Kara’s day in the life (with an 18 month, 4, 6, and 11 year old)

DayLifeKara

Hi there! My name is Kara Fleck and I’m the editor of Simple Kids. Jamie invited me to share with you our day – what homeschooling looks like for the fifth grader, first grader, preschooler, and a toddler and for me, their work-from-home mom.

There are quite a few different “fruits” in our homeschool smoothie blend, but our main influences are Waldorf and Charlotte Mason, though we make room for some technology and other learning styles, too.

5:30 am – a peaceful beginning

I’m a morning person and I’m awake at 5:30. I get dressed and then come downstairs and shuffle around the house. I let the dog out, make myself a mug of coffee, and start getting the house ready for the day. I sit down to my desk and answer emails, edit blog posts, and do a bit of writing.  I enjoy this quiet time.

Kara_morning

Around 6:30 my oldest, Jillian, wakes up and comes downstairs where she grabs a blanket and curls up on the sofa. She plays Words with Friends to give her some spelling and vocabulary practice.  She currently has games going with me, her dad, and her Grandma.  We chat a bit but mostly she is quiet and lets me work undisturbed.

My husband brings the toddler, Amelia, down to me around 7:20. Max and Lucy, my first grader and preschooler, come downstairs soon after. Max has woken up in a sour mood and chooses to sit by himself in the living room for a while and Lucy is still very, very tired.  But, otherwise, the day has gotten off to a smooth start.

Kara_morningbedheads

7:30 a.m. – breakfast, play, and chores

At this point in the morning, after breakfast and the morning chores, Chris leaves for work and I have some free time.  I do a quick “brain dump” and make a list of what I need to get done. I send a text to a friend, send Jillian a few more Words with Friends, and another text to my husband.

The kids and I listen to music and hang out together in the living room. Yesterday we received a large package and so we have a huge box and a large, long piece of brown craft paper to play with. Jillian reads The Hobbit and I’m reading a book I’m reviewing. From time to time I have to issue a few gentle, but firm, reminders to my son about pestering his sisters.

It is Friday, our most laid back day, and also our traditional Pajama Day although Lucy, my twirly dress loving four year old, chooses to get dressed.

dayinthelife1-300x2102

Around 8:30 I turn off the music and we watch a screener of the new Wild Kratts special so that I can review it. This does wonders for Max’s attitude, and he perks up, all smiles and giggles now that we’re watching his favorite TV show.

Kara_bulletinboard

9:30 a.m. – lessons begin

I need to have a set time each day to begin lessons, otherwise time runs away from me. The rest of the day may flow freely, and usually does, but we begin lessons at 9:30 sharp each morning.

Jillian works on her math (Teaching Textbooks) while Max and Lucy head to our calendar and weather station. The toddler is happy to be along for the ride. We change the date, note the weather, and sing our morning weather song. Next, we change the number on our Valentine’s countdown (my sneaky way of getting in practice at counting backwards).

Kara_weather

While Jillian independently works on her math, Max and I sit down with his math lesson for the day. Max is working on even and odd numbers and counting by twos and by fours. We’re also doing some exploring of the four math processes.  We’re using a variety of resources for first grade math, including Oak Meadow and Arithmetic Village.

The younger two are at the table beside us coloring on the backs of scrap paper.  We’re just now getting to the point where Amelia can be reasonably trusted not to eat the crayons, so this is a big deal and keeps them occupied fairly well.

Jillian finishes up her math lesson. Normally during this time she is doing reading from her Ambleside Online reading list, and after the new year I began making a list for her of what I expect her to read during the week and she can go through the list at her own pace, as long as it is all done by Friday.

This week, she has completed all of her assigned reading for the week, so she’s taking some free reading time and, once again, picks up The Hobbit. She’s getting close to finishing, so I remind her to starting thinking about what Tell Me About Your Book project she’d like to do.

Max and I move on to his Ambleside Online reading list and our poem for the day. We work a bit on practicing reading, flipping through his poetry book, selecting stanzas to practice.  Afterward, he plays with Legos.

Kara_firstgradepoetry

Kara_Jilliansnack

11:00 am – Snack time and geography

We turn the music back on (Jillian’s choice, so the Chipettes singing covers of various pop songs) and have a quick morning snack, which Jillian makes for us from a recipe she found for graham crackers smoothies (practice reading directions, following a recipe, and measuring/fractions). While Jillian is making the snack, Max sets the table for us and pours our drinks.

