Heather’s Homeschool Day in the Life (with a 13-year-old)

Written by Heather Bruggeman of Beauty That Moves

In response to requests from several readers, the writers of Simple Homeschool are excited to share a Homeschool Day in the Life series with you this month!

A snapshot of a typical day, from our home to yours.

As homeschoolers, we tend to celebrate our unique opportunity that allows each day to look and feel different from the last.  We like to embrace a go with the flow mindset, seeking learning opportunities and teachable moments throughout each day. Generally, homeschoolers do not like to feel confined.

However, any mother will tell you, a daily rhythm does the mind and body good.

Some children (and parents) crave this rhythm more than others. I can only speak for my family, and I will tell you – my girl’s craving is strong! As a result, there is quite a bit of routine around here and we are much better for following a structured flow to the day.

There are three distinct parts to a typical weekday in our home.

1. Mama Time

  • I get up early, usually between 4:00 – 4:30.

During the early morning hours I like to:

  • write my blog
  • answer email
  • go to the gym
  • shower/dress for the day
  • write the day’s schedule on the white board
  • putter around the house a bit
  • take a few moments to meditate/center myself for the day

Starting her day later than me, my thirteen-year-old daughter rises at 7:30. Her morning routine consists of caring for her pets, making her bed, and dressing.

Soon enough, hours pass and it’s time to start the next part of the day.

2. School Time

  • We begin our “school day” at 9:00.

A Typical Day:

We always have breakfast together, during the first part of our school day. It may sound a little strange, but I find she lingers longer over her oatmeal, sliced fruit, or scrambled eggs if there is no rush to move on to the next thing.  It’s much more relaxed this way.

  • 9:00 – Math – Not her favorite subject so she requests we “do it early and get it done!”
  • 9:45 – noonTwo other subjects will be worked on, a break or two will be had.  Physics will be one of those subjects as we are tackling some challenging concepts and she prefers this to be during her most alert part of the day.
  • 12:00 – 1:00 – Lunch & Leisure – We love this solid hour to dine and relax mid-day.
  • 1:00 – 3:00 – In the afternoon we’ll spend time on one more academic subject, then take the time for something fun like walking to the library and/or cafe, sewing, cooking, visiting with friends, photography, creative writing, pleasure reading, art, etc.
  • 3:00 – Day’s End – Usually by this time we have closed our books (so to speak) and go about the rest of the day coming together and floating apart as feels right.

I think that’s the biggest distinction for us. During “school time”  I hold the space and we do most everything together. This is intentional as it is what works best for my child.

During the late afternoon hours, things loosen up a bit and we roam more freely.

I may chat with a friend, do a few chores, or visit with my neighbor for an hour and not feel like I should be helping with those math problems, for example.

Which brings me to the final part of a typical day for us.

3. Family Time

Below is a list of rotating and non-rotating activities, on any given evening in our home.

In the evening, we all come together again:

  • dinner is leisurely prepared
  • we gather around the table
  • stories of the day are told
  • books are read – silently and aloud
  • games are played – cards, monopoly or scrabble -depending on who’s choosing
  • sports or other select programs are watched on TV
  • music is listened to
  • sports practices are attended (and coached!)
  • yoga is practiced
  • crafting is enjoyed
  • bedtime routines arrive early (see above note about rising early)

I hope you’ve enjoyed this peek into our typical day. Within each day life certainly ebbs and flows; it’s important to accept and allow for that.  However, it is also okay to value the sense of purpose one feels by honoring a daily rhythm.

Do you find a rhythm to the day benefits your family? What are the most essential points of your daily routine?

About Heather

Heather follows the mantra “a life that is led simply and deliberately is a life fulfilled.” She is a dedicated yoga teacher, artist, holistic health coach, mother and wife. Heather’s blog Beauty That Moves is enjoyed by readers for its kind honesty, shared beauty, and simple guidance.

