Cait’s homeschool day in the life (with a 5-, 7-, and 8-year-old)

Written by Cait Curley or My Little Poppies.

I had grand plans to write about a typical homeschool day in our life. I was going to pick a random Monday or Friday and share our day from start to finish.

But my husband was working last weekend and I decided to take the kids up north for a few days. (One of the biggest benefits of homeschooling is the ability to get out of Dodge whenever the spirit moves you.)

Well, our getaway was extended by a snowstorm.

Then, we returned home to not one, but two nor’easters.

And that is how I ended up writing about writing about what Valentine’s Day looked like in our homeschool.

A homeschool day in the life

Valentine’s Day is not what I had planned. It is certainly not typical.

But, after writing this post, I realized that our day followed a normal rhythm (with sugar added).

The reality is: when it comes to homeschooling, there is no typical. And that’s a wonderful thing.

Early morning

On my best days, I wake up long before my children. The quiet house and that first cup of coffee provide a foundation for our day.

I use this time to read or to write and, if I’m lucky, I can manage a bit of both. Today, I read Chasing Slow by the fire.

(This is perhaps the best start to a day like Valentine’s Day when I know the kid-energy will be high.)

Cait's Day in the Life

Morning

At seven o’clock, the kids begin trickling down the stairs. They head straight to the playroom, where they immediately get lost in imaginative play. Last week, they created something called “Animal City” and they play it together every single day. I love to eavesdrop on the Animal City happenings as I prep breakfast in the adjacent kitchen.

cait's day in the life

I put the kettle on for oatmeal, fill juice cups, and dole out vitamins. Soon, the children saunter into the kitchen, chattering over one another with stories of dreams remembered, books read, and plans for the day.

Once breakfast is in front of each little person, it is time for our favorite homeschool tradition: Coffee and Books.

Usually, I have a stack of books ready. I love Coffee and Books because it allows me to cover any academic subject. If we have been slacking on science or geography, Coffee and Books provides catch-up and fantastic conversations. (If you’d like to learn more about what Coffee and Books looks like in our homeschool, I’m hosting a 5-day series!)

But today there is no stack of books today. Last night, I promised the children that we would continue reading our bedtime book, The Green Ember. We are at an exciting part and we want to know what is going to happen.

Cait's Day in the Life

Sometimes, Coffee and Books lasts for twenty minutes. Sometimes, it lasts for an hour or more. Today, we only have time for one chapter because it is Tuesday and that means piano lessons.

Once I close the book’s covers, it is time to clear dishes, brush teeth, and get dressed. This is a great movement break for my busy kids. If energy is extra high, as it is today, I’ll ask them to carry up a laundry basket or two, or to grab some logs for the fire. Those little bodies need to move!

Once teeth are brushed, it’s time to tackle what I call our “homeschool must-dos;” these vary but typically include the following:

  • Reading
  • Math
  • Writing
  • Music
  • Nature
  • Play

We have piano lessons today and I know the kids will play outside in the snow later, so I ask them to focus on math and writing. I always joke about how we are curriculum dabblers.

We use a little of this and a little of that, and math is no exception. My children use a variety of resources, but their favorite math resource right now is Smartick. I often refer to it as math dessert because they just can’t get enough.

Our writing varies by the day but always includes an entry in our new favorite journals. I have one as well, and I find that my children are highly motivated to write when it is something we do together.

Cait's Day in the Life

After journals, it is time to make a Valentine’s Day card for our beloved piano teacher.

Yes, this is last minute due to the snowstorm trifecta I mentioned earlier. (Mama is a bit off her game. It happens.) As a follower of the Brave Writer lifestyle, I know that this activity is more than just fun- it is also writing!

cait day life

Then, it’s time to hurry out the door to piano. While the kids are at their lesson, I hurry to the craft store to grab a Valentine’s Day surprise for later. (Thanks to those snowstorms, my surprises are on clearance!)

Afternoon

After piano, the kids head outside for some fresh air and snow play while I prep lunch. This weather makes our sweet bear-of-a-dog act like a puppy again and it’s a sight to behold. We are treasuring every second with him this winter.

cait's day in the life post

Lunchtime is a time for learning in our homeschool.

Depending on the day, we might read a book, play a game, listen to a science podcast, enjoy a virtual field trip, or watch a YouTube video. Today, we listen to a new story from Around the World Stories, one of our favorite homeschool resources (and a wonderful way to calm kids down!).

