Jamie’s homeschool day in the life (with an 11-, 12-, & 13-year-old)

Written by Jamie Martin of Simple Homeschool

When we first began homeschooling eight years ago, the idea of continuing to do so in the teen years freaked me out!

But it turns out that as littles become bigs, mamas still have a hunch what those growing bodies and minds need most–just like we did when they were babes. It isn’t quite so scary after all.

It will help you understand our day if you know a bit about these babes of mine:

  • Trishna (13), joined our family in 2007 via adoption at the age of four from India; she has a visual impairment and developmental delays
  • Jonathan (12), joined our family in 2004 as our biological son
  • Elijah (11), joined our family in 2005 via adoption at the age of six months from Liberia after nearly dying from malaria; he has developmental delays and is still working on his reading fluency

A homeschool day in the life

Here’s what our homeschool day looked like on Monday, February 13, 2017:

Early Morning

I turn the light on around six o’clock most weekdays, providing I’ve slept well. Steve and I are reading our way through the One Year Bible on Kindle. (I love this version with portions of the OT, NT, Psalms, & Proverbs in each reading!) Afterwards I read from a favorite devotional and prayer book.

Around 6:30 am I usually begin whatever the most important writing work is for that day. Lately that’s been our Heal the World Book Club–and it’s the perfect time to sign up for March; we just announced our new book titles!

What are the kids doing now? Jonathan, my early riser, is likely downstairs reading. Trishna and Elijah like to sleep later, but everyone’s typically awake by 8am.

My boys do a spelling or handwriting/reading exercise after waking; it takes less than five minutes. I peek at this when they’re done, then prep my Facebook page for the day so I can go offline.

Around 8 o’clock, I head for the shower. (I do have an alarm set on my iPhone to remind me, so I don’t get lost in social media!) By 8:30, I’m usually ready to begin our day together.


Today Steve is home–having returned yesterday from a Love146 work trip. But I’ve learned it works best if we keep our routine going while also being flexible so the kids can spend time with Daddy.

During this time, one child prepares cereal for breakfast while another empties the dishwasher.

Trishna’s been raising funds for Love146/our book club by selling her paintings!

Then we’re ready to sit down for “Breakfast School,” which on this Monday consisted of:

By 10:30 it’s time for Morning Chores. Each child has an assigned area. Today that means:

  • T – Vacuums the downstairs carpet and folds the laundry
  • J – Cleans the kitchen sink. Usually he makes dinner on a Monday, but since our faithful bread machine died yesterday I ask him to make bread for lunch instead
  • E – Cleans the upstairs toilet, vacuums and mops the bathroom floor
  • Me – I tidy up, then wash our sap buckets–we’re tapping our trees today!

After I’ve checked everyone’s cleaning they finish getting ready for their day, then gather supplies for their independent work, which typically begins by 11:15 am.

Today’s independent time includes:

  • T – Creative writing
  • J – Finishes his bread making, talks stocks & business ideas with Steve
  • E – Listening to his morning audio book, An Acceptable Time (Audible has been a game changer for this boy over the past few months!)
  • Me – Answering emails/minor blog work

Early Afternoon

Around 12:15 I wrap up what I’m doing and prep lunch. The bread smells amazing! I call everyone to get their Drop Everything and Read books and come to the table.

We settle around the table to eat, while reading independently for 20-30 minutes. Here are today’s titles:

These are the boys’ “Is Mom still taking photos or has she stopped yet?” faces!

About 1pm we transition into the next part of our day. It’s something new we’re trying, which I call “Mentoring Hours.”

I explained to the kids that it’s like Office Hours in college–your professor is available and ready to help when you ask. The idea is that the kids can come to me if/when they need it, but if they are busily engaged and don’t need help they can have more uninterrupted time to learn and work.

Here’s what this time looks like today:

Elijah disappears, back upstairs after getting his afternoon audio book (The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, 99 cents here) set up. Trishna and I have a quick mentoring meeting, where we look over her most recent homeschool compass and discuss what she wants to work on this week.

I jot the list on a post-it for her: memorizing our learning manifesto, taking notes for a report on Japan, writing in our Mom/Daughter journal, and books she plans to read.

She heads upstairs to get started; later I’ll remind her when my iPhone alarm goes off, her signal to fill out the daily pages in her Winter Homeschooling Journal.

Jonathan and Steve have gone outside to tap the trees. When J returns, he listens to his weather radio then he asks if we can research natural tick spray recipes together (one of his business ideas!). We copy and paste some notes as we go along, then print them out.

When nobody needs me, I go online and request library books for each child, based on their current interests. I also order the next level of Teaching Textbooks Math for Trishna, who completed one last week.

The kids can also choose to work on “skills learning” if they’d like (read about that in my post from two years ago), and today all three do. Trishna practices her cursive, Jonathan does math on Khan Academy, and Elijah requests help to complete his reading workbook and do his Type to Read and Spell lesson.

