Kari’s homeschool day in the life (with a 7- and 10-year-old)

Written by Kari Patterson

Sometime around 7 they shuffle out, sleepy-eyed, their pajama-pants falling mid-shin, reminding me how fast they’re growing up. But we still snuggle.

They find me in my favorite chair, the big one with room for a little beside me and another on my lap. I slide my Bible to the side, set my coffee down, and gather them up, pushing back the blanket so they can crawl beneath. I kiss their cheeks, right next to their mouths so I can breathe in their morning breath. I’m weird like that, I love their smells.

Thus begins our day.

After snuggling, we read the Bible together, pray, and move toward (maybe) getting dressed. I admit sometimes when it’s cold, we might linger longer in our jammies, or upgrade only slightly, to sweatpants.

We have our bells, to keep us moving, because otherwise we’d likely stay in that chair ‘til noon! These “bells” are just alarms set on my phone, with pleasant sounds the kids picked out for each activity. There’s Bible/pray, then get dressed, then breakfast, then brush teeth.  Though I love lingering, the bells remind me there’s a good, full day ahead, so let’s begin.

We start slowly. After breakfast the kids do their few chores, and I mine. (I use this personalized Cleaning Schedule for myself, and these Day Plan lists for the kids’ chores and lessons.) At 9:30 the piano bell plays on my phone. We’ve been using the online Piano for All program, learning together. We go slowly, only a lesson or two a week, and the kids have 10-20 minutes each to practice. (This is Dutch’s Beethoven face.)

After piano is art (I told you we ease into our day!), which takes many forms. They can draw, study an art book, color or paint, do a craft, pretty much anything creative. It transitions them into seatwork, and focuses their minds a bit.

Sometimes my son will type stories on his typewriter (yes, he loves his typewriter), which is fine with me.

After all this ease, we tackle math. Heidi usually breezes through it, Dutch still sometimes begins with utter overwhelm, but as long as I sit down beside him, and stay beside him, we’re good. More often than not he picks up on concepts quickly, he just has to fight the initial feelings of overwhelm.

Overall, I’m pleased with Singapore Math and find it does a great job teaching concepts and requiring students to practice several methods of performing the same operations. I like that, since some naturally appeal to me, but often a different one appeals to Dutch.

After math we do language, which includes literature, spelling, hand-writing, and grammar. Literature is, quite simply, reading literature. Right now for Dutch that is Tolkien, Lewis, or MacDonald. Heidi reads these delightful abridged Shakespeare plays, or other easy-reader books.

We use the Spelling Workout books, although I still see some significant gaps. Interestingly, Dutch reads voraciously, and can ace any spelling test where he sees the words spelled out and must choose the correct/incorrect one. But if I say a word aloud and ask him to spell it from memory, he’s lost. This is convenient for State-testing but not for living.

Heidi, on the other hand, reads less and has a harder time picking an incorrect word from a list, but can phonetically figure out how to spell most words. So, the two are quite different, and I figure that with enough practice they’ll both be fine.

For hand-writing, both kids are doing Handwriting Without Tears cursive now. Heidi’s penmanship is near-perfect, where Dutch has a difficult time with fine-motor skills, and no matter how carefully he copies, it still looks sloppy. Again, I’m unconcerned. My dad, brother, and husband, all have terribly penmanship and are successful, well-adjusted human beings. I think he’ll be okay.

First Language Lessons Grammar is pretty basic. I like the book because it takes zero brainwork on my part, and the memorization makes it simple to remember grammatical rules and parts of speech.

After grammar the kids love to announce, “Yay! Now we’re done with school!” even though we still have Story of the World to do. For them this part is dessert. They’ve finished their scholastic spinach, so to speak, and now we get the sweet treat of history, told through narrative.

I admit, it’s my favorite part too.

The kids scurry to grab their notebooks, filled with the Activity Pages, pre-copied and ready to color or fill-out. They listen along and color the maps, figures, and illustrations.

We’re doing all 4 books this year, a bird’s-eye view, two chapters each day. My plan is then to come back, and more slowly study each era, adding activities and additional reading.

But this year it’s fun to just fly over and watch the whole thing unfold. We just left Napoleon exiled on Elba and Simon Bolivar leading a revolution in Peru.

I cannot overstate how much my kids love Story of the World, and how much I have learned from reading it aloud. I was never good at history, but this curriculum has given me a love for the subject, and at least a surface understanding of major events. I also love how the author often narrates through the eyes of individuals, helping us have a more compassionate view of those involved. Seeing the complexities of situations allows the reader to empathize with everyone involved, rather than simply villainizing one side and heroizing (is that a word?) the other.

Lunch was in there somewhere too, whenever we’re hungry. We usually finish all this around 1, at which time we head outside.

I do my exercising, a brisk walk, then at 2 p.m. I take my shower (a welcomed comfort and break after a full few hours of instruction and interaction), then take from 2:30-4 p.m. for writing, speaking-prep, and online work. At 4 we tidy up the house, finish any chores, sometimes read aloud again, then begin making dinner and getting ready for whatever the evening holds. Our days are quiet but most evenings are full, so I try to have our loose-ends tied up before dinner.

For dinner, we still follow our very simple meal-schedule. My goal this year is to also have the kids make our meal one day a week. As of right now Heidi’s would be homemade bread and spinach, and Dutch’s would be popcorn and spinach. Both sound delicious to me, but there’s certainly room for improvement. 😉

One significant addition to our schedule this year is Nature Days. Each Friday, a small group of homeschool families gather at our house (we live out in the country), from 11-2, for a Charlotte Mason-inspired time of interacting with nature.

We begin with a “Nature Mission” – some simple activity a mom has prepared. This has been everything from scavenger hunting, bird-house building, leaf pressing, mushroom printing. We do a picnic lunch together, then allow free time for the kids to explore, imagine, and adventure outside. We meet rain or shine, but thankfully this year it’s only been shine!

