacher. I can ask how she's doing with subjects and she can bring things to me specifically for help as well. Today we did a history discussion with our Beautiful Feet Medieval study. They had a series of quote from various people throughout history sharing their thoughts on why we should study history. We read and discussed the quotes and then shared our own thoughts on the topic.

She decided to read her biology pages without me, so she did that and then narrated what she learned. She also answered the On Your Own questions orally. (She decided this weekend that while she's doing a year long veterinary medicine course online, continuing her herpetology study and hands on projects (raising reptiles), she also needed to do the second half of the Apologia Biology course from last year. She is on module 9, which talks about Charles Darwin and his ideas of evolution.

We also talked a bit about her literature book, The Hiding Place. It is one of my absolute favorite books and so I'm interested to see her perspective on it. She didn't feel like she needed any help with writing or math today.

At 10:50am Makayla grabbed my laptop and settled in her room for her online Veterinary Medicine course. It meets weekly for an hour and a half and today was the first meeting. She enjoyed it. It was fun to talk to her afterward because one of her assignments this week is to create a list of the 30 veterinary schools in the US and their specialties. She and I had been doing research on veterinary programs recently so she already knew where to find the list of 30 colleges. Now she'll visit each college's website to learn about the specialties they offer.

While Makayla was doing her vet class I pulled the rest of the kids to the table for more history. They were able to bring a quiet activity to do while I read aloud from Beowulf. They really got drawn into the story and groaned when I left off with Beowulf and his warriors climbing aboard their ship to go to the Danes and help King Hrothgar with Grendel the monster. I showed them the binder full of blank notebooking pages and challenged each of them to draw a picture and write about today's reading in Beowulf. They were so different and it is always interesting to hear their word choices and find out what parts of the reading stood out to them.

After lunch we decided that it was a perfect day for some nature study, so outside the whole family went. We explored the backyard today to see what we could find, did some cloud watching, and soaked up the sunshine. That was the end to formal schooling for the day.

Overall it was a good first day of school. It is always helpful to begin on a Monday when my husband is home, because I can focus on the school age kids getting into the new routine while he helps with the baby and preschoolers if they're not joining in with their older siblings. Now that everyone has been introduced to the basic routine for the day we'll just keep working to make it a routine we don't have to think about. 


  1. Thank you for this encouragement today! I'm struggling to find a rhythm, even though my number of students has dwindled from 5 to 2. It's nice to see you blogging again :) and I look forward to visiting again.

  2. Sounds like a productive day! We spent the morning organizing craft supplies and working on updating our homeschool shelf for this year's learning. Everyone is getting excited to start in 2 weeks! :)

  3. What a great/busy first day!!!! You're a woman I admire, and your family is blessed by your many talents. :)


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