Kara’s homeschool day in the life (with a 4-, 7-, 9- & 14-year-old )

KaraFleckDITL2016_table picmo
Written by Kara Fleck

got a kick recently out of looking back at our day in the life post from a few years ago. Some things are the same, but so much is different. For one, my kids are all older and for another my husband’s sister, a special needs adult, lives with us now.

I almost don’t recognize those days from three years ago.

A homeschool day in the life 2016

To begin, I’m an early bird. I blame 5:30 swim practices from high school. My typical start time is early, and twice a week I make an effort to get up even earlier.

Are you ready for this? 4 a.m. Yes, I know. That’s crazy talk.

But it gives me a solid block of time to myself and having those two super early mornings helps me balance working from home with motherhood and school.

It also gives my husband and me a chance to talk in the mornings before he leaves for work, kind of like a standing coffee date.


My younger kids, ages 4 and 7, usually wake up around 8 a.m. and my son, who is 9, around 8:30. My teenager usually sleeps until well past nine. The goal is to have everyone fed, dressed, teeth brushed, and ready to go by 10:30 at the latest.

The three oldest kids and I work at the dining room table. But some days, depending on the level of squabbles and distractions, one kid works in the dining room, one at the kitchen table, and one in the living room.

My first- and third-graders begin with what we call morning pages – one page worksheets with a variety of short tasks like math problems, handwriting practice, and grammar. Some years I make these, but this year I am using sets from Teachers Pay Teachers.

While they are working on their morning pages, my eighth-grader is doing her free reading. She’s currently reading The Return of the King and I ask her to read at least two chapters a day.

I should back up and tell you that we use assignment notebooks, something I learned from Sarah Mackenzie. It is such a simple concept but it has made a major impact on our school days and improved my record keeping, too.


The kids are allowed to do their lessons in any order. I have one who always chooses to do their least favorite first and others who pick their favorite subjects first.

My first-grader moves on to math with my help and my third grader moves to the computer where he is using Teaching Textbooks for math.

Once she has finished her free reading, my eighth grader begins history. She has a daily reading assignment and then I ask her some questions. Today I’ve also got a Crash Course US History video for her to watch.

My third-grader still struggles with confidence in reading and also comprehension, so over the course of the day I like to assign one book he reads in his head (he just finished reading Frindle), one he reads aloud with mom (currently Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban), and then his history book I read to him.

My eighth-grader works independently through her list and my third-grader moves on to handwriting and spelling using a fun set of Star Wars themed workbooks.

While they work, I spend some one-on-one time with my first-grader. We are winding our way through The Alphabet Path. Today’s lesson is a short story, a song, and then drawing a picture to add to the booklet of letters we are making.


This morning my eighth-grader is working on economics.  She finished up the pre-algrebra math curriculum at the end of the year and while we’re saving up to purchase the next level, I’ve created a mini economics unit for her to work through.

We’re using the book Whatever Happened to Penny Candy? and also some of the videos from the Crash Course Economics series.

My first grader finishes the morning with Little Acorn Learning  and then spends some time cleaning her room. And, yes, that last task was written in her assignment notebook.

I write all the kids’ chores down, almost eliminating the need to remind and nag. Handy things, those notebooks.

My eighth-grader reads through and does the exercises in her logic book and then we take a break for lunch.


After lunch my first-grader and her little sister are off playing and my third-grader and I sit down in the living room to work through his history reading (A Child’s History of the World) and to take turns reading aloud from Harry Potter.

Aunt Angela usually sits where she can listen in. We stream the Harry Potter soundtracks on Spotify while we read.

My eighth grader is working on her Peace Hill Press writing workbook and also in her English and Grammar workbook. Then she is done for the day. She plays a few rounds of Oregon Trail on the computer and then goes to her room.

Like her mother, she is an introvert and likes downtime after school before she’s ready to socialize with everyone again.


My third-grader and I finish up with a short science lesson on herbivores, carnivores, and omnivores.

We’ve finished with lessons around 3 p.m. and the afternoon now belongs to the kids to fill as they please.

My third-grader heads to his room for the daily Lego maniac attack, my eighth-grader spends her time sketching and watching YouTube videos, and the youngest two are playing with the dollhouse. They also spend some time playing with the unexpected hit of Christmas: their small white boards and dry erase markers.


Meanwhile, this is the time of day I’m going over the lessons and also writing the kids’ assignments in their notebooks for tomorrow. I also preview any videos the kids will be watching and gather any needed craft supplies or set up any experiments.

