Homeschooling: It's not what we do, it's how we live.

NBTS Blog Hop: Day-in-the-Life Week, Part 1: A Not So Great Day

This week in the Not Back to School Blog Hop at Heart of the Matter online, they’re doing ‘day in the life’ posts. I’ve done DITL photo posts in previous blogs, but I’ve never done one here. That reminds me…

{Note to self: Do a photo DITL and post it here!!}

We started a new system today – a modification of Sue Patrick’s workboxes – and it didn’t go as well as I’d hoped.

Actually, it was an utter disaster.

This is what I posted to my support group on Facebook this morning at about 9:45:

Starting workboxes this morning… anyone else doing them? So far, one child is done with one box and on to the second, the other is dragging his precious little feet and I want to strangle him. I’m trying NOT to be pushy-mom though – we have the pool fixed (FINALLY) and the promise of swimming when all the days’ work is done, so I am TRYING to keep my trap shut and let him work at his own pace, but it’s positively killing me not to say ‘HURRY UP!!!’ at this moment, LOL. Gold star for me 😉
… and a little while after that (with some discussion about workboxes in general on the chat):

We’ve been doing it, kinda without the boxes, but I am tired of it taking ALL FRAKKING DAY. My kids dawdle – a LOT and it’s making me resentful because what SHOULD take 15 minutes is taking 2 hours.

I got the boxes in the hope that having clear cut “start, pause, stop” visual tools would help and so far – not so much. I don’t know if it’s just a sucky Monday or what, but I am about done with this today. We’ll give it a good run before I give up on the system though. It’s always been a challenge to get LBB to do his work, so this may be too much autonomy for him. We’ll see…. if it doesn’t work, then we’ll try something else 😉


I loaded up their boxes with instructions and materials, then they work through at their own pace (ideally, that pace is faster than the tortoise-pace that my kids are currently channeling). Some things are ;work with mom’, some are group activities (I am unclear about how those will work though). I am hoping that this will help them be more independent, more responsible (time management) and more motivated since they don;t have to wait on anyone else to get to ‘their own’ work. I also envision more one-on-one – my kids are so close in age that I often assign the same thing, which leaves little room for one-on one unless I’m helping with something (and then the other kid has to wait…) so I am staggering their boxes so that I am helping one while the other works independently – at least that’s the plan.

Ahhh… you know, that’s the thing about plans. They have this awful tendency not to work out the way you’d hoped.

Considering the kind of day we’ve had, I thought about not participating in this week’s blog hop until we’ve had a ‘good’ day. Then I thought about it and decided that many – if not most – of the posts will be about how great the first day of school was. Then I thought about how only showing the ‘good’ side of homeschooling is not really painting an accurate picture and figured I’d chronicle what a ‘bad’ homeschooling day is like. For us, anyway.

I will add some disclaimers:

  1. this is in no way a ‘typical’ day for us. We’re starting workboxes and this was the first day of a totally new system for my kids – one with a lot more autonomy than they’re used to and we’re all adjusting.
  2. today is not our first day ‘back’ to school – we school all year round, 4 weeks on, 1 week off. This is week 3 for us in the schedule.
  3. today was a long day – it was longer because of the choices the kids made, but it would have been longer than normal anyway since this is a home day.
  4. we had some family drama that cut into our school time, which made for a situation where the kids were ‘allowed’ to make bad choices. Added to the stress of an already busy day, it just made things that much worse.
So with those things in mind, I give you {drumroll, please}…
Our Day:
  • We started off at 9AM – well, 9:07AM. A teensy bit late, but that’s all right. I made up the kids workboxes the day before, so they’re all ready to get started. Up first, copywork: 2 paragraphs from a chapter book of your choice. PeaGreen (8y/ 3rd grade) chose Scooby Doo and LBB (9.5y/ 4th grade) chose a Batman book.
  • 10AM – still on copywork.
  • 11AM – LBB on box 2 (math), Mommy loses her schmidt a little bit because Peagreen is still on copywork.
  • 12:PM – Lunch
  • 1PM: LBB on box 3 (reading comp. and writing assignment) and then a break, Peagreen still on copywork.
  • 2PM: LBB on box 4 (reading independently for 20 minutes (which lasted an hour because of the temper tantrum about how unfair it is to have to read aloud… ), Mommy loses her schmidt dealing with that and also the fact that Peagreen is still workin’ on those same two paragraphs.
  • 3PM: Tea Time, then box 5 for LBB (math game), and Peagreen’s back at that same frakking copywork.
  • 4PM: Break and do history (box 10) and NVC (box 8) for everyone… about 20 minutes each, then back to their boxes – LBB on box 6 (spelling), PeaGreen FINALLY on to box 2 (math). (Hooray!!)
  • 5PM: Loverly Husband arrives home, then leaves to help his granfmother with some honey-do’s around her house. LBB on box 7 (Latin), then box 11 (math drill. PeaGreen on box 3 (reading comp & writing assignment).
  • 6PM: LBB on box 11 still, PeaGreen on box 4 (reading 20 minutes) and box 7 (Latin).
  • 7PM: Dinner and clean up – prepare for an overnight guest. Kids get super excited and take up the living room rug, shaking out fine-grit dirt all over the ENTIRE living room. Le sigh.
  • 8PM: LBB on box 11, PeaGreen on box 11 (Lang. Arts)
  • 9PM: box 12 – origami project with Mom
  • 10PM: LBB finishes up box 11, PeaGreen finishes box 9 (geography and math drill that he skipped earlier in the evening) while Mom packs boxes for tomorrow (only 7 boxes though, it’s a field trip day).
  • 11:22PM – kids are teeth brushed-and-in-bed and I am writing this up with intent to post momentarily.
So, as you can see… this is NOT a perfect homeschooling day. It was a LONG, HARD and STRESSFUL day. It was challenging, and I did not handle myself and the stresses that today brought with the attitude and patience that I normally strive for (and often achieve). I was mad, my kids were mad… it was far from an ideal day. There was none of that shiny happy perfect homeschool day stuff at our house today.


