We have nowhere to go this summer, and it feels bad to have nowhere to go and nothing to do, so we are going to learn and grow and make. …We are going to homeschool through the summer. I’ve always wanted to homeschool, but I can’t do it while the kids could go to such a great school and have recess and lunch and specials and friends.

I don’t think school next year will look like that, so maybe it’s a good time to get my homeschool fix. Thus, we’re practicing during the summer, to see if the kids will listen to me, if I can take care of all five kids and homeschool, and to see if I even like it.

The kids are a little cheesed about losing their summer (that was not going to be quite the same anyway) but I think they believe me that they want good things to do. And in the end I’m the one who controls whether they get treats or screen time. They’ll be happy later in life, right?

Overarching theme of learning: Moon Base 12

One day, Austin was bored so Bryan told him to go play Moon Base 12, which was invented in that instant. They played for days. I realized I could use that game to teach them about space science… I taught them how to make oxygen out of water, where astronauts get their water, how to grow plants in space, solar panels, and how to poop in space (which is inconvenient without gravity).

I made a copy of the scale map of our house I made, and we wrote what each part of the house, I mean base, is for. I printed a map of the moon, and one day we went on a bike ride to the Sea of Tranquility. Yep. On that bike ride, I “ran out” of “oxygen” and the kids had to synthesize some from water.

The kids have really been enjoying making movies, so I think we’ll make some episodes about the moon base for them to solidify what they’ve heard me talk about on the whiteboard.

When we get sick of Moon Base 12, we’re going to study sustainable energy, mars colonization, the environment, health, povery reduction, coding, research, statistics, and cybersecurity. These topics are the ones I feel like are at an emergency level right now and I think my children can have a big impact on these issues later in life. They wanted to learn about space, aliens, rocks, food, and animals. So we’ll find ways to compromise. I wanted to choose topics that they wouldn’t necessarily cover in school, so they aren’t bored when they go back. But math and reading and science and writing and social studies keep popping up.

It’s important that kids choose what they learn. You can’t compete with someone who is passionate about what they are doing. They are drawn to it, they spend their free time on it, they lose sleep over it.

We asked them, “What do you want to learn this summer?” And then we had a magical journey of voting and persuading and vetoing and narrowing and compromise until we settled on Moon Base 12. (Did you know it’s one of NASA’s top priorities to actually make a moon base?)

Daily Schedule

They should wake up at 8. I have made a schedule to determine which of my older kids (9,7,5) will dress, feed, or clean up the little girls (3,1). They rotate every day. Things might be easier to remember if we rotated every week or every month, but I think they would complain more. In the Montessori philosophy, Practical Life activities are important for fine motor skills, critical thinking and problem solving. Service is important in building character. And babysitting practice now can make a little bit of money in the future for them.

While they get breakfast, help the little girls, make their bed, and get dressed, I study. If I am going to know what to teach, I need to learn it first. Especially when it’s time for cybersecurity. I have zero idea what’s going on there.

If the big kids are working at 9:am they get a candy. We did this during e-learning distance school, and it worked well. Heidi and Peter are practicing typing, and Austin is working on math. I call it “Astronaut Certification.” If they are on the moon, and there’s a problem and they can’t type quickly, they might die before they type their message! And math is definitely important for astronauts.

They also write for the Braun Times, our family newspaper. I haven’t been great in the past at teaching my kids to write, so practicing this summer is important to me. They choose what type of article to write (music recommendations, opinions, and jokes motivate my boys). When they get tired of writing they go dink around until 11.

When we go outside! It’s so fun! I play sports with the kids, and have Heidi serve me in her mud kitchen. Lunch is at 12, and we usually do a whiteboard during lunch.

During naptime, it’s time for the big kids to create. Heidi likes to listen to a story and work in the art room. Peter and Austin do Scratch Create (Which is different in our house than Scratch Explore). Peter also likes to play Legos while listening to a story. Austin is obsessed with Chrome Music Labs. The kids demo their creations ideally every day at Daily Demos, which happens after toothbrushing but before bedtime story. They get Dad’s full attention and praise. Bryan is a creator, and his main purpose for doing so is for that rush when someone sees what you made and loves it. He wants to create a pull for the kids to create, not to push them.

I try to have them request ebooks and audiobooks from Libby once a week, and they read them whenever they get a moment. They also helped pay for a subscription to Simply Piano, which is awesome. They saw it in an ad and Heidi begged me for days and days.

They create (or play or read or practice or whatever) until snacktime at 3:30. After snacktime, there’s another schedule saying which of the big kids plays with Erika, who plays with Bethany, and who cleans something.

They play until dinner ideally at 5:00. Another whiteboard, kitchen jobs (Package Up, Clear Away, Brush and Spray and Wipe, and Sweep) and zones (kids each are assigned a room to keep clean before they get their clip treat).

Clip treats: A magnet with your name on it moves down layer by layer whenever you break a house rule. You need to be above a certain level to get lunch treats, dinner treats, and devices.

From 6-7, kids can play on devices if they finished their schoolwork. If they didn’t finish their school work they can work on it while their siblings play on devices. 7 starts the bedtime routine. Parents read the big kids a novel. Right now we’re reading Wonder, next is The Hobbit, then the Little Prince.

The kids listen to Saints while they fall asleep. They really like it. I started them on it because Peter asked about plural marriage, and that book does a great job of saying what we know and what we don’t. And what we didn’t know twenty years ago, but do now. I start the recording on the next chapter every night, and it plays until I go to bed.

To recap: Moon Base 12 (STEM)
Braun Times (Writing)
Astronaut Certification (math or typing or piano)
Libby ebooks (reading practice)
Bedtime Stories (literature)
Babysitting (service and practical life)
Whiteboards (everything else. religion, character, chores, engineering, science content, social studies)

8:00 Wake up, get dressed, make bed, eat breakfast, feed sisters. Mom study.
9:00 Study
11:00 Recess
12:00 Lunch
1:00 Create
3:30 Snacktime
5:00 Dinner
6:00 Screen Time
7:00 Pajamas, toothbrushing, Daily Demos, bedtime story
9:00 Lights out (A.K.A fighting time, water time, bathroom time, blanket finding time, complaining time, first aid time…)