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Written by Jamie Martin of Simple Homeschool and Steady Mom
Good morning, and welcome to our home! Come on in.
I can’t believe I’ve been writing day in the life posts for five. years. now. It’s fun (and quite wild, too) to see how things have changed around here.
We homeschool in a non-traditional way, veering toward the informal, unschooling side of the spectrum. The philosophy we identify with most is called A Thomas Jefferson Education (sometimes also referred to as Leadership Education).
Here’s what a typical homeschool day looks like for us at the moment:
(All times are approximate, not rigid.)
6:00 am – My alarm goes off and I get up to write. This is when I get the bulk of my blogging work done on an average day. I write new content first, then spend time editing, scheduling Facebook updates, and responding to emails.
8:00 am – Time for my shower before our day officially begins. While I’ve been writing, the kids have been waking up on their own schedule–some early, some late. They play or read in their rooms.
8:30 am – Time for everyone to get dressed. Downstairs, one child empties the dishwasher, another makes breakfast (cereal most days), and the third puts the laundry in.
9:00 am – Breakfast time. After a quick bowl of cereal for myself, I read to the kids from our current read-aloud. (Holy cow, how much fun am I having introducing this book to them for the first time!)
9:30 am – When we finish our chapter for the day, it’s cleaning time! I make sure everyone understands their job and set the timer.
After cleaning, everyone will make sure they are completely ready for the day–with teeth brushed and hair fixed.
Allow me to quickly insert a reminder that this is a real, imperfect day I’m writing about! Sometimes a kid has an attitude about doing their work; sometimes I’ve settled a ton of sibling squabbles by breakfast time. You know what I mean, right?
10:15 am – Starting around now, I spend 45 minutes to an hour with each child individually.
When it isn’t their turn with me, the children are free to work on whatever worthwhile activity they choose (the only guidelines are that we don’t allow screen time, it isn’t time to play with each other loudly, and we need to stay inside.)
Most of the time this translates into hours of audiobooks, reading independently, working on projects (baking, sewing, crafting, writing, etc.), or playing with favorite toys.
I recently finished new compasses with the kids, so I have a good idea what everyone would like to learn over the next six months. I keep it in mind as I plan.
Here are some specifics as to what I do during my individual time with each child:
Trishna (11): Cursive lessons, completing this “Mom and Me” journal, a formal cooking lesson once a week, thank you notes, grammar study, writing or editing stories, researching Presidents, creating lapbooks, Time for Learning
Jonathan (10): Math board games, a formal cooking lesson with me once a week, thank you notes, Teaching Textbooks Math, Duolingo Spanish, Khan Academy, Meteorology 101 (We’re currently taking this class together through UniversalClass.com and he loves it)
Elijah (9): Reading practice (Elijah is still working on reading fluency), a formal baking lesson with me once a week, thank you notes, reading a chapter book to him, When I Grow Up I Want to Be in the Military ebook
You’ll notice how different each child’s list is–that’s because we believe in individualized education. Steve and I make a unique plan for their needs, desires, and goals. Our top priority at this age is that our kids maintain their love for learning.
15 minute skills learning
Since the new year started I’ve given the kids an incentive to learn academic skills I feel would come in handy to them, but that might not necessarily fit into their current interests. This includes specific math or language arts skills.
Three times a week, I’m inviting the kids to work on these for up to 15 minutes during their time with me.
For each minute, they receive something that benefits themselves and something that benefits others–a chocolate candy for themselves and a bean for others. The candy pieces they eat after lunch, the beans are each worth 10 cents to donate toward setting children free from slavery through Love146. (Steve works as the CEO there.)
I’ve been amazed at what we can accomplish in 15 minutes when everyone is engaged.
12:00pm – We break for a snack and I read from the kids’ Bible. I also may read from our current poetry book, This Week in History, or introduce a US History poster (depending on the day of the week).
12:30pm – My final hour with a child one-on-one. (And yes, you should imagine plenty of interruptions in all of the above!)
1:30 pm – Lunchtime! The kids made their sandwiches last night (a routine I love), so we just grab them from the fridge, add veggies, and sit down.
I wait to eat until later, so I can read during lunch. Right now we’re working our way through a few Life of Fred math books – laugh out loud funny stuff!
2:oo pm – The kids bundle up and head outside–we’ve had some pretty frigid days in Connecticut lately, but they still usually play on our beautiful five acres.
3:00 pm – On warm days, outside time can last much longer, but right now not so much. Often I put on a show or two from our Discovery Education subscription.
