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A Day in the Life: The Ridley Family

January 30th, 2018

{photos by Stephanie Ridley}

Settle in with a nice warm mug of something comforting and dive into today’s blog post – we have another Day in the Life to share! This time let’s visit the Ridley home. Bryan and Stephanie Ridley have three children at SLOCA on Track B, and she will introduce everyone. Enjoy this sample of a very full home day with their family:

Hello fellow SLOCA parents!  We are in our 5th year at SLOCA and are so very appreciative of this school and experience that we get to share as a family.  Isobel is in UMS – 7th grade, Sibylla in intermediate – 4th, and Ensio is in Jr K  and 4 years old (I still cannot believe that one, he was born days before we began our first year at SLOCA).

After typing our day up for this the blog post, I realized how detailed it was.  But for those of you who know me, well, you know me and you know that is how I am.  I thought to myself, “Maybe Jenny shouldn’t have asked ME to do this... but too late.”  In this post, I tried to explain some about how we homeschool as well as just record our day.  Here is our long but good, not totally normal, but not totally abnormal, homeschool day in January.

6:25 am
Finally roll out of bed after a couple snoozes on the alarm, put on workout clothes and go out for my morning walk, today was 3.25 miles.

7:10 am
I am back home and can’t help but stop and tear off the sagging artichoke plant leaves in the front yard on my way around to the back door.

7:15 am
Back inside and make sure the kids are getting up.  They are allowed to read in bed until 7:15.  (I am usually home by 7).  Isobel was still asleep so I woke her up, Sibylla was reading and Ensio was cleaning the mud off the freeway with his lego equipment.  Bryan was getting ready for his day.

While the girls get up, get dressed, brush teeth, make beds and put away any laundry etc. (Ensio can still play since he shares a bed with Sibylla and doesn’t have to get dressed right away), I open up the house and do some pick up from yesterday.

7:35 am
I go to shower while the kids head into the kitchen with Bryan for breakfast.  They settle on whole wheat blueberry muffins that Sibylla made a while ago and were in the freezer with small bowls of Kashi cereal or toast with PB.

Then Bryan brings my morning espresso to me while I am still in the shower!  This is the biggest treat of the day for me!  Often the timing works out on homeschool days for this.

8:00 am
Muffins have just thawed and warmed in the oven and the kids work on those, this was a slow breakfast!  While they finish Bryan says goodbye to all and heads to work and I put the dishes away from last night.

8:20 am
Finally finished.  They bus their dishes and I get them in the sink. (No dishwasher yet here so I save dishes until after breakfast and lunch.)  The girls choose to practice piano for a few minutes while Ensio goes off to play.

8:30 am
Sibylla goes to her desk and starts some independent work. I make an assignment sheet each week for her (I do all my prep Sunday night), but she also reads the grid and has to get extra details and info off it. This way I can add things we are supposed to be doing that are not on the grid and the extras I add to her day.

As a way to balance teaching multiple kids, Mrs. Houser taught me the concept of ‘made up work’ – her term was much nicer but I don’t remember it. This work involves additional educational tasks that they can do independently during their day, to help create more time to devote to the other student.  Since Isobel is almost fully independent now she doesn’t have anything ‘made up.’  For Sibylla, she is transitioning away from the extras to mostly required tasks that she is able to do independently. I have been adding in extra reading this year, and piano lessons with their Grandma.  Supplementing the weekly grids with the assignment sheet keeps us in the habit of doing them.

Isobel heads to her room and sits down to lay out her day.  She does not always do this but she knows that she has a full day with her IEW Greek Myth paper due tomorrow.  I check in with her cradling my breakfast in hand, a bowl of GF oats, flax, blueberries and coconut milk.  We discuss her assignments and her plan.  Then she goes to it, starting with math as usual.

Ensio is playing somewhere doing something during this time, but I am not sure where or what.

8:50 am
Sibylla and I start with grammar and Ensio goes into Isobel’s room to look at a book in there.

9:00 am
I boot Ensio out of Isobel’s room because they are having too much fun and doing too little work.  She has tied a blanket around him to act as a low hanging sack to carry a baby in.

With grammar done, Sibylla and I start spelling.  Ensio plays in the room by us.

9:17 am
We start Sibylla’s math lesson and today I also make a definition list for her to keep in her binder of the shape definitions we learned.

9:22 am
I google, “Can Batman fly?”

Sibylla and I finish the math lesson and continue into the textbook.

