Diana’s homeschool day in the life (with a 4-year-old)

diana'sdayThe following is a guest post written by Diana Stone of Diana Wrote.

Homeschooling an only child wasn’t ever our game plan. We both wanted 4 kids, but although that’s how many we’ve had, only one has stayed here with us to raise.

Nevertheless, we decided to still stick to what we felt God had called us to do with her, and possibly more in the future.

dayinthelife2

I formerly taught Pre-K and kindergarten before my daughter Bella, 4, and it’s taken a few years, a lot of books and trial and error in the early years for me to wrap my head around learning at home.

Although our learning truly happens all day, I chose to do our “school” in the afternoons for now.

I’ve tried for the past year to get things started in the morning, realizing that’s when the bulk of our household stuff gets done — laundry, errands, calls and general life. We only do 3 afternoons per week right now, the other two are spent with friends or errands.

7:30 Our dog Charlie barks in protest to go out. We get up and I make breakfast. While my coffee goes I clean up the house a bit, start laundry, and check emails. We get dressed.

9:00 I finish up any editing I didn’t get done the night before. I work nearly full time from home as a freelancer/blogger, so Bella knows when I’m on the computer, she’s free to play in the same room with me. She usually gets about 20 minutes on her Leap Pad at this point.

simple homeschool day in the life-4

10:00 This time depends on the day. On Monday and Thursday our sitter comes so I can write at our Starbucks. It’s 5 hours a week of work time that allows me to crank out the bulk of my prep work/emails/posts totally uninterrupted.

On Tuesdays this is Bella’s and my time together. We spend a good two hours playing, reading, doing chores together or having playdates.

Wednesday we head to her play therapy on the other side of town, then lunch together at Chipotle. Friday our sitter comes to allow my husband and I to head to grief therapy.

12:00 Lunch

12:30 Quiet Time. Bella still naps (I know, it’s amazing to me too), but we had to stop calling it a nap last year. During this time I clean up, play with the dog, work and prep for homeschool.

2-2:30 Bella’s up. Snack. I prep dinner.

3:00 (ish) T/W/Th We head to our homeschool room. We’re using the Five in a Row curriculum this year, with some Before Five in a Row mixed in.

This means that after we change up our calendar and talk about dates and weather, we read. Sinking into our beanbag chair, I read aloud the book of the week (Very Last First Time) and we discuss the pictures on each page.

simple homeschool day in the life-7

3:30 Table time. I’m not a fan of seatwork at such a young age, but I do know now is the easiest time to implement a bit of it.

We discuss her Fold & Learn pages I’ve printed out. Today we learned about mussels, since that’s what our book was partially about. I’ve pulled up several sites showing what they look like inside and out, and a video on them and in Inuit people who gather them from the sea floor. We then cut out “mussels” from construction paper and glue some closed, using tinfoil to make the pan they’re kept in.

simple homeschool day in the life-5

4:00 Our pre-writing program is Handwriting Without Tears — the PreK version. We’re learning about lines, holding a crayon correctly, and working in her own writing book.

While coloring a firefly, she starts to ask questions and I find myself googling them. For the next 15 minutes we’re learning about how they may not eat anything with such a short life span and that their bottoms do indeed glow.

She finds this hysterical.

4:20: An activity from All About Reading — their Pre Reading program — and a poem that goes with the letter D. We played on the clock today too.

simple homeschool day in the life-6

4:30 Outside time. We do this in the morning as well, weather permitting.

5:30 Finish up anything left with dinner/set the table. We use this time for her kid yoga DVD, or just have her watch Doc McStuffins/play on her Leap Pad.

6:00 Daddy is home and dinner. Family dinners are a high priority for us, I have fond memories of my family doing this growing up.

8:00 Bed. This is also our Bible time, and it’s planned that way. I curl up with Bella on her bed and we read a story, then we read from either one of her children’s Bibles or Leading Little Ones to God. I love the latter because it explains things on her level, and ends with simple questions about the short passage, along with a verse and prayer.

For the rest of the evening, we talk, watch some TV, and I work on both writing and homeschool plans for the week ahead.

Who else is homeschooling one child? How do you feel about doing this long term? Was it planned or unexpected?

