Lora’s homeschool day in the life (with a 3-, 6-, 7-, 9-, 10-, & twin 11-year-olds)

Written by Lora Lynn Fanning of Vitafamiliae.

To understand why this year looks different, I need to take you back in time.

In November of 2014, I was suffering from the infamous Homeschool Burnout. School was taking longer and longer and there was no separation between the teaching hours and the mommy hours. I was either grading papers or chasing my kids around to get them to correct their work.

My kids were forced to live with their spiral-eyed teacher 24 hours a day. “Mom” was the nice lady who only came out on weekends.

Before I could get all seven kids enrolled in boarding school, we hit upon a solution: A Mother’s Helper.

A homeschool day in the life 2016

I still believed in the IDEA of homeschooling, but the implementation wasn’t sustainable or healthy for the relationships in our home.

There was simply so much volume, I couldn’t focus on the things I actually wanted to do with my kids.

In addition, my daughter was slated for major surgery later in 2015 and we knew I’d need some back-up to keep school going while we helped her through the long recovery.


I put a plea out on Facebook and found the perfect tutor to join our motley crew. It took time to get her trained and up to speed. But the effort we spent was definitely worth it.

Nowadays …

My morning starts at 7 a.m. My husband and I do the morning shuffle for coffee and Bible reading. Then I head to the basement for a workout at around the same time my kids appear downstairs for breakfast.

They handle breakfast themselves, which gives me time to pull myself together before we jump in with both feet. We start school at 9 a.m. Sometimes the kids are already seated at the table, half-way through their work for the day. Other times, I have to round them up with The Bell.


Mrs. Jennifer walks in the door at 9 a.m. I assemble the crew for what we call “Convo.” I open us with prayer and then I do some of the things that I never seemed to have time for before.

Currently, we’re working our way through How To Teach Your Children Shakespeare by Ken Ludwig. (See my review here.)

I also use Squilt to give us all some music appreciation. (We laugh a lot. Once, my entire crew “conducted” Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus and fell to the ground during every decrescendo.)

If I run across a fun video or activity during my internet time, I save it to show the kids at Convo. No day looks the same, but if everything falls apart afterward, I know we spent 30 minutes learning together. It’s the best part of the school day.

While I do convo, Jennifer checks any book work the kids have already done or things she didn’t get to the day before. At 9:30, we set the kids loose to work on their books: spelling, handwriting, and math.

Jennifer gets my 3-year-old settled with “Puffin Rock” on Netflix in my room while I dole out spelling words or try to remember 4th grade math. Jennifer joins me and we tag in and out with whatever child has needs.

At 10 a.m., the toddler gets moved to educational games on the iPad while Jennifer begins shuffling my early readers through their phonics. I meet with my 9- and 10-year-olds. I get 30 minutes of focused time to teach Latin (review here) and Writing & Rhetoric to my elementary students.

Having this uninterrupted block of time lets us actually finish all the fun curriculum I buy and also lets me know how much they are learning. They have my undivided attention and I’m teaching the stuff I love to teach!

After a snack break, we send the younger kids upstairs to play and I meet with my 11-year-olds while Jennifer finishes phonics, some learning therapy for the 6-year-old, and takes care of grading all the workbooks.

It took some time for her to learn my standards for checking work, but now it’s probably the BIGGEST time saver she offers us. She hunts down kids who don’t finish their work (I always back her up, of course) and then lets me know if somebody needs more instruction from me or my husband.


Meanwhile, I get to look my 11-year-olds in the eye and discuss their history, as well as do some Writing & Rhetoric. We’ll often talk a bit about their other subjects, just to make sure I know what’s going on and what they’re into.

Before Jennifer leaves, we have a little extra time to make sure kids are getting their co-op homework done.

One of the kids fixes lunch (there’s a chart to tell them whose day it is) and we say goodbye to Mrs. Jennifer.

By then, the workbooks are finished and checked. I can take off my teaching hat. *takes a bow*

After lunch, the kids have some school they do on the computer (history and Latin for my big boys.)

