A homeschool day in the life (with an 11- and 10-year-old)

In normal times, when we’re not living through a global pandemic, there’s quite a bit of variation to our homeschool weeks: some are focused on structured learning from home; others are punctuated with trips to museums, days spent learning how to sail with friends or putting on a play together, and yet others we’re exploring another part of the world – you know doing exciting things like climbing volcanoes or meeting Maori tribes!

In lockdown, our options are somewhat curtailed… No travel, sports or face-to-face acting lessons, and only virtual contact with friends. Nevertheless, not to be disheartened, we have a plan.

Whilst the weather is not at its most appealing, our overall strategy is threefold:

  1. Firstly, to focus on individual passions and yearly goals:
  • Bean11 has 2 to 3 one-to-one virtual acting lessons each week working towards her level 3 LAMDA acting exam, which she’s just loving! I even found myself teaching her a Northern accent the other day, which was so much fun and reminiscent of childhood conversations with my grandparents! Scheduling a regular daily writing slot has also allowed her to make positive strides forward with her novel. She’s really happy with how it’s progressing. I’m currently helping her finish editing the first main part of the book, developing the characters further.
  • Bean10 continues to break bits of the house (and me) in his drive to practise bowling, batting and fielding all around the house… He listens to audiobooks of famous cricketers, watches bowling videos, practises his catching and batting with the Crazy Catch; and bowls relentlessly down the hallway testing out new techniques. Or he grabs his guitar and practises a new tune he’s trying to master – his latest choice: In Bloom by Nirvana.
  • In between helping the kids, I’m pushing forward with a plan to redesign this blog and MrJ is getting all those house renovation jobs completed that have been on our list for ever. A cold January is maybe not the best time to change all the windows in your house or update the electrics, leaving you with no electricity to even make a hot drink to stave off the cold. But I’m sure we’ll appreciate it in the long run!

2. Secondly, to make the everyday feel special by doing exciting microadventures together outside (like climbing a hill in the dark and star gazing/sharing hot chocolate at the summit) or working on our biodiversity project in the garden/woods (see this post for more information).

3. Thirdly, to get our heads down and work through as much of our academic plans for the year as feels comfortable and enjoyable.

Unless of course, you suddenly have a snowfall and need to take Monday morning off to learn how to “skeleton-bob” down your local village streets…

All this is helping us stay busy and positive through the lockdown period and once it starts to lift, we’ll be free to explore and take every advantage of our newfound freedom – be that maxing out on cricket training sessions he’s so desperately missing; meeting with friends or exploring the world outside of Kent!

So, what does a typical day in our homeschool lockdown life look like?

Despite the limitations, no two days are the same (if you’re interested in what we cover by subject area, check out this post), but I did make an effort last Thursday to document exactly what we did to give you a peek into our homeschooling life.

Morning (6am-10am) – Exercise and Independent Work

Bean10 is first awake at 6am and reads in bed for an hour. He’s currently reading the Biggles’ books by Captain W.E. Johns – a series of adventure stories about a pilot in WWI and WWII. These books have got his creative juices flowing and inspired him to start writing stories in his own time (unheard of for this writing avoider!).

I’m tired this morning so don’t get out of bed until 7am, drag on some kit, say a sleepy goodbye to Bean10 and MrJ – who are now doing MrJ’s selection of strengthening exercises – and head out for a 5-mile run. Although it’s often hard to get out the door, I love this time on my own to reflect and it’s a beautiful morning, so I come home awake and refreshed.

I pick up Bean10 who’s coming with me for another 2-mile jog around the village (Bean11 prefers speed walking to running). We chat about cricket – he tells me about his ideal field placements and bowling plans…

Once home, Bean11 comes in for a sweaty-at-arms-length cuddle, and she tells me she’s been awake since 7:40 and already completed her half an hour of stretch reading whilst breakfasting – Jane Eyre (one of my favourites) – and helped MrJ move furniture around in preparation of the window fitters’ arrival.

Bean10 showers, does a bit of bowling down the corridor and starts his maths.

Bean11 gets whisked away to another world as she taps away writing her story.