We clean up snack time, run the dishwasher, and Jillian copies the recipe in the cookbook she is compiling (a year-long project) while I set up the younger three with some pieces of large craft paper and crayons on the kitchen floor.  I have them lie down and I trace each of them and have them color themselves.

Kara_kidspaper

Kara_kidspaper2

Jillian and I sit down at the computer together for US geography. We are using Road Trip USA from Confessions of a Homeschooler.  We’re in the kitchen so I can keep an eye on the little kids at the same time. We spend about an hour on the state of Maine. Jillian sends her dad a text message asking if he will help her make lobster for dinner on Saturday, keeping with our Maine studies.

12:15pm – Getting out there!

After the main bulk of our lessons are done for the day, it is a good time in the day to bundle up and head outdoors. The temperatures have been frigid and they are due to drop again, so we want to take advantage of the mild days while we can. The snow has melted, but the frigid temps have left behind ice and frost.

We spend some time exploring the January world.

Kara_outside1

Kara_outside2

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We went outdoors together, although the toddler was only happy for about fifteen minutes, so she and I headed back inside to make cocoa and get started on lunch and wait for the big kids to come inside.  We cuddle and giggle and watch them through the window.

12:45 pm – Lunch and “Science Friday”

After a warming lunch of grilled cheese and tomato soup, we start on our theme lessons. We have themed days of the week, where we explore a topic as a family and have a fun movie and/or activity to go with it.

  • Monday – music, Bible, cooking & baking
  • Tuesday – world geography, painting
  • Wednesday – botany (fifth grader), language arts, coloring
  • Thursday – US history, handwork
  • Friday – science, practical life

Today is Friday, so it is Science Friday (yes, we took the name from the popular podcast). We all move into the living room where we watch an episode of The Magic School Bus on rot and compost.

Afterward, we head back into the kitchen and gather up an orange, a banana, a lemon, and a kiwi to set up a little experiment on rot of our own. We put each piece of fruit on a paper plate and set it up in the garage, where we will wait for the rot to begin.  We’ll be checking in on this for a few weeks.

Kara_rotexperiment

After tidying up our work area,  while listening to the Science Friday podcast, the kids are officially done with lessons for the week (though I honestly believe that learning happens all the time).

2:30 pm – Quiet time for the little kids

By now, the toddler is (more than) ready for a nap and I am (more than) ready for some quiet time myself. I set my four year old up with some music and her blanket on our bean bag upstairs in the loft playroom. I rock the toddler until she falls asleep and I put her down for a nap. Meanwhile, the bigger kids are downstairs. Max cuts out his paper outline of himself (“a giant paper doll ME!”) and Jillian is playing Angry Birds.

Kara_Maxdoll

With the toddler asleep and the preschooler having quiet time, I scurry around the house getting some housework done. Next I put on my writer hat, checking in on the SK facebook page, answering some comments on the blog, and writing up our Wild Kratts review. I also grab my phone and send Jillian some more Words with Friends.

3:00pm – Mom’s break time

At 3:00 time stops. Just kidding. But, Max’s favorite PBS show comes on (I’ll give you two guesses which one). Lucy joins him on the sofa and they watch the show together. Jillian reads her book. I start some pizza dough in the bread machine and then sit down to knit and listen to a podcast, savoring the quiet and putting my feet up while I can.

4:30 pm – Dinner prep and paperwork

All three big kids have ended up in the library/school room, sitting around the table playing with the Legos. I sit down at my desk to review our week, sketch out some plans for next week, and update our attendance form. I sneak in a bit more blog work, mostly behind-the-scenes things, outline some posts for next week, and check things off of my list until a glance at the clock tells me I’d better get going on dinner.

I start dinner and Jillian joins me. We work side by side, cleaning up the kitchen as we go. Once Amelia wakes up, she hangs out with us in the kitchen. We listen to music and get the fixings ready for homemade pizzas.

Kara_kiwicrate

5:45pm – Daddy’s home

Christopher is home. The kids are thrilled, as always, to see their dad and they rattle off the details of their day in rapid fire succession.

To my surprise, Chris has walked in the door with … pizza! Great minds think alike!

We spend the rest of the evening together as a family, having what we call our Friday Night Nest – eating pizza and making and playing a board game together (from our latest Kiwi Crate kit).

And that, my friends, was a Friday in our homeschooling household. Tomorrow is Saturday. I’m sleeping in!