9:40 am
Isobel cannot figure out what one part of her math assignment means so she asks me.  I look at the grid, compare it to the book and I also do not know.  I email Mr. Yorke.  On my way back to Sibylla I get the lego remover (what a cool thing!) and remove a propeller for Ensio.  Isobel cleans up math then goes on to her IEW myth writing.

9:50 am
I remove another lego, poor man’s legs were stuck!

9:55 am
Sibylla is on to her math workbook (this was a long lesson and textbook for us today).  I move onto to Ensio’s Jr. K instruction.  Sibylla comes to me to ask any necessary questions.

Ensio and I read Words Set Me Free.  We are choosing our own books this week based on the MLK holiday and for today I chose this one.  He knows about the Civil War and slavery from listening last year, but I edit the book in parts and do lots of explaining.

10:05 am
Sibylla is finished with math and her workbook is on the table for me to grade later.  She starts to make us tea.

10:20 am
Ensio and I finish the book and move to the table for OPG (The Ordinary Parent’s Guide to Teaching Reading) and I realize that Sibylla is just finishing tea... I am not sure why it took so long.  She goes off for more independent tasks.  Ensio and I do ‘Z’ today, our last letter sound.  He wants to read like his big sisters so badly that I started OPG with him this school year, but very casually.  Only 1-2 lessons each week and just for fun.  But he knows the sounds and letter poems now and is super pumped about starting some simple words next lesson.

10:40 am 
Since Sibylla has a lighter day, I do some extras with Ensio (still in PJs which is his thing lately).  We are also casually practicing his writing.  I use the First Strokes program that he will use in Kinder (I have all these things already from Sibylla) for reference for me to make sure I teach him correctly.  He practices some ‘Os’ today.

10:45 am
Math for Ensio, we are practicing numbers.  He can count to 100 with a little help, but we are practicing knowing that the 2 comes first for the 20s and that the 3 comes first for the 30s.

Sibylla has completed her (added) reading in Greek Heroes by Green and math fact practice while I worked with Ensio.

10:55 am
Ensio and I practice his poem.  Sibylla starts her free choice independent reading, most of which are from the Battle of the Books list.

11:00 am
As I go to throw something away I get distracted by the smell under the sink counter, I had already taken out the trash and recycling this morning trying to get rid of the smell but it is still there.  I take everything out from under the cabinet to investigate.  I find no answers.  But I do find the grease for hinges and I am reminded of the few in the house that squeak slightly and that I have been meaning to fix.  So I do that too.  Then everything goes back under the cabinet.  I am not happy about not finding the reason for the smell and run the garbage disposal longer than usual just in case.

11:15 am
Ensio gets dressed and we go on our sound walk.  We walk to the house up the street that is being built so that Ensio can check on their progress and then find another house down a little-used street that is just being started – we will keep our eye on them too.  The girls stay home and work.  (This was another activity I would usually shove to the weekend but that we did because of the lighter intermediate day.)

11:50 am
We get home and I answer questions and we talk a bit.

12:05 pm
I make Ensio’s lunch then sit down near him and grade both girls’ math.

12:10 pm
The girls come into the kitchen and make lunch.  They come to the table and I make my lunch and sit down with them all.

12:30 pm
A dear friend that I haven’t talked to in years calls... I heard the phone vibrating so I pick it up.  We only talk for 14 minutes.  The kids chat, eat and distract themselves into a slow lunch since I am distracted.  Fair.

12:45 pm
The kids bus their dishes and Sibylla takes Ensio to read a book and put him down for a nap.  Isobel and I go over a problem she has difficulty understanding while I finish my lunch.  Then she shows me how to do fractions on her calculator, cool!

1:15 pm
I go give Ensio kisses for nap, then I get the dishes in the sink again and make coffee.  I cannot make it through post-lunch reading without coffee.

Isobel works on her myth again then will go on to reading The Iliad.  (A more modern translation with about half of the book redacted by the translator which helps make it less dense for her.)

1:30 pm 
Sibylla and I are out front on the benches to read Black Ships Before Troy.

1:35 pm
Isobel has an IEW question.  I look it up in the binder and cannot find the answer.  She emails Mr. Newman.  I go back to reading to Sibylla with the warm sun on our backs.

2:45 pm
Sibylla and I have finished reading BSBT.  We read an extra chapter and I read her some things from The Iliad.  We had some good discussion!  We pick some of the nasturtium sprouting through the bark in the front that we noticed while being outside.  It is oddly satisfying for both of us.  We get at least a hundred.  I leave them on the front walk to clean up later.

