Renee’s Homeschool Day in the Life (with a 9, 10 & 12-year-old)

Written by contributor Renee Tougas of FIMBY

The months of November and December were a planned homeschool break for us due to moving, celebrating birthdays and Christmas. We returned to our “in session” homeschool lessons and practice the Monday after New Year’s.

On that day I recorded an actual homeschool day in the life.

The first day back to a routine is not the most representative of our “typical” homeschool day. I keep our academic schedule light when we first get going and also I’m usually full of energy in the beginning of a new school term.

As my enthusiasm waxes and wanes and as we follow our individual interests our days take on unexpected twists and turns.

If I was writing this in two weeks or next month my day might look like a morning at the library followed by an afternoon immersed in books.

Or an exhausting morning of errands followed by an afternoon of documentaries and a hot bath (the first for the kids, the second for myself).

There is no typical homeschool day for our family.

When I recorded this given day I kept track of the household goings-on from the time I got up to the time I went to bed. Way too much to post here.

So what I share below is the hours between breakfast and supper.

To get the complete picture you can visit the rest of the story at FIMBY.

7:30 I wake up the kids (I’ve been up since 6:00). My husband Damien makes oatmeal for breakfast but everyone eats on their own. Kids do their morning chores.

9:00 Laurent (10) and Brienne (9) have done their morning tasks and start a game of cards – war.

9:30 I close down my writing. I am now parent-on-duty. Kids are still playing cards, there is a discussion about the continents. “Is the North Pole on its own continent, like the South Pole?” I check the kids’ room and do chore quality control.

Now that my computer is free I tell the younger two to start on their math. They’ll take turns.

9:40 Meeting with 12 yr old Celine. Together we discuss her self-directed school work for the week. History, which also covers her copywork, spelling and vocabulary. Math, current events and world news.

There are other pieces to her curriculum (writing, computer programming, Bible, etc…), but our meeting only addresses the work she’s responsible for on her own.

This transition to scholarship and ownership of her learning schedule is new for us. And we are still figuring out how it works.

Photo by Renee Tougas

10:00 My pjs are still on – time to get dressed! I help Brienne with her math. Get Laurent going on handwriting practice.

10:15 I start the laundry. Review Laurent’s handwriting.

I notice it’s snowing. Again. So beautiful. Take a deep breath in and enjoy the view.

10:30 I sit down to eat some fruit with Brienne. The breakfast dishes still aren’t washed. Celine wanders into the kitchen, looking for a snack. I find out she didn’t actually eat breakfast. This sometimes happens with Daddy in charge of the mornings.

I show Laurent how to use the calculator to check his math and find his mistakes. While at the computer I check comments on my blog.

10:45 Go back to eating my grapefruit, ignoring the breakfast clean up just a little longer.

I sit and look through Brienne’s writing from last month. I find a Unicorn essay and I write a translation of her “inventive” spelling. She may actually want to read this in the future. That done, the essay gets filed in Brienne’s school binder.

Photo by Renee Tougas

11:00 I finish the dishes, finally. The younger two return to playing cards – it seems handwriting and math were just a distraction from that activity.

11:15 Damien comes into the kitchen to chat. Fills a bowl with pistachios. I spend some time snacking and talking with my best friend.

11:30 Start another load of laundry and I finally brush my teeth and wash my face.

11:45 Mad Libs – all together. Without a doubt, my kids favorite homeschool “practice.”

12:00 I prepare tomorrow’s copywork for the younger two. Every week is different – poetry, history, Bible, a passage from our read aloud.

The kids are “negotiating” how to finish the card game. Laurent is done playing, Brienne wants to continue. Back and forth it goes. Celine steps in and finishes Laurent’s game for him. Check in at my blog, get lost on an internet rabbit trail.

Download a free book to Celine’s Kindle, part of her history and literature reading.

12:15 Back to the kitchen to make lunch. Leftover soup and Chinese cabbage and tofu stirfry.

Photo by Renee Tougas

Assess what’s in the fridge, trying to make a decision about tonight’s supper. I’m thinking potato broccoli soup. No potatoes. Back to the menu drawing board. Plan B – chickpea broccoli stirfry with rice.

The game squabbling resumes. Ironic. The game of war produces a war in my home. I call a peace treaty using that age old parenting strategy – distraction. Time for Sparkle Stories (we love these stories!)

12:30 Damien joins us, Sparkle Stories on hold. Kids play magnets with their dad. I cook lunch.

1:00 Soup is served. The family sits down to eat while I finish the stirfry.

