Heidi’s Homeschool Day in the Life (with a 4-, 6-, 9-year-old, & baby, too!)

Written by Simple Homeschool contributor Heidi Scovel of Mt. Hope Chronicles.

The beautiful days of quiet rhythms. The hush of early morning productivity. The year in, year out steady march of progress. Do you wistfully wonder how to transform your home into this wonder-land of peace and earnest learning?

You won’t learn how from me.

We have spent the past year in survival mode. Pregnancy (which I’m afraid I didn’t handle gracefully), a newborn, illnesses, and a husband whose work routine changed drastically challenged my notions of what a homeschool day ‘should’ look like. Add in three young, extroverted, physical boys, and quiet anything was all but impossible.

I have embraced the concept of life seasons. It is counterproductive for me to dream of days that belong in a season other than the one I’m in.

After a period of letting go of expectations and riding the waves of life, we are using the freshness of a new year to move into a season of more focused academics.

We spend Monday mornings at our Classical Conversations group, and the rest of our week we spend learning at home. As our rhythm has yet to find a steady beat, I’ll share a specific day rather than a general routine.

7:30 am

The boys enjoy rising early. Their mother does not. I like sleep. I NEED my sleep. Boys, baby, and I all roll out of bed sometime after 7am. I shower and then check my email while the boys watch a science video.

Some mornings we have a hot breakfast, but this isn’t one of those mornings. It is self-serve yogurt, toast, or granola bars. I eat a piece of left-over apple pie. Because I’m the mom and I can.

I put in a load of laundry, the nine-year-old empties the dishwasher, and everyone gets ready for our day.

9:00 am

I feed baby and put her down for a morning nap.

The boys get started with math worksheets and handwriting notebooks at the kitchen table. The four-year-old joins us as long as his interest and attention span allows. I do some dishes and laundry in between helping the boys. The nine-year-old has trouble focusing, so I tell him he’ll have to come back to his work later.

We move to the living room couch. Short lessons covering multiple subjects keep the boys’ attentions focused as much as possible, though there is always a great deal of noise and acrobatics.

Grammar, Latin, geography songs, Bible memory songs, Bible reading, singing The Star-Spangled Banner, spelling (phonogram cards), reading about Haydn and William Blake, poetry memorization, and playing hymns on the piano are all on the line-up in no particular order.

The four-year-old is in and out of the room. He doesn’t quite have the interest and stamina (I’m using that term very loosely) of his big brothers, but he is a team player and doesn’t enjoy being on his own.

11:30 am

Baby wakes up. The younger boys make a fort in their bedroom while the nine-year-old finishes up handwriting and math at the kitchen table. He is still distracted, so I send him down our very long driveway to bring up the garbage can, hoping the fresh air and exercise does him some good.

We have lunch.

12:30 pm

I feed baby and put her down for another nap. (I take this moment to be thankful for a sleeping baby. My first (sleeping one, that is).

The boys read assigned pages in the history encyclopedia, then we begin reviewing our Classical Conversations memory work.

Baby wakes up early. I put her back to sleep and put in a Spanish lesson DVD for the boys.

2:00 pm

Baby wakes up again, and I give in. The nine-year-old begins more assigned reading while the six-year-old practices on the piano. I pour myself a large Dr. Pepper and hope the caffeine kicks in quickly.

3:00 pm

We have a snack. I feed baby again, and put her down for a nap again.

The nine-year-old continues to read. (I take this moment to be thankful for a boy who loves to read.) The younger boys help me make banana bread in the kitchen. I don’t bake anything without these two helpers.

4:15 pm

Daddy takes the six-year-old to piano lessons. (I take this moment to be thankful for my husband’s lighter work schedule.) The other boys play while I clean up the kitchen, work on laundry, and begin dinner preparations, then sneak in some computer time while baby continues to sleep.

5:30 pm

Daddy and the six-year-old arrive back home. The boys all head to the office with Daddy for some computer time. I finish preparing dinner.

6:00 pm

I manage to quickly eat dinner with the family before baby wakes up and needs to be fed. My husband works on kitchen clean-up.

Daddy plays a short (incomplete) game of Monopoly with the boys while I give baby a bath.

The game gets put away, the younger boys watch TV while the oldest showers, and I finish cleaning up the kitchen.

8:00 pm

I read aloud a chapter of Little Britches, then turn on a story CD for the boys as they crawl in bed. I feed baby and put her to bed.

I putter around the house and spend some time on the computer before reminding myself that getting to bed at a decent hour will help me be more cheerful when awakened in the middle of the night.

10:30 pm

As my day fades into the past and I begin rest for the new day tomorrow, I am full of gratitude for this season of life and learning with four young children.

Are any of you beginning a season of more focused academics after a period of laid-back schooling? How have you worked into a new routine?

