Jamie’s homeschool day in the life (with a 10-, 11-, & 12-year-old)

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(with a 10-, 11-, & 12-year-old)
Written by Jamie Martin of Simple Homeschool and Steady Mom

Today’s post marks the 6th homeschool day in the life I’ve written–one each year since I originally thought of the idea in 2011! It’s amazing to look back and watch the kids grow up before my eyes.

In one way January is an odd time to kick off this series–we’re coming out of different holiday routines, and starting over feels strange for a while. At the same time, perhaps that’s why we need this series this time of year–to nudge us back in the right direction.

Before Christmas I could feel homeschool burnout looming. All I wanted to do (as I told one friend) was “watch Christmas movies and eat cookies.”

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So we did.

Not too many cookies, but a few, plus a movie each day for about two weeks.

Can I tell you it was just what the doctor ordered? Afterwards I was ready to create new routines and get back to business.
A homeschool day in the life 2016

Here’s what that looks like at the moment:

Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays

6:00 am – My alarm goes off, and I wake up slowly. I usually read a devotional, a prayer book, and a bit of the Bible.

6:30 am – I’m at my bedroom desk and begin writing and/or doing whatever computer work is essential that day, including scheduling Facebook and responding to emails. I try to eat breakfast too.

8:00 am – I finish up, grab new clothes, and head for the shower. During this time, the kids have been waking up and starting their own days–playing in their rooms (separately), reading, etc.

8:30 am – I officially begin my day with the children. It gets loud fast, ya’ll.

Kids get dressed, Jonathan makes breakfast (cereal most days), Trishna puts the laundry in, Elijah and I tidy upstairs, and they alternate emptying the dishwasher.

9:00 am – By now we’re at the dining table, ready to eat and ready for “Breakfast School.”


What Breakfast School often (but not always!) looks like:

  • Reading from our current read-aloud (This one’s been a good choice to transition us away from the holidays & back into the swing of things)
  • Memorizing poetry (I adore this poetry series for kids)
  • Bedtime Math
  • Choosing someone from our prayer bowl to pray for

9:45 am – Morning Cleaning! I assign everyone a job before they leave the table. (We still follow this format, but we no longer use a timer.)

There’s a time buffer here as well for everyone to finish getting ready for their day: brushing teeth, fixing hair, folding their laundry, making tea, etc.

10:30 am – Independent Mission Time


This is a slight change since last year, one we’re still experimenting with. The idea is for everyone to have a block of time to work on our current mission.

Of course our missions vary depending on what phase of learning we’re in:

  • Elijah (Core Phase): playing/listening to audio books (And thank God for Sparkle Stories! I couldn’t successfully homeschool without it.)
  • Jonathan & Trishna (Love of Learning Phase): reading, writing, typing or other skills learning on the computer, working on their own projects
  • Jamie (Mission Phase): Home projects or writing projects (This extra hour is coming in handy as I prepare for this excitement headed your way in the summer!)

I’m also available to the kids during this time: to help when needed, answer questions, etc.

11:30 am – I prep a snack. It’s a large one because we tend to eat lunch late. Then I call everyone for “Snack School.”

We give a short report about what we did during our mission time, and we read the Bible as well as another read-aloud.


12:15 pm – D.E.A.R: Drop Everything and Read!

I stole this idea from my own memories of 6th grade, and tweaked it to work for us. (We even have a theme song!) All of us meet in the living room after choosing a book we want to read independently.

I set a timer for 25 minutes and we read silently until it goes off. For me this is a fabulous way to take a break mid-morning and to show the kids that even Mommy prioritizes reading.

12:45 pm – One-on-One Time with Each Child

Now I spend about 30 minutes with each child. And after reading this fabulous book last year, I asked myself a question: “If each child could only study/work on ONE area for the next six months, what should it be?”

Note that I wasn’t trying to figure out ALL that my kids to be successful someday, which is a fear-producing and inexhaustible list. Instead I’m asking what they need to be passionate learners today.


Here are the current answers:

  • Trishna (12) – Language Arts (She loves creative writing & is interested in all that will help her improve: spelling, grammar, typing, handwriting, etc.)
  • Jonathan (11) – Meteorology (This boy devours all things weather-related, including college textbooks and online courses.)
  • Elijah (10) – Reading (Elijah is still working on reading fluency, so we spend time on that skill as well as making sure I read to him in areas of his interest.)

During our one-on-one time we focus mainly on the above, particularly on anything they can’t do independently.

