A Day in The Life – Herrs

Guys, please welcome my friend Sarah Herr.  I met Sarah through our CC community and immediately knew I could learn a lot from her.  She’s lovely, super cool, and organized…not to mention, generous with sharing her experience.  Please enjoy this peek into a day in their life!

Hi, my name is Sarah Herr. I have been married to the love of my life, Brian, who is an engineer, for 12 years (the best 12 years of my life!). We both grew up in PA and we are both homeschool graduates. For as long as I can remember, all I have ever wanted to do was to be a mommy and homeschool my own children.  Although I am pretty sure my dreams included a remarkably clean and organized house, children who always listen, a mommy who is perfectly patient, elaborate meals that grace the dinner table every night, and a smooth flawless schedule that runs without a hitch. My dreams and reality collided when I actually had children, and even more when I started homeschooling. Go ahead and laugh, that is what I do every day!


God has blessed us with 5 wonderful kiddos, 4 girls and 1 boy – Hailey (11), Justin (9 ½), Sydney (8), Callie (5), and Emma (3) bring us such joy and we are blessed and privileged to call them ours! We have always homeschooled and we have been a part of Classical Conversations for the past 3 years, all of which I have been a Foundations tutor. While I have always felt called to homeschool, particularly during the early years, there are still plenty of days when I question that calling and wonder if this is really the best thing for our children.  However, I am quickly reminded that this is the best thing for me because God is after so much in my own heart and being a homeschooling mom has been my greatest means of sanctification and for that I am grateful.
2013-2014 School Schedule
6:30 a.m.               I wake up/work out/shower/devotions
7:30-8:00 a.m.       Kiddos wake up/tidy rooms/get dressed/devotions
8:00-9:00 a.m.       Breakfast and Bible (including scripture memory) all together, poetry
9:00-10:00 a.m.     RightStart Math with Hailey, Justin and Sydney – taking turns where needed (others 
                                work on independent reading/workbooks)
10:00-10:30 a.m.   All About Spelling (take turns – others continue independent reading/workbooks,       
                                Hailey help Callie with preschool workbooks), Emma – room time
10:30-11:00 a.m.   Science: Exploring Creation with Astronomy read-aloud and/or notebooking
11:00-11:30 a.m.   Younger kiddos read aloud to me using Sonlight Readers and/or Ambleside   
                                selections (take turns – others work on independent reading and workbooks)
11:30-12:00 p.m.   The Mystery of History: Volume II (audio – kiddos listen while using coloring 
                                sheets and/or drawing), I spend time with little girls
12:00-12:30           Break for kids (play outside whenever possible) while I make lunch
12:30-1:00 p.m.     Lunch and clean up
1:00-1:30 p.m.       CC Memory Work Review
1:30-2:30 p.m.       Book time/room time for Callie and Emma while I read aloud to Hailey, Justin, 
                                Sydney. 
2:30-3:30 p.m.       Sydney, Callie, and Emma play together while I work on Essentials with Hailey and      
                                Justin.
3:30-4:00 p.m.       Chores
4:00-6:00 p.m.       Kiddos have free time to play, I begin dinner prep, everyone tidy house
6:15-7:00 p.m.       Dinner and clean up, family devotions
7:00-8:00 p.m.       Family time/free play
8:00 p.m.               Bedtime (older 3 read until 8:30-9:00 p.m.)

Our “daily schedule” is in reality a very rough schedule that could at any moment be disrupted, changed, and/or shifted.  Although I have found that trying to follow somewhat of a schedule serves me and my children, I have also learned that flexibility and the willingness to take a detour from the daily schedule is also alright. One of my biggest struggles has been finding ways to entertain my preschool/toddler aged children while doing school with the older kids. Through much trial and error, I have found that a combination of a few things has worked best for us:

– Sibling time. I rotate my older children to give them each a small chunk of time throughout the morning to play with their little sisters.

   – Change it up. I have found that if I rotate through activities for them to do, they are occupied for longer periods of time. Some things that I rotate through include: tubs with different preschool activity bags, play dough, sticker books, coloring/paint/glitter glue, a short video or show, etc.

   – Room time. Emma actually loves this time as she has her books, dollhouse, Legos, and bristle blocks all to herself to play with. She almost always requests music (some favorites include Seeds Family Worship and the Slugs and Bugs Series, along with worship music). Since she no longer naps on most days, this time is a wonderful blessing to me.

One other side note – I would be remiss to not mention that without the support, love, and encouragement from my dear husband, I would not be able to do what I do! He knows that due to homeschooling and having our children constantly at home, his role of trying to make me feel more like a wife than a mom is a great challenge. This is why we highly prioritize a weekly date night and regular getaways. He has also been known to shove me out of the house for a girl’s night or upstairs for an evening of reading. These times of refreshment allow me to be spurred on for the work ahead because as any homeschooling mom can attest to, it is exhausting and consuming work. Even though I try to plan and think through ways to keep things running smoothly, there are still days when I want to throw in the towel and crawl back into bed. On those kinds of days, we often stop whatever we are doing, head to the family room, curl up on the sofa together, and then I read aloud to the kids. Reading aloud to my children has always been a high priority and one thing that I plan to always keep a part of our homeschooling days, regardless of how old my children are!


I am well aware that I am “sowing much” and “reaping little” during these monotonous days of doing the same thing over and over again, but there is nothing else that I would rather be doing. These words comfort me: “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9

Thanks, Sarah! Want more? Check out the rest of the A Day in the Life series.

Comments

    • says

      You are very welcome! Encouragement from other moms often spurs me on as we are all battling the same challenges. I am so thankful for abundant grace and new mercies every morning!