Comments

  1. i’m very excited about this series of being a fly on the wall for other people’s homeschool days. even though my littles are still quite little, i still learn so much from other people’s experiences. (and we’ll be there soon enough!) thanks for sharing!
    andie’s latest post: our busy lives

  2. Heather, your day sounds so very good + balanced. :-) But how do you manage to rise so early? I’ve been trying to become an earlier rise for so long now and I am full of hope to manage it in this new + fresh year. Maybe you have some tips (or maybe you want to share them on your blog)? Have you been rising so early for a long time? Is your husband on board with you? In short – how do you do it? :-)

    Warm + light regards from Northern Europe / Barbara

    • Barbara, I do get asked this a lot! Sometimes I feel like my answer is not what people want to hear… I’ve been a morning person my whole life. Actually, I come from a long line of early risers on my father’s side. ;) (see, not very helpful)

      The biggest key for anyone wanting to rise early is getting to bed early. I’m so happy when lights are out by 9:00 (or even a little earlier). My husband prefers to get up early as well, though I think by nature he is a night person. So sometimes he gets up early, other times it’s just me. He does like to go to the gym in the morning though so that motivates him to rise.

      Maybe while training yourself to get up earlier you could be extra diligent the night before about setting yourself up for success – laying out your clothes, prepare coffee pot, get into bed one hour earlier than you do now, have a short list of things you’d like to do in the early morning (there must be a reason you want to be up during the wee hours ;) )… and remember, it takes 21 days to create a new habit.

      Did I mention going to bed early…? :) I’m not someone who can function on 5-6 hours sleep so an early bedtime is key. I find this is easier to achieve during the winter months as it gets dark so early. In the summer though, I require a little less sleep so it balances out.

  3. Thank you for your response + suggestions, Heather! Going to bed earlier, well that sounds convincing. :) I will certainly try again to rise earlier and earlier. Mornings truly are the best season of the day, and to use them for some me-time sounds heavenly. Btw, there’s a poem by Mary Oliver called “Why I wake early”, it’s beautiful, too.
    Do you drink coffee? It’d surely help me to get up earlier, but I stopped drinking it altogether a year ago or so, and I find that this influenced my sleep + well-being very positively.
    …now we hijacked this homeschooling blog a bit, didn’t we. :)

    • That is okay! Conversation in the comments is what makes it all come alive. I do drink coffee at times, at other times I don’t. I’ve always vacillated a bit with this. It’s a personal choice, do what is best for your body. One of my favorite herbal teas to have in the morning is Egyptian Licorice by Yogi Teas. It’s robust and spicy!

      I love that poem, thank you for reminding me of it this morning!

  4. LOVE THIS!!!
    I’ve read your blog for year and appreciate the sense of calm in your life. Why did we as a culture get so off track and so frenetic? I love living at a slower rate and find my family thrives.
    Kimberly’s latest post: Fly Free

  5. What a beautiful rhythm you have! And I love how you delineate together time with time to do your own thing. That seems very freeing. My son and I homeschool half days and since we are both so introverted I never can get the together/apart thing to feel quite right, but he does need my guidance in some things. You’ve given me food for thought. Thank you. (I am a blog reader of yours, mostly a lurker.)

  6. It is wonderful you have that much Mama time. Rising early is the key, and something I am going to work on this new year.
    Mary @ A Simple Twist of Faith’s latest post: Pantry Challenge Week 1

  7. Yes Mary, it is key! This quantity of *me* time would never happen otherwise.
    heather’s latest post: simple homeschool – a day in the life

  8. I do love this peek! I wish I could rise so early. I am naturally a night owl so it’s hard for me to unwind (I am also highly sensitive introvert) from the day and get some clear time for my brain in time for an early bedtime. I also find my sleep is constantly disrupted by little children-not to mention any semblance of a schedule. Your day sounds like heaven. One of my goals is to try to light on a routine that works. ;-)

  9. You make it sound so simple. I mean that in a good peaceful way.

    I love the time for looseness and leisure. That really does make a difference!

  10. 4:30 Oh my goodness Heather! You will laugh at my attempts to rise “early” at 7am (smile).

    • I’m with you, Renee. My goal is 6:45 and that is “early” in my books! I’ve tried getting up earlier, but only with cranky mama results.

      Thanks so much for sharing this day with us, Heather–I love peeking into your rhythm and flow.

  11. Early rising or late rising I believe depends upon your family’s needs and routine. I’ve always catered my schedule around my husbands work schedule. We have found that being in bed by mid-night works well for us, this way my husband has time with the children in the evening. Of course now that my children are older 17 and 21, it’s not as simple as that, with the business of young adults and their own schedules. But we all pretty much stick to midnight as our bed time…Which means we rise later. Around 8:30 – 9:00am.

