How We Make it Work

A Week in the Life, by Jen N.

I always like to put my own spin on things so I’m changing this to A Week in the Life. The problem is that I could do a day in the life with my at-home days or a day in the life on my work days. If you only see one of these days it isn’t going to make much sense. I’m hoping that this helps someone who, for whatever reason, isn’t an at-home-all-day homeschooler to see that your kids can still thrive without a traditional schedule.

You may be wondering: Why do I have this strange schedule?

jen2

Long story short: My father-in-law has dementia and needs full-time care. He needs to live with us and the only way that we can afford to make this happen is to remodel a home that we used to rent out so that we can all live there together. We are doing all of the work ourselves. Right now the upstairs is done and one of our older sons is staying there with my father-in-law. They have a makeshift kitchen and one full bathroom. I have two days a week that I don’t go there, and my son has two nights where we bring my father-in-law home with us so that he gets a break. Once we finish and move, I’ll be tweaking the whole thing again. It’s always something, right?

 jen3

Monday– This is my Saturday. We spend it catching up on cleaning, shopping, haircuts, all of that fun stuff. I admit to spending every Monday morning watching Downton Abbey and pursuing other selfish “me time” activities.  At noon, I walk over and meet my husband for lunch at his office. We used to do that more often, so now Monday is non-negotiable as we hold onto our old habits desperately. Caring for elderly family members is hard on the entire family. Give yourself some grace. No school today.

 jen4

Tuesday– I’m up at 5:00 am.

This is our heaviest school day. I won’t be home all day again until next Monday. I find that every Tuesday I wake with a sense of urgency and purpose. It’s truly now or never. Whatever we don’t get done today may actually get pushed into next week depending on how the rest of this week plays out. Tuesdays are days where I try to introduce new skills or anything that may result in frustration in either student or teacher.

Lesson planning comes first. I always plan on getting that done over the weekend but never do. My planning consists of dividing the subjects by day and by criteria like:

Q: Do I want to carry The Golden Children’s Bible in my backpack all day?

A: It’s really heavy. No, I do not. (BTW: How do school kids do that? Textbooks are really heavy. I can see why the trend to iPad school is so strong.)

Q: Do I want to introduce long multiplication at the Barnes and Noble Cafe?

A: That might not be a bad idea. Knowing that we have people listening in will keep both of us calm. Plus they have brownies available right there.

To any of you Type A box-checking people: you need to look away now. This is going to get ugly.

For my grade schooler, I elected to use mostly Memoria Press curriculum this year, mostly because they provide a daily schedule that I just need to tweak and not invent. Their schedule, and my old schedule for that matter, contain afternoon classes that are scheduled once a week on a block-type schedule. That doesn’t work for us too well right now. And so I tweak. I often write it out as scheduled and then, looking at the whole thing, start adding arrows to different days.

I make us all a good at-home breakfast and the kids come tumbling out by 8:00 am.

 jen5

Then we work all day. The only other thing I will do on Tuesday is laundry. It fits in perfectly with our complete stay-at-home day. I work the schedule so that I introduce new lessons and concepts on Tuesdays.

 

jen6

Wednesday

I’m home until noon.  We spend the morning doing math, grammar, Latin, and literature. The kids stay home and my older daughter teaches her younger brother art and goes over all his memory work with him. I usually schedule any Netflix movies for that afternoon also. They play board games and make dinner together. I won’t be home until 10:00 pm. I’ll spend the day redirecting and driving to the home improvement store. My husband takes the train up at 5:00 pm and we work until 9:00 pm. The drive home is about 45 minutes. We get home and after scavenging leftovers, we go to bed.

 jen7

Thursday

Teen girl has a weekly Homeschool Media Club date at our library. She meets up withfriends there and makes a day of it. My ten-year-old son and I head out early for a full day at the remodeling house. We bring our books with us. We sneak off from 1:00 pm- 3:00 pm and make the rounds of our school-away-from places. Our preferred location is Barnes and Noble. Sometimes it is too loud there. We check Starbucks and McDonald’s in turn. If all else fails, we will work in the car. Usually, my husband is on the early train so we get a lot more done. We work on the house from 3:45 pm until 9:00 pm again and head home.

 jen8

Friday

Teen girl and I spend the morning checking her work from the week. We email and message back and forth on days I’m not home.This would not have worked with her older brothers. She is pretty diligent about getting her assignments done. We all go up to the remodeling house around noon. I’ll leave with my grade schooler, and we’ll use our remote classroom. Again we work until 9pm. We bring my father-in-law back with us, so adult son has his weekend night to himself. Over the weekend he does things like building his own TV antenna and placing it on the roof. Once you start creating, it’s hard to stop.

This isn’t even the current model. Now we get 62 channels with the newest model on the roofline.

 jen9

 

Saturday

According to the lesson plans, this is our Day Five and it is mostly quiz/test review day. We get all that done in the morning at home. The kids bring whatever books they are reading and their Kindle for games in the car. We head up to the house by noon and work again until 9pm. Again we bring my father-in-law home to the condo. It’s a bit like Ground Hog Day as each week he says the same things in the elevator.

 jen10

Sunday

We do memory/recitation work and anything else that we didn’t get done during the week. It’s our Friday so we are usually in good spirits heading up to the house. The traffic on the weekends is much worse so it takes about 90 minutes to get to the suburbs. I spend the time in the car torturing the kids with old music. We call it School of Rock. We try to leave a bit earlier that night and rent a movie when we get home. After driving so much all week I have no desire to go anywhere.

 jen11

And so it goes. This is our fifteenth year homeschooling, and I can honestly say every year has been different. The keys are flexibility, patience, and just plain giving yourself permission to leap even further outside the box to do whatever you need to do for your family.

jenniferN

 

 

 

 

Jen N. Jen has spent her time homeschooling her five children since 2001. She has read over 5,000 books aloud. A fan of all things geeky, she calls her children her horcruxes — each one has a talent for something she might have pursued herself. Jen and her husband have created a family of quirky, creative people that they are thrilled to launch out into the world. With the three oldest graduated, Jen now has time on her hands and has started a blog: www.recreationalscholar.wordpress.com

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