Purva’s Homeschool Day in the Life (with a 5-, 8-, and 9-year-old)

Written by Purva Brown

“Good morning, mom!”

A hug.

“Careful! Don’t spill the coffee!”

That’s how our days usually begin – with warm, sloppy hugs and obvious admonishments.

How different now from the days of having to teach the toddlers to stay in bed until at least 7 a.m!

Now that the children are ages 9, 8 and 5, I find my early mornings fairly free to blog, journal or read. Some days, like this chilly winter day, I’m not even awake until 7 a.m. myself.

Gone are the days when I would wake up at 5 a.m. to write! Honestly, I don’t miss them.

The children make their own breakfast while I get ready for the day.

10 a.m.

In our home, we call all work that requires us to use a pen and paper “sit-down work.” I like this term as opposed to “school work” because I firmly believe that education happens all the time.

So we do our “sit-down work” at about 10 a.m.

I take a few minutes to teach my 5-year-old to read or read him a story, depending on the general tone of the day. I keep this very short. In the past, I have made the mistake of trying to do too much too soon. Suffice it to say I have learned my lesson.

The older children bring me their work which they have usually completed the night before. They prefer to complete their worksheets before bed at night so they have their mornings relatively free.

My husband and I encourage this, giggling to ourselves.

“They’re following an evening college routine!” he says. I nod, approvingly.

This nighttime work includes math and language arts.

For math, I simply print out worksheets online – we do not use a curriculum. If you have read my book The Classical Unschooler, you know that most math curricula drives me absolutely crazy. I find it easier to progress with worksheets organically as the children pick up math concepts.

For language arts, I choose what they are interested in and proceed from there. My daughter is currently working her way through D’Aulaire’s Book of Greek Myths and the corresponding workbook. My son is using Memoria Press’s States and Capitals curriculum since he loves all things maps.

11 a.m.

This is usually our transition period into lunch. With each child getting a bit of a break anyway (while I work with the others) we use part of the 11 o’ clock hour to do some independent reading and/or writing or group work.

Every alternate day, we either read the Bible and history from A Small History of the World or complete some science experiments. Sometimes, I have the children write a small-ish blog post.

My daughter, the one who clearly loves stories, has taken to writing fantasy fiction. Giants, knights and other random magical creatures make their way into her blog posts.

Lunch is at 11:30 or so and since I don’t usually eat until 2 p.m., I read to the children at the table. We are currently reading Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.

By 12:30 p.m…

Our school day is over. Or the scheduled part of it is over, anyway. The children get the afternoon for downtime (watching TV, playing video games) and other creative pursuits.

My daughter likes to learn to draw cartoons and other characters by watching YouTube videos. Yesterday, she was learning to do magic tricks. Sometimes, they play outside or on cold days stay inside and play Legos.

We restrict TV watching, but they also have their Kindles and we don’t restrict time on those unless there is work waiting. “Work” may include sit-down school work or chores as we have assigned them.

This is the time I take to read books that interest me. My goal this year is 156 books. I read 200 last year.

This short homeschool day works for us.

Here’s the thing about this routine: it works (for now, anyway) because we all learn what interests us while still getting a smattering of basic, useful knowledge. As long as we are learning, we don’t worry too much about how it happens.

4 p.m. onwards

My husband begins work early in the mornings, so he’s usually home by 3 or 4.

This is when I begin cooking for our evening meal. That’s the cue for the children to put down their electronics and head outside with their roller skates. Now that the days are shorter, they’re usually back when it gets dark outside.

Dinner is at 5 -ish p.m. after which they get time to play (again!) with my husband.

Sometimes, this takes the form of video games. Other times (like yesterday when they made origami animals) they have a project they are interested in doing with him.

Bedtime is around 7:30p.m. when they take their worksheets to bed.

Since we are in a small apartment (for now – we are in transition) they get to share a room. So the older children finish their sit-down work and either read or play quietly. They don’t go to sleep until about 9 p.m.

So that’s our homeschool day! It might look different next year, but I’m really enjoying it for now.

How have your days changed over the years?





About Purva Brown

Purva Brown is a writer and homeschooling mom to three. She writes on a variety of topics across many genres and lives with her husband in Sacramento, California. Her most recent book is The Classical Unschooler. She blogs at PurvaBrown.com.


  1. I love your thoughts on math! My kids love Life of Fred and doing worksheets so I am doing a combination.
    I also love how you follow your children’s lead with language arts, it’s what I am hoping to do someday. They are at a stage right now where they enjoy all books but aren’t OBSESSED with any particular book or subject.
    Thanks for sharing!
    Katie | The Surly Housewife’s latest post: Self-Care 101 for Moms

  2. I enjoyed reading about the schedule of another mom who is ok with screen time!

  3. Yay, I love reading these. It is so interesting to see what homeschooling looks like for other families. Homeschooling is so flexible.
    Jen’s latest post: 7 Homeschool Science Tools, Kits & Projects for 2018

  4. Lauri muse says:

    Purva what does clean up or daily chores look like for you? And cooking and meal prep? Do u make them do the math and language arts? If they don’t are there consequences?

    • The children are required to make their own breakfast, empty the dishwasher, sometimes load it as well, make lunch, vacuum the apartment, take the trash out, feed the cats and sweep. Those are their chores, divided according to their ability. We pay them for these. If they are not done, we dock a certain amount.
      I cook and meal prep. We eat mostly low carb, so most meals are meat and produce.
      Oh, and yes, they get one star for math and language arts on a chart we keep. The chart goes for about 6 – 8 weeks. Then we take a break and do something fun as a reward for completing it.
      Purva Brown’s latest post: Scheduling: Something’s Gotta Give

  5. Becci Sundberg says:

    I didn’t realise there was a workbook to go with D’Aulaires. Do you have a link or further information on this please?

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