This post is part of a series called Day in a Homeschool Life. This community of homeschoolers would love to hear from you about your typical learning day and how your homeschool family rolls. Head over to the Day in a Homeschool Life page for submission guidelines. It’s super easy and stress-free. Come on over and help us build community so we can all feel a little more connected on this journey!
JACKIE NEUFELD // ECLECTIC
// From Kris: I am so excited to have Jackie sharing about her homeschool journey and day. As she points out herself, there aren’t many homeschoolers with just one child at home! If you are part of that crowd, please get in touch in the comments – let’s get a dialogue going so you can encourage and support one another…
Tell us about yourself…
My name is Jackie Neufeld and I am a homeschooling teacher with a class of one, my daughter Elody (4). A few years ago my amazing husband, Ryan, landed a career opportunity that had us traveling and living in the United States. I left my job as a teacher and became a full time mom. Through playgroups and community classes I made friends with many homeschooling parents, and parents who had been homeschooled. I was fascinated. I loved being at home with my toddler and as she grew closer to school age I knew that I had found my calling not only as her mom, but as her educator as well.
What method of homeschooling do you practice?
Currently we seem to fall into a mix of everything. Preschool, unschooling, traditional pen and paper activities. I haven’t been overly concerned with picking and sticking to a method just yet. I’m learning to let go of my idea of the traditional classroom and the teacher’s role in it and embrace the flow of my family.
Do you use a curriculum? If so, which one?
I’ve picked out elements from the Manitoba Kindergarten Curriculum as a guideline for our first year. I used it only as a loose road map, more for myself than for my daughter.
Describe a typical homeschool day for your family. Or, as you might have been asked – What do you do all day?
We are a family of night owls, with my husband, Ryan, being the only one truly able to use an alarm clock to get out of bed in the morning. Somewhere after 7 AM he will roll out of bed and get ready for work. At a time very close to 8 AM the aroma of fresh coffee fills the house and I muster all of my strength to make it down the stairs safely for my sweet morning caffeine. I like to wake up my house, it’s a great routine, lamps first, then windows, dogs fed and plants watered.
With coffee in hand I get to my prep work for the day. Some days it’s laying out simple book work to do during the day and others I feel more ambitious and lay out invitations for play or stations to create all over the house. Generally, I spend the first hour of the day on these tasks, make a loose plan in my day book, and get email Facebook and Pinterest out of the way.
On most days Elody comes down the stairs at 9 AM, sometimes dressed and ready for the day, and sometimes grouchy and in PJ’s, but no matter, that’s how she rolls. I love to observe her first thing in the morning, her mood will set the tone for which activity we try first thing. If she heads on over to the couch and curls up, I know we should start with books, and lots of them. If she heads to the table, she will jump into our poem of the day, letter and number work and some sort of craft (this sounds miraculous and it is, it’s also very rare and can stretch until lunch). Seeing as she’s just a preschooler I’m not too worried about how long or how much of each subject or activity. Whatever it is we’re working on, I try to make it as engaging as I can, finish it, and move along with our day. Usually three mornings a week start this way, others are rushing our bums off to playdates or programs as we are NOT morning people.
If there are not playdates or programs to get to I’ll serve a late breakfast. As my daughter eats she’ll work on her iPad math program or Reading Rainbow. This is generally her only homeschool tech time and a great time for me to sneak off and get out of my PJ’s. I love teaching in my PJ’s with the sun streaming into our living room. It’s a benefit to homeschooling, although I fear the mail man may think I wear nothing but an oversized pink robe.
After breakfast and the completion of the learning tasks we attempted in the morning we get to playing. There are hours and hours of baby doll role playing at our house. Some days we switch it up and run errands, jump on our trampoline or walk the dogs. On nice days all bets are off, we go to the park, we enjoy the outdoors, indoor activities are put aside.
Lunch is always late, which is expected with us late risers. Ryan finishes work in the early afternoon and from then on it is family time. Board games, video games, making supper, finishing chores, late afternoon art or science extravaganzas all happen at this time.
I do not make supper, that is up to Elody and Ryan. They often make quite delectable dishes, too. We sit down to a family dinner and discuss our day. Often the evening brings more learning. The other day we brought home a Dragon Fruit, which was promptly investigated and then researched after dessert.
If it’s not too late we get to a family workout. Elody jumps on her trampoline while us grown ups hit the weights and cardio routine.
Then it’s bath and bed. Elody reads a ton of books in bed, flipping the pages and making up stories until she falls asleep.