After lunch, it’s time for some Valentine’s Day fun. I present the kids with my clearance finds: sweethearts, coloring books, and a t-shirt and hat to decorate as a surprise for Daddy. Our story is over and so I put on some music and they get to work.

cait day in the life

Then, it is time for quiet time.

As an introverted homeschool mom with a husband who works a lot, I need this time to recharge. My children look forward to this time too as they can get lost in a book or creative pursuits.

cait day in the life

On a typical day, I use quiet time to do yoga, but today I quickly bake a cake (from a box- Martha Stewart I am not!) for the kids to decorate later.  I also grab a stack of games for later.

As gameschoolers, we rely heavily on educational games for learning. 

I know we won’t get to all of these this afternoon. It’s Valentine’s Day and the energy is high. (But, I don’t feel guilty because I have worked in public schools and I know they aren’t accomplishing as much as they’d like to either!) Whatever we don’t get to, we’ll save for tomorrow.

cait's homeschool day in the life

After quiet time, the children head back outside. The snow is calling. I use this time to tidy up a bit.

While I am washing dishes, I notice the kids tossing snowballs at the house in an attempt to free one of our many icicles. It occurs to me that:

  1. This is not exactly safe
  2. Icicles could be fun and educational

cait's homeschool day in the life 2

I call out to the icicle seekers, asking if they’d like me to help. I don’t have to ask twice- they come running!

Together, we head upstairs where I know there are some gigantic ones within easy reach. They can hardly contain their excitement.

Cait's Day in the Life 1

We return to the kitchen where they measure, sketch, write about, and taste their treasures. They can’t believe their luck (Icicles?! In the house!?), and I’m smiling because this is delight-driven learning at its best.

cait's homeschool day in the life

Late afternoon

The kids are soaked from the icicles and so it’s time for one of their favorite things: early tub and jammies. But first, there’s a cake to decorate!

cait's homeschool day in the life

We do not get to every game in our stack, but we do play a math game and a geography game before they request a game that was not in my stack: Oregon Trail.

cait's day in the life

There is little sweeter than a clean child, in jammies, with rosy cheeks from an afternoon spent outdoors… even if he has dysentery!

Evening

We are deep into our second round of Oregon Trail when Daddy calls to say he’s coming home with sushi- a special treat in honor of Valentine’s Day.

As soon as he walks in the door, the children bombard him with hugs, questions, and Valentine’s Day goodies. We are starving and so we gather at the table and enjoy a nice meal and conversation. When dinner has ended, the children clear their plates and head upstairs to get ready for bed.

Before bed, I read each child a book of their choosing.

This is a new routine for us and it is an easy way to squeeze in some 1:1 time when it otherwise feels impossible. Every morning, each kiddo picks a book for me to read later. They leave it on the kitchen island, in view, and when I have a minute I sneak away with each child. Because today was so full, we read these books at bedtime before enjoying another chapter of The Green Ember.

cait's homeschool day in the life

Once they are tucked in for the night, I head downstairs to catch up on work while my husband does the same. Then, we head to the couch and talk about our day over books or a TV show before heading to bed.

And that’s a wrap!

I’d like to note what you didn’t see in this post…

This includes, but is not limited to, the following: siblings squabbles (8), dirty sink (1), tantrums (2), filthy floor (all of them), baskets of unfolded laundry (4), those times I raised my voice and instantly regretted it (4), dog vomit (5), and spilled milk (1).

The internet affords me the luxury of editing, filtering, and cropping, but please know that our life is a beautiful mess, just like yours.

Do you play games and rely heavily on reading in your house? What are your favorite resources?

How the days have changed:

About Caitlin Fitzpatrick Curley

Cait is a school psychologist, mom to three amazing children, and an unexpected homeschooler. She loves nature, good books, board games, strong coffee, and dancing in her kitchen. You can read about all of these things and more at My Little Poppies. You can also find her hanging out with Kara at The Homeschool Sisters Podcast.

Comments

  1. What a full and exciting day!
    Camie’s latest post: Homesickness, Brownies & the Maid

  2. Thank you for sharing. Being brand new to homeschooling and suddenly throw into it you gave me the life line I needed today. Thank you! I am looking forward to incorporating the game learning and the books and coffee into our day.

