Sarah’s Homeschool Day in the Life (with a 10-,13-year-old, & a Graduate)

Written by contributor Sarah Small of SmallWorld at Home

When asked to discuss my daily homeschooling schedule, there is only one thing I can say for sure:

Each year is different, and every day within each year is different.

But first, let me introduce my family. We are in our eleventh year of homeschooling. This year I have a 4th grade son and an 8th grade daughter at home, and our oldest son is in his freshman year at college. (Yes, we homeschooled all the way through. You really can do it!)

I think of us as relaxed homeschoolers with a goal of college for all of our kids.

We are the kind of homeschooling family that is frequently not at home. For 22 weeks of the year, we have enrichment classes through our local support group on Mondays. My kids take a variety of classes for five hours each Monday, including science, Bible, writing, literature, yearbook, geography, and other classes.

On Tuesdays for 24 weeks of the year, my kids attend a performing arts co-op in the afternoon. And on Thursdays for about 14 weeks of each year, we have a full afternoon of scouting (Cub Scouts and American Heritage Girls). We also enjoy a couple of field trips each month, although those are lessening as my kids get older.

One could say that leaves Wednesday and Friday as regular, at-home days. But rather than look at these outside activities as intrusions upon our homeschooling, I consider them essential elements of my kids’ education.

Regardless of our afternoon activities, our mornings (except for Mondays) look basically the same. We begin at 10 a.m.

Why this “late” start? Simply put, I’m a morning person, and I do the vast majority of my own work in the mornings between 7 and 9 a.m.: writing, paperwork, various planning, exercise, etc. My kids usually sleep until 8 or 9 a.m., so they have an hour or two to get moving, eat breakfast, and watch a little television or play a Wii game.

It’s 10 a.m. now, and let’s say today is a Wednesday—an “at home” day.

10-11 a.m.

Math. We start with math every day. Their brains and my patience are generally at peak condition, and this is an ideal combination for math.

For years we did Bible first thing in the morning because that’s what “everyone” said a good homeschooler should do, but that just does not work for us.

In order for our day to run smoothly, we must get math done first thing. 8th grader does Teaching Textbooks on the computer. 4th grader and I go to our schoolroom and do Saxon together. Often he finishes math before his sister, so he will go play in his room while she finishes her math. I check over 8th grader’s math for immediate feedback.

11-11:30 a.m.

If math is done, we move on to language arts. It’s Wednesday, so we do spelling.

4th grader does handwriting while I give 8th grader her spelling test. (We have always used Spelling Power with great success.) She misses two words and heads to the computer to make a fancy design with her missed words. She’ll tape this up at her study space to review during the next week.

While she does that, I give 4th grader his spelling test. He also misses a few words, which he copies, colors, and posts on his desk for review.

11:30 a.m.-12 p.m.

Read-aloud time. In any other year, we would do our Sonlight history readers at this time; however, this year we are reading through the Chronicles of Narnia.

We read until noon or a little after if we are in the middle of a chapter. The kids usually get out their markers and doodle during this time.

12-1 p.m.

Lunch break. We eat first and then scatter our own ways. I check emails and Facebook, do a little housekeeping, and maybe start supper preparations.

4th grader is allowed to play 30 minutes of Wii or DS during lunch break. 8th grader can get online.

1-1:30 p.m.

Back to language arts. I give 8th grader her assignment from Easy Grammar (usually 2-3 pages) and then do First Language Lessons (Level 3) with 4th grader.

When one finishes, they are to do “sustained private reading” until the other finishes.

1:30-2 p.m.

Science or geography. We don’t do these every day, but we have extra time on Wednesdays and Fridays. Drawing from our extensive library, we might read a biography of a scientist and then read more about this particular field.

This year for geography, we are working on locating various countries. I call out names of countries, and the kids take turns finding them on the wall map. We discuss geographical terms.

2-3 p.m.

More read-aloud time. We read some more from our current book and then discuss what we’ve read.

Both kids then do an activity that goes along with our reading. This might be copying a quote, working on an essay, baking something, doing a craft or drawing.

3 p.m.: School’s out!

When I think back through 11 years of homeschooling, I am amazed at how different each year has been and how varied our daily schedules have been within those years. Next year I will have a high school student again, and our lives will adjust to yet another new “normal.”

What about you? Does every day of your week look different or do you try to maintain the same daily schedule?

