Written by Anne Bogel of Modern Mrs. Darcy.
None of our days look the same, but they all share a similar rhythm.
At 6:00 a.m., I’m usually the only one awake. (I’m thankful to finally be in a season where I’m up before my kids: it wasn’t always like that!) The first thing I do is head to the kitchen to make a cup of coffee.
I enjoy the quiet time and get an hour of writing in, then head out the door for a quick run.
The kids are just waking up when I get back. I hit the shower while Will gets breakfast started.
After we say goodbye to Will, we finish getting ready, and then dive in to our schoolwork.
We call our brand of home education classical unschooling. Our curriculum is classical, but we’re pretty free-wheeling in our implementation. We also leave lots of room for self-directed learning and independent projects.
We start our school days by 9:00 a.m. The kids like to tackle their toughest subjects first. Usually that means math, but it varies depending on what the kids are studying now. (When Jack was reading The Trojan War for English Lit, that always came first!)
We’re trying something new this year: my 4th grader and 6th grader are taking classes at a local cottage school. (It’s like college: they go to one group class a week and come home with a boatload of homework.) They’re taking English lit and classical studies, and that homework occupies a significant chunk of each school day.
While my oldest two work through their cottage school homework, I do reading and writing with my 7-year-old. We’re working our way through The Ordinary Parent’s Guide to Teaching Reading, which I’ve now used with three of my kids. Reading is clicking for her now, so she enjoys these lessons. I wouldn’t have said that a year ago.
My 4-year-old loves to do whatever his 7-year-old partner in crime is doing. When she’s doing math, he counts his legos. (Or, on a really good day, chocolate chips.) When she’s doing reading, he grabs a book. When she’s writing, he writes (or colors).
I spend some dedicated time with our youngest, too: he’s learning his letters and numbers; he’s starting to learn to write.
And when he loses interest, he plays legos, his favorite thing. Legos make our homeschool possible. That’s not much of an exaggeration. When my 4-year-old is happy, the house is peaceful enough for everyone to do their work. (Well, usually.)
After we finish our core activities, we move on to the more self-directed stuff. My 11-year-old and 9-year-old are learning Latin (we’re using Latina Christiana), and we’re listening to The Story of the World audiobook.
My older three kids are also studying German and typing.
Somewhere in there we break for lunch. If it’s a beautiful day, we’ll head outside for a bit before getting back to our schoolwork.
We have a daily quiet time at about 2:00. (That includes mom—I need my rest time, too!) You can do whatever you want—as long as it’s quiet and independent. (Screens have to be pre-approved and are limited to 30 minutes.) Sometimes the older kids need this time to finish schoolwork.
Other popular rest time activities are crafting, legos, writing stories, blogging (my oldest two both have blogs), and reading. I use this time to read, drink tea, and clear out my inbox.
After rest time, we head outside. On a freezing day, this might look like taking the dog on a short walk around the block. On a beautiful day, we might play in the yard or jump on the trampoline. On a rare 56-degrees-and-sunny January day like we had yesterday, we hit the nearby trails.
This winter I’ve made getting the kids outside a priority: when we don’t, they bounce off the walls all day and don’t sleep well at night.
Late afternoons look a lot like rest time: the same activities, although they usually play together now instead of independently.
A household rule is that you have to spend 30 minutes a day reading a good book—meaning a book Mom has approved as being challenging enough—before dinner. This is a look at everyone’s current “good books.” (When you’re four, Star Wars young readers books totally count.) If the kids didn’t get their reading time in earlier, they do it now.
We almost always eat dinner together as a family. (At least we do during this time of year—ball season is another story.) There’s not a long window between dinner and bedtime. The kids usually put pajamas on right after dinner, then we hang out for a bit as a family before the bedtime routine kicks into high gear.
No two days look the same around here, but the basic rhythm is constant. We may be free-wheeling, but my kids also do very well with structure. Putting together a day-to-day that works for us has been about keeping those two things in balance.
What subject do you and your kids usually tackle first each day? Does it ever change?
How the days have changed:
2014: Anne’s homeschool day in the life (with a 3-, 6-, 8- & 10-year-old)
Math. My 9 year old knows after math, she can do what she wants(educationally). We are very relaxed homeschoolers. With my kindergartener usually we do reading first, then writing, then math. It’s all very broken up and the lessons are never more than 25 min.
This is great! My oldest likes to get Math out of the way. I like to start with reading a book to them but they are becoming such awesome readers I am having trouble keeping up with books for them, let alone me to read aloud! Great problem to have 🙂
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Yes, it’s a great problem to have!
