Kari’s Homeschool Day in the Life (with a 2-, 4-, 13-, and 16-year-old) ~
Written by Kari Patterson
Warmth. It’s January 12th, and as I stir awake I’m grateful again for the flannel sheets and plush Pendleton blanket we got for Christmas. Four-year-old Justice brings more warmth beside me; he has crawled in at some point last night and I love it.
I know how short these snuggle years are.
He stirs. Mama, want to go downstairs and read your Bible?
Yeah Buddy, just a few more minutes is my form of hitting snooze. He snuggles for a minute more than asks again, and I see the light rising outside. It’s time to start the day.
We currently live with my dad as he undergoes treatment for leukemia, and we build a house next door. We began in a travel trailer in the driveway last March, but we’ve slowly settled inside.
Dutch (16), Heidi (almost 14), and Ben (2) have their own rooms (well, Ben has a big closet), while Justice, Jeff, and I have mattresses on the floor of the bonus room.
With ages ranging from 2 to 80 in our household, the demands are diverse. Dutch and Heidi still attend a school (FCCT) for homeschool teens once a week, where Jeff teaches PE and I teach Literature & Composition. They also do a weekly Run Club with their friends.
Additionally, Dad & I go to chemo and infusions 2-3 days week, Heidi has theater 3 days/week, and during cross-country and track season, Dutch has practice/meets 6 days/week. Add in a couple wily little boys and it’s full time all the time!
Kari’s Homeschool Day in the Life (with a 2-, 4-, 13-, and 16-year-old)
Today is Thursday, so Jeff has left early for his 6am men’s group. Other week mornings he makes breakfast for everyone, giving me a chunk of time to read and pray alone. Today I slip in a chapter or two and brief prayer, then start the oatmeal and omelette, sip my coffee, and check the monitor to see if Ben’s awake.
Inspired by Amber’s post, I made some mid-year adjustments after Christmas, creating a board-game style schedule for the littles, to add more structure and predictability to their day. This also creates some continuity since I need to be gone a lot right now–whoever is caring for the littles, the day looks roughly the same. It’s been hugely helpful!
Dutch and Heidi both manage their school on their own. Dutch is taking Algebra 2, Chemistry, Communication & Interpersonal Skills, and SAT Prep all through HSLDA, then Literature & Composition and PE through FCCT. In the spring he’ll also attend the TeenPact leadership school at our state capitol.
Heidi’s taking Pre-Algebra through HSLDA, then Literature & Composition, Marine Biology, and Yearbook at FCCT. I know there are some gaps in her academics this year, but it’s a unique season and we can’t do it all. *smile* She also takes dance class, voice lessons, and performs in theater through Christian Youth Theater – she’s a busy girl!
I also keep additional booklists for each of them. I don’t require a certain number of books each year, but encourage them to read from these lists (I keep the books on hand) whenever they can.
After breakfast, the big kids tackle their school tasks at the table. They take their live online classes in their rooms, but usually gravitate toward the shared spaces for the rest of their school. During the morning, the littles and I do some household chores together, a little “schoolwork” (math with beans or working on our letters), as well as spend at least an hour outside.
Baseball, soccer, biking, and playing in the sandy river bank are the their favorites.
Around 11:30 we come inside for lunch and after cleaning up, the littles watch Letter Factory or Talking Words Factory (afflinks) while I tidy up and take a minute to respond to texts and think through what needs to be done before evening activities.
At 1pm Ben goes down for a nap, and I get some recharge time. Justice plays Legos and I try to do the three simple things that most renew my soul:
Go for a prayer walk, take a hot shower, and read fiction.
The fresh air, exercise, and time alone is critical for my soul. On these walks I can sort my jumbled thoughts, talk to God, ask for wisdom, and lay out my needs. It’s just 30-minutes or so, but peace settles over my soul, and I feel at least somewhat more prepared to face the rest of the day.
Then, a hot shower. I love to do this in the middle of the day after I’ve done chores, been outside with the boys, and walked. I’m ready to be warm and clean.
Next, I curl up under a warm blanket and slip into a literary world. Right now it’s Les Miserables, although Dutch just finished Project Hail Mary and is begging me to pause my book to read this.
The time for all this varies, but sometime around 2:30-3pm, Justice is ready for some interaction, so I try to give him some undivided attention. We play a game or read some of his favorite books. I keep a basket up high of all our “fragile favorites”–the ones we love so much they’re starting to fall apart.
During the time I also try to squeeze in some dinner prep, so I’m not trying to cook with both little boys underfoot. I like involving littles in cooking tasks, but for us dinner isn’t the best time for this.
Around 4pm Ben is stirring and ready to take on the world. I try to have a snack ready when he comes down as it makes for a happier transition.
For me, the 4ish-5:30ish window is the usually hardest of the day. When I try to do dinner-prep during this time it usually ends poorly, so now I try to focus on interacting with the littles until Jeff gets home.
We play a game, read, or if Papa’s watching something, we join in the snake hunt or the football game or whatever it may be.
Evenings vary. Mondays, Wednesdays, and Sundays we’re usually home as a family. Tuesdays I have Bible study, Thursdays and Fridays Heidi has theater, and Saturday nights Jeff helps set up the church building for services the next day.
During evenings at home, we play with the littles until they head to bed around 7:30pm. As soon as they’re down, the big kids, Jeff, and I enjoy some big-people time! Code Names, 7 Wonders, and Settlers of Catan are some of our favorite games, or we’ll watch a movie (spread over two evenings since I can’t stay up late enough for a full one!) and eat popcorn.
In the last few months we’ve enjoyed the most-recent Spiderman trilogy, Karate Kid, and Arrival. Most recently I introduced them to my all-time favorite, the 1998 version of Les Miserables.
Between 9:30-10pm the teens are at the height of their alertness and the parents are basically comatose. So, bedtime involves Jeff and I slowly backing away from their enthusiastic chatter and escaping into our room. Jokes aside, we do love this time with the big kids so we try to stay engaged as long as we can! Eventually we slip into bed and invariably say, “We did it!”
It’s a lot of work, this homeschool life.
But we wouldn’t trade it for the world.
My, how the days have changed:
- 2022: Kari’s Homeschool Day in the Life (with a 1-, 3-, 13-, and 15-year-old)
- 2021: Kari’s homeschool day in the life (with a newborn, 2-, 11- and 14-year-old)
- 2020: Kari’s homeschool day in the life (with a 1-, 10-, and 13-year-old)
- 2019: Kari’s homeschool day in the life (with a 5-month, 9- and 12-year old)
- 2018: Kari’s homeschool day in the life (with a 9-and 11-year-old)
- 2017: Kari’s homeschool day in the life (with a 7- and 10-year-old)
- 2016: Kari’s homeschool day in the life (with a 7- and 9-year-old)
- 2015: Kari’s homeschool day in the life (with a 5- & 8-year-old)
- 2014: Kari’s homeschool day in the life (with a 4- & 7-year-old)
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