About SarahS

Sarah has graduated one child from homeschooling and is happy to have miles left on the journey with her 11 and 15 year old children. With a master’s degree in English/creative writing, Sarah enjoys teaching writing and literature classes at her co-op and blogs about learning at SmallWorld at Home.

Comments

  1. Sarah,
    Thank you for sharing your day. Like you, our schedule varies day to day. This is only my second semester of home school, so I am still tweaking our schedule.
    I have a kindergartener and a three-year old.

    The constant four days a week is Math, Reading and Faith formation.
    Monday and Fridays are Science experiment days. Tuesday are history and georgraphy days. Every other Tuesday afternoon, my five year attends her Girl Scout Daisys meeting at our parish. Wednesday are Chinese culture and language days. Thursday, I lead a Mom’s Prayer Group and it is our Library Day.
    Mary @ A Simple Twist of Faith’s latest post: 7 Quick Takes Friday Vol 26

  2. Sarah B.B. says:

    I love this. We start our day a little late as well, following a cartoon for each of my still-small children. Homeschoolers always sound so virtuous when they talk about never watching TV, and always starting the learning day early that it ends up making me feel a bit inadequate.

    The fact that you have so many years of experience in home schooling and yet you sound so relaxed while still maintaining a well-rounded day of lessons is encouraging. Thank you so much for sharing.
    Sarah B.B.’s latest post: Consumer Anarchy- Dishwasher Soap Edition

  3. heather says:

    this was wonderful to read sarah! i love how you say “relaxed with the goal of going to college.”

    i’m thinking of switching to teaching textbooks next year (math mammoth now), do you love it?

    this back to school week was full of “life management” for us too… ;) good to hear the same form a veteran; i was wondering if something was going totally wrong over here!
    heather’s latest post: this moment

  4. Erin says:

    We are just starting out and I have a Kindergartener and a 3-year-old. Our days start early by necessity- I would certainly prefer the later start! But I teach music lessons in the afternoons and evenings so we must get our learning done in the mornings. Both of my boys are morning people, though, so it works well for them.

    Right now our days look pretty similar- read-aloud, reading instruction, math, faith and some handwriting every day. The work we do is different each day, but we work on the same subjects each day. We also read and learn about history, geography and science topics, but those are extras that happen about twice a week.
    Erin’s latest post: How to Fail to Develop Your New Habit

  5. heather says:

    also sarah, may i ask… are you using the easy grammar ultimate series or easy grammar plus? thanks!
    heather’s latest post: this moment

  6. Kika says:

    I homeschool grades 9/10 combo, 6 and Kindergarten. Our mornings have a similar routine each day of the week (different for each child, though) but afternoons vary. M, W and Friday afternoons we’re out of the house for various activities (sports, music, library, errands, swimming…) but I almost always stay home on Tuesdays and Thursdays so that we have these days for reading aloud, projects, etc…. and just for sanity’s sake. Also, our overall schedule gets modified slightly a couple times in the year, often depending on what sport season we’re currently into and how that affects our life.

  7. Rana says:

    Sarah,
    I enjoyed getting a look at your day and what your schedule is like for the week. We are on the move a lot during the week too. Monday, Tuesday, and every other Thursday are our in house days We get started with lessons about 10 am too. We all have our morning chores and a bit of free time before we get started for the day.
    Rana’s latest post: My words for the year

  8. AprilS says:

    Really enjoyed reading your schedule. I personally like the laid-back approach to homeschooling and it seems clear from this that you have made it your own. Thank you for sharing! The fact that you’ve already homeschooled all the way to college makes you an awesome resource for anyone homeschooling.
    AprilS’s latest post: Geometry – Arcs and Chords

  9. Kim Monaco says:

    I love reading how other people’s days look. Thank you!

    We’re somewhat like you – out of the house quite a bit during the week, so it’s great to see how your at-home days work. Thanks!
    Kim Monaco’s latest post: Top Ten Tuesday – Great Freebies to enhance Homeschooling

  10. elizabeth says:

    this is going in my folder of articles to refer to. i like the laid back, but with a plan idea. and a later start, but still time for lunch break and done by 3 – that’s so good. i’m homeschooling 2, too. one in K and one in 2nd. it’s always helpful to get ideas about curriculums and texts to move into. i’ll be checking out your blog, too. :)

  11. Thanks for sharing this. It ‘is’ so easy to get discouraged when we begin comparing our schedules, curriculum, etc… with other homeschool families. Truthfully, they are only telling the ‘good’ of their day anyway, right? ha. We have a more relaxed approach, as well. 10:00 is our usual starting time. ;)
    H-Mama @ Family Team’s latest post: A Smorgasbord of Random or Hoarding

  12. CarrieK says:

    As a potential homeschooler, I really appreciate a peek into a homeschooling family’s day. I’m curious about how chores fit into your schedules. Do your children work in the house and yard with you side by side? I imagine there is a lot to teach when planting a garden or making a meal. Also, is there any time for playdates with other families? Do you have to be a master of all subjects to teach your kids? I’m not sure I could handle High school math!

