Jamie’s homeschool day in the life (with an 8, 9, & 10-year-old)

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Jamie Martin, editor of Simple Homeschool, also blogs about motherhood at Steady Mom

Jamie’s homeschool day in the life – Monday, December 30, 2013

5:50 am – My iPhone alarm goes off, and I push snooze. Now I have ten minutes until I must be up, no excuses!

6:10 – Downstairs to begin writing. I find Jonathan (age 9) on the couch already. My early rising boy doesn’t like to miss a moment with Steve before he leaves for the Love146 office each day around 6:45.

After a quick hello and hug to Jonathan, I start to work on this post. After 40 minutes I’m mostly done, so I respond to emails and schedule a few links to post throughout the day on my Facebook page.

7:15 – Jonathan asks if we can check the weather. It’s our morning tradition–he likes to keep an eye out for snow.

Later in the week we might see some of the white stuff!

Screen Shot 2014-01-02 at 4.53.11 PM

7:30 – I sit down to breakfast on my own and hug a sleepy boy I cross paths with on the way. Elijah (age 8) asks if it’s time to play yet. I say yes, but he yawns and heads back upstairs to bed.

While I eat my granola I brainstorm goals for the upcoming year, according to the blueprint set out by my friend and mentor Lisa Byrne. (FYI: Lisa’s new e-course, Replenish 365 starts this month if you’re looking for coaching and encouragement.)

7:45 – I head up for a shower. Wonder what the kids are doing?

Jonathan is listening to Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator on audio while he works on a potholder with our new loom from Christmas. Trishna (age 10) is still asleep (our night owl) and Elijah went back to sleep after all.

8:30 – We usually begin our “official” day now, but I’m no fool. I know a good thing when I see it.

Right up there with that classic “Never wake sleeping children” I would have to add “Never interrupt a child engrossed in a book.”

8:50 – Jonathan comes to show off his completed potholder and I finally announce good morning!

Jamie's homeschool day in the life (with a 8, 9, and 10-year-old)

While I start breakfast the kids get dressed, and Trishna begins to fold the laundry on the couch (one of her jobs.) “So I won’t have to do it later,” she says.

What a helpful girl.

9:05 – We sit down at the table, pray, and the kids begin munching.

I read our learning manifesto and then move on to A Little House Christmas Treasury. We didn’t have the chance to finish it before the holiday, so we’re reading it this week instead.

Today is the chapter about Almanzo’s Christmas from Farmer Boy, and we have a great discussion–plenty of questions and insights raised like “you can tell his family is richer than Laura’s from the description of the house.”

(This doesn’t always happen by the way.) Plenty of days I make it through reading time by sheer self-discipline and after many reminders given about appropriate table behavior!

9:40 – It’s time for morning chores, and everyone pitches in.

jamie's day2 Elijah is our current vacuum master

Each child is assigned a specific area: living areas, kitchen/dining room, or upstairs. We set the timer for 12 minutes and go for it together!

10 am – We start our “school” time now. On a typical home day, I try to set aside 10am to 1pm as a focused learning time with the kids.

We follow the Leadership Education philosophy in our home, and one of its principles is that we structure time, not content. I spend about 45 minutes with each child individually – the others play or work on something in another room until it’s their turn.

Today we write thank you notes for Christmas gifts. There’s also math and phonics on Time4Learning, reading with Mommy, listening to audio books, and playing with Tinker Toys/Lego.

jamie's homeschool day in the life (with an 8, 9, & 10-year-old)

In the middle of our time we break for a snack, and I read from our Children’s Bible. We also read this week’s Family Way and take a minute to pray for Daddy, who has an important meeting.

1:00 pm – It’s lunch time now and after I eat I read two more chapters from Little House Christmas.

The second chapter is pushing it a bit–everyone seems a little stir crazy. I know what this means – time to bundle up!

1:45 – The kids rush outside–a wave of thick coats, gloves, and hats passing me by. They grab their walkie-talkies on the way, a Christmas gift from their aunts this year, perfect for chatting with each other on our five acres. I clean up from lunch.

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2:00 – One of my new year’s resolutions is to exercise every other day–no matter what. But I can’t bear to go out in that cold, so I put on an exercise video for 30 minutes instead.