How does the end of your homeschool week differ from the beginning? Do you teach any subjects to multiple ages at once?  If you’re a work-from-home parent who homeschools, how do you make your schedule work?

About Kara

Kara is the editor of Simple Kids. She balances life as a mother of four with writing and homeschooling.

Comments

  1. Thanks for sharing! I currently have a pre-school aged son and 4 month old and I’m strongly considering the homeschooling route, it’s nice to see how it works for others :)
    Olivia’s latest post: this is love

  2. I love this! As a new homeschooler to an 8 yr old, a 5 yr old, a 3 yr old and an 8 month old, I love the way you include all of your kids in the school day. It just seems like such a warm, loving environment. And I’m all about pajama Fridays! :-)
    Stacy’s latest post: Entertainment Coupons

  3. Oh I love this series!!! I love the photos of your kids working away and it is so good to see how every school is so wonderfully unique!!!
    se7en’s latest post: Se7en’s Scientific Method… At Last We Have One…

    • Thank you! I wish they would let me show photos of their actual work and projects, but both of my bigger kids prefer that I don’t. Which, I’m okay with and totally understand, but I always like to see what other kids our ages are doing, too :-)
      Kara @SimpleKids.net’s latest post: A day in the life

  4. I love to see what other homeschooling families do all day. I have a 5th grader and a 1st grader. Our week always starts out strong, peaks on Wednesday, when we have main lessons at home and music lessons in town and then dragging ourselves through Thursday until we can get to Friday! YAY! which is today. This is my planning, catch up, craft and baking day. Great post Kara.

    PS Time stops at 3pm at our house too! Cuppa for mom and snacks for the boys.
    sheila’s latest post: Habit: Reflective Friday

    • That sounds similar to our weeks: it seems like Monday – Wednesday are super long, busy days … and then we wind down the week, sometimes spilling over into the weekend. Isn’t it nice to be able to work on our own schedules? :-)

      I’m glad you understand the 3pm stop time ;-)
      Kara @SimpleKids.net’s latest post: A day in the life

  5. Fridays are my favorite. The bulk of our work is done- the 2 oldest may just have a few things to finish up. We have a piano teacher that comes to our house to teach the 4 oldest kids. Everyone folds their own laundry (that had been washed Tues-Thurs) and puts it away. That’s our morning. Every 3 weeks we have an afternoon coop with 4 other families, but the other weeks we do an art project and sometimes some lapbooking to go with our history studies. I usually give the kids more play time and I get in some knitting time :)

  6. I love this series. Thanks for sharing this, Kara! It’s so helpful to see the many different ways that other families are making homeschooling work for them.

    It sounds like my 5-year-old Lucy has a lot in common with your 4-year-old Lucy :)
    Anne @ Modern Mrs Darcy’s latest post: My Whole 30 Is Over. I Feel Amazing. It’s Complicated.

  7. I love all of the ice pictures. What a wonderful day you all had.
    Blessings, Dawn

  8. Can I come over? Sounds lovely…
    Stacey’s latest post: Reading as a Refuge

  9. Love, love, love this! We also do Friday night family nights and it’s a special tradition. I really like your theme days. I think I might implement a variation of that.

    Love this series. So fun (and helpful!) to have a peak into everyone’s days!
    Johanna @ My Home Tableau’s latest post: be still

    • It has been really helpful for me to have the theme days and I know the kids have come to count on them, too. It takes a little extra planning to make sure I’ve got something that appeals across the ages/grades … but it has been worth it to see the family style learning in action and the way the kids teach each other, too, especially listening in on my oldest working with the younger kids on those theme days – gives me a good idea what she’s really learning and comprehending during our studies.

      Thanks for your kind words! :-)
      Kara @SimpleKids.net’s latest post: A day in the life

  10. kara, thanks for sharing this! so helpful, especially with some of our kiddos being close in age. i am especially interested in looking through the curriculum links you posted. i’m really loving this series, jamie!
    Jess @ If Only They Would Nap’s latest post: The Grandpa Inspired Look – sewing along with PR&P’s boy week

  11. What a lovely and peaceful homeschool! Sounds like you have a wonderful rhythm to your days. Thanks for the reminder of the Elizabeth Foss’s post on The Storybook Year…just printed out the Tell Me About Your Book list. Great resource!
    Aimee’s latest post: The Sustainable Homeschool

