Before the New Term: the last of the summer days

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After our recent How We Plan Part 2 LIVE video on IG, a few people asked for a closer look at what a typical “layering day” looks like for us as we head into a new term. Here is a peak at our current “layering” schedule. At this point we’ve introduced most of the morning subjects and have only to add in our afternoon work in the next week or so.

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Early Block

The first block of our day includes the boys morning chores and our morning time meeting over breakfast. Morning time lasts longer between terms since we have less formal work throughout the day and the kids are willing to linger a bit longer. Here is a look at the books we are currently working through.

Morning Time:
Hymn Sing
Bible (We’ve been reading through the Bible and are currently in Joshua)
Catechism
Scripture Memory Verses (We use this system)
Of Courage Undauntedby James Daugherty
Cartier Sails the St. Lawrence by Esther Averill (Out of Print)
The Book of Indians by Holling C Holling  (Out of Print)
Secrets of the Woodsby William Long
Exploring Nature with Children
Famous Speeches (trade out for Shakespeare once new term starts)
Poetry

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Morning Block Block:
This is what our second block look like right now, it starts with lessons and ends with lit lunch. After morning time my youngest clears the dishes and the eldest gets out his Challenge A Geography work right away. We have our planning meetings once a week and he already knows what needs to be done every day. I stack dishes into the dishwasher while my 2nd born grabs his timer and starts piano practice. My third born gets out his materials for Latin. Once the dishes are in I go over the morning Latin work with no.3 and then I track down the youngest and we have our reading lesson. Once the timers go off for the middle kids they close their books and move on to the next thing on their list. At 10:30, I sit with the eldest and go over the beginning of his math lesson, then leave him to finish. I head over to no.3 and begin his Spanish lesson with him then leave him to finish. Finally, I sit with the youngest at 11:10 and start his math lesson. Between kids I usually have a list of “little things” to check off. Flip the laundry, five minutes of lunch prep, etc. We keep up our work until it’s time for lit lunch. You can see the visual below. 

9:30

10:30

11:30

12:30

Child 1

Geography

Math*

Latin*

Lit Lunch

Child 2

Piano (30 min)
Latin*
(30 min)

French
(30 min)
SSA (30 min)

Math*
(40 min)

Lit Lunch

Child 3

Latin*
(30 min)
SSA (30 min)

Spanish*
(30 mi)
Piano (30 min)

Math *
(30 min)

Lit Lunch

Child 4

Reading lesson **(20 minutes)

Math lesson**
(20 minutes)

Story time**
(20 minutes)

Lit Lunch

* = Mom starts the lesson and they finish it. ** = Mom stays for the whole lesson. 
SSA (Silent Sustained Attention) is when the boys read their extra history/science/special interest books.
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Lit Lunch
We love lit lunch. We are big on books and food so stopping in the middle of the day to light a candle and eat lunch and read aloud is a touchstone for all of us. Right now we are enjoying:
The Quest of Michael Faraday
Uncle Eric books (without a doubt one of the best book investments I’ve made)
Once the new term starts the Uncle Eric book will move down to morning time and we’ll read (or listen to) a fiction book during lunch.
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Afternoon Block
After the new term starts our afternoon block will begin with language arts, spelling, grammar and the eldest will also have his science research strand. It will end with afternoon tea. But in the weeks leading up to the new term the afternoons vary from day to day. The eldest usually puts in his piano practice right after lunch and then the boys launch into hours of playing with legos, researching something in nature, inventing and designing their own board games and reading books about World War 2. We also take time during the afternoon to practice their Tae Kwon Do forms for testing. The afternoons before term also provide a great window of time for me to get in some planning and organization time.

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Afternoon Tea
I know. We’re ridiculous. But if the boys are going to sit down and have a snack we might as well enjoy a few chapters while they do so. They don’t all drink tea in the afternoons, some settle for a glass of water and an apple. But the hobbits among us prefer tea and a biscuit.
Currently reading:
The Wolves of Willoughby Chase by Joan Aiken
Adventures with Waffles by Maria Parr
Full disclosure: During the school year we usually put in an audiobook at this point to save my voice a bit.

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Reset Block
Now this block of time is short but so CRUCIAL. It keeps our evenings pleasant and enjoyable. BEFORE we leave for sports practice/activities, we have our blessing hour (which does not usually last a whole hour). The boys have their responsibilities laid out on their clipboards and they clean their assigned areas at the end of each day. We RESET the house. Floors are swept, dishwasher unloaded, garbage taken out, shoes put away, common areas tidied. On really good days, someone sets the table so that when we get home from practice its one less thing to do before dinner.
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Evenings
We have dinner together every night. Its a huge priority for us and I spent years training the kids to make it happen. We spent a long time teaching them how to “reset” the house so I could focus on making dinner. This team work gives us the GIFT of family dinner every night. When dinner is over, guess what we do? Thats right. We read together one last time. This time, Dad does the reading. We’ve been all over the world together and traveled throughout all history and never had to leave the dining room table. We recently traveled down to the Weddell Sea with Ernest Shackleton and sat in Parliament with Wilber Wilberforce.

This is their favorite piece of reading all day long. We are working our way through a huge stack of biographies and the kids love to take them all out and sneak a look at who is next. We usually choose our books based on things the kids are working through or interested in.

We are currently reading:
Florence Young by Janet Being
Hiroshima by John Hershey

We decided to delve into Hiroshima by John Hershey, which is obviously a heavy and graphic book. But the boys are very interested in World War 2 right now and I wanted them to know that Hiroshima isn’t just a word in a book or a far away place or turning point in the war.

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Playing on their latest homemade board game. 

Night Block
After the kids are in bed I knock out a few more things off my weekly list. The list right now is full of prep for the new term. Build the boy’s binders for Essentials. Finish prepping for Challenge A (which starts next week!) Work on a few articles. Do the laundry that has been staring up at me from the basket for the last few days. That sort of stuff. I only work until a certain time and then I put it all away and go through my nightly checklist for the next day. If they have sports practice I make sure the uniforms are clean and ready to go. I look over tomorrow’s menu and take things out of the freezer to defrost or leave things ready to be prepped for whoever has that morning chore. I don’t do all that stuff because I’m a crazy perfectionist. I do it because the older I get the more I realize how badly I want those smooth days with my kids. If I can put in 15-20 minutes of prep the night before to make sure I’m not a screaming banshee the next day, then its worth it. Also, I’ve been married to an engineer for almost a decade and a half. His efficiency was bound to rub off on us all.

Once the prep is done, its time for me to read my books.

I love books. You probably noticed that. While I love the books I read with my kids during the day, I’m still hungry for more books at night.

Right now I am reading:
Surprised by Paradox by Jen Michel
Sophie’s World by Jostein Gaarder
Awakening Wonder by Sally Clarkson
Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell (audio)

That’s our day! Unless its Friday. In that case…

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