Homeschooling: Break? Year Round? First Day of Homeschool? Q & A

I did not want you to be left confused. I feel like explaining things that are difficult for some people to understand. I decided to do this in the form of a Q &A, but ask and answer the question myself. The questions people have asked of me.

Q: Do you take a summer break, or do you homeschool year-round?

A: Niether and Both. We do relaxed homeschooling and tidal wave homeschooling, a form of education which means that we are like the tide coming in and going out.

We try to do as best we can to get to where I consider to be “at grade level” in each subject for each child. We do not ever stop working on this, but we are also not always concernd about this.

We have ebbs and flows. Sometimes, with much effort, we learn a whole bunch and progress a lot in a period of time (this sometimes looks like an accelerated school for the gifted or early college, and sometimes looks like a 1900 one-room schoolhouse). At other times, we are more like unschoolers. Sometimes, we have a day that looks like montessori school. Sometimes, we have a field trip day. When people visit or we visit others, we have a day completely dedicated to only socializing. When we visited Grandma Preece or when Uncle Steven came over, we dropped all of our concerns and cares, and just visited. The kids learn plenty by visiting and socializing with others.

Q: Homeschoolers do not have to start school when the public schools begin. Isn’t that right?

A: This has a long answer, too. We do not have to, but because of classes we signed up for, we do.

We enroll in some classes not led by me but by teachers my husband and I chose or hired. One of these is free and it is The Church Seminary Program. (Oh, did you catch that? I almost used the acronym). Early Morning Seminary this year begins the same day public school begins in my area. This means that although we do not really care when homeschool begins or ends, I can choose a day when I can say something officially begins. It is the day Seminary begins.

The hired teachers and has also chosen certain dates to begin their classes, vacation days and end dates. Likewise, many homeschool parents join “co-ops,” which are groups of homeschoolers who get together and do learning together. These co-ops have a set schedule. A co-op has a start date, vacation dates and end dates, too.

I would not want to have the first day of homeschool for the kids which have teachers who’ve given them start-dates, and not have this for the younger 4. After all, the younger 4 are so looking forward to “doing homeschool” officially again. Their siblings are officially starting and so are their neighborhood friends and cousins.

This would be when I to the part called “get the kids ready for the first day of school (by clothes shopping at the back to school clothing sales) as a mom” and the part where I do “put in full-time hours of preparation of the homeschool room, planning and getting ready for homeschool to officially begin on August 27, like a paid public school teacher,” at the same time. (The second part includes getting in on back to school curriculum and supplies sales).

Speed Tour of my Recently Cleaned and Re-Organized Homeschool Room

Of course, many teacher moms do this. They get their own gets ready and sent off, and they also go to the school all day for a couple weeks to get their public school classroom ready.

This “Photographer Mom” is prepared to do “First Day of Homeschool 2018” photos next week!

It’s just a little different. I do not get paid and I do not have to get someone to tend the kids while I go off to work. They are here and I am here, which means I do the prep work and they wish I wouldn’t because it means I am not giving them the attention they would like. It is hard on the kids here, as they are eager to “officially start school” again, and frustrated that their mom is working on prepping and pretty much just letting them “fend for themselves” (except the littlest, who at least gets fed by mom and gets a lot of attention because he demands it).

I hope this helps everyone to understand my world so that they are not confused. There are so many different ways to homeschool. Sometimes, there are jokes or memes on the internet that give one impression, and the people who do not know that all homeschools are different get so upset when things are not the way a youtube video says they are.

This one is a funny one by “It’s a Southern Thing.”

Tell me, are the others exaggerated? Yeah. So do you think the homeschool mom one is? Think about it. I am a homeschool mom and I still laughed at it. I was not upset by the inaccuracy. I know it’s all exaggerated and it is a joke. It’s very funny. If you like it, subscribe, because all of their videos are just as humorous!

For the record, homeschool moms and kids do get dressed in day clothing because they are very busy. We get dressed for the same reasons that you get dressed during the summer. Also, homeschool moms usually put together or join in on a “Not Back to School” park day or party on the first day of local public school. We all know when school starts, including those who do unschooling! We all look forward to getting the museums and parks back to uncrowded. We love it when school starts and are very aware!

