A Day in the Life: The Casagrande Family - SLO Classical Academy
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Welcome to Down Home, San Luis Obispo Classical Academy’s blog! We are a classical school offering several options to make our education work for families with infants through high schoolers. Our signature hybrid program, which is part-time classroom and part-time home instruction, provides an engaging education for preschool through middle school (with full time options available). We also have a university model high school. This blog is meant to support and encourage on the home front because, in so many ways, the heart of what happens at SLO Classical Academy happens down home.

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A Day in the Life: The Casagrande Family

Happy Wednesday! Only one more week of school! Hang in there!

We have one final A Day in the Life post for the 2020/2021 school year. Track B mom, Rebecca Casagrande, gives us a glimpse into one of their home days. She uses some fantastic homeschooling tricks, you may want to take a few notes.

{Photos by Rebecca Casagrande}

Hello! My name is Rebecca Casagrande. My husband, Jeff, and I live in Paso Robles with our three kids. Will, Bella, and Ben are triplets, and they are 11 years old. They are in fifth grade on Track B, and this is our sixth year at SLOCA. Jeff and I own a woodworking company, Casagrande Woodworks, and work together to run it. We recently moved onto our family’s ranch and into the house we have been building for the past two years. Our life is beginning to return to more of a routine, but we went through about six months of chaos as we lived, worked, and homeschooled in our RV and barn.  

People always say how hard it must be to be the mother of triplets. In some ways, mostly in the early years, they are correct. In other ways, it is much easier having three kids the same age. One of those ways is homeschool. All my kids have different strengths and weaknesses and require different teaching methods. For the most part, though, I can teach one lesson per subject. When they were learning to read and write, I did have to sit down with each of them individually to make sure they had that one-on-one teaching time. That was hard. But now that they are older, and becoming more independent, it’s getting easier. I watch my friends with kids of different ages juggle teaching three different sets of lessons, and I really think I have a  much easier time. 

Here’s how Monday, June 7th, went: 

5:30 a.m. – Time to wake up. I don’t set an alarm anymore and usually wake up between 5:00 and  5:30. Our house is surrounded by oaks, and the birds really get going as soon as the first rays of sunlight make their way through the trees. I make coffee for Jeff and me while he takes our dog, Maybellene, outside. I let our two cats, Fred and George, out of the laundry room. We’ve only had them a few months, and I don’t trust them running loose in the house at night. (Eventually, they will sleep in our barn, but right now we have 20 baby chicks in a brooder out  there.) Jeff and I sit on the couch with our coffees and go over our week and plan for what needs to get done today.  

6:30 a.m. – I go upstairs and wake up the kids and then take my shower. As I’m getting ready, I chat via text with my mom and sister about what we are doing for my dad for Father’s Day. 

7:00 a.m. – I make sure the kids are up and moving. Sometimes I make breakfast, but this morning they all want cereal. I feed the cats and dog before putting a load of laundry into the washer. I  make my bed and make sure everything is picked up so I can run Roomba later. Jeff heads off for meetings in SLO. 

7:30 a.m. – Chores. The kids divide the morning chores between them.  

Will- Clean out the cat box and walk around the yard picking up dog poo.

Ben- Takes May to grab the Kabota. He loads up the trash and drives it the half-mile to our trash cans at the gate. May runs with him. 

Bella- Feed & water the chicks in the barn. She walks down to the chicken coop to make sure the big girls (there are eight hens) have food and water. She lets them out to free-range for the day and collects any eggs from the nesting boxes.  

While the kids are out doing chores, I eat a piece of peanut butter toast while I edit our grid for the week. I make a copy of the grid on Google Docs and then make any changes that make sense for our week. I delete anything that doesn’t apply (mostly things assigned for 6th graders), rearrange assignments to fit into our schedule, and add anything extra that needs to be done. I usually try to do this before Monday morning, but this weekend we were busy with other projects. 

8:00 a.m. – The kids are all back inside and it’s time to start our school day. Sometimes on Mondays, we Zoom with Asher Ingalls for Math and History. Asher is in the kids’ class, and it makes it fun for them to have a chance to work with a friend. It has the bonus of relieving his mom, Anna, and me of one subject a piece. I’ll usually take the math lesson and teach it to all four kids.  Then we let the kids visit for a few minutes before Anna takes over and reads the history chapters and helps the kids with their journaling work. Today, however, the kids have a math assessment that they work on individually. While the kids are working on their assessments, I unload the dishwasher and brew a pot of chamomile tea. I sit down at my laptop and check my work email to see if there is anything urgent that I need to address. I normally only work on Tuesdays and Thursdays while the kids are at SLOCA, but I still check in every morning and afternoon just in case there’s something important that needs my attention.  