(Is this too detailed? Now you know about my exercise video?! You’ll be asking what type of toilet paper I use next, but a girl has to have some secrets…well, fine, now you know everything.)

2:30 – Kids rush in to announce that one of the walkie talkies has gone missing. I bundle up and go look for it with Elijah, but no luck. We’ll try again later.

3:00 – The kids make themselves an afternoon snack. While they eat I check and respond to emails and Facebook.

3:30 – On to afternoon study time! This sounds fancy, but it’s just the new name we’ve come up with for what we used to call rest time.

Personally, I call it “sanity time” – as it’s when everyone works or plays (in an ideal world quietly) in their rooms for an hour and a half.

Today here’s what they choose:

– Elijah: Listens to this book about Paul Revere on audio (It’s his lucky day, which means he gets the iPad to listen to stories.)
– Trishna: Plays with her extensive collection of miniature dolls and works on writing stories
– Jonathan: Back to his loom work/potholder-making and reading books

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Allow me to introduce you to a few of Trishna’s homemade dolls – thankful for cardboard and rocks to fuel her creativity!

I try not to do too much work during this period, but to actually use it for study or rest of my own. Today that means:

5pm – The craziness, I mean afternoon begins.

It’s dark now, and the boys gather their magnifying glasses (another Christmas gift) to search again for the missing walkie-talkie. Back in a few minutes later, they continue the search indoors (It’s a loud search, I assure you! FYI – We did find it later!)

5:30 – It’s Sparkle Stories to the rescue! These audio tales save the day on cold winter evenings when the troops get restless.

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The boys settle down to listen, Trishna heads upstairs for a shower and I start dinner. Tonight I’m making a pesto pasta dish that 4 out of 5 Martins enjoy, and one young Martin routinely grumbles about.

6pm – Steve arrives home from work and dinner’s ready. During dinner we chat about our day and also have a competition to see who has the lowest voice (random family life).

6:30 – The children are now mostly in charge of dinner clean up (yip and hooray!). We’ve been doing this for a few months, and their quality control is slowly improving.

Tonight Elijah and Trishna divide the job between them.

While the others work, Jonathan and I hang out in the living room and start looking at old photos from when he was a baby. Remembering those days, and now seeing these big kids, it’s craziness I tell ya.

jamie's day 7 Baby Jonathan nine years ago – be still my mama’s heart!

7pm – I put on an episode of Reading Rainbow (one of my favorite shows) for the children to watch.

7:30 – The kids slowly begin the heading upstairs process–choosing books to read, finishing up one last conversation, asking for one more hug (They’re pros at dragging this out!)

8pm – I chat with Steve and do the day’s final email check and Facebook posting.

8:30 – I head upstairs to brush everyone’s teeth, give nighttime cuddles and say prayers. Then I run a bath and enjoy the success of another day completed.

Thanks for tagging along!

My how the days have changed:

“Time is but the stream I go a-fishing in.”
~ Henry David Thoreau

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. What a wonderful peaceful at home day. I hope you all aren’t to cold this week.
    Blessings, Dawn

  2. Thank you so much for posting this! This is my first year homeschooling (kindergarten) and having been a public school teacher, I struggle with how our day should look. I want it to be different than a typical public school day. So, thank you! This helps a lot!

  3. Hi jamie! Thanks for sharing, always love how your days look. I’m interested in knowing more about any audio story resources on line. Any tips? I know about Sparkle stories. But do you use any sites for the longer more classic stories at home? Thanks for your time! Enjoy your winter!

    • We use LearningAlly.org, Allie, but it is only available for dyslexic or visually impaired children. Otherwise I think libraries often have a fairly good collection of audio classics.

      • Mechelle Kuchar says:

        Curious about which of your kids have a print disability? I have 2, my youngest boys, ages 8 and 10. Just pulled the 10 year old from public school and are returning to homeschooling. Are you using any specific dyslexic oriented reading programs? We tried learning ally but didn’t enjoy it so much. Recently found bookshare.org where I was able to request a free membership through the school district for my son. Better book selection and more “voices”, you might want to check it out if you haven’t. Loved your description of your day! Your children are very fortunate. Also, tell your daughter that her dolls are wonderful, absolutely adore them 🙂

        • My daughter is visually impaired, Mechelle. And I will certainly pass that message on to her about the dolls, she’ll be thrilled! 😉 And thanks for mentioning bookshare – I’ll check it out!

