Kris’s homeschool day in the life (with an 11-, 13-, & 17-year-old)

This post written by contributing writer Kris Bales of Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers.

I used to think we were really atypical homeschoolers as far as our schedule is concerned, but over the last few years more and more late-starting homeschooling families have spoken up and let me know that we’re not alone. Late-risers unite!

My children are 17, 13, and 11. Studies have shown that teens need more sleep than elementary-aged kids or adults and I love that homeschooling allows my teens to adopt a schedule that lets them focus on schoolwork when they’re at their mental peak for the day – which is not before noon.

I try to get up between 8:30 and 9:00 so that I have time to get my daily workout in before we get busy.

Sometimes I do my personal Bible study before waking the kids, but I’ve found that I really enjoy our Bible study time together more than I like studying on my own. I’ve discovered that as my children mature in their faith, they’re becoming pretty insightful beings and I love dissecting scripture during our family Bible study.

I wake the kids when I head to the shower between 10:00 and 10:30 so that they can start to become coherent and take care of whatever household responsibilities they may have for the day.

I try to work on laundry daily, so most mornings, after I’m ready to face the day, I fold the load that’s in the dryer from the day before and get a load started washing. I put that load in the dryer around lunch time, so that it’s ready to fold the next day. That helps keep the laundry manageable.

We start school no later than 11:30. First up is our family Bible study. We usually read a chapter a day unless it’s really long or really meaty. When we come across a chapter with lots of good stuff to discuss, we’ll break it into a couple of days. We discuss and journal our responses to the reading, pray together, and work on scripture memory.

Photo by Kris

Once our Bible study is complete, Brianna (17) goes off to begin her independent work. I read aloud to my younger two, then, they work independently while I start lunch prep.

Depending on how long it’s going to take to fix lunch, they may tackle math. Otherwise, they save it until the end of the day since it’s done on the computer and doesn’t require my help unless they need a concept explained. We’re usually ready to eat between noon and 1:00.

We take a fairly long lunch. It’s my time to check my email and social media accounts and read blogs. The kids watch TV, play video games, get online, talk to friends, or play outside.

We resume school by 1:30 or 2:00, which is when we do the bulk of our schoolwork. The younger kids are using Trail Guide to Learning. That means that in the afternoon, they’re either doing history or science (alternating days), copywork or dictation, and hands-on projects.

We supplement Trail Guide with  All About Spelling because Josh (13) has dyslexia and needs more explicit spelling instruction than Trail Guide provides. We also use WriteShop, even though Trail Guide includes writing assignments, for the same reason, though we do try to incorporate the writing topics from Trail Guide in with the WriteShop lessons as much as possible.

Photo by Kris

The younger kids and I usually spend about two hours after lunch on group subjects. Then, the kids do silent reading and math on their own. Josh also does daily dyslexia therapy games and weekly online tutoring with Lexercise.

Brianna works independently throughout the day. She’s currently following her interests with history by doing an in-depth study of World War II, using the Uncle Eric books and Bluestocking guides as our spine.

Like the younger two, she uses Teaching Textbooks for math and WriteShop for writing. She’s using Real Kids 4 Science Chemistry Level 2 science. You can find out more about how we’re using each of these products on our curriculum page, if you’re curious.

The kids are usually finished with everything they need my help with by 3:30 or 4:00 and they’re done for the day by 4:30 or 5:00. This leaves me plenty of time to get dinner started around 5:00.

Bedtimes for my late-rising crew range from 11:00-12:00, youngest to oldest in 30 minute increments.

Sometimes I wish that were earlier, because it’s hard for me to sleep before everyone is in bed for the night and the older I get the more I find I’m ready for bed at a decent hour. Generally speaking, though, it works for us.

A look back:

Does your family have an atypical schedule? In what ways does the flexibility of homeschooling allow you to meet your family’s unique needs?

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. I was homeschooled through 8th grade so I feel like I have a pretty good grasp on what that can look like. I enjoy glimpses of what high school homeschooling looks like for different families. Thanks for sharing.
    Steph’s latest post: Creating Flexible Routines

  2. Thank you thank you THANK YOU for this post! We are a late family too, partly because of ministry nights that end around 9:30 and partly because daddy is a night owl so we stay up later to hang out with him. I also have a night nursing baby so I get up around 9 because of a lack of undisturbed sleep, so I let everyone else sleep so I can get my morning time with God. I had been feeling like we are losers (lol) because the “normal” people I know are up by 6and their kids are in school by 8. Thank you for the reassurance that this late season is ok with my 10m/2.5 y/5y old!

  3. We have a late start as well! Our kids have always functioned better if they can sleep in! Thanks for sharing this because it gives me a little more permission not to feel guilty about out “atypical” way of doing things!
    Emily’s latest post: Stitching Us Together: Part 2

  4. We’re also night owls! I enjoyed reading your schedule. Thanks for sharing this!
    Sara @ Embracing Destiny’s latest post: 100 Bible verses for 2013: scripture memorization for the new year

  5. Lisa Cross says:

    Thank you from me as well!! I am a night owl and in addition I have been having some sleeping issues due to entering menopause. I often feel guilty because of our late starts. I need to see it is ok if it works for us. Again thank you!!!!