If I haven’t already started dinner, I do so now in order to avoid dinnertime stress later.
4:00 pm – Afternoon Study Time begins.
We each have an hour and a half of blissful time on our own–Mommy’s sanity time before the evening begins. If I have to do any blogging work here, I will, but I try to keep it to an absolute minimum.
While the kids read or play, this is my chance to both care for myself and set the example. I want to model for the kids that I set aside time for study as well.
Here are some of the things I may choose from:
- my own current read-aloud
- my Mentoring in the Classics current read-aloud
- Uncovering the Logic of English
- Teaching Textbooks Math
- Khan Academy
- Math Doesn’t Suck
- Bedtime Math (Jonathan often joins me for this)
- Duolingo Spanish
- Listening to a podcast
- Journal Writing
- Taking a nap or (on warmer days) a walk around our property
5:30 pm – When afternoon study time ends, the kids play while I finish up dinner.
Sometimes their play gets a little too loud for this mama’s nerves. If so, I may put on another show while we wait for Steve to get home from work.
6:30 pm – By now we sit down to dinner as a family. In the past year we’ve started a new routine of family reading after we eat–while we’re still gathered at the table.
We are working our way through Narnia together. We probably read one chapter 3-4 times a week. The other nights we read from the Bible or not at all.
7:00 pm – Now comes clean up time, a task we have mostly handed off to the kids (bliss!).
They rotate turns, and as I mention in this post we support Elijah’s reading journey as a family by allowing him to either work his body or his mind after dinner. If he chooses to do reading practice, then the rest of the family will clean up for him.
7:20 pm – We finish up our evening tasks: cleaning, making sandwiches for the next day, showers for those who need them, etc. Then one by one everyone gathers in the living room to just hang out for a little while before bed.
7:45 pm – Around this time the kids choose any books they’d like to take upstairs with them and begin the process of heading up for bed.
Steve and I begin the process of hanging out and enjoying some uninterrupted (if we’re lucky) down time together.
8:30 pm – We tuck the boys in and turn their lights off. If Trishna chooses to do extra reading, she’s allowed to stay up until 9:30pm. We head to bed ourselves around 10 or by 10:30 at the latest.
Candlemaking is a recent creative project we’ve been dabbling in!
Our Weekly Rhythm
The schedule you see above is what our homeschool days generally look like on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. But I like variety, so we shake things up a little on Tuesdays and Thursdays:
Tuesdays: Our flex day. Library trips, documentaries, playdates, doctor’s appointments, etc. If we need to schedule something, I try to do it this day so it doesn’t interfere with our life-learning rhythm on other weekdays.
Thursdays: Our homeschool group day. Right now the kids take martial arts and a cooking class. Also on Thursdays Steve comes home early (3pm) so I can head out to have uninterrupted writing time alone. I work for about five hours on Sundays as well.
And there you have it–our homeschool day in the life, 2015! Thanks for following along!
Want to see how our days have changed over the years?
- 2011: My homeschool day in the life with a 5, 6, & 7-year-old
- 2012: My homeschool day in the life with a 6, 7, & 8-year-old
- 2013: My homeschool day in the life with a 7, 8, & 9-year-old
- 2014: My homeschool day in the life with a 8, 9, & 10-year-old
Is there any part of our day you might like to try out in your own?
Anne of Green Gables…go good!
Question: Is it common to have a “Flex Day” like you have? That seems like a great idea!
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I don’t know if it’s common or not, Emily. I just know that it works for us, for right now! I love the change, having a bit of variety to the day-to-day. And I’ve also found that having it has helped keep the other days more uniform, which also works out well. Hope that helps!
While we are not a home school family , I do enjoy reading about how other families do life.
Me too, Susan. It’s just fun to have that type of intimate insight we don’t often see, isn’t it?
I have been looking for your baking lesson log all week! Couldn’t remember where I had seen it or put my bookmark. 🙂
We’re looking into alternative schooling for our kids after this school year ends. These day-in-the-life posts are so helpful — I feel that I can recognize my kids here and there and get a good feel for what books and learning materials to look into as I see more of what they’d like to do or the way they’d best learn. Would you mind giving a few examples of those 15-minute learning chunks? Thanks so much!
The 15 minute skills learning has involved handwriting skills that still need work, mastering math facts, that kind of thing. I have a growing list – different for each child, based on their strong and weak areas. Hope that helps!
Always enjoy reading this series. Thanks for including your weekly rhythm, love that!
