Kris’s homeschool day in the life (with a 14-, 16- and 20-year-old)

kris day in life picmoWritten by Kris Bales of Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers

I‘m not going to lie – because I don’t do that: I was kind of dreading writing my day in the life post this year. You see, about this time last year, my teens decided to switch from our eclectic mix of hands-on curriculum to workbooks.

Workbooks, y’all. Bleck!

Not long before they decided to make the switch, I was in the homeschool aisle of our local used bookstore. I told my husband that it made me want to break out in hives – because the shelves are stuffed with used workbook-style curriculum.


(Don’t take that personally if you use and love workbooks. It’s just not my preferred method.)

That means that this year’s homeschool day in the life post won’t include any fun hands-on projects. It won’t include any fun stuff that I am doing with my kids because the only thing I really do with them now is algebra and that’s no fun – well, except when we figure out the dreaded word problems together. That elicits some high-fives.

But, then, I thought that maybe somebody needs to hear this kind of day in the life. Maybe there are moms who are still in the trenches of teacher-intensive days who need to know that easier days with independent teens lie ahead.

Maybe there are moms who need to know that it’s okay to let your kids pursue a learning style that is the polar opposite of what you would choose for them. It is, after all, their education.

So, here goes – a homeschool day in the life with independent teens.

My day starts by 8 a.m. most of the time. I get up and spend a little time with Brianna, age 20, before she heads out the door to cosmetology school. She is almost finished and has been preparing to take the state boards.

She will have all her hours completed any day now and won’t be leaving for school in the mornings. Hopefully, she’ll be leaving for work at a local salon instead. That will be a new adjustment for all of us.

After I send Brianna off, I head to the treadmill. I’m working to build my running time back up because I’ll be running a 5K to raise funds for Mercy House in April.

Miles for Mercy

Usually by 9:30, I’m showered and ready to face the day – after some quiet time. I’ve been using the Journal and Doodle Bible study guides for about six months now and I love them!

They add a bit of creativity to my journal.

Bible Study

After I finish my Bible study, I spend an hour or so working. In addition to running my blog, I’m a freelance writer and social media manager. Then it’s time to start trying to wake the kids.

Yes, at 11:00. I’ve shared before how we’re not morning people and that certainly hasn’t changed with two teenagers.

I usually manage to drag everyone out of bed by 11:30 and they start their schoolwork. On their own. With their boring workbooks. (My opinion, not theirs – they really like the structure and independence.)

teen homeschoolers

They typically work for an hour or so, then we stop for lunch, which has become something of a free-for-all. Megan and I usually scrounge around for leftovers, while Josh prefers pizza or hot wings. I also try to make a pot of soup most weekends so we can have it for lunches during the week.

We take a long lunch break, but it’s one of my favorite parts of the day. Josh is a talented guitar player and he usually spends an hour of his lunch break practicing. He’ll also play video games if his friends are online.

Megan likes painting, writing (as long as it’s not a school assignment), and singing, so those are her lunch break activities of choice – at least until her BFF is available to Skype.

After lunch, the kids finish up whatever wasn’t finished before lunch. At least two days a week, I work with Josh on history and science since it became clear that these are two areas in which he still needs me to remain actively involved.

Both kids typically put off math as long as possible, too, which means it gets done in the afternoons. I am called on to help with difficult concepts when needed.


One of the most surprising things to me is how much more sense algebra makes now than it did back in the Dark Ages when I took it the first time.

The majority of our school days ends by late afternoon or early evening, though the kids may still be wrapping some things up after supper. We won’t even talk about what time they go to bed–that might be too stressful for some of you.

It’s kind of strange being a mostly hands-off homeschooling mom after so many years of being right in the middle of everything.

And while it may not be fun to read about, it’s pretty fun to live because it means that I now have something I’d almost forgotten about – free time!

The time isn’t always so free since it’s often filled with online work and household chores, but it’s still exciting because doing those things throughout the day means that now I get to go to bed at a decent hour.

I don’t have to stay up until the wee hours of the morning to enjoy peace and quiet or to catch up on all the things I didn’t have time for throughout the day.