  1. says

    Thanks so much – this was so encouraging. We, too, have 5 kiddos and we just started CC this year and I am also a tutor. How do you complete RightStart Math with 3 kiddos in only an hour? Are you doing a math/reading program with your 5 year old? Would love to know how you complete all your Essentials/IEW items during the week? Thanks again…

  2. says

    Hi Brenda! You are very welcome.
    For math, our 2 oldest are in levels that don’t require nearly as much time from me as the lower levels. My goal is to get through the actual lessons with each child during that hour time frame, however their independent work (worksheets, drill sheets, review games, etc.) is sometimes completed later in the morning during extra independent time. They play review games together independently.
    I don’t tend to do much with my preschoolers other than workbooks and fun learning activities. In the fall when our 5 year old starts kindergarten I plan to do a more structured reading program with her and begin math. She will use RightStart math and All About Reading.
    For our EEL/IEW work, I tend to space out the work from Tuesday-Friday (our CC day is Monday). So for IEW that means completing their KWO one day, beginning to write a rough draft the next day, adding in any dress-ups and openers using the checklist the following day, and then typing the final copy on Friday. If the paper has multiple paragraphs, they will work on a paragraph a day. For EEL, we read through the lesson on the first day, do the scripture edit one day, diagram sentences one day, and work on memory work/charts whenever time allows. Since I have 2 children in Essentials, they tend to work together and drill charts with each other so this works out well.
    Does that make sense? Please let me know if you have any other questions!
    Much grace to you!

    • says

      Thanks for the reply Sarah. Now that we are ending CC, I truly do love it, but I have to confess that getting it all done was a challenge. What specific independent work did your older kids work on and when do you find the time (if you do) do actually go over that work them (a struggle I found this year). Can you give me more details on how you actually do All About Spelling (one area I found I did not get to this year – spelling). How is your homeschool curriculum and each child’s work organized (binders? bookshelves? etc). Where do they actually do their work? Do you have chores for kiddos? My other question is on another point, what toys do your kiddos have? This summer I hope to better plan their days and organize our home (desiring to simplify and really hewn in what they are doing). Looks like you use Apologia and there is a 30 minute slot – what exactly did that look like? did you finish that book this year? Do you do any geography? I understand if you don’t have time right now to get back to you, but having another mom with 5 kiddos to bounce ideas around with is so helpful! God bless and thanks in advance! If you’ve already addressed these questions in other posts, simply link them if you can. =)

    • says

      You are very welcome, Brenda! I will try to answer your questions as best I can!
      1. My older 2 children complete much of their reading (MOH, Kids Apologia Science, Ambleside Book List, etc.) independently – either by listening to audio or my oldest reads aloud. So most of what they are doing independently does not really have “work” for me to check – make sense? The things we work on together include math (I check their worksheets every day), spelling, and CC (Foundations review and Essentials work).
      2. For AAS I combine my older 2 together in the same level since they are back to back grades. My oldest actually did spelling with my 2nd grader this past school year, but it isn’t a subject that takes too much time out of my day. AAS makes it very simple without any prep ahead of time.
      3. We have a school room with an IKEA Expedit cubby system where each child has everything organized (books they are reading, binders, textbooks, etc.). I do have a binder for each child that holds their math worksheets, practice sheets, drill sheets, etc. and another binder that holds any CC review material (copywork and things I print from CC Connected for review) and “everyday” practice things, which vary depending on the age of which child it is, including things such as calendar, address/phone, weather, book lists, etc. Throughout the year this binder is where I add artwork, science lab sheets, history drawings, etc. which eventually becomes our portfolio for the year.
      4. They do their work either in the school room at a table or at the kitchen table and/or island. If they need somewhere quiet to read they will go to a different room in the house, but for any writing they are at a table.
      5. Yes, our children each have a chore chart. I found one on Pinterest that I customized to each child, printed, and then laminated so that they can reuse it each week. They typically complete their chores mid/late afternoon each day. If you want specifics as to what they do I’d be happy to share, just let me know!
      6. The toys that our children play with the most are creative/imaginative things such as Legos, Playmobil, kitchen, dress-up, dolls, etc. They also spend tons of time outside – swingset, sandbox, trampoline, bikes/scooters, helping in the garden, balls (kickball, tennis, baseball), etc.
      7. For our science (Apologia), we take one week to read the entire lesson (break it down evenly and read a few pages each day) and talk about what we are learning. The following week they spend notebooking. So one lesson takes approx. 2 weeks, sometimes longer depending on the length of the lesson. There are typically 13-14 lessons in each science book, so taking 2 weeks (and sometimes 3) works out well for us to get through the book in a school year since one day a week is for CC. So yes, we complete the book during our school year.
      8. We follow CC’s geography for each cycle and beyond that work on “blobbing” as described by Leigh Bortins (and Brandy at Half A Hundred Acre Wood has some great resources to use). I love using CC as a spine for many things, so we really do try to memorize and apply the memory work throughout the year.
      Also, please feel free to e-mail me with other questions if that would be helpful! My e-mail is srherr @ gmail .com (without the spaces).
      Hope that helps at least a little!
      Sarah

  3. says

    It looks like you’ve got a great flow to your day! Thanks for sharing. I heartily agree that my married years have been the best of my life, though since the addition of children they have become much more challenging 😉 I struggle with the business of homeschooling, and can’t imagine adding more kids (I only have two!) or trying to do it once my daughter doesn’t nap anymore, but I know that God gives grace for the day and not in advance =) Thanks for the encouragement today!

    • says

      Amy, love that too! God does give grace for the day :) And remember…you only knew how to do one till you had two! 😉 I think the same has held true for us adding in 3, 4, and soon #5!

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