I planned a very modest first day of homeschooling. In fact, I planned a very modest first week. On the agenda for today were four things:


  1. Zahra: Multiplication (2x table)
  2. Noah: French alphabet review
  3. Noah: French numbers 1-10 review
  4. Zahra, Noah and Leila: SQUILT Lesson 1 (SQUILT is Super Quiet UnInterrupted Listening Time, a music appreciation program and the only ready-made piece of curriculum that I purchased for us this year. Honestly, I just knew my sanity would require some super quiet uninterrupted listening time built into our schedule.)

When I explained today’s plan to the kids yesterday, I got a sigh from Zahra who then zipped through her 2x table in between bites of frittata. I watched Noah’s eyes light up as he listened, and the moment she was done, he stood up on his chair and cried triumphantly, “Me, too! Me, too! I know my 2x table!” And he did. Saïd and I fired off an oral quiz on the 2x table, in random order, and the kids were blurting out their answers. And Leila just quietly ate her dinner, likely wondering how it was that she was born into this family.

Cue Monday morning. I checked #1 and #3 off the list while drinking my coffee. The kids woke up at 7:40, and I told them that if they had gone to school this year, they would have needed to be on the bus in ten minutes. They squealed in disbelief and ran out the front door in their pyjamas to wave goodbye to the neighbour boy as he got on the bus.

While they were outside, I laid out the sheets that we needed to three-hole punch and put in a binder for our SQUILT lessons. This is how I planned to start our morning:

SQUILT pages

And this is how I ended up spending my morning:

boy with snake


Yep, that’s a small snake in his hands. Believe it or not, I was not surprised. The boy has a sharp eye and lightening reflexes and has been catching snakes all summer.

“This one, I want to keep,” he said.

“OK,” I replied, “but you have a lot of work to do to make him a home and research what he needs to eat.”

“And give him a name,” Noah replied. Oh yes, of course. Sigh.

Zahra remembered that we have an old aquarium in the garage and immediately got to work.

cleaningWhile Zahra was cleaning it out, Noah let Leila hold the snake, which, like most things in her hands (including drinkable yogurts and anything fragile) quickly ended up on the floor. Or, in this case, on the deck, and the smart little bugger managed to fall through the cracks. Noah crawled around under the deck for a few minutes before giving up chase and deciding to find another snake (because, honestly, he has a gift for this).






So Zahra started lining the aquarium with grass and rocks, which greatly intrigued the chickens, who were probably wondering, Is this edible?




whistle And during all of this, Leila decided that her contribution would be to stand on the deck and blow a whistle. Because snakes love the sound of whistle, as do chickens. As does her mother.







snake habitat

In the end, they ended up with a bigger snake in the aquarium, which they admired for a few minutes before running to the front door to greet a visitor. When they returned, their dear friend had escaped. (A little snake jumping the sleek sides of an aquarium? That’s a learning experience I would have liked to observe!)



One of my ideas in trying to add structure to our day has been to start the day with some physical exercise outside, in the hopes that it would help the kids concentrate better afterwards. So after the anticlimactic snake brouhaha, we got on our bikes and rode the 4.5 km to a local farm.bike path About 1 km into it, the oldest decided that she couldn’t possibly ride any farther, but miracle of miracles, her limbs started to work again once apple cider and muffins were promised at our destination.

Along the way, we saw four dead mice, one that was a fresh kill and had its head neatly severed off, and though I tried to pedal faster, Leila caught a glimpse of it and demanded a longer, more leisurely viewing. I guess you could combine that with our brief episode of “wild snake in captivity” and call that science.

The farm never disappoints. We ate muffins and drank cider. We bought vegetables. We played on the fun playground structures and said hello to the animals in the barn.




Gotta love that face.

We biked the 4.5 km back and ate lunch before I was finally able to squeeze a little SQUILT out of them. We listened to Pachelbel’s Canon in D two times before the doorbell rang. It turns out the neighbourhood kids only had half a day of school today, so when Noah bolted out the door, I decided it was time to call it a day.

Three out of four ain’t bad.

We ended the day on a high note: beach time and picnic dinner with dear friends who always fill up my happiness reservoir.

Did we “do school”? I don’t know, but I’d call today a success!