By 4 p.m. the kids and Aunt Angela are ready for a snack and I’m ready for a hot drink and my knitting. I try to work in a little bit of housework, too.

I found this fun YouTube channel called The Glamorous Housewife who does a series called “Make It Modern” where she gives a bit of history about retro recipes and then makes them over for modern tastes. I play this little game where I watch an episode and knit and then I have to clean for an equal amount of time. It works for me.


Around 5:30 I start making dinner, and we all eat together once my husband arrives home from work. Our dinner discussion revolves around the California Gold Rush, carnivores, herbivores, and speculation about who gave Harry the Firebolt for Christmas.

Then my son and husband are out the door for taekwondo and the girls, Aunt Angela, and I clean up the dinner dishes and tidy the kitchen.

At 8:30 everyone is back home. We enter couch potato mode and watch an episode of Fixer Upper.

My seven-year-old especially loves when the couple shows off their own farmhouse, as she has been telling us for few years now that she’s going to own a farm and we can all come live there and help her take care of her animals. Sounds like a good deal to me.

Finally, it’s time for bed for this tired mama. The flip side of my early bird coin is that I don’t often make it past 9:30. The littlest girls and I head upstairs. I supervise toothbrushing and pajamas before we read and I tuck them in.

My husband and the older kids will come upstairs later, but for now they are playing Minecraft (I am thankful that my husband shares the kids’ passion for this game, because quite frankly I don’t get it, ha!)

And that, friends, is where the day ends. Thanks for reading; I’m looking forward to writing more for Simple Homeschool this year as a contributor!

How the days have changed:

Are there any other super-early risers out there? What time do you like to start your day?

About Kara

Kara is mother of four, a caregiver, and a striped sock knitter. Uncomplicated and unconventional, you can find her sharing simple living tips at K. Elizabeth Fleck.


  1. I love that I am not the only one that tries to get that early morning start at 4am – I think some people must think I am crazy, but especially with my early risers (my oldest is up by 6:30 at the latest every day), I need that extra time! I don’t understand Minecraft either, but my two oldest love it…although I’m not entirely sure they understand it either. But, they both watch these YouTube videos by someone named Stampy, and enjoy it immensely. I love the notebook idea! I have a little planner that I fill in for my oldest to use, and we have some Erin Condren checklist pages that I just incorporated and my kids love them.
    Heather’s latest post: knitting and reading

  2. Love love love this series!
    My favorite part of your story is…I don’t get minecraft either. Thankfully my children don’t seem to like it much. They prefer lego’s and Madden on the xbox. I kind of wish they did because there is so much to learn from those-oh well.
    Thanks for sharing!
    Jen’s latest post: Jen’s Homeschooling Day in the Life (With 12, and 13 yr old)

  3. I totally love this Day in the Life Series… especially how the days change when you look back. The one thing about homeschooling is that it is always changing and adapting… it really has been a meandering journey, with crazy highs and lows… and you get there just like a real life journey, folks all have to take their own routes to get there.
    se7en’s latest post: Bazillions of Bottle Top Flowers…

  4. We use Sarah’s notebook idea, too, and I also put chores in there. Anything that cuts down on harping. Plus: life skills!

    Loved this!
    Caitlin Fitzpatrick Curley’s latest post: Homeschool Science in the Early Years: 5 Ways to Keep it Fun!

  5. I would love to see a whole post about how you use the notebooks, what works for different ages, etc. I’ve recently started Bullet Journalling and love it. Your system looks like the homeschoolers extension of that.

  6. Thanks for the shout-out! Loved reading about a day in your life :). Very different from mine, but fascinating nonetheless :).

    Thanks doll,
    The Glamorous Housewife

  7. Love to see how your day works! Question about Oregon Trail… Is it playable from the site at your link? I’m on my phone so it wasn’t clear…. But I would love my kids to have access to that game! Thanks!

  8. I love these posts and also enjoy looking back at how they looked at different stages! I’m super impressed that you get up at 4am!!! I can only dream of that (wink, wink). 😉
    Johanna’s latest post: It’s okay to just be

  9. FOUR a.m.! Wow. And I thought I was getting up early at 5:30. I do love the early mornings, though, and I love the silence to get things done and thoughts thought before the day begins.
    Purva Brown’s latest post: A Homeschooling Mom’s Burnout Journal

  10. Wow! I am amazed that you get up at 4 a.m . and make it until 9:30 at night. I get up at 6 a.m. and I barely make it until 10 or 10:30. It sounds like it works well for you. I really love the silence of being alone in the mornings, too. My kids get up about 7:30 most mornings.
    Rosanna’s latest post: How I do It-House Cleaning

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