Home Education

A Day in the Life of a Charlotte Mason Mama

August 23, 2017 by Brandy Vencel
[dropcap]Y[/dropcap]ou asked for this post. I’m only reminding you of this because I hate writing posts like this. It feels to me the equivalent of taking a dozen selfies and then sending them all to you. I would never do that! But at the same time, I get it. I remember starting out and wondering what life would look like in a year, five years, ten.

And that’s how far in we are: ten years.

It’s an interesting thing because I’m exactly at the midway point. Ten years down, ten to go.

Maybe I’ll think of this as a scrapbook. I want to remember what is was like. We always think we’ll remember, but we always end up forgetting.

I would probably be terrible at changing diapers since I haven’t done it in seven years.

Sigh.

Anyhow, here’s my school average day. Or at least, this seems to be my school average day … on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Fridays. Thursdays are co-op days and Wednesdays are my son’s Greek class, which also switches things up.

What does a Charlotte Mason homeschool day like?

 

Please keep in mind that I have four kids that can all go the bathroom by themselves. This matters.

lot.

 

6:00 am Wake Up

My FitBit Flex wakes me up. This is because I hate alarm clocks. They make my heart race and I don’t like waking up in panic attack mode. I do normal morning things like wash my face, put on my contacts, and take my thyroid medicine. No one else is usually up and I head to the office by…

 

6:15 am Scholé Time and Possibly Work

I pray and read my Bible and a few pages of Augustine. I read with my commonplace by my side, but I may or may not make an entry. I don’t have a set amount of time for this activity. I usually read at least two Bible chapters, but sometimes I read more.

When I’m done, if there is time, I start working on Blog Things. This morning, for example, I spent some time editing a Scholé Sisters episode. Other times, I have emails to reply to. I do what needs to be done. I try not to get online much during school hours, so it’s good to check in before we start lessons.

 

7:15 ish Breakfast

Husbands have different ways of supporting the homeschool. The main thing mine does is make breakfast. Before he started doing this, I was getting up at 5:30 am! The extra half hour of sleep has been wonderful and I’m really thankful to him for it.

Husbands make very simple breakfasts. This means breakfast doesn’t take long to eat, which is fine with me because we roll right in to…

 

7:30 am Circle Time

Circle Time lasts an hour, but my high schooler usually departs before then because he has much to do, and sometimes online classes to attend.

Circle Time includes memory work, solfa singing lessons, grammar, science (geology right now), geography, Church history, picture study, composer study, and more. Obviously, we don’t do all of this every day. I have a schedule, but we’re still perfecting it.

 

8:30 am Math with A-Age-Twelve

This is a day in my life, remember? So I’m telling you what I’m doing, not what every single person is doing. Who knows what the high schooler is doing? He’s a responsible kid, so I don’t bother him. He knows where I am if he needs me.

O-Age-Nine and Q-Age-Ten are usually doing chores during this time.

For half an hour, my life revolves around math with my daughter.

Well, that and coffee. I love a hot cup of coffee in the morning, and I try to brew one while Daughter A. is working a problem.

 

9:00 am Year Three Work with O-Age-Nine

When he’s done with his chores, he’s supposed to gather his school supplies and books for our first session together. We head outside to our patio table and start lessons. I do almost all of his lessons outside because (1) I enjoy the sunshine and (2) this way my reading aloud doesn’t bother others in the house.

We do not have a school room.

This session lasts about half an hour, sometimes 45 minutes. I read aloud to him from an AmblesideOnline Year Three book, he narrates, and then usually we read a poem. I end by sending him off to do copywork.

 

9:45 am Check in with People

Usually by this time, I have gotten dressed. Because I work all the way up until breakfast, I don’t change before that. Sometimes I manage it before my work with Son O, but definitely by now. It’s funny; everyone else is always dressed. The only one doing school in pajamas around here is me. I don’t really love that, but it seems to be the most efficient thing for now.

As I was saying, this is check in time. Usually there are narrations to hear (or read). There are questions to field. Q-Age-Ten is pretty independent in math, so I often check her work at this point.

 

10:15 am Latin with Q-Age-Ten, Start O-Age-Nine on Math

This half-hour block is mostly devoted to Latin study. She doesn’t always need me, but I’ve blocked it out to be available. Before we begin, though, I start O-Age-Nine on his math. He tends to only need a few brief instructions to get him going. He is my math child.