9:15 a.m. – All three kids finish their assessments. I correct them and then go over the mistakes individually with each kid. While I’m working with one, the other two grab a snack and practice their recitations. They are all memorizing “The Gettysburg Address.” It’s a tough one and it’s due next week; so I’m having them work on it every day. I started using a voice recorder app when they were in First Grade to record myself reading their recitations. That way, I can play it in the car as we are driving to school or running errands. Hearing it over and over helps them to memorize it. They also have the recordings on their iPads, and they can independently listen to them as they practice. I also type it out in a word doc in a large readable font and some clip art that gives a visual to the subject. They each get a printed copy for their binders, and I hang one on the magnet board in our hallway.  

9:45 a.m. – Time for a 15-minute break to clear our heads a bit. I walk outside with my tea to check to make sure the drip system ran like it was supposed to. We just set up the system over the weekend, and I want to make sure that all our new plants are getting enough water. Everything looks fine; so it’s time to get back inside. Bella used her break time to sketch. Will and Ben used their break to wrestle in their room. I call them downstairs, and Ben comes down with a bloody nose but a smile on his face. Brothers!

10:00 a.m. – All About Spelling. We spend 15 minutes working on a big whiteboard I prop up in front of our living room fireplace. The kids all take turns spelling words out loud as I write them on the board. Then it’s time for dictation. I give them a choice of pencil and paper or whiteboards. 

They all choose whiteboards. I read a word, and they all write it on their boards. When everyone is done, they hold them up and I check them. If anyone misses something, they make the changes and rewrite it correctly. We do 10 words and 2 sentences. After we are done, they decide they want me to give them a funny subject so they can draw it. I give them “fat cat”, and they all draw silly cats for 5 minutes.  

10:30 a.m. – Geography. Next week they will have a 50 States quiz. The kids really love the YouTube  video “Mapping the States.” We watch it a few times before I give them a blank map and a list of the 50 states. They get to work filling out the map while humming the song from the video.  

10:45 a.m. – The cats have a vet appointment at 11:20, and I have business checks to deposit at the bank. We get Fred & George loaded into their carrier, and we all jump into the car. I start  Roomba before we leave. I’ve already loaded our Sherlock Holmes story and the history chapters from “A Story of Us” on the Audible app on my phone. We use the time in the car to listen.  

12:30 p.m. – Errands are done, and we drive through El Pollo Loco for a quick lunch.  

1:15 p.m. – Jeff is back home when we get there. We chat for a few minutes about how things went in the morning, and he heads outside to work on the new chicken coop we are building. The kids want to start an egg business. So we needed more room for a bigger flock. (Hence the 20 chicks  currently stinking up the barn.)  

The kids and I listened to all the history and literature for the day in the car. There isn’t an activity for history today. For literature, I found a key online to The Dancing Man Code from the  Sherlock Holmes story. The kids write a coded message for their LRA (Literature Reading  Assignment.) They decide it will be fun to send the code to some friends over the summer and write coded messages to each other through the mail. I mentally add this to the running list of “Fun things to do over the summer.” 

1:45 p.m. – We all change into work clothes and head outside to help Jeff with the coop. We take the cats outside with us for some outdoor time.  

3:00 p.m. – The kids put the cats inside and bring the chicks out and put them into the playpen we have set up on the dirt. The outdoor time is good for them.

6:15 p.m. – We are done building for the day. Jeff and I drive down to the gate to lock up for the night and check to see if any packages were delivered while the kids get the chicks back into the barn.  

6:30 p.m. – The dog got into a bunch of poison oak while we were working on the coop. Ben and Will are very sensitive to it and I’ve never had it; so I give her a bath. Thankfully, we have a heated hose bib on the back porch for this exact reason. While I deal with the dog, the kids take turns showering and studying their Latin vocab on their iPads. We use an app called Quizlet for flashcard practice. I make the flashcards for each unit and share them with the kids. Quizlet gives them a few different ways to study. The favorite is the timed matching game. They can compete to see who has the fastest time.  

7:00 p.m. – I was going to make pasta for dinner but decide it’ll take too long. I heat up the pulled pork we had over the weekend, and we have it with an apple slaw and potato chips.  

7:30 p.m. – I take a quick shower while the kids clean up the kitchen, pack their school bags for the next day, and feed the dog and cats.  

7:45 p.m. – Everyone pitches in to fold the laundry so I can get the load I started in the morning out of the washer before it gets stinky. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to rewash clothes because I left them in the washer too long! 

7:50 p.m. – Movie time. We had a cold last month and started watching the Marvel movies in order on Disney+. Dr. Strange is up next. It’s too late to watch the whole thing, but we’ll watch the first half.  

9:00 p.m. – Bedtime for the kids. They still all like to be tucked in, and I am holding onto this ritual as long as possible.  

9:15 p.m. – I put the cats in the laundry room for the night and take May out one last time. 

9:30 p.m. – I read for about 10 minutes before my eyes get heavy and I turn out the light. 

Thank you, Rebecca and the Casagrande family for allowing us to have a peek into one of your home days. It is always a treat to hear how other SLOCA families approach homeschooling.

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