A Day in Our Homeschool Life

a day in our homeschool life

Maybe it’s true, and the third time is a charm:

  • Third year homeschooling.
  • Third school-age child.
  • Third week into a new school year.

I’m still holding my breath, but so far this third time around–things are going really well! Then again, maybe it’s just the calm before the storm (read: new baby coming!). I’m anticipating many adjustments in the next couple of months when we introduce a newborn and I’m no longer sleeping through the night. But for now, here’s what a typical day looks like for us. . . .

Morning

5:30 am My alarm goes off, and often gets a couple of snooze cycles. But I’m up and out of bed by 6.

6:00 am Jared and I shower/get dressed, and touch base about our day before the earliest rising child makes his appearance.

6:40 am I start breakfast while Jared greets the kids, changes night-time diapers, helps kids dress/choose clothes for the day.

7:00 am The kids help finish breakfast/set the table, and/or sit at the table and chat until it’s time to eat.

days of the week

Weekly meal planning keeps my sanity and takes the guess-work out of what we’re having. It’s boring and my “free-spirit” nature would rather make what sounds good instead of what’s on the calendar. But having several little kids has pushed me to realize predictability and procedure really does eliminate a lot of the stress and chaos. And so I fight the urge for variety–saving the new recipe experiments for dinnertime or weekends.

For us, breakfast looks like:

  • Sunday: Protein shakes (quick, easy, and filling on the way to church)
  • Monday: Breakfast burritos (scrambled eggs, crumbled sausage, cheese, salsa in a tortilla)
  • Tuesday: Greek yogurt, frozen berries, toast
  • Wednesday: Baked oatmeal, fruit
  • Thursday: Pancakes (waffles, crepes, or french toast), sausage (or bacon)
  • Friday: Fried eggs, toast, fruit
  • Saturday: Oatmeal/cereal

7:30 am Jared finishes getting ready for work while I clean up breakfast, start a load of laundry, and supervise the kids as they start on their individual lists of chores. We’ve been using (and loving) Chore Monster for the past several months, and the kids are very motivated by the checklists and points.

chores

8:00 am Jared leaves for work. Chores are supposed to be finished (and everyone that is finished by earns bonus Chore Monster points). Then they have (non-screen) “free time” until school starts. Most of the time they choose to read, color, play with toys, or go outside. During this time I’m checking-off chore lists, finishing my own morning to-do’s, making sure everything is prepared for school, and sneaking a peek at e-mail and Facebook.

It’s taken a lot of procedural practice, but most of the time the kids are self-propelled (with only a few reminders) because they know what to expect–thanks to consistency and our visual routine cards. We also discuss the daily routine at breakfast–making note of any special events, errands, or other changes that apply to the particular day.

Together Time

9:00 am School starts. We begin the day with the subjects we complete together: journaling, scripture study, history, and science.

journaling

{We begin each day with a journaling prompt.}

10:30 am Kids have a quick, simple snack (like cheese and crackers, rice cakes, granola bar, popcorn, etc.), then “recess.” If the weather is good, I encourage them to go outside. They usually get a 20-minute break (unless it’s been a rough morning and I need a little more time :)!) During recess, I get myself a protein-heavy snack, take a deep breath, and regroup for the next round of school: individual, grade-level work.

learning about clouds

{Learning about clouds during science}

Grade-level Work

10:45 am “Recess” ends and the littlest ones (Serity: 4, and Lydia: 2) begin to watch a “school” movie on Netflix. Some of our favorites are Leap Frog, Super Why, and The Magic School Bus.

Individual work time happens in 30-minute “station rotations.”

  • One child begins with “computer time,” and can play on approved educational sites (with headphones).
  • Another has “mommy time” and sits with me at the table or couch to go over new concepts and remaining assignments.
  • The third has “table time” and works independently at the table. (Serity being the exception–she watches the movie during her “table time.”)

station rotation

12:15 pm If everyone has stayed on task, our “station rotation” is finished, school work is finished, and the kids clean up for lunch. I start lunch and they clean/finish schoolwork/play until it’s time to eat. Part of clean-up includes putting books, binders, and papers away correctly in color-coded drawers.

labeled color-coded drawers

The labeled, color-coded drawers help us keep grade-level work organized. Each child has his/her own set of drawers–one drawer per subject (except history and science, because we alternate days on these subjects). The last drawer also holds a small treat they can have when their schoolwork is completed.  I’m a mean mom and make them keep these drawers organized. (I even check everyday to make sure books/notebooks have been put back in the correct place.) As I type it I realize how anal it sounds, but having a firm procedure set right at the beginning makes a huge difference in how our day goes. I tend to lose patience when we waste time because no one can find a pencil, or a red crayon, or the math book “happens” to be missing.

Lunch Time

We also have a lunchtime meal schedule–usually favorite “kid foods.” Sides change and usually include a seasonal fruit/veg. Lunch is the time I choose not to fight the battle of introducing new foods. I make myself protein-heavy salad, or leftovers.