  6. We’re NOT late schoolers or night owls here. Too many little ones (I’m expecting #8). However, we have learned to be really flexible since our 7th child was born last January. Mason came to earth with Spina bifida and other medical issues. He’s had one spinal and 6 brain surgeries in his first year of life, most unplanned. He also is paralyzed from the waist down and we have multiple daily physical therapy sessions we do, plus regular visits from our PT. Then he has many many medical appointments and testing that often take 4-8 hours out of a day, several days per month. My older children have learned to homeschool on the go, to be more independent, and many other things in the last year.
    It is a wonderful blessing to homeschool the way that fits our family – even when it’s different from the way another family does it!
    Tristan’s latest post: Week in Review–with a Recipe too!

  7. We have a different schedule because my husband works 2nd shift. Our family time is in the morning and we school after lunch, after nap & before dinner. It works for us!

  8. Thank you! These posts are really helpful. As a mom of just a toddler, school choices have begun to sweep my mind not and again, and I appreciate seeing what homes cooling really looks like.
    Morgan’s latest post: give and get: clothing swap how-to {reuse, recycle, refashion}

  9. I always love seeing the Day in Life of posts! They’re always interesting! Seems everyone does their own thing. Here, we start school around 8:30-9:00. The youngers finished around noon and we break for lunch. My oldest continues on after lunch until about 3:00, sometimes 4:00. Then it’s activities or free time, dinner, movie, reading, and bed between 8:30-10:00. I guess we’re more traditional! LOL

  10. kathy lapan says:

    I have a 9 year old and 12 year old (4th and 7th, respectively) . Both kids have ADHD and my daughter also has dyslexia, dysgraphia, and oppositional defiant disorder. I ususally let them sleep until they get up, because they struggle with insomnia. We usually get up around 9 and start work around 9:30-10:30. We start with history and science, which we do together (right now we are using notebooking packets that we adjust for their different levels). Then they do their individual work while I to my daily devotional, so I am available to help with math or reading. We are usually done around 2:30 with a break for lunch. The kids then study AWANA and do their chores. So our day is as atypical as yours lol

    • We have some insomnia issues, too. I’ve come to the conclusion of: why fight it? We have the ability to be flexible, so why not? I sometimes struggle with insomnia and know that you just can’t make yourself go to sleep at a certain time. Additionally, I’m most productive in the later afternoon/evening, so why should I expect my kids to be productive in the early morning hours?
      Kris @ Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers’s latest post: A Day in the Life…

  11. Absolutely love love love reading other homeschooler “day in the life” posts. We are not morning people here, and my kids are only 6, 4, and 2. The older two won’t even entertain bedtime until 10:00 p.m. I think it’s because the toddler goes to sleep around 8:00, and that’s “their” time to do their thing without little brother following them around. (They love him to pieces, but two-year-olds are intense.) I used to be a morning person, but now I’m more middle of the road. Love not having to stick to an early school schedule (we’d all have to be out the door by 7:30 . . . yikes). We do most of our “school” in the afternoons.
    Valerie @ Momma in Progress’s latest post: 7 Quick Takes Friday (44)

  12. My kids are little (6, 5 and 2) so although reading about what a day looks like with older kids is interesting, what most captured my attention was how late you get to sleep in! Most days I’m up at 6, sometimes 5:30, so I’m crossing my fingers that when they become teenagers, we’ll be sleeping in! 🙂

  13. It’s refreshing to hear how many families homeschool on a later schedule: Flexibility is fabulous! My husband also works from home so the fact he doesn’t rise early to commute means we can stay up later for our relax time together. None of our three girls are early birds, and back when they were in private school it was a DAILY struggle to get them up & off to school. We don’t miss those days one bit!
    My challenge is that as we have become more active in local co-op opportunities such as worship dance, homeschool PE, book club & presentation days (which all take place in the early afternoon), we struggle to get in our day’s schoolwork first because we don’t typically start until 10ish. Although I can technically have the girls finish what’s left when we get home, they are usually ready to relax and play after a busy afternoon out. I am still trying to figure out how to keep us on track without revamping the daily routine.
    Renee Gotcher’s latest post: Fresh take on the New Year

  14. I love reading posts where homeschoolers (or even traditional schools) take the health and sleep needs of teens into account. My son will be a middle-schooler this fall, and we plan to start at 10am and see how that works for him. He’s in a g&t school this year, and I can see the challenges the early start times are having.

  15. Kris:
    Enjoyed reading about your sample day. Would you please tell me more about Chemistry 101? Is it a book and DVD curriculum? My son also has dyslexia. Would you please tell me about Lexercise? The link was not working.

    Thank you!

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