I get asked about our days all the time, and I know I am always curious to take a look inside other homeschooler’s days as well. Today I’m sharing a day in our life as a homeschooling family.
The only thing my days have in common is that they are super varied, so it’s hard to pin down an actual “day in the life.” Here, I’m going to take you through a somewhat average day. Just keep in mind that nothing around here is ever like I think it’s going to be. 😉
My oldest daughter graduated High School last year and she recently got married. So I just have my one 12 year old at home for school. Just that one simple fact means that my day is probably drastically different than many of you.
We don’t have a set wake up time at this time. We still follow a concept I call Sacred Hours. In different seasons of life, we have a set time to get up and get moving. We’re coming off of a super difficult season, so right now we’re getting up when we feel like it. However, things are settling down a bit and my daughter is busier than ever with theater, so we’ll have to go back to more structured days soon.
I usually get up before Soleil, and read and pray for an hour or so. I’ve started keeping a prayer journal again, as it helps keep me focused. After I spend some time in prayer, I read a portion of my Bible and get armed for my day. Believe me, I notice a huge difference when I don’t start my day in God’s word. It is so necessary!
If I wake up early enough, I’ll get some writing in before Soleil gets up and we start our day.
Breakfast, Bible, and Homeschool PE
When Soleil gets up, we eat breakfast and read a short devotional together. Once a week, we have a Bible Study Breakfast Tea and we start school a little later. During this time, we discuss what she’s been reading in her quiet time. On these days, I’ll make a slightly nicer breakfast than usual and we enjoy a nice long breakfast together. As far as I’m concerned, this is one of the BIG perks of homeschooling!
After breakfast, we’ll work out, either working out at home, going on a walk, or taking a class at the gym, depending again on what season we are in. I do not assign PE, we just try to do something 4 times a week or so and she enters it on her lesson plan after doing it. That way, it’s a reminder to do it and it serves as a PE log.
Once we’re done with what I consider our Homeschool PE, then we start school. Sometimes we do our morning mingle, and sometimes we just dive right in. I worked all summer to make Soleil’s daily lesson plans, so she takes her day’s plan out and starts working through her assignments.
First up every day is her own quiet time. She spends some time reading her Bible, praying, and worshipping. We do formal Bible lessons about 2-3 times a week together during school. But this time is just her and God. I’ve always been intentional about making sure my kids have their own relationship with God, and this is something you can start very young.
Soleil started having her quiet time when she was five and she used to write her own worship songs. I still have those songs and they are precious! It is amazing the capacity children have for faith. It is wonderful, as homeschoolers, to have the freedom to build this into our children’s days. You won’t regret it!
Math and Other Subjects
After quiet time, Soleil does Math on her own. I am available for questions, but she works for the most part on her own, using Teaching Textbooks. I love Teaching Textbooks! It is a must for us. During that time, I usually shower and get ready for the day. If I’m really on top of things, I’ll throw some laundry in and even remember to put it in the dryer later. Ha.
After Math, we do any subjects she needs me for, and some she does on her own. We still do quite a bit of her school together, but if I needed her to be independent for a day, she certainly could. All of her lessons are written out explicitly, so she could easily go through a day on her own, only really needing me for Spelling.
However, we enjoy doing school together and I feel that this is the main reason I’m home, so I make sure I do at least 3-4 subjects with her each day. She’s a very extroverted, social person, so I can’t imagine sticking her in a room to work alone all day.
That being said, I am sure a time may come when she wants to work all alone and independently in her bedroom, so I am taking these days when I have them!
I plan Soleil’s lessons sort of Charlotte Mason style, so she’s not doing the same thing every day. I love, love, love this way of planning and it’s all she’s ever known. I need to do a post going into more detail about how I do this. But for now, here are a couple of examples:
As you can see, I leave some subjects blank and we fill them in each day. Others, are pre-planned for the entire year. The days shown here are days we haven’t gotten to yet, so they aren’t filled in.
Lunch and Projects
Usually around noon, we break for lunch.
Most often, we each make our own lunch. I am usually ready to faint by lunchtime (darn hypoglycemia) and my mission is to get a bite of food ASAP. I’ve pretty much always had my girls cooking in the kitchen with me and again, that’s something they are never too young for. We have salads or sandwiches, or leftovers. Every once in a while, I’ll make a nice lunch for both of us, or Soleil will.
After lunch, I’ll read aloud to her on most days, and Soleil likes to color while I read. Right now, we’re learning about the Civil War so she’s coloring in a Civil War Fashions book.
Sometimes we have a class or rehearsal to get to right after lunch. Soleil is into musical theater, so that is where she spends most of her free time. Every once in a while, we’ll watch a movie or TV show with lunch, which is quite a luxury for us! When Calls the Heart is our current favorite. If it’s a rainy day and we have no plans, Soleil can usually talk me into having a lunchtime movie party!
If we’re still home after lunch and reading, Soleil will work on any thing she has left to finish and I’ll get household stuff or some work done. I try to keep 2 afternoons a week open to just stay home and do all of the fun things.
On those afternoons at home, we’ll paint, or bake, or play a game, or do nature study or a science experiment. I’ve planned all of these things out in advance, and they’re on her list of assignments, so I don’t have to try to remember to work these things in.
If I have a project planned and it falls on a busy day for us, we’ll just move it to another day when I know we’re going to be home. Every 6 days, there’s a sheet in her lesson plans for me to sign off on what she’s done. At that time, I can check back through the last few days and see if there’s anything we didn’t get around to doing. If a project has been moved over and over again, I’ll nail down a time to do it and put it on my personal calendar so we get to it. Otherwise, it’ll get forgotten over time. Trust me 🙂
Projects are the things my kids remember most when looking back over their homeschool years and it can be too easy sometimes to skip those “extra” things. But I know they bring great joy and help cement what we’ve learned, so I make sure to fit them in, even if they don’t happen on the original day I planned them for.
