Jamie’s homeschool day in the life (with a 7-, 8-, & 9-year-old)

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

When my kids were younger, I needed a detailed schedule to infuse our home with a little peace. Life was CHAOTIC with a newly-adopted four-year-old on top of a three- and two-year-old, and many days my head swam dizzy with the busy-ness of it all.

It was good crazy, but crazy it was. As it seemed my kids didn’t have much of an attention span (because they didn’t, ha!), no activity lasted longer than 15 minutes. So for a while, I scheduled accordingly.

Now that season feels incredibly far away–five whole years have passed! And I’ve finally discovered both the beauty and the flexibility of using long chunks of time to put our days together.

All times in this post are merely a guideline–we flex as much or as little as needed. Plenty of days we call the whole thing off. As my friend Renee Tougas from FIMBY puts it so well, this is our “usually, not always” rhythm:

The Mama’s Day

6:15 – My writing time (I get my most focused writing of the day done here)

7:15 – I shower, dress, eat breakfast, read my Bible, & make my to-do list

8:15 – My children dress themselves, have breakfast while I read (from our current chapter book or an Oak Meadow story) then do chores and clean up

9:15 – Then starts what I call our “learning sections.” It’s the time of our day set aside for academic/schoolish pursuits. The children play and work in different areas of the house, rotating after 30 or 45 minutes.

This gives me a chunk of time with each child alone, during which we work on whatever might excite them that day: creating handwriting books (our current project), taking turns reading aloud, a riveting chapter book, some sewing, etc. If one child starts a project during our time together, they may continue it when they rotate to another room.

10:45 – A quick morning snack; I read from this children’s Bible or this kids’ devotional.

11:00 – Finish up our learning sections for the morning

11:45 – The kids have a short recess, inside or out, while I put away the laundry.

Noon – Jonathan helps me make lunch, then we eat and I read to the kids from our current chapter book.

12:45 – I call this Mommy’s work time. Most days I try to do light blogging work at this point in the day–like emails, formatting posts and photos, and so on. The kids watch a video.

1:45 – It’s outside time now, and we live in the loveliest area for outdoor play. I help get everyone bundled up, then send them out with a smile. If I’m lucky, I may even get to read a chapter from my own book while they play. Then I usually head out for a bit of playtime myself (Well, that and the settling of a few sibling squabbles. ;))

2:45 – Another snack (my babes can eat!!), maybe a quick story, and then kids head upstairs

3:15 – Rest Time (which used to be nap time, but now just means you can play, read, & work on whatever you’d like in your room) During rest time I do a bit of resting myself, then use the second half for writing/blog work.

4:45 – We regroup and the kids loudly bound down the stairs. After getting everyone settled with whatever they need for playing indoors or out, I start on dinner.

After an hour or so, I’ll put on one more short video episode for the kids while I finish cooking and chat with Steve when he gets home from his day at the office.

6:15 – Family dinner, then we all clean up

6:45 – Our pre-bedtime routine begins here with any children who need baths or showers starting on that process. Those who don’t need showers may listen to one or two Sparkle Stories, our favorite calming pre-bedtime activity.

7:45 – Heading upstairs to tuck everyone in–I rotate spending time one-on-one with a child most evenings. Often this means I read a chapter aloud from a book that child has chosen.

(Right now I’m reading Pollyanna with Jonathan and Elijah, and Mr. Popper’s Penguins with Trishna.)

8:15 – I stumble downstairs sluggishly and give Steve a tired smile. I used to try to work a bit here, but my brain is generally too fried and Steve and I need time together too. I aim to be in bed by 10:30 so I can get up early again the next day for my early morning writing time.


Further reading about Jamie’s days:

Do you need a detailed routine during your season of life or a more open-ended one?

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. Even though my kiddo is young we have a pretty open-ended schedule. It’s probably because there’s just one of her. We’ll see how it changes when her little brother comes along later this year.
    Steph’s latest post: Our 2013 Flexible Routine

  2. We pretty much have an open minded schedule! We have never been much of a scheduled bunch here…. I love the idea of the schedule it makes things sound easier, until I attempt one! LOL
    MzBaker’s latest post: New Years 2013

  3. Hi Jamie,
    Could you tell a bit more about what the kids do during the school sections time? I know you are using TJed, so you try to inspire them to learn rather than giving them specific work to do. I know you mentioned that when they are with you, you may read a book to each other, do projects, etc. But what types of options do you make available to them when they are doing the sections independently? Also, other than Life of Fred, what math work/books do you make available to them, and do they learn much math on their own?

    I have a 1st grader and a 3 year old, started out using Classical but have shifted towards more Charlotte Mason and Living books, math games instead of worksheets, etc. I am intrigued by the ideas of TJed that you have detailed, but not quite sure how it would work in our home right now with such a young one around, plus my daughter is a voracious reader and would just sit around reading chapter books (like Magic Tree House and Mr Popper’s Penguins) all day if I didn’t have any structure or planned play/school times. I know you also have planned play/school times, but am just wondering what you all actually do during the school times.

    Thanks for such a wonderful resource in this website, and you Steady Mom blog!
    Sarah Smith’s latest post: 18 Grain-Free Christmas Cookie and Treat Recipes!

    • Hi Jamie
      I totally had the same question. I just read your post the myth of unschoolers, and am finding myself drawn more and more to it, but don’t quite how how to dive in. Do you still do the basics like math and learning to read and write ( or did you when they were younger, I also have a 1st grader and 4 yr old) as well as pursuing their interests. And what does pursuing their interests look like on a daily rhythm.
      Thanks so much!