I am most like the photographer mom, by the way. I am very sentimental, an artist and a graphic designer, after all! So, yeah, homeschool moms are all different, too, and we have personalities that are all different from the personalities of other homeschool moms. We love our variety and differences!

How to Get Rid of Fruit Flies That Reproduce Like Nothin’ Else!

Here are tips about fruit flies here, as I had lots all the time last year. One, I figured out the ones I had came from the food co-op and sometimes from a loved one who brought not so new vegetables, which I threw away, but which had fruit flies in them. They lasted all summer. Then we got fed up and looked on the internet for how to get rid of them. We experimented with different combinations and found some good ones. 

How to get rid of fruit flies:

1- Get out 2 tiny glass glass dessert bowls, some clear plastic wrap and a cake tester, large, thick needle or large, thick safety pin. 

2- In one bowl, put not canned, but fresh peaches. Peal the peaches. Cut them up. They love this best of all fruits. Cover the peaches with the plastic wrap and poke tiny holes in the cover large enough for the fruit flies to get into. If the holes are too big and they fly out, cover again and poke tinier holes, leaving the first cover on still. This double traps them, which may even be something to just start off with, because some of them are clever and find a way out.

3- In the 2nd bowl, make a mix of half an avocado, a bit of salsa, some mustard and a whole lot of garlic. Add some ketchup. Mix it up and it will smell awesome to the fruit flies. They love all of these things. Combined? WOWZA!!! Then cover it and poke holes as you did in number 2. Leave them out in the kitchen.

4- Wait. Patience. Just ignore them and come back in a day. When they are full enough to make you feel like that is enough, take them out ti the back yard and fill the bowls up with water. Leave them an hour, then go out and dump it all out into a trash bag, tie it up and either double/ triple tie up the bag in trash bag after trash bag, or go back inside and dispose of it into the toilet or down the sink disposal. If you do that, run the water and disposal immediately to get it all out of there. 

5- Repeat 1-4 until they are all gone. Get a fly swatter, too, and have your husband make it his duty to whack them. This will get rid of the remaining ones, who are likely the experts at getting in and gettting out, or finding foods they like which are not in a trap.

6- Favorites for fruit flies are juices in a juice container that is used and left out, not rinsed, ketchup, salsa, barbecue sauce, tomato soup, rotten fruit, any kind of lettuce or green leaf item, garlic, mustard and avocado. If you leave any of this out, they will eat it and this helps them to reproduce. Try during steps 1-4 to cover any of this you do not have time to rinse, with plastic wrap.

7- If we used a juice container up and did not have time to wash it, we filled it with water and covered it with its lid. This was awesome, as many fruit lies drowned in there. It was always better just to wash and keep things clean, of course.

8- If you have fresh fruits and veggies out a lot, constantly check the fruit and veggie bowls for not-so fresh, past  prime fruits or veggies and get them into a covered garbage can with a garbage sack in it. Tie up garbage sacks well when you take them out to the outside trash bin.

9- Try with all your might to keep the kitchen, dining room and dishes clean.

The Current Mix of Our Homeschool Day

We were asked in an Eclectic Homeschooling facebook group about our current (not year-round average, just current) mix.

I have been changing the numbers around and this is my guess, including the “homeschooling hours” Mon.-Fri. between 9 am and 4 pm only.

This is how we learn at our house, in order from the most to the least


cleaning up Vomit and getting more pedialyte
keeping kids dressed and fed
responding to kids and their needs
Teaching and correcting academic work
helping with Hope Haven Events, and preparing presentation and booth for Winter Homeschool Conference
Reading aloud to kids


Playing with other siblings
Reading books/ magazines/ news of choice from our home library & internet
Legos and other toys
Self-Directed Learning
Fighting, discussing, negotiating and learning to get along
Playing with the Baby and teaching him to walk
Learning about and Discussing our religion (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints)
Learning about and Discussing Current Events and Politics
Personal Grooming, Health & Nutrition
Early Childhoold Education
Life Skills
L.I.F.E. School Curriculum
math via Utah’s former core curriculum (before common core) via worksheets, iPad math and Constance Kamii math
iPad and YouTube learning by taking turns
Discover the Old Testament
God’s Design for Science
Serving each other, and others
Art and Art History (my own curriculum)

I love that homeschooling is so auto-flex. What we need more and what works best, always naturally becomes what we do more of. What we need least naturally falls off of the bottom and just becomes a memory when it no longer serves us.