  12. Oh, Kara. I love this. What a warm, gentle day! I love how you have some great structure in there blended with some truly free time. That sounds just like how I would ideally do things. I also loved the peek at how you manage all the blog/writing up-keep while homeschooling. Good, good stuff, mama!
    Megan at SortaCrunchy’s latest post: Your Green Resource – Week Sixty-Nine

    • Thank you, Megan! That means quite a bit to me coming from you, friend :-)
      Some days are gentler and more peaceful than others, of course. If Max had stayed in his sour mood last Friday, this would have been quite a different post indeed! ;-)
      Kara @SimpleKids.net’s latest post: A day in the life

  13. That was really lovely. I love the gentle structure of your day with book work and outside time and together time. And I also SO appreciate how you shared your quiet time, your need for it and your discipline in getting up early.
    Breanne :: This Vintage Moment’s latest post: On Being An Awesome Mom

    • Oh, quiet time, it vital isn’t it? The days I skip it, I regret it. I tried to be a night owl but it just doesn’t work for me. I need as much sleep on this side of midnight as I can get. Early mornings are my time :-)

      Thanks for your kind words!
      Kara @SimpleKids.net’s latest post: A day in the life

  14. What a wonderful peek!! It is great to see how your rythm works though the day, and I found a couple things I think we’ll try! Plus it is really nice to see how you get a little technology in without it being too much, something we are struggling with as our kids get older…such a tightrope we homeschooling families walk!
    Thanks!!

  15. It is always so wonderful to get a little glimpse into other people’s days! I am a WAHM, and future HSing mama, to three Little Ones (4.5, and 1 year old B/G twins) so seeing how other mamas juggle work and home schooling is both inspiring and reassuring.
    Becky, aka SimplyBurbs Mama’s latest post: Food Waste Friday! Breaking Some Eggs … Metaphorically!

  16. This is so encouraging, Kara. I love the warmth of your day and how each child has learning incorporates throughout. Reminds me of growing up homeschooling and also give me inspiration for exactly the kind of days I would like to shape in our homeschool week.

    I’m starting out, with a 5 and 3 year old and another on the way… and I especially identified with your relaxed approach but needing to start by a certain time and hit various routine points though the day. We aren’t doing much yet, but if I don’t get going within some structure, we don’t end up doing anything at all!

    Thanks for sharing!

    • Thank you for your nice words! Some days flow more smoothly than others, for sure.

      The 9:30 start time was a lesson I learned last year after the new baby came. If I didn’t set a time, before I knew it it would be 2 in the afternoon and I’d still be blurry eyed, baby on my hip, in my bathrobe, the kids running wild ;-) (how I wish that was an exaggeration)
      Incidentally, the other lesson I learned last year was to be gentle with time – that it is okay to be more relaxed and somehow it still all gets done. If the school week flows into the weekend, so be it. If we need a once a week pajama day (and we do at our house) so be it. If we school year round to get our required days in, that’s okay, too.

      Somehow it all works out in the end :-)
      Kara @SimpleKids.net’s latest post: A day in the life

  17. In a lot of ways, your day sounds similar to ours. I have a second grader, kindergartener, preschooler, and toddler. We also don’t get started on our “school day” until later in the morning. I have found that my kids just don’t do well if we try to start earlier. Like you, I firmly believe that learning happens all the time, not just during “school time.”
    I think there are some definite take-aways here – we have a theme day on Fridays but it sounds like a good plan to have theme days every day. thank you for sharing your day!
    Jeanette’s latest post: Joys of Autism: Friendship

    • Yes, my kids are not morning people. I need that time, too. Honestly, I wouldn’t be able to write or work if I don’t have that chunk of time alone in the early a.m.

      And, in my experience, trying to get them up and ready to start the school work part of our day before they have had a chance to eat, play, and really wake up doesn’t work out. It ends up being frustrating for all of us.
      The theme days have been nice for us. I’d love to hear how it goes for you if you give it a try :-)
      Kara @SimpleKids.net’s latest post: A day in the life

  18. Kara, this post was so fascinating to read! I didn’t homeschool as a kid, so the SLM perspective has always been so engaging.
    Katie’s latest post: {Right Now} – Day of the Week Stickers – $3.00

  19. Thanks for sharing your Fridays! All the details are really helpful for me, a seat-of-my-pants (but trying not to be…) person. Can I ask, though? How many hours per day do you put into the blog? I’m trying to figure out a workable work schedule. For my design, I really need 3-4 hours per day. I’ve been working from 9pm – 1am lately, but sometimes it turns into 2am or 3am…and then I don’t get up until 8, which throws everything else off. :( When, during the week, do you do “business” besides that little window in the afternoon?
    Jeni’s latest post: 12 Best Time Management Tips for Bloggers

    • PS – I just ordered the book set from Arithmetic Village, and Kim noted on my invoice that we’re the first ever orders from Alabama. :) These look AMAZING!

