Jamie’s Homeschool Day in the Life (with a 6, 7, & 8-year-old)

Written by Jamie Martin, editor of Simple Homeschool and founder of Steady Mom

When I wrote about my homeschool day last year, I had no idea that by January 2012 we would have moved to our dream house in the country.

My–how one year can change everything. I now find my children, inching ever so slowly, through the phases of learning–moving gradually from Core Phase into Love of Learning.

We have plenty of days when everything seems to fall apart. You know the ones.

But we also have golden moments, when magic happens, connections are made, and my heart swells as I think, “It’s working! It’s really working!”

This is the joy and wonder of the homeschooling lifestyle.

What follows are the nuts and bolts of how that joy and wonder play out in our home.

An Overview of Our Day

These times are all approximate–the day generally flows from one activity to another and things happen when they happen, usually around the following times:

6:15 – I’m up to do blogging work and prepare for the day
8:20 – Kids come out of their rooms, get dressed, & have breakfast while I read to them
9:00 – Learning time–I spend some one-on-one time with each child
10:30 – Snack and stories
11:00 – Kids watch video while I write
12:00 – Prepare lunch, eat, I read from our current chapter book
1:00 – Free play, outside time, more learning time as needed
2:30 – Snack and prepare for rest time; Rest time in rooms for kids/I read, study, and write (& rest!)
4:00 – Rest time finished; all head downstairs for a snack
4:30 – Free play time and begin to prepare dinner
5:20 – Kids listen to Sparkle Stories while I continue dinner prep and chat with Steve (They used to watch another video here, and I’m thrilled to have found such a wonderful alternative!)
6:00 – Dinner as a family
6:30 – Dinner clean-up, begin baths, family time, kids go completely crazy time, and so on
7:30 – Bedtime story
8:00 – Kids to bed, Steve and I congratulate ourselves for making it through another day

Weekly Rhythms

Mondays – Yes Day
Tuesdays – Baking Day
Wednesdays – Class Day (The kids take a class at a local Waldorf school.)
Thursdays – Cleaning Day (more on this soon)
Fridays – Nature Day (We try to take a hike or go to a park after lunch.)

Each item on our list is there for a reason, and fits within a few guiding principles upon which we build our educational philosophy.

Here is a snapshot of those principles:

1. Learning can happen anywhere and anytime…if we don’t stifle it.

I am always on the lookout for an opportunity to inspire, and though you don’t see it on my schedule, inspiration is the glue that holds our homeschool day together.

School time doesn’t only happen at one time in the day–school time is the day. Whenever the desire to learn appears, we roll with it, following where it leads.

2. Nature inspires learning and curiosity.

A year ago my kids spent time outside every day, but not as much as they do now. A year ago, we lived in the suburbs.

Today our backyard looks like this:

Time spent outside is not time wasted. Every moment spent there inspires, encourages, and builds a foundation for learning.

Some life lessons, perhaps the most important ones, can best be discovered under open sky.

3. Read, read, read.

Chewing mouths provide a captive audience. I take advantage of that fact by reading aloud to the children at breakfast, morning snack, and lunch times.

We get through a lot of books this way, which builds attention span, increases vocabulary, and contributes toward a love of learning.

4. Me, not them.

This is one of the seven keys of great teaching in leadership education, and I take it to heart. My kids often see me with book in hand, and as they get older, I try to share more and more of what I’m personally learning. I want to serve as a model, a mentor.

Within every aspect of our day, I keep in mind that relationships matter most. They open the door to the mind…or slam doors shut.

I am the key to nurturing these bonds in ways that strengthen instead of tear apart. As I make that my focus, I find that all the pieces of our day line up…with a little dose of magic sprinkled in to add joy and wonder.

Any questions about our day or why we do what we do? Ask away!

About Jamie Martin

Jamie is a mama to three cute kids born on three different continents. She serves as editor of Simple Homeschool, and blogs about mindful parenting at Steady Mom. Jamie is also the author of two books: Steady Days and Mindset for Moms.