    • Don’t forget librivox.org. They have out-of-copyright books that are recorded by volunteer readers. Everything is free. 🙂

  4. Have you found the walkie-talkie? We had a Lego Percy head covered in Michigan snow for months. Hopefully this won’t suffer the same fate!

    Let’s talk about Quiet when you’re done.
    Caroline Starr Rose’s latest post: Books I’m Reading in 2014

  5. I love seeing how your days have changed over the last few years as your kids have gotten older. It gives me hope for slightly more sane days ahead. 🙂
    Steph’s latest post: Three Reasons to Live Simply

  6. Thanks for sharing. I love getting a glimpse into other homeschool lives. I’m reading the same books!

  7. Jamie, I love this! I have been eagerly awaiting your day-in-the-life post (hope that doesn’t sound creepy!). I really enjoyed the detail. I follow your learning style, but have been frustrated with a few areas (how to enlist my children’s help with housekeeping, afternoon study time, etc.) This gave me some wonderful practical ideas, and I just love your voice that comes through. THANK YOU. You are such a constant source of encouragement for me. Have a great week!
    Kari Patterson’s latest post: Little tweaks, long time, big change.

    • Ha, not creepy at all! 😉 Thanks for the encouragement, Kari. Give your kids a couple of years and you’ll be amazed at the huge help they’ll be around the place!

  8. Hi! I just wanted to thank you! I have loved reading your posts, and really enjoyed reading about your day. So peaceful and love filled. What a gift to your kids! I don’t homeschool (YET) but some day I really hope to do this. I follow this blog bc I think even though my kids are in an awesome public NYC school, my time with them on weekends, holidays, and after school are really inspired by the ideas i get from homeschooling….focused, purposeful, arts and crafts filled, teaching domestic things….anyway…i do what I can but someday I sure hope to really do homeschooling for real! Thanks again!!!

  9. Also, I really love what I’m learning about all the audio books homeschoolers seem to use. I have only ever listened to one myself (Harry Potter), but I like the idea, when my kids are a little older…(they are 3 and 6) that listening to an audio book would be a great activity for them (esp during this cold)…maybe I need to look into some of these aimed for young children and begin now? We dont watch any tv, but do have dvds as special treats…but I like what qualities need to be expressed in order to enjoy an audio book…seems far less passive than even watching a dvd…so thanks Ill have to look into this!

    • Mechelle Kuchar says:

      Tricia, my children started listening to audio books at a young age, by 5, at bedtime. Listening to audio books develops so many wonderful skills, we call it ear reading as 2 of my kids are dyslexic and this is how they “read” anything extensive. There is a plethora of audio selection out there for all ages, younger kids selections will often have a copy of the book with it. We also listen to audio books while driving instead of the radio. My two oldest attend a magnet school 30 miles away and we are almost through all of the Harry Potter books.

  10. Hi Jamie,
    Looks like you have some great days. Just a quick question. Do the kids know the schedule i.e. the time frame of things? or do you just do in your head?
    Rosemarie’s latest post: in the cabinets

    • Hi friend! So happy to hear from you! That’s a great question. The kids know the ORDER of things generally, but not the specific time, which would make me feel a bit too rigid/committed. I like having lots of flexibility!

  11. Jamie, I LOVE this! Super helpful as we veer more in the TJed direction.

    Also? Mad props for linking to your toilet paper.
    Tsh Oxenreider’s latest post: Always be reading

  12. Hi Jamie! I’ve been looking forward to a day in your life! You aren’t a “school-at-homer” so I love to see how you do it, because we follow a similar routine. I get panicked sometimes when I see all the worksheets, schedules and curriculum some homeschoolers use (nothing wrong with that, it’s just not our style!) so I love seeing how a more child-directed family does it. I’m going to look into Sparkle Stories. Thank you so much for sharing. It is absolutely refreshing to see a more relaxed day without absolute structure running the day but rather letting meal times work as anchors for the day with similar patterns in between. Thanks again!
    Sanz’s latest post: Kids in the Kitchen: Mountains

  13. I love this post! How often do you do a post like this? I would love to read more!

  14. Can I just say I love this series and the details of your day… fabulous!!! Love how each child does their own thing – it is very special seeing them all growing up together, thank you for sharing!!!
    se7en’s latest post: Se7en’s Fabulous Friday Fun #204

  15. Thanks for sharing what I feel is a really natural homeschool environment for your family. Such an inspiration to read as we are newbies to homeschooling. I’m loving the more natural/holistic approach to home education, and not a school at home approach.

