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Written by Jamie Martin of Simple Homeschool and Steady Mom
Today’s post marks the 6th homeschool day in the life I’ve written–one each year since I originally thought of the idea in 2011! It’s amazing to look back and watch the kids grow up before my eyes.
In one way January is an odd time to kick off this series–we’re coming out of different holiday routines, and starting over feels strange for a while. At the same time, perhaps that’s why we need this series this time of year–to nudge us back in the right direction.
Before Christmas I could feel homeschool burnout looming. All I wanted to do (as I told one friend) was “watch Christmas movies and eat cookies.”
So we did.
Not too many cookies, but a few, plus a movie each day for about two weeks.
Here’s what that looks like at the moment:
Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays
6:30 am – I’m at my bedroom desk and begin writing and/or doing whatever computer work is essential that day, including scheduling Facebook and responding to emails. I try to eat breakfast too.
8:00 am – I finish up, grab new clothes, and head for the shower. During this time, the kids have been waking up and starting their own days–playing in their rooms (separately), reading, etc.
8:30 am – I officially begin my day with the children. It gets loud fast, ya’ll.
Kids get dressed, Jonathan makes breakfast (cereal most days), Trishna puts the laundry in, Elijah and I tidy upstairs, and they alternate emptying the dishwasher.
9:00 am – By now we’re at the dining table, ready to eat and ready for “Breakfast School.”
What Breakfast School often (but not always!) looks like:
- Reading from our current read-aloud (This one’s been a good choice to transition us away from the holidays & back into the swing of things)
- Memorizing poetry (I adore this poetry series for kids)
- Bedtime Math
- Choosing someone from our prayer bowl to pray for
9:45 am – Morning Cleaning! I assign everyone a job before they leave the table. (We still follow this format, but we no longer use a timer.)
There’s a time buffer here as well for everyone to finish getting ready for their day: brushing teeth, fixing hair, folding their laundry, making tea, etc.
10:30 am – Independent Mission Time
This is a slight change since last year, one we’re still experimenting with. The idea is for everyone to have a block of time to work on our current mission.
Of course our missions vary depending on what phase of learning we’re in:
- Elijah (Core Phase): playing/listening to audio books (And thank God for Sparkle Stories! I couldn’t successfully homeschool without it.)
- Jonathan & Trishna (Love of Learning Phase): reading, writing, typing or other skills learning on the computer, working on their own projects
- Jamie (Mission Phase): Home projects or writing projects (This extra hour is coming in handy as I prepare for this excitement headed your way in the summer!)
I’m also available to the kids during this time: to help when needed, answer questions, etc.
11:30 am – I prep a snack. It’s a large one because we tend to eat lunch late. Then I call everyone for “Snack School.”
We give a short report about what we did during our mission time, and we read the Bible as well as another read-aloud.
12:15 pm – D.E.A.R: Drop Everything and Read!
I stole this idea from my own memories of 6th grade, and tweaked it to work for us. (We even have a theme song!) All of us meet in the living room after choosing a book we want to read independently.
I set a timer for 25 minutes and we read silently until it goes off. For me this is a fabulous way to take a break mid-morning and to show the kids that even Mommy prioritizes reading.
12:45 pm – One-on-One Time with Each Child
Now I spend about 30 minutes with each child. And after reading this fabulous book last year, I asked myself a question: “If each child could only study/work on ONE area for the next six months, what should it be?”
Note that I wasn’t trying to figure out ALL that my kids to be successful someday, which is a fear-producing and inexhaustible list. Instead I’m asking what they need to be passionate learners today.
Here are the current answers:
- Trishna (12) – Language Arts (She loves creative writing & is interested in all that will help her improve: spelling, grammar, typing, handwriting, etc.)
- Jonathan (11) – Meteorology (This boy devours all things weather-related, including college textbooks and online courses.)
- Elijah (10) – Reading (Elijah is still working on reading fluency, so we spend time on that skill as well as making sure I read to him in areas of his interest.)
During our one-on-one time we focus mainly on the above, particularly on anything they can’t do independently.
On Friday afternoons, I also insert a cooking lesson with Trishna after I finish one-on-one time with everyone.
2:30 pm – We finish up, kids make their lunches, then bundle up and head outside to play.
At this point I may tidy up a few things, take a nap or a walk on our property, or read for a while.
4:00 pm – Usually around here the kids start filtering back inside and we’ll begin what we used to call rest time and what is now called “Afternoon Study Time.”
For the kids this looks like books, audiobooks, Lego play, playing with dolls, some computer time for the oldest two, taking showers, etc.
For me it looks like dinner making and a bit of online work.
6:00 pm – We finish our activities and finish up dinner. Steve gets home from work and we sit down to eat together.
After eating we have a short family reading time, then kids clean up and get ready for bed. We often watch a TV show together.
8:00 pm – Around this time, give or take, the children head upstairs. My boys still like to go to bed early (they’re early risers), so we tuck them in and turn lights off. Trishna takes her shower and stays up in her room reading until 9:30 or 10pm.
Then Steve and I enjoy our freedom to hang out together. We usually go to bed around 10ish.
Tuesdays follow more-or-less the same format in the mornings until after Snack School, when we’ll have an outing of some sort: the library, Starbucks for hot chocolate, a friend’s house for a playdate, a matinee at our local movie theater, a doctor’s appointment if necessary.
And now that Jonathan has graduated from our home cooking course, he makes dinners every Tuesday!
We’ve done homeschool co-ops in the past, but right now a winter wilderness program works beautifully for us.
It’s a drop-off program, meaning it also gives me quiet and more writing time. The kids spend five hours outside in the woods–hiking, building fires, playing games, identifying wild edibles. They love it and so do I!
Now in case any of the above sounds dreamy or idyllic, let me issue a reality check. Some days actually are dreamy, maybe a few a month. Everyone is clearly inspired, motivated, getting along, learning.
On the rest of the days please insert a combination of the following: sibling bickering, distractions at the table, interruptions galore, discipline issues, adolescence issues, special needs issues, highly sensitive Mommy issues.
In short, it’s a messy, lovely life.
Just like yours.
How the days have changed:
- 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
- 2015: My homeschool day in the life with a 9, 10, & 11-year-old
Do you have any questions about our days? Ask away and I’ll do my best to answer!