Homeschooling 2012: Part 1

(Don’t miss out on the surprise at the end of this post!)

Right up there in my header, I mention we are a homeschooling family living in Daegu.

And yet, right over there on my sidebar,

you may notice in the “Search by Labels” section that the word “Homeschooling” is pretty darn small.  

This indicates that I haven’t written much on homeschooling.

I would say that I haven’t blogged much about homeschooling for three reasons:

(I love to give lists of reasons for things.  It’s sort of my thing.  I could give you reasons for why I give reasons, but honestly… is anyone really up for that much metacognition?)

1) Last year I was a newbie, fresh meat, a rookie, an amateur… you get the idea.  Who wants to hear from someone just stumbling through?  Well, I do, but still.  Most people probably don’t.
2) I know I’ve quoted Inigo Montoya before, but it bears paraphrasing: “Let me ‘splain… No, there is too much.  Let me sum up…. No actually, let me ‘slpain it all in minute detail.”  TOO MUCH to write, I say!
3) I am distinctly un-funny when it comes to school issues.  I care too much.  I don’t know how to make light, make fun, and still share with you some of the awesome stuff we are doing.

I’ve been simultaneously looking forward to this post and totally petrified of it.  Here goes.

The First of Two Un-funny yet Impassioned Posts on Homeschooling 

Which Will Include Way Too Much Information

(Consider yourselves warned)


Of what particular strain is your madness?

By which you mean, “What are my educational principles”?
While I see value in all sorts of educational ideas (Montessori, Waldorf, Delight-directed), I discovered Charlotte Mason while formally researching homeschooling a couple years ago and really never looked back. Her ideas speak to who I am as a mother and a person, so we went with it.  It was like a breath of fresh air, honestly, after teaching in a traditional school for so long.

We loosely follow CM’s 20 principles.  (I say loosely because, seriously.  I have 4 kids under 7.  Ain’t nuthin gonna be perfect ’round here.)   My favorite aspects of CM are:

~Respect and love for God
~Respect and love for the child and his/her development
~Respect for good literature, and belief that a child is deserving of such
~Respect for nature and God’s creation  
We generally follow the FREE lesson plans/year outlines provided by Mater Amabilis, but I freely substitute if I feel there is something better, I come upon some free stuff, etc.  Ambleside Online is another great source of information if you want to know more about Charlotte Mason.

Is there a method to your madness?

Why, yes.  Yes, there is.  Thank you for asking.
Organization has never been my strong suit.  (My college roommates is laughing right now.  Oh, and my husband too.  He’s going to laugh the loudest.  It’s ok.  I get it.  I’m scatterbrained and I know it. Hush, now, all of you.)
Last year my homeschool organization looked like this:
*Store most daily materials in my pantry, mostly crammed on a shelf or two.  When it gets too messy, freak out and clean it out.
*Put completed work (that wasn’t a workbook, crammed as above) in an ambiguously-labeled filing crate in the pantry. When it gets too messy, freak out and clean it out.
*At the end of the year, spend 3 days and nights organizing everything into a portfolio (freaking out whilst cleaning out) and swearing up, down, and sideways that you will never repeat this particular madness again.
Week 2: So far, so good.
Here is what we do now:
Weekly Organization:
(If you are at all interested in any of my documents, just email me and I will happily share them.)

I have a weekly schedule that we generally follow.

However, I tend to think more in terms of weeks than days.

Some days we do twice as much as I have scheduled, and some days we just barely get by.  So as a method of record-keeping, I have a color-coded checklist that I tape to the pantry door.  As we complete our tasks, I check them off and make notes.  (Ignore the chicken scratch, people.  I have the messiest writing eeeeever.) At the week’s end, I remove the checklist from the door, 3-hole punch that bad boy, and place it in in my own record-keeping binder.

As to the kids weekly Seat Work:

Each of the girls has 2 binders.  One is for current work, one is for completed work.

On Friday afternoon, as we finish up our week, I move all of that week’s work to the completed-work binder.  I look ahead at next week and, get this, I tear out any work scheduled for next week.  (That’s right, people.  I rip workbooks right to pieces.  I’m a total rebel. I don’t feel bad about it either.  So there.)  I then write the day of the week at the top of the sheet and stick each subject in its own sheet protector.

No really, I actually don’t feel bad because last year, when I did my 3 Day Organization Fest, I ended up tearing apart all the workbooks anyway to make Gianna’s portfolio.
I got these suggestions from the Avilian Homeschooling blog, and so far, they work perfectly for us!  Be sure to check it out if you are interested because she has nice photos that illustrate everything I’m describing.

Daily Routine:

Chore Packs: (Highly recommended.  Maybe I will write more about these sometime.)
Outside Play and Snack

Morning Reading: I keep all our books in our Morning Basket in the pantry.  (Thank you, Wildflowers and Marbles!)