Comments

  1. Kika says:

    I love that everything in your day seems so purposeful – so well thought out. I am definitely at the stage, with my oldest two kids, where I want them to see me studying, working hard at things I care about – even failing at times as long as I’m trying-and pursuing my passions. I want them to know that parenthood does not mean shelving your brains or personal interests.

  2. LizInScotland says:

    Thank you for sharing this, Jamie. For me, the fact that you make time for your own writing, reading and rest really stood out as I struggle to incorporate any of that in my day. Your approach is so balanced and refreshing! Thanks again :)

  3. Heidi says:

    Thanks for this post. It’s amazing how little time we have to devote to studies when we are intentional about spending focused time with our kids. I like the writing time that you have fit in too.
    Heidi’s latest post: Wright Brothers Museum

  4. I started to read to the kids while they were eating starting at 6 months old. Now when I try to eat along with the kids during lunch, they demand a book instead! Sometimes we’ll even do an experiment together or play a game, too. Lunch is usually an hour to an hour and a half affair! It’s something I never have to ask them to do and that they look forward to each day. If we’re out during lunch, we usually have this time over a snack later in the day. It works really well for us.
    Christina @Interest-Led Learning’s latest post: Creating a System for Adventure: Building a Master Calendar

    • Jamie says:

      Yes, that’s funny! It’s like, “When are moms supposed to eat?!!”

    • Jill says:

      I loved this idea. I never really though of reading to them while they were eating! My twins were preemies and eating was such a big deal when they were small (had to be quiet so they could focus and try to get them to eat a certain amount of calories, etc..) But now they are almost 4 and eat like little horses! LOL So this would be a great idea for us … especially since they still are very slow eaters so I’d get an hour of read-a-loud time in :)

      • My twins were premmies,too. They’ve never been good eaters, and even now at almost six year old, it’s like pulling teeth to get them to eat! That’s why it works good to read and do things during lunch. After a while, I think they just start putting food in their mouths without realizing it while they listen to the story!
        Christina @Interest-Led Learning’s latest post: The Key to Your Child’s Heart

  5. What a great plan for a day! Our day is not nearly as structured; probably the opposite, but I think I may try to make it more structured (this is our first year homeschooling).

    How do you get your kids to stay in their rooms in the morning until 8:20am?! My kids are up between 6 and 7 every morning.

    I see you have some Charlotte Mason and Waldorf books. I have just joined a CM “support group” for homeschoolers and love Waldorf. Is there one method you use more than the other? (Oh, and thanks for the Sparkle link! We are big into audio books here, too.)

  6. Leigh says:

    So nice to see the rhythm of your day. I’m always amazed at how simple it looks when written down, but how much energy goes into it behind the scenes (I mean this about every one not just you!) I’m curious about a lot of things, but I’ll try to narrow it down to 2. 1)How does the class at the Waldorf School work? Were they already set up for it, or did you come to them with an idea? There is a fabulous Waldorf school near us and I’ve always been curious about figuring out something with them. 2) I would love suggestions for creating rest time with older kids. I lost it when the older 2 stopped napping and I’m having a hard time getting it back. Specific step by step ideas would be nice :)

    • Jamie says:

      The Waldorf school had already started this enrichment class for homeschoolers, but I had every intention of asking them and volunteering to be a part of organizing it if needed. So it might be worth getting in touch with your local school!

      We have always done rest time, so it’s an easy part of our routine now…for the most part. I would present it as something you’re going to try now–then start with short amount of times and lengthen as you go along. When it becomes a habit, it won’t seem as difficult anymore. Hope that helps!

  7. Kathy says:

    Thank you so much for sharing. I love the calendar/weather/day chart at the top of your post! Can you please share whether it was something you made or where it was purchased? Thank you in advance!

  8. Suzanne says:

    Did you make your calendar? I love it!! If not, where did you buy it. I’m enjoying reading alll of your experiences in homeschooling. We have a 4.5 year old adopted daughter from Taiwan, and plan on homeschooling her. I have been working with her a lot this year and she is doing so well!! I get a lot if negative responses to our homeschool choice, but, have to do what we feel is best for her, and of course, what God wants us to do. We have 3 older adult children, so having a little ne around is quite interesting for us!!! God has a sense of humor!!!!