    • Thank you, Rachel! Life as learning – that’s what we’re aiming for around here. We miss the mark lots of times, but every once in a while we hit it and know we’ve set our target in the right spot.

  16. Charmaine says:

    Love it, Jamie – thanks for sharing your day with us! I’m curious though – when you say each kid gets about 45 minutes one-on-one time with you, and then mention things you did like thank you notes, Time4Learning, audio books etc – are these are things the kids did one-on-one with you, or were some things done the four of you together, or were some of these things kids did when they weren’t getting the one-on-one? Also curious how out-of-home activities and playing with friends fits in… sorry to be so nosey!! 🙂

  17. Jamie, I just love these day in the life posts! As someone who tends to feel a bit suffocated by a clock-governed schedule, I find your natural and relaxed daily rhythm very inspiring!

    Just out of curiosity, what time do you go to bed?

  18. Can I assume there is no tv or computer games in your home? I love the things your children choose in their free time and wonder how to foster that in a child who doesn’t usually choose reading. And I think I’ll steal the 12 minute clean up!

    • We do have tv (in terms of Netflix streaming), but no computer games. But videos generally aren’t available aside from certain times of the day and the weekends, so they have to entertain themselves somehow! And yes, please steal the clean up!

  19. I have been teaching for a number of years, but I’m new to homeschool. It’s much like anything- very different and very much the same. I’m really enjoying this look into a homeschooler’s day! Thanks for always bringing to the table what nourishes your readers!
    Kelly’s latest post: Jack Frost

  20. Wow, I feel encouraged and inspired. My 4 are 5, 4, 1.5 and 3 mo (she’s our precious little foster baby and we are loving her and love having her but it adds a layer of complexity–but I would not change it for anything!!). We are very much in the habit training mode of our homeschooling right now, trying to teach them how to do chores, how to have a quiet hour (we are up to 25 minutes, woot!), how to have uninterrupted learning time. They are lovely little girls, but needy. Anyway, I now have a vision of homeschooling utopia in my mind which is your day in the life (don’t get me wrong, I love where we are too! Lots of hugs, giggles and smiles all day!). But seriously, you got an afternoon break, a shower and a bath?!? Anyway, thanks for the encouragement to keep plowing ahead.

  21. Although i am seemingly a world away from you ( im in Australia).. yet reading your daily blog reads and feels like home. Keep up the great work JAMIE. I am blessed often by your blogging and associated bloggers…

  22. Victoria Calvin says:

    Thank you so much for this wonderful blog! My husband and I will embark on our homeschool adventure starting 2015 when our little girl starts kindergarten. I frequent your blog very often and have learned a great deal, especially about homeschooling a kinder.

    I loved reading about your “day in the life” – very encouraging and honest. And your daughter’s mini doll collection…totally cute and creative! And yay for finding the walkie talkie…my talkie is still missing (circa 1985…I’ve almost given up hope)!


  23. Thanks for the hint on chores, what a great idea to set a timer and just be done after that! I’m going to try that, my kids are always dragging chores out forever and I’m always nagging them! Sometimes a fresh new idea really helps.

  24. Love this series and you are wonderful to share all the little {and sometimes loud} details; makes it real!! I love reading these and knowing that our days are similar to other mamas and gain ideas for what might work for our families. And I think I am finally going to sign up for Sparkle Stories. We read a lot and in the evening we watch a little house episode on video but it would be wonderful to have another option for the littles (6, 5, 2) during the day!! You\’ve mentioned the stories a lot so I guess they are highly recommended? 😉
    Jenn @ Beautiful Calling’s latest post: Tiny Tidbits 12.13

    • Absolutely, Jenn. Your 5 & 6 would probably enjoy Martin & Sylvia since it’s about a homeschooling family. And yes, it’s still very loud around here at times!