      • Hi Rachael and Sarah,
        I would recommend you read the book Leadership Education by Oliver & Rachel DeMille. It gives the practical overview of Thomas Jefferson Education and what that looks like and means specifically at different ages. But in short, if there is something I think the kids need to learn at a specific time I look for ways to inspire them to choose it themselves. We don’t “require” but inspire. And that includes the traditional subjects of math, reading, and writing as well.

  4. Thanks for sharing this. We’re just getting started with homeschooling and it’s really helpful to see what other families do each day while we figure out what works for us.
    Nicole’s latest post: A cup a day keeps the monsters away

  5. Hi there … I was loving read your schedule, but I’m stumped. When do they learn to read and do math? In the schedule, I can see where other things would end up fitting over time, but I couldn’t see anything for those core subjects.

    • Thanks for your comment, Brooke. We follow the educational philosophy outlined in Thomas Jefferson Education, and it takes a different approach to even the “core subjects” of math, writing, and reading. You can find out more here: http://www.tjed.org/

      • Jamie, do you have a list on here of your curricula you use? Just curious…I like to see other’s stuff. And I’m not that familiar with Thomas Jefferson Ed…I’m eclectic with a Charlotte Mason bend. I’d love more info on what you use if you don’t mind. Thanks!!!

  6. Hi Jamie,
    I too am curious about what specifically the children are doing during the learning time. Also, what products are you using as part of your curriculum? I’m new to this blog so if you have a previous post regarding that, please disregard and just direct me to that post.

  7. Elizabeth Kane says:

    I’m lovin these insights to everyone’s day posts. It’s nice to see how you optimize your time for learning, play, and family time. And I like how you said these are guidelines. I’m finding that as much as I want to have hard definite times for work and learning throughout the day, sometimes it’s best to have flexible ones. You can always switch it up tomorrow, next week, or next month.

  8. This question is a bit off-topic for homeschooling, more about parenting: “Do your kids sleep from 8:15p to 8:15a?” My kids are the same age as yours, but they only sleep for 10 hrs.

    • It varies by child, Kathy. They all head upstairs at that time, but they can read or play quietly until ready to go to sleep. We typically have one who is an early riser in the morning and two who are night owls and like to sleep in.

  9. Thank you for sharing. My son is four and the other is four months. I’ve recently started a bit of homeschool preschool with him. I’ve thought about doing it when he gets older too, but I’m not so sure I’m disciplined enough. Do you stick to your timeline each day to a T? How do you make sure the kids interact with others? (I just made a phone call today about Karate for my son)
    Olivia’s latest post: happy

  10. Awesome! Great to hear how you guys typically do it — very encouraging!
    Teresa’s latest post: The Flop

  11. This is very encouraging! Now, I have a 5,4,2, and 1 year old. The day is a bit chaotic because the little ones get into everything. In a few years I am sure it will be a bit calmer. Any suggestions for entertaining little ones?

  12. This is great. I love the blocks of time, something I think I first implemented after reading something from Renee. My kids are just turned 5, 2.5, and 1.5 so most days it’s just plain chaotic. But I dream of the less chaotic days and try to embrace my now!
    Johanna @ My Home Tableau’s latest post: The Bible reading goal I don’t have

  13. Jamie- I always love reading your day in the life. It’s so encouraging to see other Mom’s working towards their passions too. I am a much happier Mama when I take time to pursue my own calling during the day and I feel it is a great example to show the kids that, in order to be creative and passionate about something, it takes daily habits of time and hard work. Thanks, as always, for this reminder!

  14. Hi Jamie,
    Homeschool schedules…boy, I have had several over the years! I have a problem with breaking off one task to do another, for some reason I need to finish what I start and before I know it the day is gone and I have “nothing” done.
    This year I had a God send that has saved my life! I felt this was the perfect opportunity to share. For those with iPads there is an app called “Daily Routine” . What a time saver and less Chaos in my head! It was a bit challenging to understand how to set it up. Thank Goodness they included YouTube videos and after playing with it….not that difficult. Now I hear the dinger, I drop, and move on. My days have been extremely productive and I have to say stress free. It has made a difference for my kids as well…it’s their “school bell”. ; )
    God Bless, Wendy

  15. Will you tell us about the stations thru the house…I love this idea because then we aren’t sitting at the same table all day. Would love to hear what you put in a station. Thanks.
    karen’s latest post: And the Dayspring wreath winner is…

  16. I love reading other families schedules and yours looks like the days must flow pretty smoothly. However, you don’t mention outings or outside activities. How often do they occur ? I tend to plan out a daily schedule and get evrything to “fit in” nicely, all to discover it won’t work most days because of this or that activity that requires us to leave the house (grocery shopping, church activities, library outings, sports and music lessons, doctor visits… etc. and with 5 children -ages 8 and under, there’s always such necessities). Getting everyone ready takes time and outings wipe me out, and being a “home-body”, I just dream when I see a schedule like yours that seems to avoid them. How do you do that ?

    • We don’t avoid outings, but the post was getting a bit too long to mention them here. Daily outings were what I did with the kids when they were preschool age and the days felt soooo long otherwise. But now we do outings once or twice a week and that is plenty and leaves us with the downtime to actually enjoy our home. Currently we don’t have anyone in lessons, so I’m sure that helps!

  17. This is not fitting per the question, but I was wondering if you had a list or could lead me to a site with a good list of chapter books for elementary readers. I went to our tiny library today and grabbed the diary of a wimpy kid book without reading up on it and my son read the entire book in one sitting. After I read a review, I was unimpressed and a bit regretful. He is only 7 and I was shocked that he stayed in his room for 5 hours to read the whole thing. I am a bit desperate to find some books for him that have a good moral. Thanks

  18. Regarding the earlier posters who mentioned math… There are a lot of ways you could encourage your children to choose to learn math for fun, if you built up a big supply of homemade math games and manipulatives. I’m also in favor of Constructivist approaches rather than something that relies on rote memorization.

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