  9. Thank you so much for the Sparkle Stories link! I agree…it sounds like a great alternative! I love seeing your daily schedule and how natural rhythms are built in to it. One thing I want to do now is to look into Waldorf schools that may be in our area. Thank you again for all of these fabulous ideas.
    Andrea @ Frugally Sustainable’s latest post: Day 4: Reducing Household Bills

  10. Amy Hunter says:

    It’s so encouraging to see your schedule written out and how it’s working for you. I have a very similar schedule written down on paper and are going to be starting to follow it this week. I’m excited to watch how our girls (ages 6 & 3) do with a regular “schedule”. I’ve never heard of Waldorf before, but it sounds like I should look into it, after reading positive comments about it. Thanks Jamie!

  11. Hannah says:

    I love posts like this that balance the visionary and the practical. Thanks Jamie!

    Question: where in your day/week do you fit in running errands and extracurricular activities such as sports, music, or just meeting up with friends? Or are you pretty self-contained, besides the Waldorf thing? I do love the idea of having lots of space to roam, and lots of home time, but I know that for me personally, it’s nice to have thngs built in to our week that not only support my kids’ holistic development, but also guarantee that I, their mother, will be interacting with other adults in real life. :-)’
    Hope you don’t mind my asking. I know different people strike a different balance.
    Hannah’s latest post: A Photo A Day … Or Something Like That

    • Jamie says:

      We usually save errands for the weekend, and my husband and I will split them between the two of us. We also use Amazon a lot. =)

      The kids’ Waldorf class is their only extracurricular for now. We meet up with friends for playdates either here or somewhere else as well–not on a schedule, but just when it comes up and we want to. I also meet up with friends on an evening for coffee at times. I’m an introvert, so don’t need as much out time as others might. This works perfectly for us, for now!

  12. sarah says:

    yes, where did you get the daily calendar? love that it’s cloth :) great post too! congrats on the dream house- yay!

  13. Corli says:

    I enjoyed this post – we also moved to a cottage in the woods recently and as I type my four (age 2 to 10) are playing outside. Hurray!! I found your post helpful in seeing a way forward in allowing lots of outside time for them and still be able to work in some headspace/rest time for me – thanks for sharing!
    Corli’s latest post: of Mary on Christmas day

  14. Gabriela says:

    What a great post!
    Thanks for the reading while eating idea. I’ve been thinking of ways of getting an earlier start, and taking advantage of breakfast would totally work for us.
    Gabriela’s latest post: 120 days

  15. Shelley R. says:

    Thank you for the little peek into your day :) Mostly, I’m curious about the infusion of stories through the day. I’ve never considered reading aloud during snack time, what a great solution! Our kids (7,6, and almost 5) are just beginning reading to themselves for joy (minus the youngest) and some days I find that my voice becomes sore from reading so much aloud for our ‘school’ stories. I adore the time shared, and we do utilize audio books. But somedays, I only observe wiggles and stares. Do you ever observe narration burn-out in yourself or your children? Do you ever drop books simply because there’s no vitality in the story?

    • Hi Shelley–great questions! Yes, I know what you mean about the sore throats. I find that spreading our stories out this way actually helps me with that. And storytime isn’t always full of bliss around here. Sometimes it is also full of reminders about being quiet, please don’t bang on the table, if you don’t want to listen go elsewhere, and so on.

      I don’t force narration because I don’t like the deer in the headlight looks. But we have plenty of it naturally when thoughts just spring to life…I like that better. And if we’re reading a chapter book, sometimes I’ll ask one child to remind us of what happened in the previous chapter. We stop reading books all the time if we’re not really into it.
      Jamie ~ Simple Homeschool’s latest post: Jamie’s Homeschool Day in the Life (with a 6, 7, & 8-year-old)

  16. Danna says:

    It IS so lovely to peek in homeschooling windows! ;) We have also found our way from more CM to more waldorf/TJed…. I’d love to hear more about what your doing with that! And it is nice to hear others mixing them all together too!
    Thanks!!