If Daughter Q. doesn’t need me, and no one else does, either, I try to take a couple laps around the back yard and maybe check Voxer or social media. I start a load of laundry.

 

This is the chart we use to help keep us on track on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Fridays.

 

11:00 am Year Five Work with Q-Age-Ten OR Year Ten Work with E-Age-Fifteen

Daughter Q. is so entirely independent that I fear she will get lost in the shuffle if I’m not careful. I’m available to her during this time, but usually she doesn’t need me and my high schooler does. We walk a few more laps outside while he narrates. I’m within earshot of Daughter Q. in case she needs something.

Yesterday the sprinklers almost got us!

 

11:30 am Finish Up Year Three Work with O-Age-Nine

He’s reading a few books himself this year, so we don’t always do this, but many days I read aloud to him during this time. He narrates. I check his list to see what else (like a nature journal entry) he might need to do.

We finish by discussing why he cannot do something he really, really wants to do. I don’t know how he manages to think of a new thing to ask for every day, but he’s been consistent so far.

 

12:00 pm Finish Up Year Seven, Check in on High School

I spend a little more time with A-Age-Twelve, listening to final narrations or helping in some other way. After that, I alternate chores, lunch prep, and helping my high schooler with stuff.

 

1:15ish Lunch and Reading Aloud

Eating and reading aloud go hand in hand at our house. Right now we’re reading North! Or Be Eaten.

 

Other Things to Mention

  • This year is going smoothly so far … so much so that I’ve asked myself what I’m forgetting! Everyone is finishing their lessons at a reasonable time, which has been so nice. You and I both know it’s so easy for the time to get away from us.
  • I honestly cannot believe how much easier lessons are now that my children can mostly read everything for themselves. This allows me to spend so much more time in other areas that need it, like math and Latin … without feeling like I’m dying. Last year, I still had that dying feeling a lot. The year before that was the year I read everything aloud to three of my children. I’m glad I persevered, but I’m also glad that year is in the past.
  • Putting chores into the school day was the best decision I ever made. I cannot work with every child at once. Chores need to be done. Why not have chores be something they can do while I’m working with someone else? We tried it; it works wonderfully.
  • Everyone has to take a midmorning snack sometime after 10:00 am. I used to schedule it to be done together, but this year it works better to do it individually. They each come to a natural stopping place and then find something to eat. We started doing snacks years ago; Daughter Q. still collapses with exhaustion if she doesn’t eat midmorning; it’s imperative for our day that she do this.
  • A magic question to ask is, “Is this worth interrupting a narration for?” So many times, someone walks up to talk without even realizing they are interrupting, so it pays to ask the question. Usually, the answer is no. School days are shorter when everyone waits their turn.
  • The first three weeks or so of school are for perfecting the schedule. If it doesn’t work, keep trying. Don’t be discouraged. Keep track of how long things are taking and who is behind or ahead as knowledge of these types of details make it easier to decide how to adjust.
  • Afternoons are mostly free, save for karate a couple days a week, and piano practice. One of my biggest priorities is for my children to have lots of uninterrupted time to play, read, and pursue their own interests.
  • Are all of my children really working until 1:15 pm? NO. These slots — Y3, Y5, etc. — are set aside times where I can work with them if they need it. They don’t always need it. If they are done and there is still time left, that time becomes free time for their projects. Yesterday, everyone except the high schooler was done by noon — the Year 3 student quite a bit earlier than that.

 

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16 Comments

  • Reply Heather August 25, 2017 at 4:39 am

    I love day in the life posts!!! 🙂 I’m so impressed you’re done so early- is live to figure out how to end a bit earlier but with so many children, it’s not happening. they are getting afternoon hours to create & just be, so CM principle is happening…. just not for the hours she suggested!

    • Reply Brandy Vencel August 25, 2017 at 6:54 am

      My friend who has 10 children once told me that the *children’s* days are short enough, but the mother’s day is not. I thought that was a good way of looking at it.

      We’re in luck that there is more than one way to work out a principle! ♥

  • Reply Alana August 23, 2017 at 9:05 pm

    Thank you for doing this! I’m saving this for a few years down the road to look back on.