So maybe this wasn’t such a boring day in the life post to read, after all. Maybe it’s given some of you a little hope for less intense days ahead.

They arrive sooner than you expect.

Are you homeschooling teens yet? In what ways has your homeschool taken an unexpected turn?

About Kris

Kris Bales is the quirky, Christ-following, painfully honest voice behind Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers. She and her husband of over 25 years are parents to two amazing teens and a homeschool grad. Kris has a pretty serious addiction to sweet tea and Words with Friends. She also seems intent on becoming the crazy cat lady long before she's old and alone.


  1. You definately have your hands full! I love how you are allowing your teens to pursue their own learning styles. I also love how you allow your kids to sleep in. My son sleeps until about 10:30 most days. I homeschool a 7th grade boy AND work full-time (outside the home) and this year has proven challenging. We are huge workbook lovers and use a lot of online and auditory curriculum. Thanks for sharing!
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  2. HA! I would be upset if my kids chose workbooks also! My boys are 8&9 and are starting to get more and more independent with their learning. My two younger ones though still need me a lot 🙂 This school year has looked completely different for me as well though. We have been pretty limited in projects just because my time is taken up with other things and they dropped on the priority list. It is hard for me but it is where we are at right now so I am working through it and hoping next year is a little less crazy.

  3. Currently I homeschool my 10 yr old (5th grade) daughter (she’ll be 11 in August). However, this fall I’ll have my 16 yr old daughter (10th grade), 12 yr old son (5th grade), and my 11 yr old daughter (6th grade) at home. It’s going to be interesting having all three of my kids at home. I keep a more strict schedule because my husband doesn’t like seeing the kids still on studies when he gets home in the evening. Currently, I let my 10 yr old wake up and we get on school around 8:30ish. Normally, we’re done w/school by 3ish but we do have to take frequent breaks because my daughter has ADHD. I also babysit my 19 month old niece 4-5 days a week. Sometimes having her around is a distraction to my 10 yr old. I have to constantly remind her to stay focused.

  4. I love reading about your day, Kris. It’s amazing how different homeschooling looks at this stage than it did years ago when the kids were little. I’m still looking forward to more free time, as I spend most of mine writing lesson plans and grading papers for my co-op classes, but I do have a little now and then and I LOVE IT!

  5. Hi Kris, I don’t homeschool but I read here often. I really love what you said here:

    Maybe there are moms who need to know that it’s okay to let your kids pursue a learning style that is the polar opposite of what you would choose for them.

    I’m learning this is key in all parenting. What I would choose for my boys, which often boils down to my personal preferences, in many ways isn’t what interests them. The older they get the more I (hope!) I’m learning to honor their choices and interests and skills, not superimpose my own on them.
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  6. Thanks for posting your day in the life. There’s not nearly enough stuff written about homeschooling teens online, but I know that as they get older, you have to respect their space and privacy more. My oldest is 14, and the time is passing by so quickly! Might I ask which workbooks your teens like?

  7. If you don’t mind what workbook curr. are your kids using? My son is not interested in school at all and we have tried everything though I keep trying. I do think that if workbooks would work for him I would choose them but so many have silly cartoons but he does not like anything like that. But he does like Life of Fred math. ?????Thanks Jessica

  8. This I needed today. I have an 8 1/2yr, 6yr, 4yr and 20mo old. I am IN the trenches!! I dream of independent leaders, but at the same time I don’t wish that either. I love our stage now and I know they we be old in the blink of an eye. But it’s nice to read a Day in the Life of what my future days may look like. Free Time in the middle of the day….what is that!!!??! lol

  9. I know how it is with those late sleepers. Typically, I start waking up my 14 and 16 yr. old daughters around 12:00 and am lucky if they actually get up before 1. My 15 yr. old gets up a little earlier, but even he sleeps until around 10. My 16 yr. old has always been a night owl, so she usually does her work in the wee hours of the night, although we sometimes do her geometry together around 9 pm. My other teens do their math with me at 8 and 8:30 pm, and they typically do the rest of their work around 10 or 11 pm. This may make some people cringe, but it works for us, since I usually spend my mornings and early afternoons working with all the other kids. I do wish they would do their work a LITTLE earlier, but if it’s how they work best, then that has to be okay with me.