  17. “This is one of the seven keys of great teaching in leadership education, and I take it to heart. My kids often see me with book in hand, and as they get older, I try to share more and more of what I’m personally learning. I want to serve as a model, a mentor.”

    Love this. Seeing mom (and dad) getting excited about learning is a huge motivator. :)
    e-Expeditions’s latest post: Quizlet

  18. Jess says:

    Hello, I am a faithful reader but rare commenter . .. just have to tell you that I have tried, and tried, (and tried . ..) to find a workable schedule for us that can include enough reading time and my writing time (this is the thing that falls off because I cannot find a reasonable space to put it in) . . . your day is such an a-ha moment for me! I love the idea of reading during meals! And to give the kids an hour of t.v. time before lunch would fit just right. I also like all of the snack breaks you have, as sometimes I forget that my kids are hungry . . . my only glitch is getting them to cooperate for quiet time- it just never seems to work and ends up being more stressful for me (or waking the baby). Any ideas?
    Jess’s latest post: the not-so favorite

  19. Cou says:

    We have taken a more casual attitude toward homeschooling this year and while it’s been working for us I am frequently second guessing myself. I always feel better after reading your blog! Thank you for letting us peek into your family’s day and giving some of us the reassurance we need.
    I love your weekly rhythms and am going to set up a version for my family to try.

  20. Sara says:

    Hooray for rest time!! It’s great to see another homeschooling family incorporating rest time during the afternoon.
    Sara’s latest post: Sea of Galilee

  21. I loved this post! I like the mix….it is sort of like what I do too!
    Martha Artyomenko’s latest post: The Accidental Bride by Denise Hunter

  22. Diane says:

    Do you have suggestions for reading at Lunch time to preschoolers? The kids and I read picture books meant for 3-5 yr olds many times throughout the day. But these books encourage active reading, with the kids pointing at the pictures, turning pages and getting very physically involved with the book. While this fabulous while curled up on the couch or sprawled out on the floor, it’s not so good for sitting at the table with cups of milk and plates of food in front of a couple of 3 yr olds ;) What books did you read during lunch when your kids were smaller?
    Thanks, I love this idea and would love to make this a regular part of our day!
    Diane’s latest post: Laugh When You Can

  23. Jen says:

    Jamie, I was wondering about the Sparkle Stories and what ages they are for. I have a 2, 4 and almost 6 year old and I really like the sounds of using the Sparkle Stories for them. Are they appropriate for young children? (preschool/ kindergarten?)

  24. Steph says:

    I saw this post last night and read to my daughter at lunchtime today. Normally she is so wiggly that meals become a battle but today she simply ate and listened. Thanks for the great idea.
    Steph’s latest post: "Normal"

  25. Danielle says:

    Thanks for the post! Very informative to say the least! Just one question: I see you mentioned “TJEd” as one of your homeschooling methods/philosophy. What is that? Thanks!

  26. Thanks Jamie for giving us a peek into your homeschooling world. I pick up a great idea or two almost every time you share! Like a lot of others noted, I love the idea of reading to the kids while they’re eating — captive audience! I tend to write at night because I’m not a morning person, but I’m realizing that’s not fair for my hubby, who usually wants to spend time with me at that point. So writing while the kids are doing something like a video is a great idea.

    And like everyone else, I love that calendar! Gotta get my hands on one! :)
    Renee Gotcher’s latest post: Ask a NextGen Homeschooler: What About Socialization?

  27. Ahhhh. That looks so simple and calm and beautiful, Jamie. Nothing, and I mean NOTHING like what a day at our house looks like. ;-P
    Heidi @ Mt Hope’s latest post: A Day in the Life ~ January 2012

  28. Myah says:

    I was JUST going to email you and request the rhythm of your day!! :)
    You inspire me. Thank you for keeping up with your writing. I limit my blog reading to just a few, and I rarely skip a post of yours. :)

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