You’re welcome, Rebecca. So important to keep in mind that not every day looks the same – how boring would that be?!
Caroline Starr Rose
Oh, how I love this family!
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How this family loves YOU, ma’am!! xo
I love how truly individualized your kids’ days are. I find that one of the more difficult things to achieve, but also value it immensely. And sandwiches made the day before- now that’s something I’m going to have to try. Meal prep during the day is such a drag for me! Thank you for sharing what your day looks like. 🙂
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Thanks, Amy! The compasses have helped so much with each child taking ownership and having a more individualized experience – I feel like that has happened more as they get older and their interests start to be more unique. And yes to the lunches, it will change your life!!
Erin - The Usual Mayhem
I love the rhythm you’ve got going, Jamie. Even on a squabble-ridden day I imagine it helps to pull everyone through (well, that and a hidden stash of chocolate!)
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How did you know about the chocolate?! 😉 I do love our rhythm, and seeing it naturally evolve over the years.
It’s all Anne all the time here too!
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Just the best, right?!
I’ve been reading your day in the life posts since they started. As a mom to a 5 year old and 20 month old, I always find it encouraging reading about the independence your kiddos are slowly gaining. Gives this introverted, chaos averse mama something to look forward to. 🙂
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It really is amazing how their independence naturally increases as the years slowly pass by!
I love the way the whole family comes around Elijah with his reading. I also love that he is free to choose his after dinner reading practice. It sounds supportive and encouraging. I bet it doesn’t always sound quite like that in real life, but most of the time if good enough to call it more than good
Thanks, Tracy! It IS good, and I think having the choice and knowing the family is supporting is very empowering for him.
Our homeschool schedule looks remarkable similar to yours. I have 3 kids, 11 year old b/g twins and a 9 year old son. We are unschoolish as well and each kid spends time with Mom doing more academic stuff. But we do allow academic screen time for the older two during alone time.Here was today.
7am- My husband and I woke up and ate breakfast together before he left for work.
8:30am- The kids came out of their rooms, ate breakfast and got dressed.
9:15am-Our day begins with me working with the 9 yo.
10:30am-I begin work with the 11 yo boy after making a call to the dentist about the 9 yo’s tooth ache.
11:50am- We break for lunch-roast beef and cheese sandwiches and veggies.
12:25pm-I start working with the 11 yo girl.
1:45pm-I stop work with the girl and load all 3 kids up in the car for the 9 yo’s dentist appt.
3:30pm-After a stop at the pharmacy(he has an infection), we arrive home and I do chores and call my mom.
4:45pm-I begin making dinner.
5:30pm-My husband comes home and we eat dinner
6:30pm-We have family Bible time.
7:30pm-We all watch a TV show.
8:00pm-Bedtime prep begins
8:45pm-Bedtime for the kids
10:00pm- Adult bedtime
Here is a list of what each kid did today:
9 yo- with Mom: Math Mammoth, research on grizzly bears on own: jigsaw puzzle, legos, wrote story about dentist, brainteaser/logic puzzles
11 yo boy- with Mom- talked and read about electricity, inventions, Thomas Edison, Industrialization on own: 2 math lessons on Khan Academy, codecademy, Snap Circuts, logic puzzles, drew and wrote about possible inventions
11 yo girl- with Mom: Math Mammoth, talked and read about Holocaust, Germany, Judaism,and prejudice on own- read Number the Stars, painted, read the Bible, wrote poetry.
Our lists are very varied.
Sounds like a fun day, Frances! Thanks for sharing.
Thank you for sharing. One thing I will say is that when we removed the TV completely….overall behavior and peace improved markedly. There’s no such thing as “merely an hour of TV” because it lowers brain activity for 5 full hours AFTER it’s turned off.
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It’s official—I love how you guys “do school”! I’ll have to pick your brain some more when we get back. 🙂
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Anytime, Tsh! Thanks for the encouragement!!
This is so very helpful to newbies like me. Thank you for sharing!
I really love how you individualize lessons for each child. I have been thinking on this idea for a few days, wondering how I can make it work for my three. I have long wanted to it this way, but whenever I try to work with one, the others find their way to the room and cause distractions. They all want to be together, yet they can’t concentrate well when they are together!
I love your daily schedule. Beautiful family life!!!
Thank you for sharing this. I will have to go back and look over the ones from when your children were younger. I have been trying to get ideas of some way we can “schedule” our time, and it’s so hard to find basic outlines like this for anybody in a similar position to me 🙂