Because I am gone so much for doctor appointments and physical therapy with my daughter, I had to compromise and let the kids do their history online this year. History is my favorite to teach and to study, but removing that one subject from my to-do list has freed me up to be the mom my daughter needs me to be this year while she heals.

And it keeps me sane, which is good for all my other kids, too.

I handle my other jobs in the afternoon: teaching for Brave Writer, planning the co-op classes I teach, and other admin issues associated with running a large family. I try to check the kids’ progress with history over dinner – if they can narrate to me what they’re studying, I’m confident that we’re on the right track.

After dinner, it’s chores, reading, and Family Worship. And then we all fall into bed and do it again the next day …

Keep in mind, I’m often not home during school hours because my daughter has doctor appointments. Having Jennifer means that the school routine carries on at home and my kids accomplish the basics – and it’s graded – without me.

Some days, I show Jennifer my to-do list and say: “Just roll with me, here,” and then we work together to accomplish whatever extra project is on our plate. She may shake her head and smile, but she’s up for the adventure.

Part of homeschooling is routine, and part of its beauty comes with having the flexibility to let Life roll through. I’m so grateful we were able to plan ahead for Adventure and still keep the lifestyle we love without sacrificing relationships or my sanity.

And that beats boarding school any ol’ day …

How the days have changed:

About Lora

Lora Lynn Fanning blogged for 11 years about her family life with seven kids at Vitafamiliae. These days, she homeschools her growing brood, teaches writing both in person for co-ops and online for Brave Writer, and writes at her new site, LoraLynnFanning.com.


  1. Love the Mother’s Helper idea! I considered a similar idea, and posted on care.com for a “tutor”, but did not locate anyone. Don’t know if it was my location (rural), or something about the job description. Could you give a rough idea of her salary? (per hour or per day?)

    • I’d also like to know the numbers & how you went about screening/interviewing, what qualifications you required. Thanks!

    • I would have loved to do this before I had kids myself but never knew of anything besides a mother’s helper without homeschool. But a homeschool mother’s helper would have been great. In addition, now that I know what I know, I think it would have been great as framed as a chance to learn to prepare to be a mother as an opportunity to be mentored. This way it would be more than a job that would have caused me frustration underneath in some measure due to me really wanting to be a mom myself. If it is framed as a path to learn tips, then it is a win-win for everyone, I think.

      • Okay, that was poorly worded! I was distracted by a toddler eagerly telling me the baby was awake. Anyway, hopefully the point was delivered.

  2. “Part of homeschooling is routine, and part of its beauty comes with having the flexibility to let Life roll through.” Yes, yes, yes!!! That’s absolutely the best thing about homeschooling. Too often people think that homeschooling limits their choices when the truth is that it does just the opposite – it offers more options.
    Purva Brown’s latest post: “Why Do I Have to Learn This?!”

  3. Hmm…I only have three kids in school, but I feel completely overwhelmed these days, anyway. Trying to learn to just let some of less important house tasks go. I am a perfectionist for myself (not so much for the kids) and that tends to get me into a lot of trouble.
    Rosanna’s latest post: Everyday Friday-Favorites

  4. I’ve always loved the idea of a mother’s helper. It sounds like it has made all the difference at your house. What a blessing for you!
    Camie’s latest post: Kid to Kid-Homeschool Q&A

  5. The bell! Genius. Flexibility & routine… amen and amen.
    Mia White’s latest post: Still I Will Praise Him

  6. Last week, I discovered your blog researching AAR and Spelling-U-See. I’ve been hooked ever since. So it was very exciting to see your post pop up here. Love, love, love how you’ve adjusted your year to accommodate major life events. Thank you for sharing all about schooling with your people.

  7. Elizabeth Hafferty says:

    What a great post. Thanks for sharing. I do have a question though: I noticed that you use both “Writing & Rhetoric” and “Brave Writer”. Is that repetitive, or do they complement each other? Having just begun to embrace some classical education aspects, I am looking for a writing program to integrate into our day. We haven’t used any formal curriculum for writing. That’s not to say that we haven’t done any writing. My son is a fifth grader. Any input you can offer is appreciated. Blessings!

  8. Click for Our Free Video Lessons on How We Won at Homeschooling. I found it online and used it. Great Great resources!

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