Daily Life & Homeschool

We have done quite a bit of traveling! Ever wonder what our life is like during the in-between times? It’s basically just like it is in Austin, but with a much smaller collection of friends. We are getting a lot more schoolwork finished now that we have fewer social engagements, though. I expect this will fluctuate more with visitors and camps during the summer.

Mornings start with (first) breakfast. In Belgium, the kids have Nutella-covered waffles for breakfast. Some mornings we have yogurt with fresh berries – the strawberries here are the best I’ve ever had. I usually have a sandwich on a croissant or pain au chocolat; which is a pastry with chocolate inside. Thank goodness we bike everywhere!

We homeschool nearly every day when we are in Leuven. This means math for both kids – Beast Academy for him and Singapore Math for her. Laine is still working her way through All About Reading Level 3, but she also reads about a book per day from our easy readers. I’m going to have to order new books if we can’t join the library soon! Isaac reads, as well, but he’s finished with his formal program, so he reads longer books. They each do at least a little writing every day. Then the rest is up to me.

The subjects above are what we consider “table subjects.” Those are the ones that generally involve pencils and paper (also known as Isaac’s least favorite). Science usually involves me reading to the kids on our couch. Occasionally there are also experiments, although definitely fewer than we do in the States. But we also watch a lot of videos if we’re studying a particular type of animal or “how that machine really works.” Then there are the amazing dinner conversations such as this gem from Tuesday night:

Picture us sitting at our dinner table enjoying our tacos. It is still light outside. We look out the living room window to see pigeons sitting on our porch ledge. The male pigeon hops on top of the female. Laine says “Oh, look, they’re mating!” Isaac says “I know what they’re doing. The male is putting his sperm inside of the female so he can fertilize her eggs!” Well… so there’s that. We’ll call that the science lesson for that day.

History is a bit of a mash-up for us just now because of where we are living. We use the BookShark curriculum. We’re wrapping up our study on Vikings and now we’re moving on to knights and castles. It is SO much more interesting when we can go see castles as part of our studies! In addition to this, we’re also using Beautiful Feet Books picture book curriculum to study a bit more about the culture of the countries around us. It’s been helpful to read about the places after we come back rather than before we go. In addition to all of that, we’re also receiving weekly stories from Around the World Stories. So far, we’ve heard 4 stories from Germany (which started right after we returned from Germany and Switzerland). Now we’re listening to stories set in the Netherlands. Perfect!!

The other thing we’re sure to do every day is our read-alouds. We are following BookShark for this, as well, but we’ve also just finished the first Harry Potter book. Independent of our curriculum, we’ve been steadily working our way through a series called The Land of Stories and it’s rekindled some of Laine’s love for fairy tales. (I cannot wait to take her to Efteling, the fairy tale theme park in the Netherlands, sometime soon)! We usually listen to an audiobook while we have breakfast and lunch as it keeps them seated long enough to fill their bellies a bit.

We do occasionally have some interesting diversions. One day there was an elevator truck parked in front of our apartment. Someone was moving in across the street, so we watched as their belongings were delivered up through the window. Another day we had to pause several times to go chase bubbles because a street fair was being set up downstairs. Most sunny Thursdays and Fridays also include a fair bit of music wafting in through the open windows from the street performers down near our corner. Today it was a saxophonist, but some weeks he plays flute instead. Other times we are serenaded by a trio that includes an accordion.

Once we get through our school work for the day, which is mixed in with swapping laundry and feeding them the first 5 meals of the day, we run errands. We walk to the grocery store almost daily and sometimes also stop at the chocolate shop. Leonidas (chocolate shop) is even more prevalent in Leuven than Starbucks is in New York.

Most afternoons include jiu jitsu classes for the kids. They are used to going 4 days per week in Austin, so we’re thankful to have found a good studio here, too. It also gives me a few minutes to catch up on my blog or, more recently, work on my annual continuing education requirements.

On Fridays, we have a bit more free time because there is no jiu jitsu. So Fridays may include a trip to the book shop up the street and a Belgian waffle, a doughnut, or an ice cream cone.

Evenings are more relaxed – unless I’m having an anxiety attack over the state of our apartment. Todd tries to get home about the same time we do. When he isn’t on conference calls, we hang out in the kitchen while the kids have their screen time. We share a family dinner before Todd and I start yelling at the kids to brush their teeth and get pajamas on. So, basically, the same thing you do. See, things aren’t so different here!

Homeschooling mom note: if you are among the homeschooler who read this, please note that this is what’s worked since we moved here in March. I expect all of it to change now that I’ve typed it up and said it’s working for us.

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