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Written by Jamie Martin of Simple Homeschool and Steady Mom
Good morning, and welcome to our home! Come on in.
I can’t believe I’ve been writing day in the life posts for five. years. now. It’s fun (and quite wild, too) to see how things have changed around here.
We homeschool in a non-traditional way, veering toward the informal, unschooling side of the spectrum. The philosophy we identify with most is called A Thomas Jefferson Education (sometimes also referred to as Leadership Education).
Here’s what a typical homeschool day looks like for us at the moment:
(All times are approximate, not rigid.)
6:00 am – My alarm goes off and I get up to write. This is when I get the bulk of my blogging work done on an average day. I write new content first, then spend time editing, scheduling Facebook updates, and responding to emails.
8:00 am – Time for my shower before our day officially begins. While I’ve been writing, the kids have been waking up on their own schedule–some early, some late. They play or read in their rooms.
8:30 am – Time for everyone to get dressed. Downstairs, one child empties the dishwasher, another makes breakfast (cereal most days), and the third puts the laundry in.
9:00 am – Breakfast time. After a quick bowl of cereal for myself, I read to the kids from our current read-aloud. (Holy cow, how much fun am I having introducing this book to them for the first time!)
9:30 am – When we finish our chapter for the day, it’s cleaning time! I make sure everyone understands their job and set the timer.
After cleaning, everyone will make sure they are completely ready for the day–with teeth brushed and hair fixed.
Allow me to quickly insert a reminder that this is a real, imperfect day I’m writing about! Sometimes a kid has an attitude about doing their work; sometimes I’ve settled a ton of sibling squabbles by breakfast time. You know what I mean, right?
10:15 am – Starting around now, I spend 45 minutes to an hour with each child individually.
When it isn’t their turn with me, the children are free to work on whatever worthwhile activity they choose (the only guidelines are that we don’t allow screen time, it isn’t time to play with each other loudly, and we need to stay inside.)
Most of the time this translates into hours of audiobooks, reading independently, working on projects (baking, sewing, crafting, writing, etc.), or playing with favorite toys.
I recently finished new compasses with the kids, so I have a good idea what everyone would like to learn over the next six months. I keep it in mind as I plan.
Here are some specifics as to what I do during my individual time with each child:
Trishna (11): Cursive lessons, completing this “Mom and Me” journal, a formal cooking lesson once a week, thank you notes, grammar study, writing or editing stories, researching Presidents, creating lapbooks, Time for Learning
Jonathan (10): Math board games, a formal cooking lesson with me once a week, thank you notes, Teaching Textbooks Math, Duolingo Spanish, Khan Academy, Meteorology 101 (We’re currently taking this class together through UniversalClass.com and he loves it)
Elijah (9): Reading practice (Elijah is still working on reading fluency), a formal baking lesson with me once a week, thank you notes, reading a chapter book to him, When I Grow Up I Want to Be in the Military ebook
You’ll notice how different each child’s list is–that’s because we believe in individualized education. Steve and I make a unique plan for their needs, desires, and goals. Our top priority at this age is that our kids maintain their love for learning.
15 minute skills learning
Since the new year started I’ve given the kids an incentive to learn academic skills I feel would come in handy to them, but that might not necessarily fit into their current interests. This includes specific math or language arts skills.
Three times a week, I’m inviting the kids to work on these for up to 15 minutes during their time with me.
For each minute, they receive something that benefits themselves and something that benefits others–a chocolate candy for themselves and a bean for others. The candy pieces they eat after lunch, the beans are each worth 10 cents to donate toward setting children free from slavery through Love146. (Steve works as the CEO there.)
This is a limited time offer, meaning we may do it for a while (a few months, perhaps), but it isn’t our new normal. Still, I’ve been amazed at what we can accomplish in 15 minutes when everyone is engaged.
12:00pm – We break for a snack and I read from the kids’ Bible. I also may read from our current poetry book, This Week in History, or introduce a US History poster (depending on the day of the week).
