Jamie’s homeschool day in the life (with a 12-, 13-, & 14-year-old)

Written by Jamie C. Martin of Simple Homeschool

“I feel like soon it will be time for me to get serious about my spelling.”

He brought the topic up in the car over the holidays, on our way to drive by cool Christmas lights.

“I know I can do it, I just haven’t really wanted to put the effort in until now. But I think I’m getting ready.”

I could do nothing but listen, smile, encourage. After all, I have no frame of reference for this type of education myself. I would never have been able to make this type of comment as a young teen, since I never truly owned my education until college.

When allowed to choose, I’ve seen that my children eventually notice their need for the subjects that, in a typical school setting, kids are forced to begin and master so early they never have the chance to even comprehend their relevance.

And who can ever stop someone from learning when they have decided they want to, and when they have all the resources and time they need at their fingertips?

The answer? No one.

I share this conversation to shed light on the philosophy that undergirds our family’s days, which now include a 14-, 13-, and 12-year-old.

Here’s a quick overview of our typical homeschool day:

  • Jamie’s Morning Work Session
  • Breakfast School
  • Family Work
  • Learning Time
  • Lunch/Drop Everything and Read
  • Learning Time
  • Outdoors
  • Afternoon Projects
  • Dinner/Evening Routine

And here’s what each of those blocks means:

Morning Work Session

I start a typical day with writing time (anywhere from 15-45 minutes), followed by quick checks and any necessary work on this blog, my Facebook page, or email. This way I know I’m beginning my day with calm and focus, no matter what twists and turns come in the hours that follow.

Afterwards I log off, physically and mentally. Then I take a shower and dress before our homeschool day officially begins.

Breakfast School

While the kids eat, they learn! I direct and guide this time, which allows me to focus on whatever I feel like we currently have a need for or feel inspired by.

Right now that includes:

Family Work

Each child has an assigned area/task (downstairs, upstairs, kitchen, or dinner prep), so I give job assignments and send them on their way. I love that having older kids equals many hands that make light work! I check their work afterwards for quality control. 😉

Then we all do any needed self-care that hasn’t yet been completed: fixing hair, brushing teeth, etc.

Learning Time

This is an open block of time, both before and after lunch. I see myself as its guardian/protector. My job? To “hold the space” for learning and inspiration.

Like Kari shared in the fall, I try to ditch multi-tasking during this period in order to stay focused on our education, more available to help when needed.

Not every day is the same, and we don’t want it to be! That would be boring, and we don’t believe learning has to bore us.

This time is usually devoted to reading (LOTS of reading!), creative writing, projects someone gets inspired by, computer work, math, spelling, online mentoring via TJEd High, and reading lessons.

Drop Everything and Read/Lunch

We take turns preparing a simple lunch, then gather to eat while we “Drop Everything and Read.” I love it because I get to enjoy my own book guilt-free!

It’s fun when everyone is engaged in their own titles; we occasionally share snippets if someone laughs out loud or reaches a good bit they just have to share.

More Learning Time

See above! Around 3pm is when we usually transition to the afternoon part of our day.


With the frigid temperatures we’ve been having, this doesn’t last too long at the moment, and has included lots of sledding in recent days!

Afternoon Projects

Reading, chatting, musical instruments, computer time, showers for kids, introverted recharging time for the mama.

Santa brought a digital piano to a certain excited someone this year!

Dinner/Evening Routine

After eating we rotate clean-up duties, then watch a show or two together before the kids head upstairs.

Weekly Routine

The routine above is fairly typical, and it’s open enough to allow for flexibility, too, which I love. Two mornings a week a dear friend comes and “holds the space for learning” so that I can devote time to writing and blog work. She teaches the kids Spanish as well!

Right now our week also includes piano and horse riding lessons, homeschool co-op, a wilderness program for my boys, and church youth group.

If I attempted to label what our family does, I’d probably call it “wholehearted learning.” It’s a lifestyle, not a regiment. A philosophy, not a program.

Part of me loves schedules and charts, but I find anything that doesn’t allow for a natural flow feels stifling. I don’t plan too far ahead, because I’ve learned through the years how quickly things can change. Instead, I pay attention and try (imperfectly) to do the next right thing, believing God will get us where we each need to be in the end.