About Heidi

Heidi documents Living Lovely at her blog, Mt. Hope Chronicles. There she celebrates (in words and images) her journey as wife, homeschooling mother of three rambunctious boys, photographer, book collector, and lover of the little things.

Comments

  1. Kristin says:

    I’m impressed with (and slightly jealous of) how much your baby sleeps!! :)
    Kristin’s latest post: Reflections and a New hopefully sticking Focus

  2. Demetria says:

    I am teary-eyed reading this! I have 3 kids, but this past year was the most physically and mentally challenging I have EVER experienced. 3rd pregnancy, 4.5 months on strict (including some hospitalized) bedrest, and my house is always a mess! I have been ill off and on constantly, and I am finally getting healthy…why? Because I let it go. I let the laundry sit so I could rest. I let the dishes pile up, and I gave myself permission to make peace with what I did accomplish rather than what I didn’t. With 5, 2, and almost 1 year old, we are finally making progress toward putting rhythm in our home, but I have learned to stop and love or rest as needed…and stop worrying over the checklist! Thank you for reminding me that it’s ok.

  3. Kristen says:

    ****”It is counterproductive for me to dream of days that belong in a season other than the one I’m in.”**** This! Thank you for this. I’m still learning the lesson that some seasons are happier, sadder, harder, busier, or easier and that I don’t necessarily control which. All I can do is roll with them and do the best I can for that time.

  4. Very good! You are so wise to work within the necessary parameters of the season you are in now. It does grow easier!! But having realistic expectations sure does make things run more smoothly now.
    I Live in an Antbed’s latest post: The Stages of a Farewell

  5. se7en says:

    It is amazing how families survive pregnancy and new babies!!! But they do and kids seem to learn despite the disruption!!! I have found my guys learn such a myriad of life-lessons every time we have a baby that they are making up for the lack of intense bookwork… and there will be time for bookwork, just in another season!!! That baby of yours is just too cute for words!!!!

  6. Nadene says:

    Your baby is so precious! When your whole life is punctuated by your baby’s schedule and needs, all the rest have to follow after. You have a remarkable ability to hold the rest of your kids in a real learning mode. I was especially touched by your acceptance of your 4-year-old’s abilities and difficulties, and the creative way you directed his energy! Happy homeschooling!

  7. Jessica says:

    Oh, as someone with three boys 2, 4, and 6, I just ADORE a day in the life like this. Because seriously, if you haven’t had three boys, you just don’t. under. stand where me and my chaotic days are coming from. (Not that I’m saying your day is chaotic. :)
    Jessica’s latest post: Entrepreneurial Wild Thing

  8. Stefani M. says:

    Finally, a homeschooler’s day that looks more like mine! Haha. I’ve got a 5.5 yo, 3 yo and 6 month old (who only sorta’ sleeps). There are things to do; they get checked off (mostly) and are done in the order that works (which will probably be different tomorrow). Little ones make for constant distractions. (As if a 5.5 year old can be that focused anyway… how can kids do all day kindergarten, again? I’m stumped.) Anyway, thank you for a refreshing look at a homeschooler’s day that works IN REAL LIFE. :)

  9. Linda says:

    Phew, I got tired just reading that! :) Thank you for honestly sharing your day with all of us. I am in a similar life season (although my 20 month old doesn’t nap!!!!) I love your perspective, “It is counterproductive for me to dream of days that belong in a season other than the one I’m in.” That kind of contentment is only learned in the trenches, and I have to say, it is not always easy to remember in the day to day. By the way, I think you got a ton accomplished on the day you highlighted, academically… kudos to you! Wish you all the best on your homeschool journey!

  10. Renee says:

    Heidi, I enjoyed reading your day. We’re in move mode this year so it’s a year to lay low on academics and just do the basics. But I can totally appreciate shifting gears to stepping up the academics. I did that last fall (some people might laugh at what I consider “stepped up”) and it was tricky to stay disciplined. And I didn’t have a baby to deal with also.

    Such a precious family you have and I loved your little moments of thanks.

  11. Tracey says:

    I loved reading about your day! It reminds me of when I had four kids 9 years old and under including a baby (3 of mine are teenagers now). It sounds like your doing a great job!
    Tracey’s latest post: Our day 1-21-11

  12. Hannah says:

    Wow! I loved reading about your day (and found much to identify with) … but what I couldn’t get over was how much your baby sleeps! Obviously, you’ve earned it with your first three. I had three like that too … if I have a fourth, can you guarantee me she or he will sleep like L? :-) She clearly was designed for a homeschooling family. :-)
    Hannah’s latest post: Project Life 2011- Whos With Me

    • She doesn’t *always* sleep quite that much, and she has her off days, too. But I really can sympathize with the non-napping children since I’ve been there. I’d love to guarantee you would have a perfect, sleeping child. I would if I could. Really. :)
      Heidi @ Mt Hope’s latest post: A Day in the Life

  13. connie says:

    Heidi, Thanks for sharing! And, for keeping it real and for keeping on…that was a full day of goodness! So loving that first photo! Well, and the ones with L are delicious too! ~Connie

  14. Amy says:

    Thanks for that!