On Friday afternoons, I also insert a cooking lesson with Trishna after I finish one-on-one time with everyone.

2:30 pm – We finish up, kids make their lunches, then bundle up and head outside to play.


At this point I may tidy up a few things, take a nap or a walk on our property, or read for a while.

4:00 pm – Usually around here the kids start filtering back inside and we’ll begin what we used to call rest time and what is now called “Afternoon Study Time.”

For the kids this looks like books, audiobooks, Lego play, playing with dolls, some computer time for the oldest two, taking showers, etc.

For me it looks like dinner making and a bit of online work.

6:00 pm – We finish our activities and finish up dinner. Steve gets home from work and we sit down to eat together.

Steve reading after dinner

After eating we have a short family reading time, then kids clean up and get ready for bed. We often watch a TV show together.

8:00 pm – Around this time, give or take, the children head upstairs. My boys still like to go to bed early (they’re early risers), so we tuck them in and turn lights off. Trishna takes her shower and stays up in her room reading until 9:30 or 10pm.

Then Steve and I enjoy our freedom to hang out together. We usually go to bed around 10ish.


Tuesdays follow more-or-less the same format in the mornings until after Snack School, when we’ll have an outing of some sort: the library, Starbucks for hot chocolate, a friend’s house for a playdate, a matinee at our local movie theater, a doctor’s appointment if necessary.

And now that Jonathan has graduated from our home cooking course, he makes dinners every Tuesday!


We’ve done homeschool co-ops in the past, but right now a winter wilderness program works beautifully for us.

It’s a drop-off program, meaning it also gives me quiet and more writing time. The kids spend five hours outside in the woods–hiking, building fires, playing games, identifying wild edibles. They love it and so do I!

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Brothers bundled up for wilderness school!

Now in case any of the above sounds dreamy or idyllic, let me issue a reality check. Some days actually are dreamy, maybe a few a month. Everyone is clearly inspired, motivated, getting along, learning.

On the rest of the days please insert a combination of the following: sibling bickering, distractions at the table, interruptions galore, discipline issues, adolescence issues, special needs issues, highly sensitive Mommy issues.

In short, it’s a messy, lovely life.

Just like yours.

How the days have changed:

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

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. Thanks for sharing! Would you mind telling more about the outdoor wilderness program? I’d love something like that for next year😊

    • Hi Martha! That’s something organized on a variety of farms here in Connecticut – if you are in CT and want to email me (jamie@simplehomeschool.net), I’ll be happy to pass on the details. It’s been a wonderful blessing for us over the past year.

  2. I loved this, thank you. Lots of good ideas. Can you tell me where you got the Daily Schedule posted after “Breakfast School,” the one on the left that looks like dry-erase? Thank you!

  3. I really love reading this series, because it gives me ideas I would have never thought of, resources I wouldn’t have known about, and also encourages me that we’re doing the ‘routine’ that’s right for us. Keep them up!
    Sarah M
    Sarah M’s latest post: A New List for a New Year // 16 in 2016

  4. This is a perfect post for me this morning! Thank you for sharing. We started a new routine today with a “morning meeting.” We’ve never taken this approach (and this is our eigth year homeschooling!) and I’m pretty excited about it. And I like the term “Breakfast School.” We’ve been trying to come up with a fun one.

  5. Would you mind sharing the movies you all enjoyed during December as a family? I am always looking to add to our list of holiday movies that we can all enjoy together. Thanks!

    • Sure, Michelle! This is our list:

      – white Christmas
      – muppets Christmas carol
      – the Christmas candle
      – it’s a wonderful life
      – the wish that changed Xmas (YouTube)
      – kids Classic Xmas cartoons
      – Charlie Brown Christmas
      – the nutcracker
      – little house Christmas episodes
      – Little Women (old version)
      – Jonathan toomey
      – how the grinch stole Christmas (original)
      – Elf
      – Miracle on 34th street (original)

  6. I love this post, Was really hoping the click to “schedule Facebook page” took me to a how to. lol But I liked your page and look forward to seeing more from you 🙂 Thanks!!
    Jen’s latest post: Recipe of the Month: Don’t Panic Pancakes!

  7. I was thinking the same thing-I was hoping the schedule facebook page would take me to a how to. I was thinking that would be really handy to know how to do. Anyway, your days sound very lovely. I do one on one time with my kiddos, too, but it often isn’t terribly planned or educational. It is usually just whatever they want to do. I will have to work on that. 🙂
    Rosanna’s latest post: Simple Homemade Body Wash or Hand Soap

    • Depending on the ages of your kids, doing whatever they want to do is perfect during one-on-one time! Really, that’s still what I’m doing–it’s just that my kids are old enough to more or less set some goals about what they want to work on.

