A week in the life of a British homeschooling family – Wednesday

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Today you’ll get to peek behind the scenes and see what life is like round here on the less-than-perfect days. Yes, this is the one where I let slip that – shock! – occasionally life gets in the way of me being the model homeschooling mum I aspire to be.


C(10) spends most Wednesdays studying science, history and art and hanging out with her friends at a homeschooling group she loves.

This week, though, the group are spending the afternoon playing outdoor team-building games. I’ve never been to the  venue before so I want to allow plenty of time to get there, which means leaving home at 12:30PM.

Bring on my least helpful homeschooling mode: “Right! We’ve got to make the most of the morning!”

I text C(10) inviting her to come down and start working with me at 9:00AM. (Yes, I message my kids. It’s no use calling them when they’re wearing headphones. Sometimes they reply. Does that count as writing practice?)


C(10) comes downstairs. The doorbell rings. I’d forgotten I’d scheduled a grocery delivery.

By 9:30 we finish unpacking the shopping and settle on the sofa for maths. Except that C(10) wants to do Latin instead. It’s true we left the story at an especially exciting point yesterday. (Really. Pandora was “cotidie vomo”.)

The homeschooler I’d like to be tells my daughter, “Of course, darling. Latin it is.” The real-life slightly-stressed mum in the room insists on doing maths first. Luckily (because most of the time I’m pretty reasonable?) my kids graciously overlook my occasional sergeant-major moods and C complies with my random insistence on maths.

Afterwards I generously allow C(10) to do Latin.  (Minimus 2 spoiler alert: It turns out the lovely Pandora is “gravida”!)


I’ve asked J(9) to come down for dictation and freewriting at 10:30. Trying to eke out best use of our precious time, I suggest that C(10) joins us freewriting.

Picking up on my stressy vibe, C(10) – who adores writing and always has half a dozen different stories in progress – tells me she doesn’t know what to write about. Foolishly, I suggest that she think about what she’s going to write for NaNoWriMo next week. C(10) wails dramatically.

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“I don’t know what to write about!” {Photo used with C(10)’s permission 😉 }

J(9) has recently progressed from copywork to “French” dictation (dictation with only some words missing).

Because he has done so little writing until recently (I backed right off until I sensed he was ready), I have no idea how his spelling is these days. On Monday, to build his confidence, I gave him dictation with very easy words missing. Today he asks for more of a challenge, so I blank out three-quarters of the words in a quote he’s previously written for copywork.

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Checking his dictation

The spelling and handwriting present no problem to J(9) (yay). However he takes great issue with the way I’ve printed the gaps (using underscores) and lectures me for 10 minutes on how I need to set it out differently next time.


By this point I have a 10-year-old moaning that she doesn’t know what to write, and a 9-year-old fresh from his most challenging dictation assignment yet (and irritated by his mother’s irrational method of printing gaps). Guess what I do? Insist that we stick to the plan and freewrite, of course! {Cringing as I write this.}

Fortunately, as I mentioned, my usual reasonableness has built up a bit of goodwill with my kids, so they kindly go along with my freewriting plan. We set the timer for 8 minutes. As usual, I write too.

C(10) has become convinced that my NaNoWriMo idea is better than hers, so I suggest that she writes something based on my idea. She likes this and writes a wonderful few pages as a prequel to my story.

J(9), meanwhile, vents his irritation about the dictation episode by bashing long series of numbers into his keyboard. He then cleverly writes a story around the numbers. They are computer codes entered by a desperate astronaut. I’m impressed.

Left: J(9) reading his freewrite


I had planned a short science demonstration for this morning, but by this point I am beginning to come to my senses. I scrap the demo and instead read aloud from The Mystery of the Periodic Table as we eat lunch. We only have time for a few pages because I want to get to the outdoor centre in plenty of  time, so I suggest we finish the chapter in the car when we arrive.

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I load the car with snacks, dogs, J(9)’s maths books, and swimming/karate/gym kit as we’ll be going straight to the leisure centre after C’s team-building.


We arrive at the outdoor centre and I turn off our audiobook – the wonderful The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place – and pick up The Mystery of the Periodic Table. The children groan – not because they dislike The Mystery of the Periodic Table, but because The Incorrigible Children is so good.

It seems there’s still a bit of the sergeant-major hanging around me, because I insist on the chemistry book first. (We are at a particularly exciting bit, even the children agree. Mr Newlands has just put the elements into octaves, ready for Mendeleev to sweep in and take all the credit for the periodic table.)

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C(10) playing team-building games

At 1:30 C joins her friends for team-building (perhaps she can teach me a few things). I’ve planned for J(9) and I to walk the dogs and then hang out in a nearby coffee shop for maths and downtime.


Although I can barely move in the car for stuff, I realise I’ve managed to leave purse at home. Since I cannot make it through this afternoon without coffee, J(9) and I drive home via the woods.

J talks to me about the computer game Terraria throughout our entire dog walk. I pay attention dutifully, hoping to redeem myself for earlier motherly misdemeanours. I even agree to play Terraria with him later.

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The happy face of a boy talking about computer-games


J(9) and I do maths, then play Terraria together for half an hour. I have zero personal interest in computer games, but I try to join J(9) in a game now and again.

Playing with him helps me realise the huge amount he learns from these games. It’s also a valuable lesson in empathy, reminding me what it feels like to be a beginner learner. I recommend having your child teach you something regularly – it’s very eye-opening!