  15. Esther says:

    OK, I can relate to your picture! No baby here (at the moment), but I have a 4, twin 6s and an 8yo…and standing on heads on the couch is certainly a favored activity. THANK YOU for sharing! I love the comment “It is counterproductive for me to dream of days that belong in a season other than the one I’m in.” Once I learn this lesson, I think my stress levels will go down! I THINK we’re transitioning…hopefully to a calm, not a stormy season. God bless you!

  16. Carole says:

    A friend just texted me to say, “You could have written the post over at Simple Homeschool.” When I logged in and saw that it was you, Heidi, I had to grin. Why yes, I probably very nearly could have! I most certainly could have duplicated the couch photo. The only part of the boys’ bodies that *doesn’t* usually touch the couch is their bottom. I have overheard them declaring to each other what their next stunt will be. “Watch me do a triple cannonball!”

    Oh my.

    Truly we will look back and savor these moments. I’m glad you’re working to do that in the midst of them.

    Now I’m off to pour myself some more Vanilla Coke. :)
    Carole’s latest post: standing on the shore

  17. Kate says:

    The leftover pie comment cracked me up. :) My 11-year-old daughter walked in on my this morning having some ice cream at about 9:30. “Having some ice cream?” “Yep.” She knew better than to question me – because I’m the Mama and I can. ;)

  18. Brenda says:

    Thank you for keeping it real. I am considering home schooling for next school year. I have a 2, 4, and 6 year old with a baby on the way. So posts like these help me put things in perspective. Thank you!

  19. Danielle says:

    Echoing previous comments: thanks for being so real! Seems more exhausting to see it in print, eh? I have enjoyed reading your contributions here and occasionally dropping by your main site, realizing, hey I know her through Lindsey R! :)

  20. Natalie says:

    Thanks for the inspiration!

    I am *supposed* to be making a more earnest attempt at hsing my preschooler this year so we can decide about school next year. But with a new (premie) colicky baby in the mix of three under five I was beginning to panic.

    I can do what I can do now. Day by day.

    I am also glad to hear about all these other mums with “real” boys – you know, the live ones!

    • Leah Schroeder says:

      Just reading to your kids will do wonders for preparing your preschooler and the baby may even like hearing you read. You could try standing and holding the baby while reading to the younger ones. I understand because I had a 4, 2 and twin newborns.

  21. I loved this post! The happy, chaotic day-in-the-lives always make me smile. With four of my own, I can definitely relate. :)
    Magic and Mayhem’s latest post: Photographers- Unschooling- the Globe Genie &amp More

  22. Kara says:

    Whew! Thank you! Thank you for the true story of what a day in your home looks like (and the pie and the Dr. Pepper!).

    I met a woman this week who told me about what her homeschool day looks like and I COULD NOT GET HER OUT OF MY HEAD.

    But now, after reading this post, I can see that there are a lot of moms out there like me, doing the best they can, reading books to small upside-down people.

    Thanks again!!

  23. Since October it has been an interesting school year. My husband is in Iraq, I have 4 kids 16, 12, 8 and 5. My 16 y/o just started a college class in Jan in addition to everything else that we do. I have been able to keep it together because of my homeschool group and some lovely ladies from church. But sometimes I just cry and the busy days meld together. I long for the season of reading books by the creek and barefoot romps in the park and having my husband home.

  24. Tsh says:

    Heidi, I love this! Looking at that top photo and reading your words takes me back to when we visited you guys. Your real life is encouragement indeed! Thanks for sharing.

  25. Naomi says:

    I appreciate your perspective, Heidi! I have a 5 year old son, 3 year old daughter, a 22 month old son, and another due in March. I am homeschooling my oldest, and almost every day I have doubts about my ability to mother four kids well. I think there will be a lot of the “going with the flow” you spoke of for at least several more years!
    Naomi’s latest post: 100 things you may not have known about us

  26. jamie says:

    Thank you!! I have been trying to decide if homeschooling is for me/ us and this post helped me tremendously! I have two sons (5 and 4 ) and a new baby girl. I had a rough pregnancy and was constantly worried was neglecting my kids and now with a new baby I’m sure, at times, I am. Not neglect of needs but rather of time for games and activities and outtings. So, I thought, I’ll never succeed as a home educator. You’ve given me hope!

  27. Jenni says:

    You make your day sound so manageable and smooth. I didn’t feel as anxious reading it as I do living something like it with my 7, 4, 4 and 8m old children. I heard you saying that it isn’t perfect but you work with it, you roll with it. I appreciate that!

  28. LaKeisha says:

    Thanks so much for sharing this. Next year will be my first time homeschooling my son, who will be a second grader. I wanted some idea of a realistic schedule. I appreciate this information.

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