  • Reply Catie August 23, 2017 at 6:35 pm

    I LOVED reading this. 🙂 It’s so nice to see how others *do* school. It was also a good reminder to show myself some grace, since my kids are all still quite little. And it won’t always be like this. Which is good and bad. So, thank you!

    And I would love if you posted a bunch of selfies. HA!

  • Reply Katrina August 23, 2017 at 4:53 pm

    Just wondering what sort of projects your children work on in their free time during school hours? I have children in Y5, Y3, and Y1-ish (he’s 5 1/2 so he’s almost but not quite in Y1, but I’ll probably start him after the New Year). I have trouble reeling everyone back in if I let them go off and play so I am trying to figure out what to do with them when they don’t have anything they can do independently.
    Also, thanks for the insight. It gave me some ideas I could implement and helped me clear up some thoughts on how I wanted our schedule to work.

    • Reply Brandy Vencel August 25, 2017 at 6:57 am

      Ooh! Good point! I had that problem this week, actually. My son asked to start his nature journal entry, but then when it was time for the next thing, he fought me on it. That really does happen!

      He has the most free time because he’s the youngest. He often goes and plays with his toy cars for while. Or he plays with the dog … or his pet rabbit. For him, it is play. For my girls, it’s usually snatch time to read in a free reading book — the book they would *rather* be reading over their school books. 😉

      My oldest is a teenage boy, so of COURSE he rummages for food. 😉

  • Reply Melanie Ireland August 23, 2017 at 12:07 pm

    Thank you for sharing the schedule that works for you, Brandy. I desperately want to find one that will work for me while I struggle with Lymes Disease. I am not a morning person so I like that I can start later in the day when I may feel better. My 10th grader still needs a lot of help from me and my 5th grader isn’t reading well enough on her own and needs me to follow along in the Y2 AO books with her or read them aloud. I am continuing K work with my son because he has learning disabilities and lots of energy, he is our only morning person 😉 Do you have any suggestions that will help me be more consistent? I am even having trouble wording this question because of brain fog/fatigue, it’s very overwhelming for me right now. My husband and I are in agreement about our choice to homeschool, even though we have looked far and wide to find a school environment for our son that would fit his learning needs without success, but I feel like I am failing them because they are not independent enough to work on their own. I am still trying to get all of their things organized and hope that if I write their assignments out for them each day they can begin their work and come to me when they need me. Right now we don’t have a school room or designated space for school and I think it feels too disjointed or chaotic. Any thoughts or suggestions?

    • Reply Hayley Beck August 24, 2017 at 12:00 am

      I am so sorry to hear of your struggles. I thought I could pipe in a suggestion or two. One of the things I do is use Librivox.org for so many of the AO books are on there (audio). While you may not want to have ALL of the books on audio for ALL of their school years, it’s OK to resort to this for a season especially while you have so many dependent on you. We use Librivox.org a lot and I always have my children read the books along with it. Sometimes I even sit as a participant and listen to the reading on Librivox as well, however, most of the time I use it because I can’t be reading two different books to two different children.

      Also, just keep notes (if it’s not too overwhelming or tiresome) as to what things or books you want to do but can’t just yet in this season and come back. For instance, not ALL the books have to be read and possibly even combine some books if you can. Table a book for next year.

      I’m sure Brandy will have some more ideas but I bet she’ll also remind you to give yourself grace, and lots of it. The joy of homeschooling is that you have the freedom to set the pace of your day based on everyone’s needs in the family. Hang in there.

      • Reply Melanie Ireland August 24, 2017 at 9:47 pm

        Thank you Hayley. I have used Livrovox in the past but had forgotten that my daughters could listen and follow along in the books themselves. That’s a great idea to help them to be more independent. I loved Brandy’s idea of walking and listening to narrations. A great way for me to get sunshine, fresh air and movement while my DD gets to talk 😉 I also have to remember to not expect everything to be perfect, especially myself.

    • Reply Brandy Vencel August 25, 2017 at 7:00 am

      Hayley, I love your suggestions!

      I also think it’s a valid option to work at a time when you are more alert — even if that is afternoons and you have to do it “backwards” (free time in the morning and lessons in the afternoon).