And I get ready for the day, put on the washing, make many cups of tea for the builders who have now arrived and most importantly, light a fire in the room we’re going to hide away in (the front door is almost continually open with the building work, and it’s freezing!).

Mid-Morning (10am-12:30pm)Morning Basket and Physics

Morning Basket is one of our favourite parts of the day: a time to connect, pray and do activities we love. Over the next hour, we:

  • Read the daily devotional (from this book) and each say a prayer aloud.
  • Learn a new vocabulary word from this book – today’s word is ‘jurisdiction’ – and review some Latin/Greek cards from this set.
  • Complete one track from the Michel Thomas Spanish CDs (reviewing imperfect tense for irregular verbs); then they each conjugate one of these verbs and we go through 6 problem words from their Spanish vocabulary list.
  • Discuss the literary analysis of William Wordsworth’s poem they’ve just learned: The Prelude: Stealing the Boat.
  • Read more from The Diary of Emma Simpson: When Will This Cruel War Be Over? We’re studying the American Civil War and these Dear America series of diaries, written from the perspective of young teenagers, really bring these parts of history to life for the Beans. To be honest though, we’re all struggling with this one as it’s written from the perspective of a girl whose father believes in and is fighting to retain slavery…something none of us can remotely get our heads around. The Beans are fired up with anger about it. Nevertheless, it’s a powerful book and I doubt they’ll forget the reasons behind America’s war in which brothers fought brothers.  

Bean10 practises his batting techniques with the Crazy Catch whilst he listens to me read. He learns better if he’s moving at the same time!

After a quick break, we start our physics lesson.

Today we’re working on centre of gravity and turning moments: learning its formula; applying it to lots of real-life examples; and looking at working radii for cranes and safe maximum loads to prevent toppling over. We then do the study questions at the end of the section.

To finish off, we have a go at a simple experiment to show how difficult it is to lift a stack of dictionaries with their pinky finger compared to a lever (a knife) free to move about a pivot (a pencil). They try moving the pivot along the knife to see the impact.

Lunchtime (12:30pm-1:30pm)

We’re tired today so we all do our own thing over lunch. Bean10 reads, Bean11 looks through some monologue options for her LAMDA exam, MrJ puzzles over a work problem and I read a few blog posts.

Afternoon (1:30pm-6pm) – Finish Work, Walk and Play

The Beans write up their morning’s physics learnings, adding in lots of drawings. I field (as best I can) a myriad of questions about the topic – Bean10 in particular often has to talk things through to consolidate his understanding.

This is followed by some experiments: to find the centre of gravity of an uneven shape and to use Bean10’s Lego Education set to build the three types of lever.

To finish up the working day, Bean10 completes his maths (he’s using the Math U See Pre-Algebra curriculum) and Bean11 does 30 minutes of AND/OR probability questions.

Once done, Bean10 plays with the Lego set building a motorised car and then we head out the door for a walk. I actually get some thinking time in as the kids chatter away excitedly together about a game they’re developing: apparently the teddies are coming to the playroom for an inspection of the homes of the Sylvanians, Lego, Schleich and army people! They’re also planning passports for some of the teddies.

When we get back, the scaffolding’s finally up and the builders have gone home, so the Beans have a mini adventure climbing and exploring this new-found playground!

Once inside, Bean11 goes up to play and Bean10 pulls out the sewing machine to make his favourite teddy her own passport before running up to join the game.

At 5pm, they each have a 30-minute virtual singing lesson via Zoom. Bean10 practises more cricket whilst he waits for his turn.

Evening – Games and Bedtime

6pm is dinner and a family chat. After this, I get some writing done whilst the kids tidy up and then play a game of Trekking the World with MrJ until bedtime at 8pm.

Bean11 comes downstairs to read with us until 9pm and then MrJ and I manage to fit a couple of episodes of our new addiction – Designated Survivor – before crashing exhausted into bed at 10:30.

A busy day. They’re not all like this though – the following day was conducted at a somewhat calmer, slower pace.

But they do all involve a serious amount of cricket practice!

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  1. Thank you Amy – Morning Basket has always been such a treasured time of connection for us all.
    I loved reading about your homeschool day too. Like your children, the Beans are also big fans of Odysseus’ adventures 🙂

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