About Diana Stone

Diana blogs at Diana Wrote about her life with a daughter here and three sons in heaven, life as an army wife, and her faith. You can also find her work on Liberating Working Moms, She Reads Truth, Still Standing Magazine, The New York Times, and The Huffington Post, with smaller glimpses into her day on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

Comments

  1. I have a 4 year old and an 8 month old. I love seeing what others are doing with their preschoolers – thanks for sharing. We’re not using any curriculum yet but I am starting to add some more structured elements to our day. We’ve been reading to

  2. Oops. We’ve been reading to her for forever of course but now we’re doing calendar time every morning and when the baby takes his morning nap we have “special Mommy time” where we play and and talk about letters and numbers and such.
    Steph’s latest post: Because I Know Love is not Enough

  3. I am homeschooling one child (although we adopted our baby daughter last year.) Having an only child was definitely not our plan. My husband and I wanted 6 children, but infertility, still birth and miscarriage had other plans. Our son will be 6 in March. He is a delight and so very easy to teach. I, too, was a teacher before he was born (pre k, kindergarten and first grade). I struggled with homeschooling for a long time, but only the emotional aspect. It seems that many homeschooling families are large and I felt out of place at our co op for a long time. I also found it difficult because the children in large families have each other to play with and I was/am constantly making sure our son has plenty of play dates. Now I am much more comfortable with our small family. i am grateful for this post, as there are not many blogs discussing homeschooling one child. Thank you!

    • I wanted to say congrats on your baby girl! What a blessing she must be to your family and you to her. I know very few (wracking my brains to think of any) single child homeschooling families so yes – it does get a little out of place at times. Thank you for sharing your story and ideas as well.

    • I have been on and off homeschooling a single child, and felt worried about it, specially because were I live homeschooling is not common and so there is not co ops, I been thinking of organizing one, but not sure were to start.

  4. Five in a Row brings back so many memories! That’s what we used our first year of homeschooling. Cranberry Thanksgiving and Ferdinand are still two of our favorites!
    Shelly’s latest post: An Intimate Glimpse into Life with Ten Kids

  5. I too am homeschooling one child, who will be 4 in March. Thank you so much for this post. It is incredibly rare to read another (okay, ANY) day-in-the-life account that sounds like mine. Our son came to us through international adoption. We are on the wait for another child, but should that door close I am definitely now at peace with our little family. I’m so grateful to experience ever moment of my son’s day and learning. And it’s great to know there are others out there with days like ours….Thanks!

    • I love your comment. I’m so glad my post reaches out to other one child families. It is hard to come to terms with, we aren’t sure if the future holds more for us in any way, but it’s reassuring to hear others who do this successfully and fully. Thank you.
      Diana Stone’s latest post: Homeschool Day in the Life {Right Now} and a Little About Us

    • Sandi Carroll says:

      Our son will be 4 in March and came to us through domestic adoption! It is sooooo good to see there are others wanting to homeschool one as well. We always wanted more, but that’s not how it worked out. Good luck on that wait!

  6. Casi Densmore-Koon says:

    You’re just amazing! And make this look like a breeze. I don’t know how you do it but I am so thankful we have you to inspire us all.

  7. I am amazed at how well you run your life. I feel like my entire day is one big distraction from whatever it is I should be doing.

    I’m not a homeschooler but I do have only one. I stay pretty involved in his education but I recognize it doesn’t always happen during the school day. We take advantage of every opportunity to explore our curiosity (thank you, Google!)
    Fadra’s latest post: As I Get Older

  8. I love how you have structured your days to allow freedom and planned time. That’s one of the hardest things we’re learning. I know you’re rocking this :) And I cannot wait to see this school room in person. Of course, I’ll be bringing our curric and totally taking it over for a few days . . .
    Kim’s latest post: In Which I Rock The Day

  9. I love hearing your schedule. Jonas is 4 and a half and although we do a lot of informal learning, now that we have made the decision (for sure) to homeschool, I get overwhelmed at times thinking about the schedule and how best to start getting him into the routine.