  10. I loved reading about homeschooling teens. Thank you!
    Caitlin Fitzpatrick Curley’s latest post: For Those Days When You Want to Phone It In

  11. What a blessing your post is today! We are a family of night owls so our hours are not the norm and we do take some grief about it from ‘others’. It is nice to see that a creative approach to allowing children to stretch their wings at their own pace and time table, works for other people as well.
    I have a 9 year old that is still pretty much hands on with her learning but I can see her starting to pick some things that she wants to do on her own. My pre-teen likes to complete his work on his own, but he still needs a little encouraging. It encourages me to see that at some point they can work on their own and become responsible and independent.
    Blessings to you.

  12. Haha! I don’t like workbooks either, but everything else sounds wonderful! Kids sleeping in, getting time to yourself AND being able to get to bed at a decent time?! You’re living the dream, woman!

  13. Thank you so much for this post, Kris! This is the first year I’ve begun seriously entertaining the idea of homeschooling through high school, and it’s so encouraging/interesting to get a glimpse into your day!

  14. Thanks for sharing your day! I sometimes feel very guilty for not getting my kids and myself up earlier to start our day. I try to remind myself of all the research that says adolescents need to sleep later, but knowing others are out there sleeping in makes me feel better! We shifted to workbooks in a couple of subjects this year and we have all enjoyed it. The first rule of effective curriculum is actually getting it done! The kids are learning, and I sleep better at night with peace of mind.

  15. I really needed to read this. Thank you! I deal with false guilt at times, trying to adjust to the changes as they grow older (mine are 12, 14, 17, and 19). Its refreshing to hear of others who sleep in, and who allow older kids to learn independently. I guess I’ve been comparing our homeschooled teens’ school days to public school days, and it’s left me feeling like I’m not doing enough. But, alas! I can feel great accepting my ever-changing role. Appreciated this so much!!! I am now re-energized. ♡

  16. My son is only 5, but I can see him eventually going the more structured route! It’s not my style either. Though my kids are little, they are pretty independent so I also have free time to get stuff done during the day. It’s not quiet, though. Quiet would be scary.

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  17. Would love to hear the books you use as well

  18. It’s hard to imagine such a stage in life, for me right now. We do use a fair bit of workbooks, but we do unit study type stuff, too, which keeps me VERY involved. I also have a Kindergarten, so that always makes it more busy. I can only being to imagine the free time involved. I have to be honest, there are days I really look forward to that. However, I to enjoy each moment today, as well.
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  19. Loved this, I have a 12 yo and soon to be 14 yo. They love workbooks and they work awesome for us, too well. When I try to do fun stuff, I get boo’d 🙁 I am hoping more fun things ahead but maybe not…

    Thanks for sharing, loved it.
    Jen’s latest post: What’s On Our Homeschooling Bookshelf This Month

  20. Thank you, Kris for sharing your homeschool day… is just what I needed.
    I homeschool my son (7th grader) and he likes workbooks, too. I think the structure of them helps his focus. Yes…they are boring 🙂 I integrate math/geography games when I can….or actually when he is interested…..I would play games with him everyday if this was his first choice. However, as he is becoming a teen….he definitely wants to work more independently. I respect his wishes and let him know I am near by for help if he needs it.
    I like reading your posts…I always feel refreshed and renewed.

  21. JoAnn Colón says:

    Such an inspirational post! I have a 14, 15 and 16 year old- all boys currently homeschooling! They have had the experience of regular school for all their young lives. We have been homeschooling for a little over a year now. I have passed the “oh my goodness, what am I doing?” stage. I love it, boys are enjoying the freedom and flexibility themselves. Now, what prompts my writing to you? You said Algebra finally makes sense! How? How? How? What curriculum are you using? I watch instructional videos and still nothing.
    Any suggestions would be great! thanks!

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