Homeschooling

Holding Onto What Matters: The Making of a New Schedule

School officially begins for our family next week.

Not that we ever really quit doing school, but that we will be transitioning from Summer School to, well, School.  This just means that instead of Tea Parties, Badminton Binging, and Grimm’s Fairy Tales, it’ll be Art & Tea Time, Badminton Sessions, and more Grimm’s Fairy Tales.  (And other great books!)

And Math and Latin and Writing, Grammar, Poetry…

Each year tends to be a bit different, though, as the children continue to grow and require more academic attention from me.  Naturally, we reassess each year to see what needs to be done for their education without sacrificing the Culture of our Home, which is a beautiful thing.

We never want to be so busy as to not put First Things First.

This means that Jesus needs to remain King of our Home, and we need to spend time with Him.  Lauds in the wee hours of the morning amidst flickering candlelight must never go away.  Dinners in the evenings should find us together listening to the stories of the saints.  The prayers of the rosary should rise like incense before our icons.  Finally, the children should fall asleep with Dad’s blessing on their foreheads every night.  These are the things that matter the most.

All else–school work, extracurricular activities, household matters–comes Next.

This year our family will be making a great change as the three older children will no longer be homeschooled, but will attend a small, private school.  The remaining four children will still be homeschooled–well, the youngest can hardly be expected to do anything “educationally” constructive, except by ways of playing dolls and dress-up, which I suppose is an education in itself and not to be laughed at.

But this will be a great change for us, and one in which we’ll want to be careful not to suddenly become too busy.  Brick and Mortar Schools have a tendency to do this, as there are a plethora of activities, clubs, and sports that one can be involved in, even in this Modern Feardemic.  (At least here anyway.)

This is why our family has decided, for this year anyway, that one activity per kid is enough.  For example, the Eldest is taking piano and organ lessons.  She doesn’t get to do Running Club or be in the Singing Schola, even though those are good things.  It’s just too much running around for us.

The boys* all belong to Troops of St. George, wherein they go camping and learn about the great outdoors, and this is enough for them.

Sometimes less is more.  For it is easier to remain in the arms of Jesus with less baggage–less stuff–tearing one away.

A New Schedule

For those of you who are interested, I’ll post our new schedule below.  Sometimes it’s helpful to see how other large families are organizing their day, if only to give one an idea or two.

Remember that all families are unique and different, though.  This is just what works for us.  You’ll see that I’ve given specific times, but that doesn’t mean I walk around with a whistle and a clapper.  No, these are just general times.  If you have any questions, be sure to ask.

May God bless your 2020 Academic Year!

2020 Academic Year

6:00–6:25am:  Mom Computer Work

6:25-6:50am:  Lauds with all 4 Big Kids

6:50-7:20am:  Mom Shower, Laundry In, T Piano Practice, J Math with Dad, Older 3 eat Breakfast and Pack Lunches

7:20-7:30am:  Dad & Older 3 Depart for Providence Academy, Little Girls Dressed & Set Table

7:30-8:30am:  Mom Makes Breakfast, Bible Reading & Poetry

8:30-9:00am:  Mom Cleanup, J Piano, T Math

9:00-9:30am:  Midmorning Prayer & Latin

9:30-11:00am:  J Grammar, T & G Set Table, Switch-out Laundry

11:00-11:30am:  Lunch with Audible, Cleanup: J Wash, T Dry, Mom Sweep

11:30-12:00pm:  Mom Read Aloud (History)

12:00-1:00pm:  Quiet Time: Mom Prayer, Nap, & Tea

1:00-3:00pm:  T Phonics & Spelling, J Writing & Rhetoric, Art & Tea Time with Drawing & Cursive

3:00-3:45pm:  Pickup Older Children

3:45-5:00pm:  Dinner Prep, Mom Goes For a Run

5:00-5:15pm:  Greet Husband

5:15-6:45pm:  Dinner & Cleanup: M Wash, M Dry, P Sweep, J Garage Detail, Mom Laundry