  25. Hi Jaime,
    I just started homeschooling this past September. I am just starting to get the hang of it in this new quarter. We have had two days so far and things are looking up. Thanks for the Day in the Life Series. I’m sad I have to wait a week to read the new ones. LOL! For someone like me who is creative but likes to gage things off of others it’s nice to see how other people are doing it and get ideas. It helps me to know if I’m on the right track. I found it interesting and encouraging that you start your school day late and allow your kids to sleep. My daughter before Christmas was an early riser and now she seems to be getting up later. Today I woke up at 7:30 thinking I would get her up early for school, I over slept, and she was still sleep. I was so tired I just let her sleep. She woke up at 8 and we started at 9:00. We still managed to finish by 1:00 which is a normal hour for us. We’re trying to finish earlier. I thought of you this morning when I woke up and went back to bed and decided maybe I should rethink our start time. There is no rule that says we need to start school at 8.
    Also thanks for listing the audiobook ideas. I buy audiobooks from Audible.com for myself and we listen to them in the car if they are what I call “Harmonie Appropriate.” like Joel Osteen who she loves but I never buy any for her. Do you have any suggestions on specific books I should look at for her? She just turned eight two weeks ago. She’s in the third grade, loves to read and is smart as a whip.
    Kay’s latest post: Welcome Back to School (A Review of Our First Day Back)

  26. I’m so glad to hear that I am not the only homeschooling mom who thinks that sometimes kids should just sleep. It makes the day go by so much easier when everyone is well rested! Especially if that means that the toddler sleeps in because everyone else is quiet! (I say this as it is 8:30am and my entire family is sound asleep!) Your day sounds a lot like ours. Lots of reading and lots of playing! We do a lot of game-centered learning rather than textbook/worksheet learning and it makes the day so enjoyable. I enjoyed reading about your day!
    Kim’s latest post: DIY Craft Supplies: Week One Glitter!

  27. Lindsay Mathews says:

    Hi! This is my first time reading one of your blogs and I’m so inspired! My husband and I only have one child so far, and she’s only 14 months 🙂 I’m curious if you have any suggestions of how and when to start implementing “school”.

    Thanks for your time and be blessed,

  28. I’m a new reader, and loved this day in the life post!
    The dolls your daughter makes so remind me of my daughter (6yo). I’m happy that she’s so creative, but I’m a minimalist and her room is becoming cluttered with little things like this that she refuses to ever give up, even though we get at least one more doll each day. Does your daughter hang on to things like this (and insist on taking care of each and every one)? Maybe I just need to accept it and let her have her cluttered room?
    Oh, and I’m also reading Quiet and loving it so far!

    • I know what you mean about the dolls! When I start to see that things are getting out of hand we’ll have a day where together we go through and choose her very favorites and pick some things to pass on. Or we’ll have a one in and one out rule – where if she makes another doll it means she has to choose one that she’s finished with.

  29. Kathy May says:

    you just validated my whole life! my kids are 8,5,3, and 2yr old twins so they “help” a little differently around the house;) but our days runs in much the same way…I was so scared we weren’t “doing enough”…I mean I know they are learning, I know they are happy, I know we are together…but the worry monster gets the better of me…”would they pass a state test?”…”I don’t think he reads at “grade level”?”……..but you have shown me we are normal(whatever that means!)..maybe more importantly…I’m not ruining them by letting them be happy…

  30. I enjoyed reading about your day, it’s different than ours but it is wonderful to see what works for others. I like how detailed you were because it is often these details that make such a difference in how our days run! What has become a habit for you may be a whole revelatory idea to me, and vice versa. I’m enjoying the series!
    Tristan’s latest post: Books I’m Currently Reading

  31. Holly Peterson says:

    This is my favorite one yet!

  32. Awesome issues here. I’m very satisfied to see your post.

    Thank you so much and I am taking a look forward to touch you.
    Will you please drop me a e-mail?
    AlphaMax 10 Review’s latest post: AlphaMax 10 Review

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