But that’s okay.


Today was real. Despite the challenges, we made it through. We apologized where necessary and each took responsibility for our contributions to todays’ stresses, and forgave each other for losing our cool. We accomplished ALL of the boxes today, and I am damn proud of that. My kids were smiling when they went to bed this evening, so I am confident that even though today wasn’t that great, this is still a good choice for us. It was a lot of work, and even though there was temptation to just harp on the work and skip over the fun stuff (like origami), I am glad that we didn’t skip them. We all needed the non-pressure of paper folding together to relax for a bit before finishing the last of the work.


A few pictures of our new set-up:

I don’t know if this is where the boxes will stay long-term… we’re still working on logistics. Right now, they’re under/in front of the chalkboard, which makes it difficult to access.

Until I figure this system out, I hand-wrote on index cards the assignment (copywork/journal/writing in box 1) and then a ‘done’ card. If we keep this system, I’ll eventually make pretty laminated cards and have everything typed up neatly with spiffy graphics. I confess, it’s killing me to use handwritten, non-laminated things. I cringe every time I touch one of them.

The ‘done’ cards have a message on the back – words of encouragement, lets them know that it’s time for a break or time to do chores. I am also still working on getting the timing down – Ideally, each box is 20/30 minutes with breaks every hour (or as needed). ‘Work the system, don’t let the system work you’ – such is my mantra.

When they’re done with the box, the cards go into the pockets. I collect them at the end of the day and fill the boxes with the next day’s materials. I have a worksheet that I am using and have filled out a weeks’ worth of boxes so all I have to do is refer to the sheet. Seeing it all laid out makes it easier to spot holes and patterns (I hope).

Like I said, this is all new for us. I am not terribly happy with today’s experiment, but I don’t think that one day is enough to decide if it’s working or not. We’ll give it the rest of the week and see what we’ve got.

I normally close my posts with something to the effect of ‘hope you enjoyed reading about our day’, but somehow that doesn’t seem appropriate today. I do hope that reading this helps dispell the notion that we homeschooling parents have it all together, or that we have perfect little kids with perfect homeschooling days. Some days are just disastrous, but that’s okay – that’s life.

After all, tomorrow is another day! {/ Scarlett O’Hara impression}




10 responses

  1. I appreciate the honesty 🙂 I so hope the rest of your week have much shorter days!

    August 23, 2011 at 12:08 am

  2. Has. Has much shorter days. Sorry!

    August 23, 2011 at 12:09 am

    • So far, so good; it’s Wednesday and LBB has ‘homework’ (leftover work from this morning) to wrap up after dinner, but everything else has been done. We instituted used of a timer for some things and so far that’s working well.
      Thanks for stopping by!

      August 24, 2011 at 5:46 pm

  3. I so appreciate homeschool bloggers who are willing to post about the crappy days and don’t just fill their blog with the magical peaceful days. THIS was a real day in homeschooling. (Not that the other ones aren’t real as well, but you know what I’m saying.) I’m glad that you pushed through and still decided the post about it!

    I like your set up. I’ve often toyed with the workbox idea…just haven’t done it yet!

    August 23, 2011 at 5:23 am

    • Thanks for the support and encouragement, MamaTea!

      August 24, 2011 at 5:47 pm

  4. Something in the air on Monday as my children were also making school last forever!!!! Nice to read others have the same troubles some days, fortunately they are all not like that.

    August 23, 2011 at 6:26 am

    • Yes, thank goodness they’re not all like that, lol!
      Hope your week has improved as well, Anna-Marie!


      August 24, 2011 at 5:48 pm

  5. Awesome determination. I play hookie on day that start out like that ! I would never have been able to deal with hours of copywork. 😉

    You are my new hero !! Maybe someday I will have some of that determination.

    August 24, 2011 at 11:11 am

    • Normally, we would too, but I couldn’t justify playing hooky on the *first* day of something new. It’s like admitting defeat or something. Plus, I don’t want to set the trend that (to them) means dawdling long enough means that Mom will give up on school for today.

      If mine were younger, I would be a little more flexible, but these boys are plenty old enough to handle the workload… struggling with a concept, I have plenty of patience and tolerance for. Attitude and hard-headed stubbornness because they don’t want to do it… not so much 😉

      August 24, 2011 at 5:51 pm

  6. Thank you so much for this post, I always enjoy reading the true honesty that comes through in posts such as this.

    August 26, 2011 at 12:21 am

Love it? Hate it? Let me know! Leave a comment:

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s