    • Oh wow–chores could be a L-O-N-G post! Chores definitely evolve throughout the years. But the short answer is, yes. The kids generally work with me or their dad in the yard. At their current ages, I give them tasks to do (take this load of leaves up to the road and dump it) on their own, but when they were younger they would generally be right next to me, putting a flower into a hole or pulling a few weeds. Inside the house they have always had various responsibilities that are added to as they grow older: cleaning their rooms, making beds daily, dusting, loading/unloading dishwasher, etc. And they help me with cooking IF I am in the mood for help. ;-)

      Playdates: When they were younger, we scheduled playdates weekly. At 10 and 13, they are involved in so many activities that they see friends every day of the week except perhaps Saturdays.

      Mastering Everything: Absolutely not, but you will find that you learn SO much yourself as you teach your children. I cannot believe how much history I’ve learned over the past 11 years–much more than I learned in college as a history minor! There is so much excellent curriculum out there that teaches us as we teach our kids. As far as math goes, we outsourced high school math through our co-op with our oldest, and our second is doing Teaching Textbooks on the computer.
      Sarah at SmallWorld’s latest post: In the Treasure Box

  13. When we started out, we were much more structured. Now that I have four kids of very different ages, your day seems uber structured compared to us! :) I think the biggest lesson we HSers have to remember is to tailor our days to what works best for us (kids and parents!). I’ve known families that did the majority of “schooling” at night or during afternoon naps when they had younger toddlers, for instance, and my night owl children do far more in the evenings than during the day.

    Thanks for the peek into your days!
    Magic and Mayhem’s latest post: A few Fabulous Science Projects!

  14. Thanks for sharing! Every day is different for us, too
    priest’s wife’s latest post: A Good and Faithful Servant 7 Quick Takes

  15. Tasha says:

    So far, out of all of the “day in the life” posts I’ve read, this is the one with which I can most closely relate. Most of the “day in the life” posts seem to be individuals with no set schedule (more of a “rhythm” to their days). That works for some people, but not for me..especially since I work from home and NEED some sense of “order” to our days. I LOVED this post. Right off the bat, you had me with “For years we started the day with Bible because that’s what good homeschoolers do.” WOW. For the past year (at least), I’ve been wanting to start the day with something other than Bible for some of the same reasons you decided to start it out with Math instead. I loved your schedule and could totally see something like that working out well for me.

    I’m wondering, though, where ARE you fitting in Bible? After reading your post–along with the fact that my husband has said he’d like ‘something like what you guys are doing for Bible in school’ to be our family devotions–I’m considering taking Bible out of our “school day” completely. Instead, I’m thinking it’d be better suited to family devotions. Is that what you are doing?

    • Tasha–Thanks for your kind words. This year we are doing Bible as part of our Chronicles of Narnia study rather than having a separate Bible curriculum. The Narnia books are, of course, absolutely filled with biblical truths and parallels. We are using a wonderful book called “A Christian Family Guide to Narnia” by Heather Kopp. Continuing in the Sonlight tradition, I do have the kids memorize scripture (probably 2 passages/month).

      If you haven’t read through Narnia as a family, I think this would be an awesome family adventure as devotions. The Kopp books above has great points of discussion and is geared toward both parents and kids. Highly recommended!
      Sarah at SmallWorld’s latest post: Tuesday Miscellany

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  17. Sarah, I am so glad I came across this post! It is such a blessing to know that I’m not alone in having an-ever-changing schedule! Each year (we are in our 13th year with one graduating this year) is very different. And, each year I picture in my mind, us settling down and sticking to a traditional schedule. However, the reality is that we just get busier and busier! So, we grab a book for the car ride or I will catch my 12 year old doing “art” right before bedtime. All in all, the learning is taking place anytime he’s awake, so I’m good.
    Thanks again for being real!
    Debbie Slaughter’s latest post: 18 years ago today

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