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Friday, October 21, 2016

A Day in Our Lives in 2016: Balancing Homeschooling, Work, and Rest

It's been a pretty crazy year, as far as I'm concerned. Since Mark and I set up the training consultancy and the online store over two years ago, what used to be a pretty constant daily schedule with the kids has been thrown to the wind. And to be honest, so has much of our formal homeschooling schedule. (Which also explains why things have been pretty quiet on the blogging front with me - Mark has been doing most of the writing.)


I must admit it has not been easy for me to deal with the guilt and tiredness that can come with trying to juggle all our different commitments in work, family and ministry, but looking back on the year I believe we have all grown from this time of unpredictability and change. There's always a bigger picture we can choose to find perspective in, isn't there? We are not only making do, but learning to continue extending roots in whatever season we might be in.


I have learnt how much I could actually be stretched while relying fully on God's grace to carry me through the various workshops and training sessions; the kids have learned to put on super flexible hats (their question for each evening has been. "Where are we going tomorrow?". Mark has been exploring exciting paths in his career and calling he'd never dreamed of. And I now have a little more empathy for working mums and the struggles they face. I am now actually looking forward to the end of the year, when we can hopefully slow things down a bit and enjoy time as a family. We have also learned to treasure the simple moments - scooting at the park, eating prata at the coffee shop, building Lego together.


The sort of moment I've learned to be thankful for this year - enjoying the company of my boys and time spent outdoors.
So... when it came to deciding which day of our schedules to write about, I had no idea which of our days to choose - because there has been no typical day for us in the longest time! I am nevertheless going to try to capture a snapshot of what our lives have been like in 2016.


7.30 am:

The alarm goes off. I wake Mark and the boys and we wash up and get ready for the day. We have our Classical Conversations Community Day once a week, which I currently direct and the boys both participate in. It's E's first year joining in, and Z's second year.
Our Classical Conversations Curriculum Guide. The curriculum is from the US and there are quite a few homeschooling communities doing the programme in Singapore.
We usually let our boys sleep in, so CC Day is an exception.
8:00 am:
I whip up a standard breakfast. Eggs done according to each one's preference. Sunny side up for Z and a large cheese omelette for E. On a good day, he wolfs down the entire thing. All three eggs and a slice of cheddar. Protein is good for growing boys!
E's classic breakfast. A cheesy omelette.
8:30 am: 
We get changed and scramble out of the house. I usually look like a karang guni lady, carrying all these bags with me. Thankfully, Mark has had his Friday mornings free to shuttle us to CC. And... it's Children's Day in school today! Homeschoolers should be able to join in the fun. There are goody bags waiting to be given out today, which I had fun packing the night before.
Our packing for the day - includes materials for the Science experiment, the kids' seat mats and Geography mats, and snacks and water. 
8.35 am:
In the car, and off we go. We usually play our CC Audio Memory Work CD on the go, so the kids can learn their new grammar and review what has been taught in previous weeks. 


We are currently striving to embrace the classical approach to education in our homeschool journey. There are three stages - Grammar, Dialectic, and Rhetoric. Our kids are at the Grammar stage, where the emphasis is on learning to memorise what we call the "grammar" of each subject - History, Geography, Latin, Math, Science, English, and the Time Line of the World.  It might sound a bit intimidating at 4 years, but they are able to! 


We do all of this in a loving community, and the focus is not on perfect memorisation of the facts, but exposing the children to all these facts at an early age, such that when they get a bit older, they will start to connect the dots to what they have learned before. They are learning how to learn, which is a skill that will help them learn whatever else they need to learn in new subjects as they grow. Their minds are exposed to whatever is pure, noble and good at this age, and our prayer is that they continue to grow in an appreciation of beauty and excellence in their learning journeys.