12:30pm – My final hour with a child one-on-one. (And yes, you should imagine plenty of interruptions in all of the above!)
1:30 pm – Lunchtime! The kids made their sandwiches last night (a routine I love), so we just grab them from the fridge, add veggies, and sit down.
I wait to eat until later, so I can read during lunch. Right now we’re working our way through a few Life of Fred math books – laugh out loud funny stuff!
2:oo pm – The kids bundle up and head outside–we’ve had some pretty frigid days in Connecticut lately, but they still usually play on our beautiful five acres.
3:00 pm – On warm days, outside time can last much longer, but right now not so much. Often I put on a show or two from our Discovery Education subscription.
If I haven’t already started dinner, I do so now in order to avoid dinnertime stress later.
4:00 pm – Afternoon Study Time begins.
We each have an hour and a half of blissful time on our own–Mommy’s sanity time before the evening begins. If I have to do any blogging work here, I will, but I try to keep it to an absolute minimum.
While the kids read or play, this is my chance to both care for myself and set the example. I want to model for the kids that I set aside time for study as well.
Here are some of the things I may choose from:
- my own current read-aloud
- my Mentoring in the Classics current read-aloud
- Uncovering the Logic of English
- Teaching Textbooks Math
- Khan Academy
- Math Doesn’t Suck
- Bedtime Math (Jonathan often joins me for this)
- Duolingo Spanish
- Listening to a podcast
- Journal Writing
- Taking a nap or (on warmer days) a walk around our property
5:30 pm – When afternoon study time ends, the kids play while I finish up dinner.
Sometimes their play gets a little too loud for this mama’s nerves. If so, I may put on another show while we wait for Steve to get home from work.
6:30 pm – By now we sit down to dinner as a family. In the past year we’ve started a new routine of family reading after we eat–while we’re still gathered at the table.
We are working our way through Narnia together. We probably read one chapter 3-4 times a week. The other nights we read from the Bible or not at all.
7:00 pm – Now comes clean up time, a task we have mostly handed off to the kids (bliss!).
They rotate turns, and as I mention in this post we support Elijah’s reading journey as a family by allowing him to either work his body or his mind after dinner. If he chooses to do reading practice, then the rest of the family will clean up for him.
7:20 pm – We finish up our evening tasks: cleaning, making sandwiches for the next day, showers for those who need them, etc. Then one by one everyone gathers in the living room to just hang out for a little while before bed.
7:45 pm – Around this time the kids choose any books they’d like to take upstairs with them and begin the process of heading up for bed.
Steve and I begin the process of hanging out and enjoying some uninterrupted (if we’re lucky) down time together.
8:30 pm – We tuck the boys in and turn their lights off. If Trishna chooses to do extra reading, she’s allowed to stay up until 9:30pm. We head to bed ourselves around 10 or by 10:30 at the latest.
Our Weekly Rhythm
The schedule you see above is what our homeschool days generally look like on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. But I like variety, so we shake things up a little on Tuesdays and Thursdays:
Tuesdays: Our flex day. Library trips, documentaries, playdates, doctor’s appointments, etc. If we need to schedule something, I try to do it this day so it doesn’t interfere with our life-learning rhythm on other weekdays.
Thursdays: Our homeschool group day. Right now the kids take martial arts and a cooking class. Also on Thursdays Steve comes home early (3pm) so I can head out to have uninterrupted writing time alone. I work for about five hours on Sundays as well.
And there you have it–our homeschool day in the life, 2015! Thanks for following along!
Want to see how our days have changed over the years?
- 2011: My homeschool day in the life with a 5, 6, & 7-year-old
- 2012: My homeschool day in the life with a 6, 7, & 8-year-old
- 2013: My homeschool day in the life with a 7, 8, & 9-year-old
- 2014: My homeschool day in the life with a 8, 9, & 10-year-old
Is there any part of our day you might like to try out in your own?