(The basket is actually out of the frame on the floor.) Each morning I select the books we are to read that day and put them in a canvas bag.  The girls grab the bag and bring it to the living room, where we read on the carpet with some pillows around us.  The subjects in the morning are engaging and fun.  Literature, faith formation, science, history, geography, music appreciation, art appreciation, etc. I used to do the task-oriented work in the morning, but I’ve found this order seems to cut mid-day burnout in a big way.   Also, all of these subjects are studied jointly by Gianna and Aliya.  One of the benefits of having kids really close in age.

First Lunch (We eat lunch around 10 a.m.  I fought it for so long, but now I am a huge fan.  I love lunch at 10!)

Seat Work: Math. writing, and reading lessons are what we do here, with the odd craft or mapwork thrown in.  It’s quick and fairly painless.  And by that I mean: no one has instituted a rebellion.  Yet.

Quiet Time: I read aloud a chapter book to the girls, then they read (look at picture books) quietly for 20 minutes while I rest on the couch or read myself.

After Quiet/Nap Time I consider us officially done with school for the day.  We then eat Second Lunch. Then I do chores (sometimes), run errands (couple times/week), cook (daily), and then we head outside to play for a couple hours.

As you can tell, I could probably go on for-evah talking about all this stuff.  But this post is already way too long.

Join me next week for a (hopefully) much more interesting post on our living BOOKS!!!!!  So excited about our awesome books this year.

Wanna see something REALLY COOL?????  Look down.  Ta-DAAAAA! I added a link-up!  For fun! And practice!  And also, if you have a homeschool blog, or are a blogger who homeschools, please link up so I can come visit you!!!


  1. Oooooh! Ok, I’ll write a whole post on our homeschooling. But I probably won’t get to it until Monday. And I’ll do it on the Exchange so I feel like I did some “real” work.
    Am excited to check out your Mater Amabilis site!

    • Do check out Mater Amabilis (Mother Most Beloved!) And please linkup! It’s so exciting to me that I learned this fancy new (totally simple) trick. 🙂

  2. It’s wonderful to see young families embarking on the exciting journey of homeschooling! I’ll pray for you today!

  3. Hi, I loved reading your post today! I’ve been following your blog for a little while now after finding you due to a search on homeschooling in Taegu. (Wow! Could that have been any longer? hehehe)

    In a few weeks, we will also be homeschoolers in Taegu, and I find I’m getting more and more excited about it, thanks in part to your sharing a little taste of life in Korea. 🙂

    I look forward to hearing more about your homeschooling adventures!
    Have a wonderful day!

  4. To The Murphys Who Couldn’t Stay Put:

    Somehow your comment was deleted! And I really wanted to respond! Please get in touch when you get to Daegu. We would love to meet your homeschooling family. 🙂 Safe travels!

  5. Thank you for the travel wishes! I will make sure to make contact when our circus (aka family) arrives in town. With six suitcases, four carry-ons, two kiddos (with all the strollers, pack ‘n plays and carseats that accompany) and two large, hairy pups (yep, we’re that kind of crazy) traveling internationally with only two adults to wrangle it all, it sure feels like a circus sometimes. Heeheehee!!

    We head over the ocean in roughly a month, but I’m not sure how much time it will take for us to process through Seoul before heading to Taegu. 🙂 I guess we’ll just have to enjoy the lights of the big city while we’re there. 😀
    Have a blessed day!

  6. Seriously Micaela?! This makes you look like one of those type A professional homeschoolers! Our days are SO not this organized… PLEASE write a post about how on God’s green earth you manage to do all this while also wrangling your two energetic boys. I haven’t figured that part out yet. School tends to fall by the wayside when the littles are feeling neglected or I need to make yet another snack or I feel the tug of 10 loads of laundry weighing me down. I LOVE homeschooling, but it’s been so chaotic around here!!! As usual, you TOTALLY ROCK, and I need to absorb some of your awesomeness.

    • Nicole, thank you for the generous compliments. However, it is precisely because I am naturally dis organized that I had to work to figure this out. I know that my natural tendencies of being flighty and distracted would not necessarily make for the best homeschooling situation for our families. As to a post about wrangling the littles, well… I may try to do write that. But trust me, it will be more of a plea for guidance than a “this is how we do it” post. Still struggling mightily with that one. Things that help: nursing Zeke while reading to the orders, doing the most involved schooling during nap time, getting lots of outside time in the morning (before school) so that their activity levels are a little slower…

    • *olders

  7. Okay….first off, YeAH! I loved this post! MOre more! LOL NOT BORING at all! And you should go post it over at (and Cari too!) Second, I too love lists, love making lists, reading lists but yet am a disorganized scatterbrain :)….Third, love the Inigo Montoya references LOL And finally, just love what you are doing and wish I’d stuck to something more like that through the years….lovely schedule and lovely days w/ your children. 🙂 Thanks for sharing! Still deciding on our 2012/2013 year for the two oldest…and so far preK4 going well w/ Mariam.