EVERYONE Helping EVERYONE with the Housekeeping by Each Doing their Parts they Can

In my humble opinion, giving kids extra duties as punishments, is bound to make them associate housework with having done something wrong, and, is, therefore, going to make them feel as if it is a method of your “picking on” them. For this reason, I do not punish kids by giving them chores.

In addition, Don Aslett books suggest not saying simple things most moms say, which I still catch myself saying, such as, “please help me to clean…” Even having your husband refrain from saying, “We all need to help mom more,” suggests it is mom’s job and everyone in the family has to help her, since she is incapable or lazy about doing her own job. Our culture needs to change phrase by phrase.

Instead, you can replace it with something like, “Let’s all do our parts in keeping the home livable.” Your husband can even use the same phrase. “Everyone helps the family to be happy by everyone pitching in to help EVERYONE.” Just try not to say, “Help mom.”

It is not mom’s job to clean the house. It is not mom’s job to do laundry. It is not mom’s job to do yard care. It is not mom’s job to do child care (unless everyone else in house is too young). It is not mom’s job to do the grocery or clothes or any kind of shopping. It is not mom’s job to cook. It is not mom’s job to get ready to go places. Everyone pitches in with everything they can. Assigned or owned jobs, by mom or by dad, are bad ideas.

Our Summer Routine


This is our summer poster chart, which we use as our routine. The rounded squares are pointed out whenever the kids ask for a privilege. The rectangle ones ar pointed out when the kids have done the rounded square items before that rectangle, to remind them what privileges they have earned.
The rectangles are not required. They are optional. Sometimes my kids just do their rounded square items, and go for a privilege in the bottom right rectangle. Lately, they have been earning free time and more open privileges, early in the day, or at least by 2 p.m.

Some days, like today, the kids do not ask for privileges, so they just play and mess up the house all day. Days like this usually get on my nerves, especially if the house is so messy that we cannot find a clean dish to use or a clean spot on the counter on which to prepare a meal. Today, I am too sleepy and worried about increasing my baby’s weight, to be able to throw any mental, emotional or physical energy at the housekeeping issues.

I am grateful for weekends when we are free to clean, which, of late, are few and far between. I am glad that my husband gets them to work when he is here. I am glad that my husband and I can get lots done on weekends.
This chart is working quite well. I do not know why, but it is.

Weekdays with Dad as the Sub for our Homeschool

This week, I became very sick. I had just made a new schedule and new expectations, which really were just small changes to the old, to accommodate for the new weather and the new requirements of baseball little league games. My husband took two days off work to fill in.

I was very grateful to him, but did not expect what happened. He was amazing. He got the kids to do half of to what is on their lists, which is more than I have been able to get them to do since I started nursing our newbie. It was very inspiring, a glimpse into the future of what life may hold for us when newbie increases his baby food intake, allowing me to be up and moving more often.

What did he get them to do with his help the first day? (Nothing short of miraculous):

Groovy Grooming
Leave No Trace Breakfast
Beautiful Bedrooms
Lovely Living Room
Discover the Book of Mormon
Spelling City on iPad 15 minutes each
Math on iPad 15 minutes each
Reading history half hour
Leave No Trace Lunch
In Evening, Dinner and ball games for multiple kids

The second day, mind you, I felt better but did not feel recovered enough, so with a clean house, he worked on the budget a week later than we usually do, and I did the child care, housework, and recovery. This is what we did:

Groovy grooming, which took all day for some kids
One kid cleaned dining room alone
Two kids did spelling and math o the iPad
Softball practice outside for one
Reading the Hobbit Outside, for another
Cleaning the Living room, for one child
Making beds
Discover the Book of Mormon for one child
Devotional for one child
Lunch, which was cleaned up a couple hours later
Softball practice with team for one kid
A visit from grandpa for all kids
The reconciling of the old budget by dad
The creation of the new budget by dad
Going to bank to get cash by dad
Grocery shopping by dad
Mom and dad date time with the eldest watching the kids

I must give a shout out to thank all the awesome fathers of homeschooled kids out there. You can do it, you are great at it. You are part of the learning these kids are up to. Thank you! You do a lot more than people know. You are needed, very helpful, indispensable and amazing!

Does Your Family Do Housework on the Sabbath?

Last night, we got a lot of housework done in just the last 2 hours of the day. I knew I could not bear to start a new week, with the house in that state. I wrote a list of all that needed to be done. I then made lists on the white board for each person. This is very much against the teachings of the bible, which tell us not to work on the Sabbath Day. I know it. Some things just get annoying, though. I have been trying to get my family to do more during the week and on Saturday, so that we won’t have work to do on Sunday. It has not worked so well. I have to give them Do-Lists on Sunday, or do it all myself on Sunday, because it has to be done. We cannot just leave the table covered with dinner, not load the dishwasher and not sweep the floor. We cannot leave ads from the newspaper, to cover the living room floor.

The great thing about it was, that none of us did MUCH work. All of us just pitched in. I still did the most work, because I’m the mom and that’s life, but, hey, it is much better to put in all that work, and get something more out of it, because others are getting stuff done at the same time!  I made sure that the people more likely to get the work done, were given the work that most needed doing. I still tried to be fair, but when you know your family, you’ve got to do that, in order that the most important actually gets done.

I was very pleased before bedtime, but the kids went to bed much later than they usually do, because of all this work. It sure made this morning, and will make the rest of today, more pleasant, I hope. Homeschooling should go more smoothly, being that we have a fairly clean house instead of a disaster pit. Making lunch should be easier, since the dishes are done and the kitchen is fairly clean. Hopefully we’ll eat more nutritious lunches.

Please make sure to take the Poll, below the comment form! Thanks!

What Homeschooling is REALLY Like Day to Day

I need to post this for people who homeschool and for people considering doing it.

Homeschooling Day to Day: What is it REALLY like?

1/3 Chaotic, awful days that make you want to scream, run away from home, put your kids back in public school, send them to an insane asylum or hire a maid, a nanny and a cook. The kids don’t wanna do it. This is boring. Why do they always have to…? Why do they have to do a chore to help with the household duties? You want to kick the T.V. in, because they won’t stop begging you for it. You feel like no matter what you do, they will never do as you ask. Your meals are probably less nutritious. The house is a disaster pit. Everything is disorganized. Nobody is happy or getting along. Nobody feels like they need to help. Someone is misbehaving so badly, that you cannot do learning at all. If someone sampled this day as an example of what homeschool is like day to day, nobody would ever want to homeschool. You’d turn all of those interested in homeschool, into “definitely never considering that again” people.

1/3 Wonderful, Heaven-blessed, perfect days where everything goes right and if you wanted to brag about the awesomeness of a homeschool day, you’d use a day like this! Your kids love the Gospel of Jesus Christ and their testimonies are bursting with love for and faith in God. They are ahead academically and love learning. You cover so much curriculum, you feel like you are soaring like eagles. You want to tell everyone how great homeschooling is. You want to homeschool forever. They hug you and tell you you are a wonderful mom. They are kind to one another, serve one another, love you and love each other. They do everything you ask of them happily and the house is clean. You have nutritious meals and everyone is well-groomed.

1/3 In the middle, average days, where learning and homeschool are routine, hum-drum, and run-of the mill. These days, you make it through, and it is neither really awesome, nor horrible. These days don’t match either category above. Your kids do all their work. It is an average amount. Nothing remarkable happens, but you sigh in relief. Another day done. We finished our stuff. Sigh. You are glad you made it, and it was a good day.