Late Afternoon

Usually around 3pm the kids get bundled up to play outside, but today because of a high wind warning we decide to watch an episode of Little House on the Prairie instead. This one is an intense episode about racism; Elijah and I have a serious chat after it ends.

Then everyone grabs a snack and begins their afternoon, which typically includes showers, hanging out, reading, working on projects, playing, art/music, and some quiet for me.

I often use this time to take a short nap, do Duolingo Spanish, write in my journal, chat with Steve and/or kids, take a walk, read, or hop online for a bit more work.

Trishna often paints or practices on her keyboard in the afternoons


We usually have dinner around 6:30, and take turns cleaning up afterwards. Today Steve and I were noticing that he hasn’t had much time with Trishna since being out of town, so they head upstairs to watch a documentary together.

The boys and I hang out downstairs, and end up revisiting our favorite parts of this classic movie (free on Amazon Prime), before getting everyone organized for bed. And that’s a wrap!

A Change in Our Weekly Rhythm

Last spring before my book came out, Steve and I realized we needed some extra support to enable us to keep doing our work with family, this blog, and Love146 well.

God led us to Jennifer, who now comes twice a week for a total of 10 hours, and follows our homeschool rhythm with the kids. Plus as a fluent Spanish speaker, she’s teaching the kids a language too!

SO grateful for her help, which has provided some much-needed margin for all of us during this season.

Also once a week the boys go to the nature/wilderness homeschool program we’ve been a part of for two years now. Trishna’s taking a break until spring, when all three kids will be involved again.

And there you have it–what’s currently working for us. I could change it all next week, or we could be doing the same thing in two years, who knows?!

But I love that homeschooling gives us the freedom to do either–responding to the needs we have each and every day, in both good times and bad.

I wouldn’t want it any other way.

How the days have changed:

Do you have any questions about our days? Ask away and I’ll do my best to answer!

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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. Jamie! Thanx for sharing this. It’s such an encouragement to read. I have 4 kids (7,9,12 and 14) and in between work we juggle along. I absolutely love your idea of the homeschooling compass, it really encourages interest based learning. Will spend some time with my kids this week to make one :-). And I definitely need to get them registered for Khan Academy!! Blessings <3.

  2. I too thought the upper grades and older ages would be more intimidating to teach but find that if we just take it one step at a time, one year at a time, one book at a time, I don’t even notice! We’re barreling through these middle school years just fine.
    Mother of 3’s latest post: My February Books

  3. You have a beautiful family. Sounds like a flourishing homeschool day.
    Camie’s latest post: Homesickness, Brownies & the Maid

  4. I loved this so much! Felt like I was hanging out with the Martins. Please tell Trishna I love her painting. And thank you for the Jasper love. <3
    Caroline Rose’s latest post: Wisdom from THE PRACTICING MIND

  5. I loved reading about your homeschool day, Jamie! As usual. To be perfectly honest with you (and everyone else who reads my comment, ha!), I have been in a slump lately when it comes to homeschooling (and other things, but that’s a long story), and reading this reminded me that no family and no homeschool is “doing good” all of the time, every day. And each day is different. Each child is different. Etc. etc. I plan to take notes on some of the things and resources you mentioned and try to implement them into our own homeschool, and will pray that things will get better soon! Thank you for what you do. God bless always! 🙂 (And I hope you got my FB message. 😉 )

    • It is always changing and evolving, Tina, and there’s no such thing as an “always–good” homeschool. It’s only about faithfulness when it’s easy and working, and when it’s tough and not. 😉 xo

  6. I always appreciate reading how your family works to meet each child’s needs. It’s been encouraging, over the years, to watch how your days have changed and stayed the same. Thanks for keeping this going!

  7. Marnita Sonnenberg says:

    I have loved to see how you do your days with the kids over the years. It seems so natural and fun!

  8. Wow, just wanted to say that the painting your daughter did is absolutely gorgeous! She’s very talented. Also, I love the rhythm you have going with your kids, structure and freedom, a beautiful thing, God bless!
    Jodie’s latest post: January 2016

  9. I like how u implement choice, guidance, the environment etc. Do u require any of this..or is it by invitation. .like the skills or the reading?
    What device do u use for audible?

  10. This is a lovely day…. I am working on being more present to my kids. They are lovely, but it is a big switch to the old days of all 4 kids being home all day- my 2 older ones go to dual enrollment high school/college and are gone all day 2 or 3 days a week

  11. I love these posts about the flow of your day. The pictures your daughter paints are beautiful. I also like that beautiful bread in the picture. Do you have a bread recipe posted? I feel like I saw one before but I can’t find it. Thank you for sharing your day with us.

  12. Emily Ekegren says:

    I love this! As my boys are getting older (9 and almost 11), I’d love for them to have more independence and freedom in their learning. I’m sure you have a post about it somewhere, but what do you do about (non-learning, fun) screen time?

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