A Year in the Life of a Homeschooling Family: Day 9

Part of my reason for writing A Year in the Life of a Homeschooling Family  is to document the struggles of homeschooling with a child who is chronically unwell. I think it will be useful for me to have a record of what works and what doesn’t. A vast majority of thought time today was taken up with figuring things out for Charlotte, to give her the very best success during these important exam years.

We are still very much trying to find a happy medium for my youngest twin, with regards to work, rest and play. Over Christmas the ME had improved so much that she was off painkillers, and was tentatively energetic. She was sleeping about 13 plus hours each night, and relaxing during the day. I think it just gave her body the chance to heal… Last week, our first week back at school, she was also doing really well. But one busy weekend just past and she is teetering on the edge of a crash.

Yesterday was a difficult day for her, so whilst she did all the work I set her, she chose not to see friends, and spent the evening relaxing, with an early night. The plan was to counteract the busyness of the last few days. Unfortunately, pain kept her from sleeping well last night. Thankfully, we had already agreed a later wake up time, so even though she’d had a bad night, she actually felt better today than yesterday. She’s back on painkillers though 🙁

Charlotte is also pushing to do a History IGCSE along side her others, but I am reluctant to encourage it. I honestly don’t know how much is too much. I do know that we need to get outside more, for at least an hour each day. Persuading Charlotte of this however may be one challenge to far! I can also see that lying in until 8am really does make a difference to her in terms of tiredness, so I think we may be inching towards a later start up time in our homeschool. Bizarrely, this scares me a little. For as long as I can remember we have started school at 9am and finished at 330pm. It’s not written in stone and is completely more fluid than it sounds, but we have just always found that nine suits us well, and by threeish we have all finished most of our work. If we start later, are we going to have to finish later?

Okay, enough ruminating…

Today, Lillie has been enjoying her Psychology a lot. Here she is watching a TED talk on Memory and different techniques for improving it:

She has been learning all about mind palaces (think modern Sherlock Holmes). She was so excited, you’d have thought she had discovered the cure for cancer!

Her office is quite cold, so once she had finished she opted to read her Human Biology in the living room with a blanket wrapped around her:

After she finished her Maths, Psychology and Human Biology, Lillie left for work, one of her favourite places to be. Lil is teaching herself British Sign Language and on the way (I gave her a lift) she was showing off all she had learnt:

Charlotte is still ploughing her way through all her Classics books, enjoying them all so much:

She has a great little set up now, with the lap table perched on the floor to hold her computer.

The little ones spent the morning doing their workbooks:

They have a planning sheet they follow during the week:

Afterwards we usually do lots of fun school. Tuesdays however are slightly different. Abigail received a subscription to MEL Chemistry for her Christmas present. With the subscription came the promise that we would put an afternoon aside each week just for her and I to do science together.

We chose Tuesdays because Lillie is at the nursery she works in a couple of times a week. I schedule her less work on a Tuesday. Charlotte is then available to do some activity or other with Becca, which frees me up to be with Abs. Mel Chemistry is great because they send you enough stuff to do the experiment twice. So after I have gone through it with Abs, she then shows and teaches her younger sister. But first lunch and then quiet time.

During quiet time I pondered (and took photos of) the upstairs loo…

Each month, Gary and I choose a room to focus our finances, time and effort on. Our home is the biggest financial investment we will ever make, and we want to keep it in working order. Handily, we have twelve rooms in our house. See? One for each month! January’s room is the upstairs bathroom. Gary has already plumbed in a new sink unit and put down a new floor, and the last big job is to paint. I was planning on doing it a pale yellow because most of our house, bar the hallway, is in that colour. However, as the accent colour is charcoal, I think I am going to keep it white and just do a quick coat, focusing on the places which need a bit more attention. What do you think?

I have been jotting down some things I want to get done by the end of this month. I love homemaking, so this isn’t a chore to me at all.

Obviously I am going to paint the walls, which particularly need it around the basin as the new basin is much smaller than the old one:

I may paint the mirror, if I can find a tester pot of charcoal paint – if not I’ll have to leave it as is.

In the picture below, there is a heart shaped basket on the left, which I would like to fill with spare charcoal hand towels. The wooden box with the hearts will be filled with a hairbrush and accessories:

I’ll source most of that from home. There is also a basket off to the left, which you can see better in the photo below:

I want to fill that basket with home-made sachets of lavender. I have some lovely muslin I have been saving for some Egyptian dolls clothes. But I’ve changed my mind – sachets it is… they’ll have to go naked! I already have lots of dried lavender flowers, and also some Lavender essential oils, so I think they will be fairly simple and inexpensive to make. I will be keeping my eye out for some nice charcoal ribbon to decorate the sachets with.

The wall on the right contains our medicine cabinet, bookshelves (of course!), loo roll and hand wash:

The only thing I’d like to do here is add tooth brushes and toothpaste to the empty container for the girls to use upstairs, instead of having to use the downstairs bathroom:

Last but not least, the door which goes into the loo needs a little something, so I am going to add a lovely material heart which I found in a charity shop:

There, I’ve committed it to paper now, so I have to do it! I’ll update as and when.

Once quiet time was over, a boundlessly enthusiastic Abigail came running down the stairs squealing with excitement at the prospect of growing a tin hedgehog with me! I will be devoting a whole post at the weekend about our attempts, but suffice it to say the whole experience was very satisfactory. Here is my little scientist:

Bless her heart, she just had SO much fun. We did everything, from watching the video, to reading all the instructions, doing the experiment and then all the extra investigating…

Here is her tin hedgehog after about twenty minute:

After 40 minutes:

And after an hour:

It was so lovely to see her telling her big brother all about it when he got home from college:

Meanwhile Charlotte and Becca were doing our three ingredient cooking thing. Charlotte took her to the local shop to choose. She bought icing sugar, Rich Tea biscuits and pink Bonbons. They spent a happy half an hour together:

And created some very sugary snacks:

Right now I am munching away at one with a cup of tea, whilst typing up this post, Charlotte is round at a friends discussing ‘highly intellectual stuff‘ Apparently, or so I am told. Lillie is walking, on her way back from work whilst Thomas is recording some work for college.

The little ones are busy with their ‘YouTube’ channels (and no they don’t have one but they like to pretend they do!). Becca is teaching her third episode of Gymnastics with Becca:

Whilst Abigail is describing her experiment and uploading her photos of it and discussing them with her imaginary audience:

Gary is on his way home from a day up in London with the new company he works for. He’ll soon be home and we will be having a lovely evening snuggled up watching Wallander. Happy sigh.


  1. Claire, I love reading these posts. It is so nice to see what you are up to over there. As always, you have fantastic ideas for school. Your room a month idea is brilliant. I may see what I can do to adopt that this year. We need a bit of work in the house, and maybe we can get it done if we focus on one room at a time. We’ll see. We are getting ready to send Grace back to Florida for college. 🙁 So sad. She did brilliantly last semester. Even though she doesn’t think it today, she’ll be ready to get back to her friends and her classes. (If she reads this: Yes, you will!) Faith turns 20 in a couple of days. Evan is a sophomore and he earned Eagle Scout in December. Whew. Where does the time fly? Take care. I am reading even if I don’t comment every day. I don’t like commenting on my phone and that is where I see your posts most of the time. Hugs to you. ~Donna

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