Each year brings new routines. Last school year we had a both a baby and a toddler in the house, so our typical homeschool day looked quite different.
This year? My oldest is rarely home, but we are still a full house with Aamina in Kindergarten, Amatullah is 3.5, and Salihah just turned 2, mashaAllah.
So, how do our days function?
The kids start to get up and the husband heads out for work. We are typically starting breakfast around this time and the kids are getting dressed.
In an effort to build routines and habits, right after breakfast the kids put away the clean dishes that are in the dishwasher. It took some concentrated effort, but they typically do not balk at doing this chore anymore. Little do they know, I’ll be adding more chores on as they get older.
If we have something to do outside the house, we’ll get ready to go, but otherwise most mornings are free play all the way until lunch time.
We had morning basket time right after breakfast for a while, but that’s on hold for a few reasons:
- I would get annoyed at either waiting for the kids to finish up breakfast (too many spills and requested refills during breakfast to try to do both) or interrupting something I started once they were finally finished. Seriously, breakfast can take anywhere from 15 minutes to 2 hours. No way am I waiting around or only getting into something that can be interrupted immediately.
- Salihah is a screamer when someone is reading a book. I’m not sure why, but I refuse to yell-read books. Not a good way to start the morning.
So, since we all go our separate ways in the morning, I work on my own interests. While in an ideal world I would clean the house, I’d much rather do homework for one of my classes, or get some work done on the computer. If I need to update our budget or make a meal plan, this is the time it gets done.
Lunch time! So, even though I’ve already spent half of the morning away from the kids (though, really, they are usually running in and out from where I am, so it’s not completely separated), half the time I’ll eat lunch while they play, then make lunch for them after I’m done. Did I mention all the spills and refill requests during meal time? Yeah, I like to sit and eat my meal uninterrupted, if at all possible, and this is one way to make that happen.
After lunch there’s usually at least one room in the house that’s been completely turned upside down. No one said free play is free of mess. We’ll clean things up, and make sure the dining room is ready for lessons, in sha Allah.
1 PM – School Time
Naptime! Salihah usually takes a couple hour nap and in that time we get Aamina’s lessons done. What lessons do we get done?
- Every day we do Right Start Math. I set a 15 minute timer because RS Math lessons can sometimes take longer than a Kindergartener’s attention span. Since we don’t always finish a lesson, once or twice a week I try to fit in a math lesson before lunch as well.
- One day per week we concentrate on a name of Allah, Arabic lessons, tafseer, or a story of a prophet, in sha Allah.
- Currently I’m trying to fit in more science since we are in the deep freeze of Minnesota winter, but during the warmer months science is more concentrated on nature study.
- I also try to make sure that at least once a week the kids have some open art exploration with water colors, pencils, tempura paint, crayons, or making a craft.
While Aamina is working on her few Kindergarten lessons, Amatullah keeps occupied with some independent toys and books to help her feel included, but also keeps her occupied while we’re working.
After lessons, the kids are open for free play again. Sometimes they’ll watch nature videos on Amazon, or Arabic videos on YouTube to keep the learning trajectory going. Other times they’ll head outside and play, or go back to creative play within the house.
If I haven’t started on dinner already, this is when we start moving things along so we can have dinner ready for when the husband gets home. One piece of advice I give new homeschooling moms is to know your husband. If he had the choice of a clean house when he gets home, or to have dinner ready, which would he choose. For mine, he is hungry when he comes home and wants to eat right away, so I try to make that happen and it’s a priority in how I use my afternoon.
Sometimes the kids help with dinner, sometimes they don’t. I do ask that they help get the dining room ready, again as a habit that we are building in to our family routine, just like putting your dishes away after dinner.
As soon as I start making dinner, all homeschooling is done for the day. Even though we are quite relaxed and have a mindset that life in itself is a learning opportunity, there’s only so long I can be “on.” As soon as I eat dinner, I’m on countdown to bedtime, both for them and for me.
What about activities throughout the week? Well, we have nature walks, a Muslim homeschool group, and random play dates with friends and others in the homeschool community. I tend to be a homebody, especially when there are little children to fight with for simple things like putting on socks, but I try to make sure we get out once or twice a week. More than that and it’s too hard to keep up on even the most basic housework because we are only home long enough to make a mess and leave.