1:15 I sit down and we all finish eating together. Listen to an audio chapter of the Bible while we eat.

1:30 I sit for a moment of peace. Everyone washes their own eating utensils and Damien oversees kitchen clean up.

1:40 Computer time for me. E-mail, blog maintenance, home management stuff. Kids finish drying dishes and wiping surfaces, then it’s afternoon free time.

girl with gogglesPhoto by Renee Tougas

2:45 Still at my computer, I tell the kids to get ready to go outside.

3:15 Kids are out the door and ready for sledding on our driveway. I gear up to walk to the post office on this wintry day.

3:45 Post office is closed (forgot about that). But I’m happy to be outside anyway.

4:00 Home from my walk and I join the kids in their sledding. Feels like being a kid, in winter. It feels fabulous.

4:30 Back inside now and I start the beans for supper. I make a fresh fruit, nut and dried fruit snack and brew tea for the family.

Kids start stomping in from the cold and they’re hungry. Celine sits down at the kitchen counter to do her computer programming.

Brienne writes an e-mail to her Papa. There ensues a lot of “How do I spell…?” questions.

Laurent looks at a body book on the couch. He decides if he was a cell he’d be a white blood cell defending the body.

Celine helps Brienne with her e-mail.

5:25 I work on the grocery list, realize I haven’t checked my to-do list once today!

5:30 Girls do some computer stuff while Laurent showers.

5:45 Damien reviews Celine’s programming assignment and it’s like they are speaking another language. Oh wait, they are. When he’s done Damien goes back to his work.

Laurent is building with his magnets.

6:00 I tidy up the kitchen from snack and tea, start the rice cooker. Celine has her shower.

I dump clean laundry on the couch for the kids to fold and put away.

I work on supper and while things are simmering, start the menu for the week and return to the grocery list. Check my e-mail.

7:00 We sit down for supper and our evening routine unfolds.

That’s the end of our “day.” Because the kids aren’t littles there are still a couple hours of quiet activity after this – most notably supper clean up and reading time.

Is there such a thing as a typical day in your homeschool?

About Renee

Renee is a creative homemaker and homeschooling mama of three. She loves to write, take pretty photos, and be in nature with her family. Her mission is to nourish, encourage, and teach; build relationship and create beauty. FIMBY is where she tells that story. Drawing from her years of experience and training, Renee also offers individual and personalized Homeschool Coaching.


  1. Just wanted to say “hello” from a fellow “Renée” — and also to answer your question, is there such a thing as a typical day in my homeschool? I’ve been homeschooling my three daughters (11, 9 and 4) for 18 months, and so far my answer is “not really… ?”

    I started in 2010 with the best of intentions and a fairly minute-by-minute lesson plan from My Father’s World, but it didn’t take long before following those beautifully structured plans for each day completely collapsed. I tried adjusting and adjusting, and in the end I tossed out the lesson plan, kept the books, and just finished the year with a very fluid unit study approach. I felt less like a failure when I wasn’t looking at that pre-designed lesson plan.

    This year, I’m taking the suggestion of my sister-in-law (who has five more years of homeschooling experience on me) and have come up with a daily “agenda” — a more simple list like “breakfast, devotions, verse of the day, independent work while I do hands-on with our 4-year-old, unit study group time…” My goal has been to create a somewhat predictable flow, or rhythm, rather than a schedule. So far it seems to be working to keep me focused and feeling like I know what I want to accomplish, but my girls still take me in different directions when inspiration strikes them — and I’m trying to keep an allowance for that on the agenda too.

    I like flexibility, but I have an insecurity that maybe we’re not getting as much done as we should be. I see other moms talk about their fabulous routines and I feel inadequate. Not sure if I’ll get over that feeling!
    Renee Gotcher’s latest post: Ask a NextGen Homeschooler: What About Socialization?

    • Minute by minute wouldn’t work for me either and I can’t do scripted lessons of any kind very well.

      Sounds like you’re on a good path. Enjoy those girls of yours. I think we always feel some measure of insecurity no matter what we’re doing. I know I do.