2:55 pm
Back inside we work on our story chart and discussion for BSBT and then the character list.  For this book, just to do something differently, I have done them on large butcher paper and hung them up by her desk.  She chose to do the theme and conflict first.  Then add to the rising action and characters.

3:35 pm
After some distraction from Isobel, Sibylla and I go to the sofa to read Galen and The Magic Tree House. Isobel continues work on her history journal.

3:40 pm
Ensio wakes up after a long nap and I bring him to the sofa to snuggle while we read.

3:47 pm
We finish our reading and Sibylla is officially done for the day.  She and Ensio head into the kitchen for snack.  Isobel joins them shortly while I read and edit her myth (6 pages takes a bit!)

4:20 pm
Isobel and I go over my fixes and comments so she sees where I am coming from.  Then she is free to chose to use my comments or not however she wants.

4:30 pm
I am distracted by a neighbor walking by and we chat a few minutes then I go back to Isobel.

4:50 pm
Isobel goes to work on her choices for the editing (she has already edited it herself a few times) and I finally go to the kitchen to do the dishes before starting dinner.  I send the others out to water a few plants in the backyard.

5:02 pm
I whip out the dishes.  I have to set up the watering for the meadow grass (we are on a once a week ‘schedule’ right now).  I clean up the nasturtium seedlings from the front and notice the ant colony we disturbed, so I get the diatomaceous earth to put on them.

5:15 pm
Dinner prep time.  I am especially thankful for a dinner tonight that is faster and partially made a few days ago tonight.  Isobel moves in to the kitchen nook with the computer to finish working on her myth.

5:20 pm
I have to tell Sibylla and Ensio to take the wild playing outside or find a different way to play inside.

5:37 pm
I am impressed and curious with the quiet kids now (quite the turn around!) and check to find them coloring and playing with legos.

5:57 pm
Isobel is finally ready to print (she is NOT a perfectionist, I promise).  But, of course, the printer heads are clogged so I run the clean on those.

6:03 pm
The kids and I sit down to dinner.  Bryan has a facilities meeting at SLOCA so is home later than his usual 5:30/5:45.  He comes in at about 6:10 to excited kiddos.  During dinner, we plan out dinners for the coming week and I make the marketing list.  Planning together I can get more opinions on what they want, but I only aim to please 2 of the 3 kids at any given time with food, but I take as little as 1 happy kid as a win and am really ok if just Bryan and I like it.

6:45 pm
Ensio and Sibylla go off to shower, Isobel prints the second copy of her IEW and cleans up her room from school.  Bryan and I chat and clean up the table from dinner.

7:15 pm
The two are ready for bed.  Bryan reads to Ensio while Sibylla reads and/or colors.  Isobel showers... and showers... and showers....

7:45 pm
We gather on Sibylla and Ensio’s bed for prayers.  Then we tuck them in and head into Isobel’s room where we leave her to read until 8 (my kids desperately need lots of sleep).

8:00 pm
Bryan does the dinner dishes (every night!) while I head to the computer to type up my scribbled notes from the day.  This is usually the time I do work for history day, normal ‘taking care of business’ work or waste some time on the internet.

It is now 9:36, Bryan has brought me tea and I am done.  I am reading The Iliad right now and getting close to the end, I LOVE it and must read more tonight.  I plan to go to bed “early” by 10:45.  But we will see....

While this was a long day for us, it was an “easy” day.  The kids had good attitudes and were good workers and we had an enjoyable day.  As we all know, a lot of days are not like that, so I try to savor them when they are.  I did not get my follow up calls made and we only did school today.  I do notice however that the days we just focus on school and do not try to add other tasks are the better days, the more focused days, and the happier days.

Thank you, Stephanie! This feels like a highly satisfying day – the combination of absolutely full, but not too difficult. We appreciate so many of your comments… like needing coffee for post-lunch reading (yes!), or emailing teachers with questions (after checking the grid). We also love how you shared that you add in a few extra things, and why. Parents, besides giving students independent tasks to do, this is one of the benefits of our program – the freedom and flexibility to add extra reading or other home subjects that are important to you. But don’t feel any guilt if you don’t do this! We know that sometimes just keeping up with the weekly grid is challenging enough. Thanks for this fun and detailed account of your day, Ridleys!