6:45-7:30pm:  Free Time

7:30-7:50pm:  Rosary

7:50-8:00pm:  Children PJS, Teeth, Prayers, & Blessings from Dad

8:00-8:30pm:  Compline, M Piano Practice

8:30-10:00pm:  Mom & Dad Be Together

 

 

*The boys also serve the Traditional Latin Mass, which technically is an activity too.  So, perhaps we’re violating our Rule of One?
Christ-Like Minimalism

Christ-like Minimalism: The Beauty of Hooks

Many of you know that I’ve got a large family – 7 children – which requires living minimally with a great amount of organization.  So for the most part, I like the rule, “You Get One” or “The Rule of One.”

For example, in the wintertime, each child gets one pair of boots and one pair of tennis shoes.  They also get one pair of snow pants and one winter coat.  (The three older girls do have a nicer Mass coat…it’s the exception to our Rule of One.)  In the summer, they get one pair of rain boots, one pair of flip-flops, and one sweatshirt.  They also get one swimsuit and one beach towel.

But the question is, how in the world do I keep track of all that stuff – 7 pairs of boots, tennis shoes, coats, sweatshirts, beach towels…  Just where does all that stuff go?

My solution is hooks.

Thankfully hooks are possible in our new house, as there’s room on the garage walls.  And since it’s summer, the children keep their life jacket, beach towel, and swim suit on their appropriate hook out there.  This way they always know where to find their things, and these things stay off the floor and out of the house.  (Mostly!)

IMG_1359.jpeg
Everyone has their name on their beach towels too.  That way there can be no doubt about ownership.  If Johnny decided to leave his beach towel out in the yard to get muddy, then that’s his fault.

This is my first year of not allowing beach towels in the house, and it’s been lovely.  There are no more wet children tramping through the house to find a towel only to use it once and throw it on the floor.  Done with that.

We also have hooks on the other garage wall for their sweatshirts.

IMG_1360.jpeg
Obviously the hooks lower down on the wall are for the younger children, who cannot reach very high yet.

Of course during the 9 months of Never-Ending Winter, their winter coats hang in those places.  But for now, it’s sweatshirts.  You’ll notice that the winter hats and gloves are in the basket sitting on the top shelf.  The boys also keep their Mass shoes up there too.  The gray bin on the floor is for their one baseball hat.  My husband’s winter gear, however, does stay on those hooks off to the right all year round.

Here’s a shot of both walls.

IMG_1361.jpeg

There are two things that make this possible for us:

  1. We have the extra space in the garage
  2. We put cheap carpet down, so that the children do not have to stand on cold concrete to put shoes and things on.

As an aside, do you see the pencil sharpener above the white garbage can?  This was a genius move too.  No more are the children allowed to sharpen their pencils in the house.  Inevitably the little ones dump that container of pencil shavings all over the place.  Now, they can sharpen away, and spill it, and I don’t care.

Lastly, where do I put their winter gear?  Well, I don’t have a storage “room,” but I do have a little space under the basement staircase where we put more hooks.  (And dressers.)

IMG_1362.jpeg
Here they are, waiting for the return of colder seasons.  Their snow pants are hanging underneath their coats.

In the background you might notice a few dressers?  I’ve got 5 of them hiding back there, which is were I keep the children’s clothing that is currently not in use.  Each drawer is labeled as either “Girl” or “Boy” and is also marked with a particular size.  This makes it very easy to find whatever clothing I might need.  It’s a lot easier to pull out a labeled drawer than to dig through a large tub.  In fact, I’m constantly in and out of these drawers every single season, and it’s lovely to be able to get in there so easily.

IMG_1364.jpeg
Here’s a shot looking out of this storage area.

In the end, there are definite challenges to having a large family.  To all of you out there, living in the midst of it, I encourage you to keep at it!  Try to institute your own version of “You Get One.”  And experiment with some hooks.