We collect C(10) and drive to the leisure centre.  J(9) does his swimming class. C(10) does her second karate class of the week, and I use the gym.

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I treat us to dinner in the leisure centre cafe, and the children play in the soft play. (Where do they find their energy?) When we finally get home I am so happy not to have to cook dinner. Instead, I jump in a long hot bath. Bliss.


Does your child teach you anything?

Have you ever been a less-than-perfect homeschool mum?


For more Week in my Life, see MondayTuesdayThursday and Friday.

For a Week in my Life 2013 when I was homeschooling an 8-year-old and a 9-year-old, see here.


I’m appreciatively linking up here:

Collage Friday – Homegrown Learners

Weekly-Wrap Up – Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers

Finishing Strong #35 – Education Possible

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22 thoughts on “A week in the life of a British homeschooling family – Wednesday

  1. LOL! Is there ever a day that goes perfectly? I don’t think we have had one yet-in four years. 🙂 It is so important to reflect on our day and see our challenges. I have to watch myself a lot so as not to “push” them into something. Everything will get done-maybe just not my way! Happy Wednesday and Happy Diwali!

    1. Sharon – thank you – I read your comment just as I was about to go to sleep, and it was so welcome! As you say, there’s no such thing as a perfect day. I like knowing that even an aeroplane is only on its accurate course for about 2% of the time – the rest of the time it’s making little adjustments to get back on track. Our homeschool is much calmer than it was a few years ago. Days like this Wednesday are about as bad as it gets, which really isn’t so bad. No tears, no meltdowns – that’s definitely progress (on my part!) 😀 And always I wake up after a day like that with a renewed commitment to relax and enjoy this lovely life with my children. Happy Thursday!

  2. I had a bad moment this week too. It was exactly the same reason you mention. We have a break coming up and several appointments this week. I was trying to push the schedule a little faster and became quite impatient. I suppose it was a chance to show that everyone makes mistakes and has to apologize sometimes.

    I haven’t tried playing Terraria yet but both my boys really enjoy it. Their newest game is RoboCraft.

    1. That’s exactly it, Carol. We too have a break next week and we have a couple of appointments today. I apologised to my kids a few times yesterday. You’re right, it’s not a bad thing for them to see that we’re human and that it’s ok to make mistakes as long as we make it right afterwards.

      I quite like Terraria, although I haven’t much clue what’s going on. C(10) says I will find Minecraft much easier – I shall download the PE soon I think, although I find the 3D element a bit intimidating. My spatial skills are not nearly as strong as my kids’. (Perhaps Minecraft will improve them.)

      J(9) likes RoboCraft too. He says he is on tier 3, and he’s looking forward to being tier 8 so he can battle bosses. 🙂

  3. LOL. There are so many similarities in this post to my days and my attitude (especially the parts about making the most of our time at home before going out and listening dutifully to a topic that doesn’t necessarily interest us) that I can certainly identify a big part of myself in this post! I suppose that makes me a less-than-perfect homeschooling mum most of the time, but hey, I usually start each day with every intention to be nice! 🙂

    1. Oh yes, Hwee, I am always at my nicest first thing in the morning! I think on the whole we do a pretty okay job, though – don’t you? I’m glad to hear I’m not the only one who suffers from “make the most of our time” syndrome. 🙂

  4. Thanks for sharing your day! I got 3 dramatic girls at home. So instead of one throwing herself on the couch. I have 3 whining, moaning and throwing themselves all about! Ha! 🙂

  5. I have to say I love seeing how everyone day goes. Since I have to squeeze the learning into free pockets of my day I find time rarely escapes us – except on the weekends when I don’t have to adhere to a strict schedule. Thanks for sharing-I’m visiting from Weekly Wrapup.

    1. You must be very organised and time-efficient, Nita. Just doing daily blog posts this week has given me renewed admiration and respect for homeschooling mums who work. What a fantastic role model for your children.

  6. Thank you for sharing a peek at your day! I always love getting a look at how other homeschoolers do things.

    We LOVE the Incorrigible Children too. My daughter is impatiently waiting for book 5 to come out.

    1. The Incorrigibles are my new favourite books, Tonia! It’s rare that we find a book that C(10), J(9) and I love equally. As soon as we’d finished the first book, my son started listening to it again on his own. I didn’t realise the fifth book wasn’t out yet. We are halfway through the third. I will have to warn the children that we will have to wait to find out how the story ends!

  7. Oh goodness, that picture of your daughter about the writing, it’s like a picture of mine, only older. The drama of the moment. So much drama.

    That is a downside I run into from time to time, I want the schedule to run according to my plans and don’t let the kids change my mind.

    1. I love seeing Princess in action on your blog. I sensed she might have something of the dramatic about her, too! Aren’t they fabulous with it, though?

  8. This post had me giggling – sounds like a regular family to me- homeschool or not! I’m pretty sure I can (do) take on the Sergeant-Major role all too often, my couch has seen some sprawled drama on many an occasion (ok, sometimes its me) and I have been regularly told just how to and not to do things of minute importance by both girls – with varying degree of attitude.

    1. I’m so glad it’s not just me!! And yes, it’s me on the couch from time to time too! That’s one of the downsides of homeschooling – there’s nowhere to hide from the kids so they see me in all my moods, bless them!

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