That concept works just as well now as it did when the children were younger, because no matter what age we are, life always unfolds one precious day at a time. Thanks so much for following along!

My how the days have changed:

Do you have any specific questions about how our days flow? Feel free to ask!

This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive a small commission from some of the links on this page.

About Jamie Martin

Jamie is a mama to three cute kids born on three different continents. She is the co-founder and editor of Simple Homeschool, where she writes about mindful parenting, intentional education, and the joy found in a pile of books. Jamie is also the author of a handful of titles, including her newest release, Give Your Child the World.


  1. Thank you so much for sharing your day with us. I love the morning work idea. I need to do that in my life 🙂 I am off to check out both your grammar and etiquette recommendations. They look great!
    Jen’s latest post: Homeschool Cooking With Kids Series: Pinwheel Sugar Cookies Recipe

  2. Trishna Martin says:

    Hey, Mom! It’s me, Trishna. I LOVE that blog post. LOVE The photos! You did a great job. I like the photo of me playing my Digital Piano. 🎹☄️💡😀👏

  3. I especially love reading about your days, Jamie. As an introverted mama, with my oldest falling in the same age bracket, (and your previous posts about an intense kiddo), I appreciate reading a snippet on how someone else brings it all together. Such beautiful kiddos and a sweet rhythm you have. Thank you!
    Nicola’s latest post: homeschooling – the path ahead

  4. It is fantastic seeing what your days look like using TJED with older kids, Jamie! I always find your TJED posts to be so inspiring. My kids are both on Love of Learning Phase now (ages 10 and nearly 8), and it is nice to get a snapshot of how things might look in a few years.

    • I’m so glad it’s helpful, Sarah, and I know just what you mean. I used to (& still do!) cling to any kind of TJEd posts/inspiration from folks who were further down the path than I was!

  5. Wow! Your children are truly growing up into beautiful young men and beautiful young lady! I have truly enjoyed this series over the year. I have used pieces of other people’s homeschool days to make our days simpler (such as the morning quick clean up-that has truly changed our lives). Thank you for continuing this tradition!

  6. I always love hearing your day in the life, Jamie! It is a reminder to me that unconventional school is still being done and works. Thanks so much for sharing!
    June’s latest post: How Minimalism Can HURT Your Budget

  7. It’s lovely to see snippets of your days. My two are young, 4 and nearly 7, and I just love your ‘better late than early’ approach. I also read your DITL post from six years ago when your kids were nearer the ages of mine. It’s lovely to see how your rhythm has grown with your children. I am hopeful that all of the energy that’s going into our daily rhythm and the feel of the moment will pay some dividends in the later years. Our days are so full of lovely shared time, but I also look forward to some independent and more self directed times.

  8. I love reading these day-in-the-life to get new ideas about how to schedule my day. Seems like I am always restructuring to find the perfect fit! Part of that “seems like things are always changing!”
    Love, love, LOVE you beginning statement about owning your education. I think that is what I have been trying to cultivate in my kids but could never put it into words.
    Thank you for sharing your day 🙂

  9. Every year I enjoy reading this blog posts featuring different families and what their days typically look like. Thank you for all the work you put into that. ..We live overseas in a country without public libraries or Amazon Prime, and unreliable access to internet resources. I’m just curious if you’ve ever featured anyone who might have a similar circumstances? And, I just wonder if having that kind of situation could hinder a learning environment that would lend itself to children being able to own their own education?

    • Good question, Christine! I’d recommend you ask this question on the TJEd Facebook forum when you do have a chance to see what kind of feedback you’d receive: https://www.facebook.com/groups/TJEdDiscussion/ I know there are plenty of TJEd families who delay technology use, as we did, so I’m sure they could offer you some words of wisdom.

      With that said, I remember an article about a father who had lived with his daughter in the woods for several years (I can’t remember the circumstances of why!) and all they had was a Bible and an old set of encyclopedias. Later in her teen years, when the daughter was given a standardized test, she placed way above grade level and the “experts” were all astounded! I would follow that internal mom intuition that we all have, and dare to do whatever it leads you to do!

  10. Every year (since 2011) I have loved reading about your days. They very much inspired me to give homeschooling a try. So thankful we did. Thank you!
    Kelly Sage’s latest post: Traveling to Greece with Children

  11. Thank you for sharing your day to us. Looking forward to more of your posts soon!

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