    I think I am going to give the afternoon time a try. I know I am more productive with my work and housework earlier in the day, and it always seems if I get an earlier start on those things, my whole day is more productive. And little man is a slow starter, so he would probably prefer starting his day with relaxed playtime.

    Thanks so much for this post!
    Amber West’s latest post: Slinging Poo

  10. Sounds like a great schedule that works for your family! We homeschool our daughter, 6, usually while our son, 1, is napping. I must say, I enjoyed her learning when she was 4 & 5. She was so eager and open to learning. Best of luck to you Diana!

  11. Yvette Gomez says:

    Hi, I also homeschool an only child. My son, Julius will be 6 in March. We started this school year and I feel as if I’m still learning and adjusting to it all. We just left our local school districts homeschool program, as it wasn’t the right fit for us. My son is a slow starter, so I think I will give afternoons a try. I’m still also trying to make connections with other homeschool families and groups. It’s been somewhat difficult making a solid connection and arranging playdates because most families have more than one child and they have their own siblings to play with. But thank you for sharing! Love this post.

  12. Great post! We, too, homeschool one… six year old boy – and I have the chuckle with a few of the other comments – also born in March… ;) And as much as I hope, pray, plead, to have another… God has another plan for us and we only have the one… was not our plan. I really didn’t plan on homeschooling J either… I was the one that when he was 6 mon old looking at our charter options in my city… however my husband knew families who homeschooled and he was in awe at how connect their families were and we decided to take a look. We started when J was 4 and it was a disaster… he wasn’t ready for schooling, so I laid back and then by age 5, he took off and schooling is a lot easier now. I agree with a previous comment on how being in co-op with larger families, I feel a bit like we are a circus show… haha. But, we are a mighty family of three and we make do. :)

    • I have never heard of small families being looked at as weird by homeschool families. I am in awe of how you could really focus on one child’s interests. I have four. I like to invite families over from the homeschool group and sometimes I will choose the smaller families so we won’t be so crowded. It is nice to find special friends for your kids. It will never be perfect, you know. If we hang out with one family, one child will be “why are there no boys my age?” etc.

  13. I live this. It makes me feel so much better about not having a rigorous schedule for Parkers lessons. :-)

  14. We don’t homeschool but I love hearing about your day! We also have dinner together every night and make it a huge priority. My wife’s family didn’t eat together every night, so that was a big change for her, but I grew up always eating together and can’t imagine not!

  15. I find myself nervous just here lately about homeshooling an only child, so this post was definitely a blessing to me! :)
    Branson’s latest post: Intentional Gratitude

  16. great post! I homeschool an almost only child… my daughter is 8 and my sons are 22 and 25 so with the age gap its like she is an only child. I use FIAR with her and we love it. I always felt led by God to to homeschool her. She was born while my sons were both in highschool. They both went to public school. Both boys encouraged me it was the best for her. So we started with Preschool and we have been doing it ever since. Yes we planned to homeschool her as an only. The boys moved out and we have no plans to have more children, we lost a baby before Samantha and its to much of a risk to try again. I am sorry for your loss. I do plan on homeschooling her through high school. I do have her involved in co ops and a few homeschool groups.
    Jen’s latest post: Field Trips…

    • Wow, Jen! I was scrolling down the comments and just came across yours. I too have an 8 year old daughter (well soon to be in 3 weeks) and two sons, 21 and 25. I also have a 23 year old daughter. I am homeschooling my 8 year old, and relate more to blogs about homeschooling one child. I didn’t homeschool my adult children after pre-K, but looking back I really wished I had. It wasn’t nearly as accepted or understood back then, and there weren’t nearly as many resources as today. It’s so nice to read about another mom who has adult children, and is homeschooling her 8 year old daughter too!

  17. Thanks for sharing this. Our son is 3.5 and we will likely be homeschooling an only soon as well, also not what we had planned, but I trust that God does have a good plan for it and am thankful for all the children of friends and church members who come in and out of our home (and their homes) every week. I guess I imagined we’d be sitting around staring into each others eyes all the time or something :) It’s nice to hear stories of others who have decided to continue on this path, despite it looking different than expected. Your week sounds lovely!
    Sarah G’s latest post: 2013 Christmas Card

  18. I’ve homeschooled our daughter since she was 4, she’s now 7. I was a preschool teacher for 12 yrs and went to school for early childhood education/sped. I first looked into homeschooling after it was going to be $350 a month for 2 1/2 days a week. Most teachers wont have the experience or education I had. After talking to my husband I bought the prek curriculum from horizon for the same price as a month tuition for the whole year. Homeschooling seemed to work for us so 4yrs later we’re still at it.