      Do what works for your family and find the joy and peace in that. Easier said than done!
      Renee’s latest post: Simple Beauty in the Kitchen (an Idea for You)

  2. We don’t necessarily have typical days anymore – more so when my bigger kids were younger. We do have general time blocks, though, which give a somewhat predictable look to our days. My 12 yr old, too, is really quite independent and, while I do give some direction, she really moves through her day more fluidly than when she was younger. Plus, she isn’t the personality type, at all, to appreciate someone else forcing her to stick to a perfectly rigid schedule. My 6 year old sometimes is bored and wants me to structure her time for her and then, days like today, wanted to play for HOURS – washing her toy horses in a container of soapy water 🙂 Having said that, each Monday looks similar, each Tuesday, etc., since we have certain activities/focuses/chores for each day of the week.
    Kika@embracingimperfection’s latest post: 40 in 40

  3. We started homeschooling in the fall for our five year old daugher, and it took a little while for us to really get into a routine that works (most days). Our morning routine can be hectic getting husband out the door, baby and dogs settled, but I have learned that school needs to get going by 10 AM around here – any later than that and it just doesn’t really get off the ground. I have my lesson plans for the week mapped out, and really strive to meet my weekly goals rather than daily goals, so if I get pushback from the kiddo while we are working on a particular subject, I try to move on to something else and come back to it, and if that doesn’t work, plan to finish it the next day. I don’t always meet my weekly goals in every subject (they were definitely unrealistic in the beginning when we were first starting out!) but I try to keep things in perspective – she’s five and its more important that I foster in her a love of learning.

    I am glad to read that I am not alone in getting teeth brushed and face washed closer to lunchtime! In my former life as a research scientist, I was a morning person, getting myself ready and out the door for work. Now as a homeschooling stay at home mom, I get up and have to get everything and everyone else going in the morning, and its often midmorning before I’ve had a moment for myself! I’m still trying to find my personal groove here.
    MIchelle’s latest post: Year in Review

    • Michelle, I too like weekly goals, for example, “this week we’ll write Christmas thank you notes”, instead of assigning that task to a day because things come up – both learning (you follow a learning tangent you hadn’t planned) and life related (sickness, etc). I like keeping my expectations manageable and somewhat low so I don’t feel like a failure at the end of the week!
      Renee’s latest post: Simple Beauty in the Kitchen (an Idea for You)

  4. Thanks for sharing your “schedule” with us. It’s great to hear that others avoid doing dishes too. We love mad libs and Math U See too.
    Heidi’s latest post: Home Schooling Resources

  5. Your pj’s are still on at 10? I think I like you! ;D
    Kendra Fletcher’s latest post: Dedicating Children

  6. Great post and very inspiring. You have a beauiful family and I look forward to following your posts.


  7. Gina Brown says:

    I love this post Renee. I have been following FIMBY for quite some time, and your writings (and your family, of course) are so inspirational. I admire your learning philosophy and how you see your children for who they really are. We are still in the early learning years here, and I love knowing there are other families out there with similar ideals. Thank you for sharing this day with us! Always a pleasure to read your posts.

  8. My days do follow a typical pattern, because unlike you…I have to have plans!!! I fall apart if I do not know what is coming next. Yes, I hate surprises. My sister told me she had a surprise for my birthday and I could not sleep all night, it upset me so….
    I would like to hear more about taking ownership of their schooling. Is there any type of followup if they do not follow their plan?
    Martha Artyomenko’s latest post: Menu for the week

    • I actually have to have a plan also and do for every day, especially for myself. And there is a general outline to every weekday – morning chores, morning learning, meals, afternoon projects, outdoors and play.

      But there are 5 of us living together and we each have own interests, passions, desires and my plans have to accommodate and adjust for the reality of of that. So, there isn’t a typical day because morning school looks different depending on the interests and inspiration that week. So what we do each day is unique but there is structure.

      As for ownership, it’s something we’re figuring out. Right now, the follow up is that if work wasn’t completed as planned we look to the root causes of that – was it too much? Not inspiring? Did other things come up to interfere with the plan? Or, in the case of my 12 year, did you just want to be a kid this week and play in the snow with your siblings. And if so, that is perfectly ok. Because this is transition and there will be back and forth days. Some intense learning and some intense playing.

      By the way, I also hate surprises and surprise parties! So does my youngest daughter.
      Renee’s latest post: Simple Beauty in the Kitchen (an Idea for You)

  9. This is my favorite part: “I find out she didn’t actually eat breakfast.” That cracked me up! I can SOOO relate!
    Sarah at SmallWorld’s latest post: Facebook and Your Teen

  10. Thank you, thank you, thank you! I really appreciate your post.
    The bloggy world seems to be flooded with homeschooling in the younger years (which I do love, don’t get me wrong) but I needed something for our family of preteens.
    I may just be looking in the wrong places so any suggestions for other blog or web resources would be much appreciated. Thank you!

  11. I love these day in the life of posts. It’s so interesting and encouraging to read how other people do home education.

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