Amber’s Homeschool Day in the Life (with a 7-, 9-, 11-, and 13-year-old) ~
Written by Amber O’Neal Johnston from Heritage Mom
I’ve gotten some of my best ideas from reading about how other homeschoolers spend their days. Every family organizes their time differently, but whenever I glimpse another mom weaving things in and out of her day, I walk away with a creative thought that sparks something new in my family’s routine.
Our way of doing things has evolved over the years as my children pass through new ages and stages, but the one thing that has remained the same is that we begin and end our days together.
Today is no different.
Amber’s Homeschool Day in the Life (with a 7-, 9-, 11-, & 13-year-old)
Morning Time Routine
I woke up around 6:00 this morning and knew I couldn’t go back to sleep, so I came into the kitchen for tea and sat at my laptop. I checked my email, engaged on social media, and did a bit of research for a writing project. This early alone time always flies by, and soon I’m joined by my 7-year-old son Brooks looking for a serious snuggle before breakfast.
After our daily love fest, Brooks unloads the dishwasher while I cook breakfast. When everything is ready, he runs upstairs to wake up any siblings who haven’t yet made their way to the kitchen. My husband comes home from the gym, and we share a hot meal before starting our morning time routine at about 9:00.
At the kitchen table, we do the lessons I’ve planned for the whole family. Today that looks like Bible study, singing a folk song and spiritual, Paul Laurence Dunbar poetry recitation, picture study, geography, and current events. This is, by far, everyone’s favorite time of the day, and we linger at the table, talking and laughing much longer than my well-intentioned schedule dictates.
Independent Work Time (Together Apart)
After morning time, we shuffle around as the older kids grab their books and checklists for the day before finding their favorite spot to settle in. We have an open floor plan on the main floor, so even when we spread out, there’s a sense that we’re all still together. While they’re getting into their (mostly) independent work, I quickly shower and fix another cup of tea while chatting with my husband, Scott.
After checking on my “Big Three,” I sit on the sofa with my youngest guy as we go through his lessons. He also has a daily checklist. All his work is with me, so he doesn’t need it, but he enjoys knowing what we’ll be doing each day and insists on having the same setup as his siblings.
Today we start with our daily math, copywork, and reading lessons before moving on to a book about mammals, a read-aloud African geography story, and two Black history picture books from the Joyful Generations Heritage Pack that I put together, especially for him. We wrap up with an American folk tale just in time for lunch, and he narrates to me while I prepare grilled cheese sandwiches, bell peppers, and orange wedges for all.
While working with Brooks, my other kids ask me questions about their lessons as needed. Their level of independence correlates to their ages, and my 13-year-old daughter does most of her lessons independently. She takes Algebra and Spanish online, and the lessons are pre-recorded so she can work at her own pace.
She breaks up the video lessons by reading living history, literature, and science books in between. We usually do grammar and health with her 11-year-old sister, Sasha, but today both girls just spend time on written narrations covering what they’ve read because we got a late start.
Relaxed Afternoon Flow
After lunch, I take a moment to return a couple of phone calls and make a doctor’s appointment. Then I work on math with my middle kiddos separately and listen to 9-year-old Beckett read some of his books aloud. He can handle them independently, but lending my ear encourages him to stick with it and finish his lessons.
Without regular interaction with me, his day would only be filled with leisure because his favorite line is, “I’m taking a break,” which cracks me up every time as I predictably respond, “A break from what? You haven’t done anything yet!
As long as they complete the things on their checklists, my kids can control their schedules after morning time. My oldest likes to finish everything early and have the rest of the day to herself. She’s creative and always has projects on hand to delve into.
Today she worked on modeling a jointed doll out of clay. My other kids prefer to wind their way through the day at a relaxed pace, with plenty of playtime and wandering, so they typically finish lessons later in the day.
By mid-afternoon, everyone starts congregating in the living room because we’re reading Book four of the Wingfeather Saga; the story is riveting, and we are dying to know what happens next. I share a couple of short chapters, leaving everyone on a significant cliffhanger before I head to my room for a little self-care break.
My Self-Care Break
I’m recovering from a major infection and spinal surgery, and I administer daily IV antibiotics through a PICC line while listening to audiobooks and checking messages on Voxer. When I finish with the medication, I respond to emails and social media posts while resting in my medical recliner. Then I throw on my sneakers and a light jacket before heading out for a therapeutic walk around the neighborhood with Scott.
Closing Out the Day
Friends have been providing dinner for my family during this recuperation time, so after my walk, I head to the kitchen to reheat food and catch up with the kids as Scott wraps up his day in his home office. After dinner, we do our daily clean-up and reset everything for tomorrow. This only takes about 10 minutes, but with everyone helping, we get a lot done.
Then we gather to listen to another chapter or two of our read-aloud before getting ready for bed.
The boys have lights out at 8:30, but can listen to an audiobook for a while before falling asleep. The older girls read and work on creative projects in their rooms at night. They can stay up as late as they want if they don’t get carried away.
Tonight they are both still up when I retire to my room to write this post at 10 pm, and they typically turn their lights off by 10:30 pm.
In some ways, no two days are exactly alike for us, but today was representative of our average day spent at home. On other days, you may find us at musical theater, piano lessons, homeschool group activities, or hiking in the woods. I work hard to manage our schedule well, so we have a comfortable balance of homebody and on-the-go days.
We thrive when we have a mix of both!
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Thanks, Amber! I enjoyed reading about your day. We homeschool 4 children ages 12, 10, 7, and the 3 year old “schools” us! 😉
I love your flow. We do something similar with a morning basket and then individual work and read-aloud.
My kids loved the Wingfeather Saga as well!
I just discovered HeritageMom.com a couple of weeks ago, and I am thrilled beyond words. We are a blended-race family via adoption, and I have been drinking in your resources as only a starving homeschool mom can. Thank you for your work and resource-sharing. It is a blessing to my whole family.
Hi Amber, your article on why we need to prioritize rest in homeschooling is a much-needed reminder for all homeschooling parents. Your insights on how rest can improve not only our children’s academic performance but also their mental and emotional well-being are spot on. I appreciate your practical tips on how to incorporate rest into our daily routines and your emphasis on the importance of self-care. Thank you for sharing your wisdom and experience with us!