This group has been a gift to us, providing a regular homeschool community for my kids, similar to a co-op, but without much additional planning or commitment. I’ve seen my son especially, truly thrive in these friendships. For his 10th birthday he had only one request for his party: “I want Nature Day!”

So, that’s it, friends. Our homeschool routine. My favorite parts are piano, Story of the World, and Nature Day. Spelling still baffles me sometimes, but again, we’ll be okay.

I’m glad we get to live in a world with spellcheck.

How the days have changed:

What is your scholastic spinach and what’s your dessert? That is, what parts feel like a treat, and what takes a bit more work? And, how do you teach spelling?? Grateful for this community where we get to grow together and learn from each other. Thanks for reading.

About Kari Patterson

Kari Patterson and her family live out in the woods of the Pacific Northwest. As a 2nd-generation homeschooler she espouses the same philosophy her own mom did in the 80s: Cultivate a love for learning and one's education will never end. She bakes bread, brews kombucha, speaks at conferences & writes at Sacred Mundane. Her new book Sacred Mundane is available now.


  1. Jodi Collins says:

    Thank you for sharing your day Kari! Getting these little glimpses into other people’s homeschool day are so much fun. And encouragement! Right now my almost 6 and 9 year olds would say our scholastic spinach is math for one and phonics for the other. But then comes the fun-which means Beautiful Feet history and Song School Latin and poetry and of course, a great stack of read alouds with a few games thrown into the mix.
    We are in our second year of Spelling U See for my oldest. She is not a natural speller but I have noticed some improvements this year! I’ve decided this is not something I’m going to worry about. We will do the work and then we will practice using spell check diligently!:)

  2. What a beautiful homeschool day! I like how you ease into it together and I love the nature days. I never worried about spelling as it came naturally to my son through his reading, but one year we did end up using Spelling Made Easy which focuses on homonyms through crosswords and word-find puzzles. That was fun. Right now our dessert is our early state history unit that I made up and our read-aloud time.
    Camie’s latest post: 4 Movie Reviews

  3. Love this post. I resonate with so much of what you shared. We are also using Singapore Math and Story of the World. So far so good.

  4. It’s encouraging to have someone else articulate the stress that can go along with math. My daughter almost has to have a meltdown before her mind is clear enough to tackle the lesson. But like you said, as long as I’m right there, we can get through it. Thanks for sharing.

  5. What a beautiful way to learn. Your day is very different from mine although mine used to be calmer. Ha! Thanks for sharing!
    Danielle Huddleston’s latest post: Gloss Mountains State Park in the Winter ~Fairview, OK

  6. I love and use so many of these. LOVE story of the world. Same as you, except I hated history and missed like 99% of what was in the books. We are just to book 4 now 🙂
    Jen|Practical by default’s latest post: Interview Feature With…Public School Art Teacher and Homeschool Mom

  7. Thank you for sharing this! Beautiful and simple. I’m still trying to find my rythym! My kids are 9, 5,4 and 18 month old twins so we have a little bit of everything and it’s terribly hard to balance. I continually want to give up but keep trying to press on. Love your blog too!

    • Oh my! Girl, finding a rhythm with 18-month-old twins! You’re amazing. Good for you for pressing on, hang in there!!! I bet your kids are learning valuable life-lessons just being part of the family. Thank you for your kind words.
      Kari Patterson’s latest post: My day-in-the-life …

  8. OH and the bell thing us seriously genius. I’m definitely going to try that. I used to light candles to signify school starting and my kids really liked that. I like how the bell thing is specific though.
    Rachel’s latest post: Riley Trails

  9. Christine says:

    I never thought about pre making the notebooks for SOTW. Great idea! I’m always scrambling just before the read to make copies. Also, I just made a big decision to stay with Singapore Math. But, mainly because I came across http://www.singaporemathlive.com – have you seen this? I think it could be a helpful game changer for our family.

  10. Thank you! I always get a few good ideas from your homeschool posts, especially the day in the life ones.

  11. My favorite thing about your post (and I love so much of this) is Nature Days! My kids would love that. We joined a co-op this year but it has an academic focus. It has been great but we would welcome something a little looser like this!

  12. I love your analogy of “spinach” and “dessert”! Our sweet treats were the read alouds which we continued right through highschool, and fine arts — any art, craft, creative type of activity. It is still a time of inimacy and bonding for us now, with my highschool graduate now 22 yrs old and my middle daughter completing her homeschooling this year. Be encouraged to imagine the wonderful sweetness right into adulthood. Homeschooling is a wonderful journey!

  13. My 8 year old son sounds just like yours. He fights math every day, but once he gets past the overwhelm, he’s fine! We do Singapore Math also. I like it, but I’m not sure if it works for him. I’m thinking nothing will be exactly perfect (this is our third year and we have used 3 different math curricula!) so might as well stick with it ;). He is also a great reader but can’t spell, lol. We just started using a DVD program called Sequential Spelling. He sits at the computer and writes a list of words spoken, one by one, and after each they show you how it’s spelled. They start with the word “in” and then progress to words that have “in” in them, and then with some endings, etc. He likes it because there’s so much repetition of basic sounds, and so thso it’s easy for him to figure them out. Like the brand says, it’s sequential, which really works for him.
    I keep hearing about Story of the World lately. Must be good! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  14. Stacey L Meredith says:

    I would love to know if you researched Mystery of History as well and if so, why you chose Story of the World over that. We homeschooled for 2 years through a classical tutorial. We moved and tried our public school for one semester with my oldest (4th grade girl) and brought her home at the semester break. Our youngest (Kindergarten boy) , will finish the year. We are praying through next year.

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