    The first year we did prek, second year kindergarten, and 3rd 1st grade. Last year about a third of the way through I stop ‘formal’ homeschool and just focused on basic math and sight words because she just wasn’t getting it. This year we are do first grade again at a much slower pace; I only move on when I know she understands and has mastered what we are working on.

    Monday/Wednesday
    Phonagraphs
    Sight words
    Reading/phonics horizon 1st grade curriculum

    Tuesday/Friday
    Phonographs
    Sight words
    Handwriting (1st grade horizon)
    Math (1st grade horizon)

    Wednesday is homeschool coop
    She takes:
    reading class based on book series (this time it’s magic treehouse)
    Tae kwo do
    Math
    Science
    Cooking

    Thanks for share about homeschooling an only child.

  19. Along with some of the other previous commenters , we are homeschooling an only child (she’ll be 5 in March, so it’s preschool), and I also feel out of place at home school events. I’m learning to be OK with it, and to feel comfortable not only with the family God has given us, but around others too. It took us years to have our daughter and we have a wee one waiting for us in heaven. It’s so nice to see a post by someone in similar circumstances, thank you for sharing! (And maybe one day I’ll be as organized as you! :) )

  20. We too homeschool our only daughter. She’s three but loves school and wants to do school every day. While lately I’ve been struggling w her being clingy and not wanting to go to her class at church or at our bsf bible study, I know this right for us. : )

  21. My baby girl is eight. This is our first year homeschooling and it was most definitely unexpected. She went to a Catholic school. There was a lot of abuse and inappropriate behavior happening to her and myself at the hands of administration because I went against them about a child that was hurting and bullying the children in school. They blacklisted my daughter and the school she was accepted to declined her acceptance at the last minute and we found ourselves with no option but to homeschool. She’s a child actress/model so we were planning on homeschooling sooner or later. We just were not expecting it to be so soon.

    I have to say that after three months into this process we love it. When asked my daughter says she doesn’t want to go back to school. She wants to stay home with me. We plan to homeschool until high school. I wil let her decide at that point what she would like to do. If she wants to go back to school at that time I will allow it. It will be up to her.
    Kay’s latest post: Week 2 in Review

  22. Our “plan” was to have 3 children and homeschool them all. Four miscarriages after having our daughter changed all that. And now I’m 51 so no chance of more children My daughter is 12 now and we have been homeschooling the whole time. I know there have been disadvantages but there have also been wonderful advantages to having and homeschooling an only child. So it is possible to happily homeschool an only even if it wasn’t the original plan.

    • I also wanted to say I am sooo sorry for what you have been through. No one can say they completely understand but at least I can say that I care and I hope with time you can have more happy days than sad ones. It sounds like you are truly appreciating the gift of your daughter. Enjoy this moment, this day, this week, this year with her!

  23. Hi Diana,
    I also homeschool one lovely child, a son, who is 6. And truthfully, I was an extremely reluctant homeschooling mom! The first year was tough yet we had tremendous suppport through our ISP and their weekly grade level classes he attended. This year as I anticipated our son’s need for even more interaction, we joined another weekly community. Now our homescholing community is growing and relationships are deepening. Great for my son and a lifeline for me! Daily, though, I must confront the fears, insecurities, doubts and that deep ache which schooling one can bring. Explaining this ache would take more than the comment section could allow, but I believe anyone who has said goodbye to a child would understand the layers of grief and longing that accompany such a loss. You see my son does have siblings, 6 of them, although he has yet to meet them…
    And it does take extra effort to keep his week full with opportunities to be around other homeschoolers.
    More than any challenges I’ve shared, I want to celebrate and express gratitude for the one we have with us and the privilege and blessing it is to be home with him and being able to choose homeschooling.
    Thank you Diana for your refreshing post today, I plan to visit your site to become better acquianted with you and your lovely daughter. Bless you and your family :)