*I do not know whether these fractions are perfect. The exact amounts are incalculable. This is just my estimate. Don’t sue me if you come into homeschool, and your fractions are way different.

Making Space for a Better Homeschool

I can promise you, I am not the homeschool mom some people think I am. “I don’t know how you do it!” I hear. “You are so amazing that you can do that!” I hear. No, I am not amazing, and, I will tell you JUST how I do it. I take it one week and one day at a time. Some days, life turns out much like this photo below. We cleaned this up in 2 hours and these 2 rooms were spotless. Sometimes, this happens a couple times a week. Really. But we clean it up. This photo just shows you what I had to endure, in order to de-junk the storage room while being a homeschool mom, with all kids here and ready to do whatever they want all day long, while I work to clean the place to make homeschooling work more efficiently.

I am not amazing. I am only human. I cannot do more than what other mothers can do, and some days look like the photo, because of it. The good thing is, that photo is in the past. Thank goodness it is! I am hoping it never happens again. That’s silly, though, because even if THAT doesn’t, maybe the toilet will overflow again, like it did this week, because the younger kids use too much toilet paper. Who knows!? Homeschooling means I don’t have a head custodian, a cook, a janitor, and people to clean up the floor and table after school lunch, while the kids go out to recess. Homeschooling means I am the cook and the janitor and the custodian and the teacher and the one who cleans the table and floor after lunch. At least, I am in charge of it, anyway. Occasionally, I am just amazing enough, that I can get one or 2 kids to help me, which is nice. Also, I am very glad, my husband helps a lot with the housecleaning. He is the designated laundry person, and this past weekend, he washed all the dishes that have to be washed by hand, not in the dishwasher. He also helped me with all the heavy lifting of the clothing bins from the storage room I had to sort through!

Again, this photo is from last week. This occurred because I was downstairs sorting through clothes from the storage room, trying to make our house more spacious. I had decided that I need more space for my homeschool, and less clutter to clean up! Clutter and lack of space because of clutter, can really damage a homeschool. I just know that when I am finished with this, our homeschool will go much more smoothly. Here are a few reasons why:

1) I won’t have to search as much to find what I need for the next day. I’ll be able to quickly grab something from each subject, which each child needs to learn next, and place it in the “for tomorrow” file in the file cabinet, because my file cabinet is slightly more organized than it was yesterday.

2) I now have more space in the office, and the books I don’t need cluttering it up, are in the storage room now, instead of all over the office, taking up tons of space. Some of the boxes had my personal and our household books, in them. Some had school books not needed for this school year, in them. I want the office to be especially made to a) prep. for homeschool for this year only, b) help me get my graphic design stuff done efficiently, and c) help that household office tasks get done efficiently. My office is closer to its perfection, which I have in my head.

3) I was able to finally put all of those boxes of books, from the office, into the storage! Before, I wasn’t able to, because not only was there no shelf space in there, but there was so little floor space, that the bags of stuff were coming out through the doorway and into the hallway. A person had to step on the bags, hoping not to twist an ankle, to get into the storage room, even just to grab toilet paper! Now, there is a clear side aisle to walk in safely and there are 2 mostly clear aisles to the left of it, to walk down to get what we need. It’s great!

I know. You likely do not see a connection between homeschooling and the storage room. I do. My office is more spacious, and we can grab what we need faster, and without getting injured. It saves us a lot of time, day in and day out. After all, we have to get toilet paper during the school day, sometimes, and sometimes, we have to go get food. Sometimes, we have to go and quickly find the winter clothing, because it has snowed, and we have to get out, as soon as it does, and play in it! That is one of the luxuries of homeschool that we can enjoy faster and with less frustration now! Yay!

I got so much de-junking of clutter done this week, that early in the evening, I was enthused about homeschooling again. I have not felt that way for a couple weeks, at least. I printed a ton of worksheets and immediately filed them away. I am so excited to fill up the day boxes again and go at it! I love what de-junking can do! It frees up enthusiasm, time, and space!