      Have your children been tested for Lyme? I ask because I’ve read a lot lately about congenital Lyme causing learning disabilities. IF that is the cause, treating the child might help more than anything else! ♥

      Hang in there! I know how tired you are. Capitalizing on your energetic moments is key, I think…

      • Reply Melanie Ireland August 25, 2017 at 6:54 pm

        I have considered having them tested but the Lyme Dr I was seeing won’t order the testing. I cut back on treatments for myself because I didn’t feel any improvement and the cost of the treatments and office visits were putting a big strain on our finances. In our area there aren’t sympathetic physicians. I haven’t read about learning disabilities in kids who may carry lyme. Very sad. My dr did tell me to not donate blood, never have, and to not get pregnant as it can be passed on to baby. I know I probably had lyme when I had my second daughter but most likely with my first as well. It’s so hard to not have answers or help. I pray a lot for us and others that suffer with it.

        • Reply Rebecca Beck August 27, 2017 at 7:52 pm

          A cheap remedy to loose into is CD or turpentine?. They both claimed m to cure everything! Look up dr Jennifer Daniels on YouTube or the worm whisperer! God bless your healing and take it into your own hands!

  • Reply Virginia Lee Rogers August 23, 2017 at 7:25 am

    Interesting peek into your day. I have noticed that morning people are normally the ones to post these average day peeks. It’s like those in the CM world who do things in the afternoon are afraid to fess up. ? When I read your Circle Time started at 7:30 I gasped. Do brains work at 7:30 am? News to me. ? So I think your schedule is great, except I’d move it all about three hours later. And my personal stuff (Bible, reading, work) is done at night. We still get our free play/pursue our own interests in, but our time happens after 4:30 or 5 pm and we stay up later. I love how Mason’s philosophies truly do fit fit every person, even night owls. ? I also like your listen to narrations as you walk laps. This I will be trying ASAP. So yes, peeks into another’s day are helpful. ?

    • Reply Brandy Vencel August 23, 2017 at 8:44 am

      It’s funny — one of the reasons why I don’t like to post our schedule and have put off this post for YEARS is because I am a morning person with ALL morning people for children. I know it’s not realistic for many people!

      I was so relieve when you said you’d move it to three hours later because that was how I hoped people would take it. 🙂

      ps. The walking laps is fantastic! Keeps me more alert as the day goes on. 🙂

      • Reply Jennifer September 25, 2017 at 6:19 am

        Thank you for a peek into your average day. It helps to see how others do it.

        I also have 4 children – 7 yo b/g twins (2nd grade) and 9 yo b/g twins (4th grade).

        We’re using My Father’s World right now as our spine curriculum but I want to go to a more authentic CM method like AO (I think Year 1 and Year 2). Honestly, we have barely gotten to the MFW stuff because it seems like our morning time, Math and LA (mainly reading/phonics instruction) take up the whole morning. I work with my two 7 yo’s first and do their All About Reading and Math U See together. Then I switch to the 9 yo’s. These two I separate for reading (AAR also) because they’re reading levels vary a bit and together for math. By the time this is all done, it’s lunch time. And I don’t think I’ve done any reading aloud or guided reading, nor have they done any reading themselves.

        When I’m working with one set of twins I’ve tried to set up workboxes for the other set to do independently. But that hasn’t been very successful. I can’t find the time to add new things, so they get bored with them and end up daydreaming. They also get on the computer and use Reading Eggs & Math Seeds

        I know I’m doing something wrong but can’t seem to figure out a way to tweak it all to make sure everyone gets 1:1 as needed, everyone works independently, that everyone’s schoolwork is challenging enough, and that I am on top of how everyone is doing.

        Any suggestions on how to transition to AO and make a routine that ensures everyone gets what they need (the “full feast”) at least most of the time?

        • Reply Brandy Vencel October 9, 2017 at 7:20 pm

          I am amazed that you have two sets of twins! What an amazing family! ♥

          I wonder about running your day on a tightly timed schedule for while, just to see how it works? What I mean is, say that math for Child X is going to take X minutes and then stop when you hit that time, regardless of where you are. I don’t know for sure, but I wonder if it’d help, leaving you more time for other subjects that are challenging to get to.

          I will say this: it is all really hard, no matter what you do with your schedule, when you have more than one still learning to read. (At one point I had to read everything to three of my children — it took forever!) Sometimes it helps to know there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Someday, they will all read and it’ll be much easier to juggle. 🙂

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