Melissa’s homeschool day in the life (with an 9-, 12-, 15- & 16-year-old) ~
Written by Melissa Camara Wilkins
When my oldest kids were little, I used to read day-in-the-life posts like these feeling equal parts excited to find great new ideas to try, and totally inadequate comparing my days to the ones I read about.
They start their day with a poetry circle? I started my day wiping oatmeal off the kitchen table.
She got up an hour before her kids for exercise, quiet time, and reading? I barely peeled my eyes open when my youngest climbed into bed with me and started jumping on my pillow.
But now, I’ve been homeschooling for 18 years. I’ve homeschooled with babies and toddlers underfoot. I’ve homeschooled elementary school and middle school and high schoolers all at the same time.
Our oldest two kids were homeschooled all the way through high school; our twenty-two-year old graduated from college last June and our nineteen-year-old is in his second year of college right now.
In all that time, we’ve tried a whole lot of things.
And here’s what I’ve learned: these day in the life posts… they can’t cover every single thing that happens in a day. They sometimes leave out the boring bits, or the cranky moments, or the parts where the plan fell apart—not because the writers are trying to be sneaky, but just because one post doesn’t have room for every single thing.
So I was comparing my whole messy, noisy, sometimes-wonderful-and-sometimes-exhausting entire day to just a couple of snapshots of theirs. And even apart from that, I’ve also learned this: What’s good for someone else’s day might not be right for mine.
And that’s okay. We’re not the same person and our families are different. That’s how things are supposed to be.
So nature walks, field trips, book clubs, family art projects, and all the other things I’ve read about in other people’s days… we might try some of those, or we might not. We might decide they’re just not for us. No big deal.
We do other things: our daily learning activities, taking the dog for walks, family read alouds, family movie night, family game night. When the kids were all little, there were a lot more park days and library trips (and no family anything nights, because nights were for early bedtimes). Now that they’re all older, there are a lot more driving practices and various kinds of lessons and theater rehearsals and… still library trips.
Even if we never do some of the cool things other homeschoolers might, it all works out.
So here’s what we did today.
Melissa’s Homeschool Day in the Life (with a 9-, 12-, 15-, and 16-year-old)
My sixteen year old got up first to let the dog out, not because she loves getting up early, but because she loves the dog. By the time I came downstairs, the 9- and 12- and 15-year-old were all up, too.
Everyone made their own breakfast, as usual, and then brought their learning activities to the dining room table to work while they ate.
I sat there, too, and drank my tea and read Samanth Irby’s Wow, No Thank You in between answering questions about graphing lines in slope-intercept form, the definition of wetlands, and how many chromosomes fruit flies inherit from each parent.
The teenagers have online classes, some through UC Scout and some through a local community college. The younger kids have Math-U-See , Singapore math and lots of books to read: the Story of the World on audiobook, Tales from Shakespeare, Princess Academy, the Dungeon Academy series, this book about engineering and this one about Scratch coding (afflinks) were all on the table today.
After awhile, I went back upstairs to get Actually Dressed instead of Loungewear Dressed while the youngest two kids played a card game.
When I came back downtairs, the 12-year-old and 15-year old were deep into a game of Codenames Duet.
By then it was time for lunch, which—just like breakfast—everyone makes for themselves when they’re ready.
In the afternoon, our 16-year-old had lines to memorize and Khan Academy SAT prep she wanted to work on. Our 15-year-old practiced at the keyboard. And the 9-year-old invited me to play a round of Sleeping Queens 2, which turned into three rounds of Sleeping Queens 2 while the 12-year-old watched and made helpful suggestions.
Here are other things that happened. The 9-year-old checked if we could watch a movie at least 67 times. The dog needed to bark over and over in the direction of the neighbor’s house, where solar panels are being installed on the roof. Our adult kids texted the family group chat various Star Wars and Lord of the Rings memes.
And I typed up this day-in-the-life post for you, first on the notes app on my phone, and then on my actual computer.
Soon it will be time to make dinner, which my husband will do, and our 16-year-old will head to theater rehearsal. After dinner, the kids will help with dishes and cleanup, and then we’ll read a chapter of By the Great Horn Spoon. The youngest two will get into bed, where they’ll read more or listen to audiobooks they’ve checked out from the library.
The 16-year-old will come back home, my husband and I and the big kids will all play with the dog some more before putting her to bed in her crate and heading upstairs.
Tomorrow will look the same…and different. It will be a little bit wonderful and a little bit exhausting. Someone may be grumpy. The dog may wake us all up early barking at a bird in the backyard.
I may lock myself in my office to write for an hour. The teenagers may bake chocolate chip cookies right after breakfast. Anything is possible.
We’ll just have to wait and see.
My, how the days have changed:
- 2022:Melissa’s homeschool day in the life (with an 8-, 11- 14-, & 15-year-old)
- 2021: Melissa’s homeschool day (with a 7-, 10-, 13-, 14-, 17-, & 20-year-old)
- 2020: Melissa’s homeschool day (with a 6-, 9-, 12-, 13-, and 16-year-old)
- 2019: Melissa’s unschool day (with a 5-, 8-, 11-, 12- and 15-year old)
- 2018: Melissa’s day (with a 4-, 7-, 10-, 11-, 14-, and 17-year-old)
- 2017: Melissa’s day (with a 3-, 6-,9-,10-,13-, and 16-year-old)
- 2016: Melissa’s day (with a 2-, 5-, 8-, 9-, 12- & 15-year-old)
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Thank you for being so honest and open! I really enjoyed reading about your day!
I love your initial commentary. I have had several people ask about how we do so much or how much fun our days look. I feel it would be disrespectful to my kids I also posted the meltdowns and the negatives. I try to be as realistic as possible without invading my kids’ privacy. As they get older, the days look so different as well. I still love these posts because I do get ideas and learn about new things (such as I clicked on a few of your links that I had not heard of before). Thank you for sharing your days through the years!
Wow, Melissa, it sounds like you’ve got a full and wonderful day of homeschooling with your 9-, 12-, 15- & 16-year-olds. It’s inspiring to see how everyone is taking ownership of their learning, from making their own breakfast to pursuing their own interests. Your perspective on day-in-the-life posts is also so important – it’s a reminder that everyone’s journey is unique and what works for one family might not work for another. Keep sharing your story!
Love this so much Melissa! It’s so important to remember that we are each on our own journey. It’s why I never get sick of reading ‘Day in the Life’ posts: it always helps me to remember that every day can look so different in mine and others’ homes.
Love to you and yours!
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