    • This is so beautiful. My heart aches for your family – and all of us who have little ones waiting on the other side. Bella has 3 brothers in heaven, only one of which she ever met. I face those same insecurities of schooling her long term at home. What if there never are any more children? But like you, I know this is what we are meant to be doing right now. Thank you for sharing your story with all of us Brenda.
      Diana Stone’s latest post: Homeschool Day in the Life {Right Now} and a Little About Us

  24. My husband and I are both only children and we homeschooled out only for several years before he got a surprise sister. Even now we have just 2 kids so we relate to the small family in a homeschool world thing. I have found that most homeschoolers are open and non judgemental about it and they are great resources for orginizational tips. After all if you can organize 7 kids….. :) Honeschooling is all about what’s best for your family and it sounds like you are doing exactly that.

  25. I just wanted to say I enjoyed reading your piece. I am an only child myself (I was not homeschooled) and we are currently homeschooling our only (for now?) child. My daughter turned five just recently and we are using FIAR as well.

  26. Thanks for your post! Up until last year I was homeschooling an only child. She is now 8. I always felt out of place among the other homeschool families and was the only person I knew who was homeschooling and only child. It had its own challenges and I felt people didn’t understand that and maybe even thought I was only half parenting or something bc “there’s only one”. That was especially hard to hear since we have two other children who, as you said, didn’t stay here with us to be raised. We were finally able to have another child, a daughter, last year. But I still feel like our routine more closely matches those who are educating one child. I think it will always kind of feel that way since they are almost 8 years apart. Blessings to you as you walk out this path with your beautiful daughter and fight for healing from your losses.

  27. So refreshing and encouraging to read about other homeschooled singletons :-) Our precious gift is 6 in July and this is our third year using Sonlight. We are finishing off the K curriculum this year, with Grade 1 Language Arts. What I love most about homeschooling – and checking in with my homeschooling buddies who school multiple kids this is a REAl blessing in homeschooling one – is that I can focus totally on Z, her needs and interests, and go completely at her pace. It has also been fascinating to become a student of my child – watching her closely to identify her giftings and learning styles. It is still early days but already we are sculpting our homeschooling style to suit us in every way. We started off slow with Sonlight’s Pre-K in 2012 and just enjoyed the reading and exploring (and all the additional school ‘snuggle-time’ that goes with all that :-). Today we are fairly structured and start school by 8:30 every morning and we do ‘hard’ work first: for my daughter this is anything where she has to sit still (maths, copy work, etc), lol! I keep a mini-rebounder in the schoolroom and when I see that I am loosing her I encourage her to complete a task and then reward her with a couple of minutes to bounce (also great to get all the good stuff flowing back to the brain so that kids can get re-energized to focus better. Works for me too!). She is definitely a kinetic learner so some of our reading work takes place with her on the rebounder as well, or building blocks or something. I check in with her comprehension and she is always spot on so I know this is working for both of us. It was quite a mind shift for me, though, getting to where learning does not only happen when the learner is stationary and looking at you: some kids do much better on the go. And that’s another reason I love homeschooling – such antics would not have gone down too well in formal schooling :-) I do battle with the guilt that can so often come with having only one child (we had also hoped for more, but after 7 years of waiting and praying, and with one in heaven, we are only too grateful for our miracle girl) but we make it a point to focus on the blessings and benefits – and there are so many! I sometimes worry that she is involved in too many activities (rhythmic gymnastics, swimming, PlayBall, Kindermusik and a youth group at our church for children K through to Grade 2) but then I remember that she needs the interaction and she needs to learn to learn from/listen to others besides myself. And she absolutely loves it! We try for a one-on-one play date once a week and still somehow manage to have one completely free day in the 5-day school week. Structure works best for us and both of us do so much better when we know what is coming (Thank goodness! It would have been awkward if we were different in this….). Personally, I find it alleviates so much stress for all of us to know we are on track. My schooling hours are sacred and I don’t answer the phones or go online (unless we want to google something) or even hang up the laundry while we are working. My husband shares my view that schooling our daughter is my job and it helps us all get our head round the fact that from 8:30 – 11:30 I am ‘at work’ (my friends don’t even call during these hours anymore!) and everything else (housework etc) has to fit in around that. I do get up a lot earlier than my little family to make sure I get ‘my’ time in and the day’s planning done, and I make use of meal planning and my trusty crockpot :-) A load of washing a day, 15 minutes of decluttering where needed, and everyone pitching in takes care of the rest. So blessed to be on this journey… Not every day is perfect but if you look for it, there is something perfect in every day. So, so encouraged to know there are others doing the singleton thing, whether by choice or not. Bless you all!