    What I enjoyed about you sharing your schedule is the routine of it all and the whiteboard. Routine keeps you consistent with the task at hand and the white board lets everyone know what the routine is to keep everyone on track. Because one thing I’ve noticed after homeschooling for 15 years is that you can easily slip out of a good routine.

    • individual family’s needs are everything! i remember years ago when my husband was in law school, i worked nights as a waitress, not getting to bed until midnight at least. you better believe i did not rise at 4:30 in the morning during that season of our lives. my daughter was a toddler at the time, and we chose to keep her up a little later at night so she’d sleep longer in the mornings, as i needed to and my husband was off to classes.

      i imagine it could certainly shift with young adults in the house as you described, thank you for sharing that!
      heather’s latest post: simple homeschool – a day in the life

  12. Heather,

    I am SO like you in the sense that I TOO get up 4:30 (am asleep by
    9:30), that is ONE reason a few years ago I switched jobs within the same
    company I work for so that I can be to work by 6 and out by 2:30 and pick
    up Tony from school by 3. SO much more mama time in the morning and family
    time in the afternoon/evening. I usually help w/ homework in the afternoon
    (he has piano one day a week and art classes at the local college in the
    winter), make dinner and then we have “special play” time after dinner @
    6:30, where we do many of the things you do. It’s funny you talk about
    “reading aloud” as we too do that in our house and on Christmas Day, while
    he built Lego’s, he has me read my favorite Christmas book alout for 3
    hours…didn’t talk much after. At 7 it’s time for him to get ready for
    bed, quiet reading and his lights are out @ 8. I personally think early
    mornings set a more leisurely tone to the day and even in college I LOVED
    8am classes. Take care.

    Rhonda

  13. I enjoyed taking a peek into your day. Like you we spend a LOT of together time during our day and by late afternoon my kids go about there own little projects or play until dinner. Then we have what my son likes to call “Family Night” in the evenings for a couple of hours until time for bed. I love being able to have this time with my kids to help them grow and learn.
    Rana’s latest post: Wordless Wednesday – Open your eyes!

  14. I love that you’re doing this series! My first (and only, so far) child is not quite 2 yet, but I’ve already been thinking about whether or not homeschooling is for us. I’ve often wondered how people “make it work.” I think this will go a long way towards helping me figure out what to do about my child’s education. Thanks!

  15. I have to admit I am deeply envious of the serenity of your day! My boys are still very young and have energy to burn, I do look forward to days that can be a little calmer and less needful of mama intervention every moment : ) I agree that routine is so important, my eldest is spirited and we discovered this holiday that a free for all kind of day was very destructive to his well being, we instituted a clear routine and will be sticking to it even on weekends. What I thought was a pleasant release from our \’work\’ was to him unpredictable and maddening. I can see us employing a similar system to you in the future just to keep on track.

    Of course that will be when my toddler is old enough to not attack the whiteboard!
    Emmalina’s latest post: Moving

    • just remember, my child is older… and there is only one! (while parenting a single child has it’s unique challenges, it is usually a different pace than with multiples)

      i think you are so wise to observe how a ‘free’ day landed for your child and that you’re willing to try out a different approach to support him (and ultimately the family). he is lucky to have you!
      heather’s latest post: simple homeschool – a day in the life

  16. I find your 4:00 waking time strangely liberating. When my two (a toddler and preschooler) sleep well and don’t wake me all night long, I like to get up early. My day is 600% better when I have a decent amount of time alone before they wake. I think I might try to inch it back earlier and earlier until I can get up at maybe 4:30 or 5:00. As it is now, I stay up late at night but am too tired to really do anything. Thanks for the inspiration.
    Two Chicks and a Hen’s latest post: A Blogiversary and a Giveaway

  17. Hi!

    This is my first year homeschooling my 3 children (12.5, 9, &6) and I find it very liberating, but it has also forced me to be more in tune with what I need in order to be the best for my kids…reading about your early rising is a habit I’ve been enjoying thoroughly. I NEED that time for exercise and it just centers me before we begin our school day at 9. I loved reading about your day and look forward to reading about others as well!
    carol’s latest post: merry christmas!

  18. Sorry, Heather, but I am really, honestly quite certain that 4 or 4:30 don’t qualify as morning. Middle of the night, perhaps. Certainly not morning :) Great fun to see how you work out your days. I always love your photographs.

  19. I loved reading about your day! Your daughter is so very lucky to have you as her teacher. It sounds like you both have it figured our really well.

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