    • Jeni, I don’t know if it was clear in my post or not, but I get the bulk of my work done from about 5:30 to 7:30-8:00(ish) every morning, sometimes on Saturdays, too. I’m up early before the kids on purpose, and my kids are generally late risers, so this is what works for me during this season of life.

      I try to get in *at least* two hours a day in the morning and then use a little bit of time in the afternoon for lighter things (like answering emails, commenting, etc) but the serious work/writing happens in the morning. So, when you add in those (vital to me) hours in the morning and the catch-as-catch-can in the afternoon, I’m averaging 3 to 4 hours a day M-F and sometimes on Saturdays, too.

      I’m also in the habit of getting out of bed when I wake up, so if I’m awake at 4:30 (yes, it happens) I go ahead and rise and get started on my day. I know that doesn’t work for everyone (I’m a morning person by nature) but it works for me.

      Sometimes I might have a conference call, meeting, or interview during the day, too (which I try to schedule for late afternoons/nap time) and once a month we have SLM meetings over Skype which take around 2 hours. But, that isn’t a day to day thing, so I can be flexible.

      Does that help explain it a little better? I know my early hours won’t work for everyone, but they do for me :-)
      Kara @SimpleKids.net’s latest post: A day in the life

  20. If I could recreate your day in my own family (on a consistent basis) I think I’d be perfectly happy. :) Thank you for the peek into your life – it has given me some new ideas and things to work toward!

  21. I love that Jillian is working on a cookbook. Tell her she rocks!
    Great post, mama!
    Aimee @ Simple Bites’s latest post: How to make Roasted Brown Chicken Stock (and young love in the summer)

  22. This was so neat to read! I am amazed that you can juggle homeschool, little ones and work. I hope to homeschool and this was such an inspiration. I bet it’s fun to learn (or revisit) subjects right alongside the kids.
    Mel@TheDizzyMom’s latest post: The ABC’s of Mama Survival: P-T

  23. Hi! I read this blog often and have been reading these “day in the life of…” posts recently. Yours struck me immediately as I sound similar to you and your homeschool philosophies! I also have four children, but am new to homeschooling as my oldest is only 6. Love the flow of your week and loved that you shared it with us! How are you liking Oak Meadow and the Arithmetic Village by the way? Would love to get someone else’s opinion on them… I am thinking of ordering them both. Thanks so much! Really enjoyed reading your post!

  24. Blessed Mom says:

    Thank you for this. I have 6, 4, and 2 and I am really struggling to keep the 2 year old occupied during our homeschool time. He wants to be with us, but is a huge distraction. I spend a lot of time very frustrated. It’s nice to see what activities other families do.

  25. I homeschool my 2 sons ages 15(9th grade) and 6(kidergarden)
    6:00am- I am up now, pray, do luandry and work out.
    6:30am- My husband leaves for work, my younger son wakes up
    7:00am- I have finished breakfast with my younger son, I get some work in early while he plays
    7:30am My older son wakes up, gets dressed and eats breakfast
    8:00am My older son starts school, my younger son gets dressed reculacantly
    8:45am My younger son and I start school, he does FIAR
    11:30am My younger son finishes school, we eat lunch
    12:00pm I help my older son with science
    12:45pm My older son finishes up school, my younger son plays, I work
    2:00pm My older son finishes school, the boys play outside
    4:00pm I finish work, become chuafer(M-basketball, T- piano lessons, W-basketball Th- choir F- library)
    5:30 Back from activies, start dinner
    6:00pm My husband comes home
    6:20pm We eat dinner
    7:00pm Bible time
    8:15pm My younger son’s bedtime
    9:15pm My older son’s bedtime
    11:00pm My husband and mine bedtime

  26. I love the paper taped to the floor. Going to do that. I also find the water game (a few dishes of water with several implements all on towels) a great toddler activity when I must have someone elses attention! Also I haven’t seen the geography cd before. Very interesting! We emigrated from the States to Canada and I would like to cover both heavily but am daunted and looking for resources.

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