Classical unschooling. My new favorite phrase! 🙂
This is fascinating. I love the idea of homeschooling, but for a few reasons, we haven’t implemented it in our family. Still, I enjoy reading about such typical days in the life of a homeschooling family. I really admire all the work you do with your children. Also, yes! Lego can be a life saver. I see that your children also enjoy Lego Star Wars, and mine are crazy about it. My son has all the Lego Star Wars young readers books on his shelf and they are definitely his favourites.
I homeschool my 6 year old and we start with “Question ” which is primarily science and history around 9:30am, break for lunch at 11:30am, then do “Focus” being the most concentrated period of Language Arts and Math from about 12:30pm-2:30pm followed a snack and “Imagine” which is arts and crafts, music, cooking, imaginative play from 3:00 until 4:30. She is welcome to continue on her own afterwards(and often does) but that’s when I do the bulk of chores.
Question, Focus, Imagine. I like those!
Love this! What workbook is that with the clocks? I am assuming it’s math and it seems to be what I am looking for 🙂
You mean the one she says she hates? 🙂 It’s Rod and Staff Math. She’s on Level 3.
I love the term “classical unschooling” – I think it fits what our homeschooling has morphed into this year. I insist on math first for my oldest (who at 10 is finally self-directing and able to follow a checklist). I work with child #2 while the other kids (aged 7-1) are “supposed” to play quietly (who am I fooling?!) I then double up on the next two kids while child #2 plays with the littles. We reconvene for a snack and read-alouds. Rest time is a must followed by lots of outdoor play (sometimes with mom, sometimes while I take care of housework).
Sounds like a great structure!
I’ve finally convinced my 12-year old son to appreciate math. He’s actually a natural at it, but he’s always disliked it in the past. Now that he’s liking it more, we can tackle it anytime of the day. I like the idea of tacking the toughest subject first. Great strategy! You do have a great rhythm to your homeschool day and a nice balance of free time and structure.
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I hope to get to that point one day!
I’d love to know more about your cottage school if you’d be willing to point me in the right direction. 🙂
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What do you want to know? This is sometimes called the university model, because it’s like college: they go to school once a week for instruction, discussions, the occasional test/quiz, and come home with a boatload of homework to do during the week.
Would you share just a bit about your older kids’ blogs? I think my 9 year old would love to do something like that. She has just been rewarded with an email account now that she has learned to type.
I wrote a little bit about them here but we haven’t made them public yet.
Our first subject is Literature. I found that reading to him (7yo) connected us more and smoothed the way into the other subjects. Prayer, calendar, literature, reading (he reads to me) are required in that order, and he picks the order of the rest! It has been this way for most of the school year. Last year, I aimed for math first because of the wisdom offered in homeschool posts, and I can definitely see why it’s first for so many people.
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Cait Fitz @ My Little Poppies
Love this! We tackle piano practice first and then usually math. The rest of the day is up in the air, depending.
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Classical unschooling. Exactly the phrase I’ve been looking for! I’m so glad to see others feel these approaches are compatible.
I love peeking into other people’s homeschools–thanks for the glimpse. We start with leisurely read-aloud and memory work before getting on with more workbook-y work. Do you get all your blog work in between your early morning and afternoon rest time? I’ve recently started a blog, and I’m still not quite in a groove with incorporating my writing time into my day.
My son is an “Eat that Frog” type of guy. He always tackles his schoolwork first thing in the morning. Sometimes even before eating breakfast! My daughter doesn’t start thinking in concrete until she’s had a change to create or imagine. I let her have personal time first thing in the morning and I don’t require her to get to work right away. This works out well for us because at their current ages and stages – it’s best that they don’t observe each other’s schoolwork. 🙂
Overall though, I feel like our rhythm is quite similar to yours Anne. Thanks for sharing!
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Thanks for this post. Can you tell me which typing program you’re using for your older children?
Thank you so much for the outdoor wintertime tip! I think fresh air helps everyone! And thank you for taking time to share. Its very encouraging!
I’d love to hear how and when you fit in chores. I find myself in a season were we either clean/declutter OR do school, it’s almost never both 🙁 I’m not happy with that current pattern, so I’d love to hear how you work this in.
And I SO appreciate the outdoor wintertime thing… that will help break mommy of the winter blahs!
Right now my boys tackle math but I do reading first with my girls. Sounds like a full day!
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