A deep breath and a moment of thankfulness before the day begins.
Off we go! Still sleepy.
Snacking in the car... already!
Someone expressed a desire to borrow books from the library.
9.00 am:
We arrive at our class venue, set up, and start Community Day with a morning group assembly time. Our community is currently divided into two groups, the 4s to 6s and the 6s to 10s. Our boys are in the younger group. We have a time of prayer, worship, reciting the pledges of the various countries we come from, and there is also a family presentation time where one of the families shares something about themselves so we can get to know one another more. It's been wonderful hearing from everyone!
Morning Assembly as a whole group. We have 19 kids in total.
9.15 am:
We divide into our indvidual classes and the lesson begins. There are five segments to it: New Grammar, Science Project, Fine Arts, Presentations, and Grammar Review.
Practising the time line song. The children recite the whole time line of the world, from Creation to modern day, through songs and actions.
Super excited to have our first tin whistle lesson for Fine Arts this cycle!
E still finds it a challenge sitting through the entire 3-hour class. He paid full attention during the tin whistle segment, though! Looking forward to seeing how his interest develops over the weeks.
Time for the Science experiment. The purpose was to test out the hypothesis that different parts of the sun rotate at different speeds. We were reminded that the sun is made up of various burning gases!
Presentations are normally delivered after Science experiments and the
children learn public speaking from an early age.
12.00 pm:
Time for lunch! The kids are usually restless and starving by this time. My dearest mother came to help me with the boys this morning, and we enjoyed a peaceful lunch together at a nearby food centre before the boys went back to nap at my parents' place. They are usually bushed on CC days.
Learning gives one a voracious appetite.
2.30 pm:
Lunch is over, and I have tuition in the afternoons (working with children with learning difficulties referred to me by a friend who is an educational therapist). The kids usually go over to their grandparents' home to nap and spend the rest of the day, till we pick them up after dinner.
Winding down with their favourite toys at Kong Kong and Mama's house before nap time.
Who needs Kidzania when you have Kong Kong and Mama's?
6.30 pm:
They wake from their naps and have dinner. These two are still napping - and I am glad for that! Kids need lots of sleep in order to grow and for their brains to develop. Time for dinner. They love the food that Mama cooks, and they tell her all the time that she is a good cook! She is!

Macaroni soup. One of their favourites.
Red bean soup for dessert!
8.00 pm:
After dinner, it's play time. I would not, I repeat, would not, have gotten through the year with its heavy work commitments and still homeschooling, without the support of both sides of grandparents. I tell myself that the boys get loads of opportunities for play at my parents' place, and these contribute to the essential neurological development which they need in these early years. These experiences form building blocks for later literacy and numeracy skills. The most important part of it... curious, happy and confident kids. They are thriving with my Dad's crazy fun ideas and creativity and my Mum's unconditional love and nutritious food!


They get to play with Busy Town - well-preserved from when my sisters and I were this age!
Then it's time to battle Darth Vader before bed with the light sabers my sister got for their birthdays this year.
9.30 pm:
They wind down for the night with a time of reading, after milk and supper, and brushing teeth. They are staying over at the grandparents' tonight, because Mark and I have a dinner appointment.

It's bedtime at Mama's!
Z is into the Noddy series at the moment. I managed to get him some preloved copies from EBay! I used to love them at his age too.
Meanwhile, in an alternate universe at 7.30 pm:
We have made an appointment with our marriage mentors from church. This is something we decided very early on as a couple to do. L and R are an amazing couple with three older girls. We go to them with the issues that we might be struggling with - be it work or parenting. Heart to heart stuff. Much needed and welcomed. It's good to be accountable.

A much-needed and much-appreciated time!
At their home, we felt pampered, loved and encouraged. We also learned precious principles which we are going to apply in the days and weeks ahead. We will be better spouses and parents because of this time we have been blessed with. We are so grateful for the blessings that they are to us. And so thankful to the grandparents for always being able to watch our kids and have them overnight.

12.00 am:
We reach home, shower, and turn in for the night. I feel more rested than I have for a long time, despite the busy day we've had. 

This post pretty much sums up our lives so far this year... there's been a need for juggling, being flexible, taking deep breaths and finding refreshment from sources both sought after as well as unexpected. We drink deep when we can, in order to find strength to soldier on. And we choose to give thanks for the little and huge blessings of support, encouragement and love, from our parents and the community He's blessed us with. Still grateful and thankful, though tired. Always grateful.


Next up on the blog train is Jennifer, who writes from DinoMama.


Jennifer or DinoMama as she is fondly known as to some, is a full time working mum who believes home cooked meals are the best and tries to cook healthy meals for her family as often as possible. When she has done coaching DinoBoy with his school work or not playing & bonding with him, she will be sitting at a comfy corner in the house busy working something on her crochet hook. One day she hopes she will be able to be a full time stay at home mum where she can fuss over her family 24/7.

This post is part of the Day in a Life blog train hosted by Mum in the Making (link to http://makingmum.blogspot.com/). Click on the button to take a peek into a day in a life of other mummies!

2 comments:

  1. Thank you for sharing your day! CC looks amazing. It's so great that you have help from both sides!

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  2. You have a completely busy day and with kids, it becomes more tiresome and hats off to Jennifer.

    ReplyDelete