  8. When do you do math,science(besides for Elijah) and history?

  9. Thanks for sharing! I love reading these “day in the life” posts since it makes me feel normal. Where I live sometimes I don’t feel very normal since not so many families homeschool. Its nice to see how another family lives when their kids are with them all day. I also like to see that another homeschool family has a big snack late in the morning so that lunch can be late! We do that, too, so that we can go outside after our big snack and then come in for a late lunch. Its so encouraging to see how other families schedule their homeschool days.

  10. I really like seeing how your Day-in-the-life has changed over the years. It’s nice to know that although your little kids started out playing most of the day, now they actually study! I’m looking forward to that day with my kids.

    • I know, right?! It was a grand experiment at the beginning, wondering if that transformation would happen. But I find they take that same spirit of play into their study, which is what we hoped would happen all along!

  11. I really like your idea of 30 minutes a day with each child individually. I will incorporate that. I often feel like I am always talking to the children as a group. Thanks!
    Purva Brown’s latest post: Why We Pay Our Kids to Keep Their Room Clean (and Do Other Basic Chores)

    • The kids really enjoy it, too, Purva–having that special time with Mommy set aside. For me, I find that if I don’t schedule it and mentally reserve that time for them, it’s less likely to happen. So it helps me, too!

  12. Your days sound full and comfortable and I love that you inserted the added “not always idyllic” note at the end! Yay to weekly wilderness school and Sparkle Stories!
    Nicola’s latest post: 366: 18

  13. I am a highly sensitive mama with a special needs child and what you wrote at the end was SO encouraging to me to realize yes, this is a messy beautiful life…not every day is “clock work”. I also love how you ordered the day and it gives me some encouraging ideas. THANK YOU!!

    • Oh good, Jessica. To be honest, this has been a challenging season lately in our home and I just knew if I didn’t add that at the end people would inevitably read it without that “yes, this is a real home with real issues!” perspective.

  14. I just love this series! It gives me so many awesome ideas, I love the R.E.A.D. time and breakfast school!

    We are big Sparkle Story fans too. I’m usually so tired by the end of the day that reading at bedtime is such a chore, so sometimes I chose a sparkle story and I don’t feel so guilty 🙂 And my boys LOVE them! They relate so much, and learn good lessons too. I turn the lights off, and my three year old usually falls asleep to the stories but my seven year old begs for more! 🙂
    Olivia W.’s latest post: Meal Planning Monday

  15. Jamie,
    I always get such good ideas from SH to incorporate into our homeschool days. I am currently super grateful for the concept of “bedtime math,” which we do in the morning while we’re fresh. Thank you for your years of great ideas. I always enjoy your posts for their earnestness, hopefulness, honesty and humanity.
    A question: do your kids ever offer up resistance to the homeschooling plan, and if so, then what?
    Rachel @ 6512 and growing’s latest post: eleven

    • Thanks for the encouragement, Rachel! And yes, we do have resistance sometimes. How I handle it depends on the situation. Sometimes a gentle reminder of what they would be doing if they were in a traditional school helps to put one’s perspective back where it should be. 😉

      Sometimes I try to see if they have a point and if it’s a valid one. If so, how should I adapt things? If a child can bring a worthwhile exception to the rule of our normal day and has a plan of something they intend to do instead (one that I deem appropriate), then I say why not?! When we do compasses every six months I also try to check in and see if there’s a part of our day they struggle with, touching base to see how we need to evolve. But at other times if I have a real conviction about something in our day (say, read-alouds, for example) then I will “require” participation. Hope that rambling helps a little!!

  16. Thank you for sharing your day, (ideal and realistic) I read this as my girls are playing legos and we have only done one stretch of 10 minutes of “REAL” learning for my 8 year old and NONE for my 10 year old, but that is real life and that is what they need right now. I appreciate you allowing this space for moms like me to feel OK about doing or simply allowing what is needed for the day.

    Jenny Johnston’s latest post: THE STORY WITHOUT AN ENDING

  17. I love your schedule. I especially note that it is perhaps well-tuned to an introvert mom and at least introvert-friendly kids. We have a similar tenor, even though are at the stage of young baby and toddler. Your schedule inspires me and is one I hope to refer to again as the years go on. 🙂

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