  • Monday: macaroni and cheese (“Macaroni Monday”)
  • Tuesday: hot dogs/corn dogs
  • Wednesday: sandwiches (usually grilled cheese, lunchmeat, or PB&J)
  • Thursday: chicken nuggets/strips, tator tots or fries
  • Friday: mini pizzas (usually on half an English muffin or tortilla)

color-coded cups

We color-code everything! Dishes, notebooks, binders, pencil boxes, toothbrushes, etc. It makes life so much easier because there’s no fighting about who gets the pink cup, or who didn’t put away their XYZ, etc.

Afternoon

1:00 I clean the kitchen while the kids have (non-screen) “free time” (or if they didn’t get finished before lunch, they complete their school work).

1:30 I read the littlest ones (Serity: 4 and Lydia: 2) a story of their choice and put Lyddie down for a nap. Then the rest of us get cozy on the couch and I read aloud from our current chapter book.

reading about the Vikings

{I usually integrate the read-aloud with our current history or science unit.}

2:00 pm Mandatory quiet time. The older three don’t usually nap but I’m pretty strict about having quiet time because I’m an introvert and NEED time to recharge. The kids are allowed to read, color, build with Legos, listen to an audio book, play games, etc.–as long as it’s “quiet.”  If it’s been a rough day, I’ll take a short nap, but most of the time I work (create new products, blog, or respond to social media comments).

3:00 pm As long as quiet time went well (read: no fighting or bugging me!), the kids get a snack and have screen time. They take turns choosing movies on Netflix, or playing computer/Wii games. Since Lyddie is still asleep, the electronic babysitters usually allow me to keep working another hour or two(!).

computer

Evening

5:30 pm I start dinner and the kids clean-up and help cook and/or set the table.

6:00 pm Most nights Jared gets home about 5:45 and entertains while I finish making dinner. We don’t have a meal rotation for the evening, but I do pre-plan each week so I’m not scrounging around the fridge and wondering what to make amid whiny, hungry kids. My hate-to-plan-ahead “free spirit” did that for too many years and it used to be the hardest, most frustrating time of day. Though having a meal plan doesn’t make dinnertime completely stress-free, it has made a huge difference in reducing the dinnertime chaos.

7:00 pm Evenings seem to be the most variable for us with activities, late work nights, or errands. But when we’re home and don’t have some place to be, we clean up dinner, bathe the kids, have family prayer and scripture study, brush teeth, and put the younger ones to bed at 7:30 pm.

brush teeth

7:30 pm The older two stay up “late” and read another chapter or two with me, or hang out with daddy. Then they go to bed at 8:00.

8:00 pm Jared and I have our “8 o’clock talk” where we collapse on the couch and talk about (sometimes vent about!) our day. It’s also the time we bring up concerns, discuss the calendar, go over the budget, etc. Then we read scriptures together (I teach Sunday School, so we usually read and discuss the upcoming lesson material.).

9:00 pm By now we’re usually finished talking and reading, and have often moved onto getting dessert and/or watching TV. Some nights I work–cutting/assembling felt story sets, drawing clip art, etc.

10:30 pm We aim to head to bed.  It doesn’t always happen this early, but it’s the goal because the next morning comes early, and I need to be rested enough to do it all over again.

And most days I do want to do it all over again!

Linked to: SHINE Blog Hop, iHomeschool Network

Comments

  1. I really enjoyed reading about your day and it was very helpful! We are starting preschool and kindergarten in 11 days and as excited as I am, I am also so nervous about what our days hold. Your organization seems simple enough yet so effective. Thanks again. (found you over at shine blog hop)

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  2. I saw your post on the deliberate mom and was curious to see what you’re day is like. I have a toddler and been thinking about homeschooling. It is amazing you can do all of this in a day. I feel like I don’t do half of this in a day and I only have one kid. Haha!
    Way to go mama! I hope someday I can be this productive and organized!

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  3. Thank you for sharing this. I am homeschooling just one this year instead of three, so our day doesn’t need to be quite as structured as it was before, but this is a great resource for anyone not quite to their, “Third time’s the charm” year. Great post!

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  4. I love reading how other homeschoolers manage their days!

    What an awesome schedule you have going there. I want to share our schedule eventually. I think it’s so beneficial to see how others utilize their time.

    Way to go – this is fabulous.

    Thank you for sharing and for linking up to the #SHINEbloghop!

    Wishing you a lovely evening.
    xoxo

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  5. I love getting a glimpse into a day of a homeschooling family because I’m wondering if I’m missing something. This is our 4th year of homeschooling (ages 9, 7, 5, 3), and when I looked at the schedule I made up, I was really wishing I could clone myself … or just hire a teacher’s aide. I like your idea of Station Rotation. I’ll try to see if this will work for us. I do mandatory quiet times too, whether or not they fall asleep … for the exact same reasons you stated. Glad I found you through the Shine Blog Hop! :-)

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  6. I love that you colour code, pre-plan meals and make sure the kids keep their stuff organized! I am the same way and sometimes feel like I am being too strict but it really does make the day go more smoothly!

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