Finally, I lay out my day book and my binder of activities to be filled in the morning and it’s time to chat with Hubs before bed.
What is your favourite homeschooling resource – book, website, etc.?
I love the book The Homegrown Preschooler: Teaching Your Kids in the Place They Live by Kathy H. Lee and Lesli Richards. It was the book that really started it all for us. My daughter is in love with the iPad as well, Reading Rainbow and Maths are her favorite apps. At first I was wary of her using the iPad but it has allowed for some me time in our day where I know learning is still taking place. Both of those apps are amazing, although pricey, but if you are looking for a personal library or and interactive math teacher, do look into those. Homeschool bloggers have saved my butt and inspired me so many times. Simple Homeschool and In Lieu of Preschool are two of my favorites right now. Joining Manitoba Association for Schooling at Home has also put me in contact with many other families; it’s a great community.
Greatest joy in homeschooling (can be broad or a specific moment)?
I love that we have discovered the concept of flow. I am learning to let go of structure and follow how my family actually works. The freedom to travel at a moment’s notice has also been great for our us. With my husband self-employed in the software industry Autumn and Spring can get busy with conferences all over the continent. Its nice to be able to stretch some of these work obligations into family adventures.
Over this first year I’ve also had the joy of watching my little four year old blossom. I’ve been there for all of the “ah-ha” moments. Those were my favorite moments in the classroom while teaching and they are my favorite moments at home with my daughter.
Greatest struggle with homeschooling (can be broad or a specific moment)?
My greatest struggle has been to learn to let go of my teacher ways. Once I decided on homeschooling I created the perfect classroom, did my year plans, my unit plans and my day plans. Which is great, for a classroom of 20 in a 9-3:30 setting. It does not work for a class of one where learning can’t be as rigidly scheduled. I’m still working to find the best times for instruction, play, and general daily life. I think each year will be different, and now that I’m embracing flow, I think I’m ok with that.
How to you manage homeschooling and regular household stuff? Any awesome tips?
A big part of pre schooling at home has been learning about self care. So laundry, dishes, cleaning are all part of our daily line up. Except I live in reality and the laundry and dishes come second to just about everything, so generally, my house is tidy first thing in the morning, until we destroy it with learning adventures, dolls, books and blanket forts. After supper we all put it back together so we can torture it again the next day. Now that Elody is almost 5 I have a chore chart for her. It includes everything from teeth brushing to folding and putting her clothes away. She’s not perfect, but she is independent and feels successful when she’s accomplished her chores.
If you’re new to homeschooling – what would you like to ask more experienced homeschool parents? If you’re a veteran, what nugget of wisdom can you offer to those starting out?
I read blogs from Simple Homeschool, Pinterest and I have never come across another homeschool family with just one child. We are very new and I consider this preschool year a test drive. How do other families with only one child structure their days and activities? Do you find it difficult for independent play/activities as well?
Readers – Please feel welcome to ask questions or share in the comments – let’s keep everything positive!
For learning resources, check out the Homeschool section in our shop – lots of free printables and more.
You are amazing! I love how you’ve ‘structured’ (I’m using the term very loosely), Elody’s life. Looking forward to seeing you all soon!
Thanks for sharing your days with us, Jackie! I love how you really tune into your daughter’s needs and follow her lead in the mornings to either hit the couch or the table. That is such a great reminder that not only is each child unique, but that they can feel different from day to day!
Thanks for the opportunity Kris!
I love how you have accentuated those teachable moments. Great to see that nature and outdoor experiences play a huge role in the curriculum.
Jackie, I SelfDesign with my daughter who just turned 14. She attended private school from K-4 and with her learning style, it was like trying to force a square peg into a round hole. We love designing our lives and have adopted this as our lifestyle versus segmenting it into “education.” We’re becoming world schoolers (served in Kolkata last year for 5 weeks and ended our trip learning in Germany for a week and now we’re off to Belize to serve for a couple weeks…we hope that our trips will become longer for immersion).
I think you’re right where you need to be. It can be difficult to let go of the expectations we’ve put on ourselves or allow others to impose on us. Your daughter is young and it sounds like you’re finding a beautiful rhythm in life/learning.
We’ve found it more difficult to connect Rebekah with peers as she’s gotten older. Yet, we are intentional and she has vibrant friendships and she meets with them regularly.
If you ever want to chat, feel free to connect.
Those are very encouraging words. I love hearing of other families that use the world as their classroom. I may just connect with you in the future!