  3. This was great to read Cait. I’ve been looking forward to seeing how your day looks. It looks like a lot of fun! You have really inspired me to include more games as “school” and I’m amazed at how much easier my life has become!
    I would love to know roughly how much time you think you spend each day on your “homeschool must-dos” as I’m always wondering whether I’m doing too much or too less.
    Thanks for sharing your day, especially the number of unfolded laundry baskets you have lying around! 😉

  4. Miriam Stauffer Fairfield says:

    I love the note at the end about what you didn’t include! I realize that when I reflect on how our day went, I often seem to focus on that list, instead of on all the things that went well. It’s great to see how much fun and learning went on in your house, alongside the more challenging moments.

    • Thank you so much, Miriam. I think, as homeschool moms, we tend to be very hard on ourselves. There is no way that we can accomplish all the things, but we think about those unchecked boxes anyway. Meanwhile, we accomplish more than we know!
      Caitlin Fitzpatrick Curley’s latest post: Coffee and Books: A 5-Day Series

    • Laura Thorndike says:

      Such a valid point; we so often focus on the negative and let those things overshadow an otherwise wonderful day. I recently read somewhere (can’t remember where though) an idea to write an ‘I’ve done’ list rather than a ‘to do’ list. At the end of the day a quick note of the POSITIVE things I’ve accomplished, even the smallest, really helps my motivation and self confidence. I’ve starting jotting these notes in a monthly calendar before I head to bed. It puts positive things at the forefront as I head to bed which helps me to not dwell on the negative things that certainly did happen but weren’t monumental!!!

  5. Bethany Thorsness says:

    We LOVED “The Green Ember” and are now reading “Ember Falls”. What a great series!
    Thank you for the inclusion of the less than picture perfect parts of your day. I can totally relate.

  6. Love everything about this. It’s always fun to get a peek into someone else’s homeschooling day. After reading once, I had to go back through slowly and click on every single link. You’ve shared so many great ideas and resources here. Thank you!

  7. I loved reading your day in the life, and I so enjoyed the Brave Writer podcast. Keep sharing your ideas – they has definitely shaped our homeschool!
    June@ThisSimpleBalance’s latest post: On Quitting Babywise: Parenting Reflections Four Kids Later

  8. The look on your girl’s face as she measures that icicle is priceless. Don’t worry about the dirty floors or spilled milk; the fact that you seized that moment and made it great is wonderful!!!!
    Anne’s latest post: A Week, Briefly (In Which We Have a Picnic)

  9. Valerie Del Valle says:

    Thank you for sharing! It’s fun to see into the lives of other homeschoolers. You have an amazing routine. It almost makes me wannna have a 2nd child so I can have “me” time, lol. But I think I would miss piggy backing my son whilst doing chores too much!

  10. Laura Thorndike says:

    We’ve incorporated a version of your Coffee and Books idea and it’s lovely. My two are 5.5 and 3 so things move at a different pace depending on the day, but it’s nice to have a plan for the first thing in the morning. As you’ve mentioned in other posts, sometimes getting started is the hardest part!! Thank you for opening your day to us for motivation!

  11. What a fun look into your day! We rely heavily on books for most subjects. I use “All Through the Ages: History Through Literature Guide by Christine Miller, whenever I am stuck. Great resource 🙂

  12. I LOVE LOVE LOVE this idea from the article….
    “Every morning, each kiddo picks a book for me to read later. They leave it on the kitchen island, in view, and when I have a minute I sneak away with each child. Because today was so full, we read these books at bedtime before enjoying another chapter of The Green Ember.”

    Oh my goodness, this is the best idea ever. I read all the time to my kids and often one on one. But picking it out earlier and having it there is like it’s a sacred treasure that we can sneak away to at any time. I am so doing this. Thank you xo

  13. Natasha Ohene Opare says:

    My favorite part of this is the ending, with the “things you didn’t see..” Those get me down so quickly! These homeschool day in the life make it seem like life is flowing easily and everyone’s house is cleaner than mine, so thank you for including some of the Unpleasant parts!

  14. Tara Fiore says:

    Great post! Thank you for sharing. I am intrigued by your mention of Oregon Trail. Are you referring to the computer simulation we played as kids or a new version? I loved playing it, and my children would as well. Thank you!

  15. Lauren Sisson says:

    Thanks for sharing. Just this morning I stepped in dog barf at 430am when I was getting up for the day. I thought to myself, the dogs are sometimes more work than the kids!

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