  28. Diane Vehorn says:

    Hi, I put my 3 oldest sons through public school here in SC and there was always the bullying, poor & even some outright mean teachers to contend with. So when boy 4 showed up, after a terribly traumatic kindergarten experience we decided to home school him. Fortunately I had an old friend that home schooled & showed me all the ropes. Home schooling in out area is HUGE with many support groups, enrichment classes, computer club friends, and much more. My child has never been lonely and it has been the best experience of my life as far as education goes. I made many new friends & so has he. I love to spend so much time with him & as he is our “caboose” i cherish every minute. His grade levels are incredibly high for a rising 8th grader with ADD. Home schooling is a blessing for both the child & her teacher. Treasure every moment. It goes by so fast. Many Blessings, Diane & Shane

  29. Amanda Rupe says:

    Glad to hear that afternoon education works well for you! I was a little skeptical about my own ability to put together a learning plan for our Kindergarten son so we enrolled him in K12. It was a HUGE mistake, unknowingly putting him in something very rigid and structured when getting away from that harsh format at such a young age was part of our motivation to educate at home. We personally find it to our advantage to do our lessons in the afternoon, but K12 is vehemently against it. We know for next year, and it is a great encouragement to read about someone with similar scheduling success.

  30. Great post. My daughter actually has that same purple shirt lol. Where did you get that play clock? I’ve been looking for one like that to start going over time with my special needs son that is about to start K. Thanks for any response.

  31. I homeschool an only child who is now 10. I was an only child myself, but we did not plan on having just one. Having been one does help me to understand her needs though.

    We loved FIAR for preK-K too! My daughter is very social, and we are fortunate to live in an area rich with homeschool activities/groups. When she was younger little homeschool classes at the zoo, museum, nature center, etc were great. As she has gotten older, we joined a co-op & Classical Conversations group. It has been a balance of finding enough activity without over-doing it. Each year our academic load is a little heavier too, so I am constantly re-evaluating our needs. We are quite happy with our homeschooling & she has wonderful friendships through these groups, as do I!

  32. Thank you so much for sharing – this was very helpful! I’m gearing up to quit working full time later this year after our oldest turns 4 (and our youngest will be 18 months). We are going to attempt some version of homeschooling, so we figured why not start with Pre-K. Hearing about your day helps give me a realistic idea of what we might be able to incorporate in our home. Thanks again!

  33. Thank you so much for this post! I have a high energy, love to learn 3 1/2 year old that we’re planning to homeschool and recently figuring out our days has been challenging. Thanks for opening up about your schedule:)
    It’s also nice to hear that there are other moms out there only homeschooling one child!

  34. Renea Urquhart says:

    It is so neat to hear such an accomplished lady speak so wise and intelligently about her home schooling life. One kid or twenty…do it well ladies. I am a mother of five living and four angels I never got to meet. I always look at families as that, families. Make wise choices, educate them well, and then enjoy your grandkids.!!!! Live it to the fullest! Hug and kiss for they grow quickly. I have them 9 – 24 years old. Not the way I had it planned. But God knows more than I. Thanks for the encouragement!

  35. I’m homeschooling an only as well and agree that makes us a minority within a minority. Additionally, we live in the middle of nowhere, homeschooling is not popular in our state and most of those that homeschool around us are Christian while we are secular. Lastly, we do not have a lot of money for activities. Hopefully we can make it work and find enough outlets for DD to get together with other children. Even though we’re different in a lot of ways, it’s nice to see another homeschooler making it work with one student.

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