Look at the lovely fall leaves on the bushes, and ignore the rest! Ha ha! Really, this looked lovely when it was clean 2 hours later. I even mopped the floor! It looked amazingly beautiful! It was a lot of work, though! I think homeschool moms do a lot of housework. After I get my house all de-junked and it has a lot fewer things in it, and more open space, I will work on teaching my kids to clean, and also, to not make messes like this one!


Housecleaning is Part of Homeschooling

     I write this because I think it is important that people know about my homeschool. My homeschool does not begin after or end before, housecleaning. My homeschool day for the kids includes housecleaning.

     Housecleaning is a skill I want my kids to have, right now (not later, when they get older). Beyond health and grooming, it is a very required element in being able to lead a normal life. If my children do well in academia but cannot keep house, I am a sad woman. This cannot be. 

     Having developed my own curriculum, I have made sure that housecleaning has a very prominent role. My kids, my husband and many others, may not consider this aspect to be part of homeschooling, learning or a good education, but I do. I know this will offend a lot of people, but, in fact, I think it is more important than each of these individually, as well as all of them collectively:


-Language Arts


-The Arts


-Social Studies

     Maria Montessori made housecleaning skills, part of the “practical life” portion of her curriculum. This shows that not all who made scientific studies about education, left housecleaning out. Her goal was to prove that children with mental disabilities, if taught in a respectful way with choices for the children, and through repetition, the kids could learn these things and lead normal lives. She knew that housecleaning was part of becoming an independent person who could care for him or herself. “Practical Life” is in the foundation of the Montessori Method.

     Here are some reasons why housecleaning should be placed above, the academic subjects mentioned above.

-Math: Do the math here.

a) Hiring a maid could cost upwards of $800 a month, where I live. This includes little more than the basics. How much money could you save in 12 months, without this cost?

b) Not hiring a maid will require you to spend more on going out to eat, buy ready- made foods, and you’d still have to clean a lot. These food expenditures could cost the average family upwards of $400 a month. How much could you save in a year without that expense?

-Language Arts:

Do you enjoy reading or writing, with a mess all around you? Do you enjoy them on an empty belly, which you have because just looking in the kitchen, you cannot see how making a meal could be possible? How many more books would you be able to fit in your house, were it cleaner? How much more time would you have to read & write, were it cleaner?


Science experiments in that messy kitchen? No way! Looking in the microscope on that messy table? Not possible. Feel guilt free going to the museum for a field trip with a house in that state? No, thanks!


How can you stand to read about all the hard work they did, when you and yours, are so lazy! What would they think of you? Would they just be proud, because you are so good at academia? I think not!

-The Arts:

Ah, Beethoven. How can you not clean when you hear that and see the state of your house? Composing music, unable to hear. What a determined man. Do you think such a determined man knew how to sweep and wash a table?

Monet. All day long, 6 a.m., new canvas: cathedral; 7 a.m., new canvas, cathedral; 8 a.m., new canvas: cathedral. He’d best eat lunch sometime. Perhaps a clean house would help. Barely able to put food on the table in his beginnings, and with a wife who was ill, I am betting he knew how to clean house.

Shakespeare. Can you imagine no Shakespeare because: “Arghh! Where did I put that manuscript? This is so frustrating! I lose everything in this mess! Oh! It has food spilt all over it because I left it out with the food and a cat came and spilt it. I am so mad! And I have forgotten what I wrote! It will not come again. I know it. Oh, forget it. I’d best go work at the lumber mill. I need to eat, after all!”

Dance: Time to pick a dance teacher for your kids. Let’s go pick one with a studio floor, covered in dust and overrun with junk!


Ope, too bad. No playing catch. Can’t find your mitt and ball. Maybe the soccer ball. Oh, can’t find that, either. Let’s go running. Can’t find your running shoes? Arghh! Oh, well. Let’s just do an aerobics DVD! We know where the T.V. is! What? We have to have a space cleared to move around on the floor? Ah, forget it. Let’s just watch T.V.

     I hope that helps you to see why I feel that housecleaning is much more important than all of those subjects. So when you ask me when are we going to start our homeschool day, while we are cleaning, I will remind you about this post.