What is a Typical Homeschool Day?
With a new high schooler, 7th grader, 5th grader, and 1st grader this year, I have vowed to keep things simple and efficient. We have always followed a pretty loose routine over the years, and I generally find that when we fall somewhere in the middle of no routine and strict routine we work best. There were the years I scheduled every 15 minutes (for really young ones, mind you!) and it backfired. There were the years I didn’t have much of a schedule. Yet, I always go back to the middle road is best. We need a framework to maintain order and have predictability and stability. Yet, we are open to life getting in the way and teaching us things that are not in the lesson plan book!
So here is our (loose) plan for the year, knowing that it can change at any moment. Also, please not that this is a typical day at home. One day a week we spend entirely out of the house at a local fine arts program for homeschoolers. Some days, my daughter works her part time job and that means driving her and waiting for her a few hours with my boys, so we will do errands, etc. Yet for the days without commitments outside of the house (and I really try to limit those), I am outlining our day here.
(and please note, what works for our family may not work for your family. Seek God is planning your schedule!)
Everyone wakes up around 7am (Daddy is up much earlier than all of us—4 or 5 am. I usually slowly rise around 6, and pray and spend time with the Lord before anything.) The kids get dressed (except for the occasional “pajama day”) and eat breakfast, etc. They are expected to have beds made and Bibles read before coming downstairs. I also begin working on my writing at this time. I work up until school time begins.
9:00 am Bible: This is family time. This year, we are working through the book of Joshua together. I usually read ahead and plan which passage will we read up to and make any notes from the commentary that I want to go over with the kids. I also will incorporate any geography and history that is in there, and any other noteworthy findings. The kids each have a Bible notebook where they can jot down what we are learning, and the littlest guy can draw while we are reading together.
After our Bible time, which can take anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour depending on our discussion, everyone starts their individual work. This is math, language arts, etc. I work with my first grader first, because he needs me the most and he needs me to teach the most. While doing this, the others have their assignments and can begin independently. The rule is that no one can interrupt someone else’s time with mom. They are to work independently until it is their turn. Knowing they will have a turn, eliminates the constant interruptions that used to happen every time I was working with one child.
(note- the high schooler has all of her assignments for the week and works through them at her own pace. She is learning time management skills this way and independently working and learning- yet, she is free to sit in with the younger kids whenever she would like, “just for fun.”)
We work through individual work until lunch time and everyone eats together. I may even assign the kids their own days to be “in charge” of making lunch this year. I think this would be a good way to give responsibility to the older kids, and the oldest three are capable of preparing lunch.
During lunch, it is also my time to catch up on emails, throw in the laundry, clean up around the house, check my blogs, etc. This is a detail that is important because I don’t have the need to multitask these things during school time because I know I will have this time later. This break allows me to focus on non-school things and not try to do them during school time.
After lunch, my high schooler continues with her work, while I do history with the younger three children. We are studying American History and this is basically many read alouds right now. Lots of good historical fiction and some other history books thrown in. I also will do science at this time with my younger two boys.
Everyone finishes up any loose ends during the afternoon and then everyone is free to go outside, or explore interests. My oldest boy is teaching himself 3D animation on the computer, using my husband’s work programs. He amazes me! He may also be found doing robotics, drawing, building something, etc.
My daughter is also working on her photography and getting up her own business site. One of our long-term goals for our children is to have entrepreneurial skills and be able to know how to own their own business someday if that is where the Lord leads. Since our family has been so blessed by owning a family business and both of us being able to work from home, we hope our children can have that option too when they are older. You can hear more about that on our podcast episode (How a Job Loss Blessed Our Family.) Anyway, she loves photography and that is certainly a skill she can use for her own business someday. We feel that right now is the best time to start a business, since she has nothing to lose and is still living at home, etc.!
We usually eat dinner around 5:30 and until it gets dark out too early, you will find us outside most evenings. Usually around 8pm, we always, always watch a show together as a family before bed. This may seem like a silly part of our routine, but honestly, it is such an important part of us because it is something we all look forward to together. We enjoy being together and we enjoy the tradition of watching something together before bed. We’re not running around in all directions- we are together. Since we don’t have cable, we find a series on DVD, Netflix, Hulu etc. Over the years, we’ve gone through the Little House on the Prairie series, Andy Griffith, Brady Bunch, Myth Busters, various Food TV shows, Shark Tank, etc. We really do enjoy our time, and usually we enjoy it with some ice cream or other treats 😉 Giving kids these kinds of traditions and stability matter to us.
Bedtime is by 9pm and we pray together and then off to bed before another day begins. As the kids have gotten older, most days are not nearly as hectic as the younger years, but that doesn’t mean it is always easy. Sticking to a framework for our day, that isn’t too loose or too tight, though has been a very important part to keeping things going smoothly. I find the simplest routines, with a level of predictability are just right for us.
And don’t get me wrong, some days the books are on hold because the attitudes need adjusting and the hearts need tending. Some days these are the things God is dealing with in me too! Some days I am tired, the kids are cranky, the groceries have run out and we are all a mess. Those are the days it is even more necessary that we have some kind of framework to return to the next day and continue on…
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