History Projects with Friends
We meet regularly with another family and do history and writing projects together. Our girls often dress up for the period we’re studying and we’ve had lots of parties and meals and they are some of our favorite school memories. This is our third year doing this and it has been a huge blessing in our life. The mom is a dear friend of mine and we have a similar approach to school and we both love history and literature.
We’ve actually planned our course of study for doing history and literature together up until their senior year in High School and even joke about getting together to do projects with grandkids someday. (If you know either of us, you know we’re only partly joking!)
144 Days of School
Right now, we usually do 4 days of lesson plans a week and on Friday, we do a variety of things. If we had a field trip or busy day earlier in the week, then we’ll just get a day of school done.
Doing school this way, we end up doing 144 days of actual lesson plans a year. In this time, we’re able to finish everything. Planning ahead is the only way I can accomplish this, and it’s worth every hair-pulling minute I spend doing it every summer.
In addition to the 144 days, we have a lot of days that count for school, but aren’t spent doing lessons. For instance: Field trips, projects, homemaking, nature study, performing in shows, doing mission projects, little unit studies, etc.
Every day, there is a blank spot for “practice” on Soleil’s lesson plan. At some time during the day, she practices whatever she is working on that week and fills in her log. Having it on the lesson plan keeps her accountable and reminds her to practice. She is usually working on a song for voice, or has theater numbers to practice for an upcoming show. She’s also teaching herself piano, so sometimes she’ll work on that.
Once school and any projects are done, Soleil has a couple chores to do. I usually assign these each morning and base them on our day. If we’re going to be super busy and have a lot of school to get through, I’ll give her an easier task. If we have some down time, I’ll assign something that takes a little longer. I used to assign regular daily chores that never changed, (for example, clean your room on Mondays, do laundry on Tuesdays, etc.) but more often, our days aren’t predictable and it has worked better for us if I figure that out each morning.
I love that these chores are listed on her lesson plans! No need for more lists or charts, and it’s a daily reminder of what she needs to do. When it’s tied in with school, I am a gazillion times more likely to see the list and make sure it gets done. Not so much when it’s a separate piece of paper. That’s just how my brain works.
In addition to her daily chores, every couple of weeks, I’ll set aside a few hours and we’ll just work nonstop together until everything that needs to be done is done. I usually make a big list and we blast music and work our way through the list.
Then there’s times when we’ve been too busy and we’re just so far behind on things that I need a couple days to catch up. When that’s the case, I’ll block off two days and we’ll work our way through a much longer list. It works!
We’re trying a new system this year to help Soleil transition to being more independent and responsible for her own work. So at the end of the day, I evaluate her day and check her work and give her tickets according to the system we’ve created. She usually has a deadline time she needs to be finished by. Tickets are redeemed for rewards throughout the year. It has made a world of difference in our day. No more nagging!
This is what I get asked about the most, but I hesitate to list times because it varies so much. On some days, we’re done with school by 1pm, and others, we’re still finishing up at 4. It just depends on how much we have to do and how much other stuff we squeeze into our day. My favorite days are sometimes the longer ones, because that often means we’re painting or cooking.
We usually start by 9am, after working out, but there are plenty of days when we don’t get started until 10 or 10:30. I’ve noticed that the later we start, the more we lag in general throughout the day, and the moodier everyone tends to be. 9am is usually best for us.
I know families that start at 6 or 7, and that would not work for us. Firstly, because we try to get PE in before school, but more importantly, we like to sleep! Soleil’s theater lifestyle leads to late nights often and I am a big believer in getting at least eight hours a night. I also like rather slow mornings, so starting around 9 is kind of the sweet spot for us.
Last week, we had two shows every morning, and then rehearsals in the evenings. So we were gone for 10 or more hours a day, in a sort of split-shift, with very late nights and very early mornings. These kind of weeks are highly unusual because I am pretty strict about getting enough rest.
But in the rare times when shows do overlap, I back off the school a little and we mostly read and take a lot of naps. Usually, if Soleil has a show coming up, I’ll make sure our mornings and days are easy and free so we can get plenty of sleep and do a full day of school. Last week was one of those crazy weeks that we just make work.
So, while I like starting school promptly at 9, it doesn’t always work out that way. But that’s okay, because school fits into our life and life fits into our school. This is also why we take a pretty short summer break. We like being able to skip a week here or there as needed.
Once we start our day, there isn’t really a set schedule as far as school goes. We just make our way through her lesson plan. When I had two kids at home–and Coco was in High School and Soleil was in elementary–I had a more structured schedule so that I could help them both with certain subjects as needed.
Working from Home
When I am writing a book, I’ll set aside some evenings and weekends to write. My husband helps around the house and with running Soleil to rehearsals and classes. I am not super consistent with making time to blog (As you may have noticed. But I am getting better.)
As a writer, I have many different jobs that I work on, and different jobs require different settings for me. If I’m writing fiction, I like to be alone in a quiet place. I find it very hard to write fiction in a public place. I’m just weird and awkward about it. Fiction is best done in the early morning, before anyone is awake, but that’s not always possible, so I’ll end up writing in stolen moments and on weekends. I would love to be more consistent with times for this, and it’s something I’m working on this year.
There is a lot of work I can do in public, so when I’m waiting for Soleil during a class or rehearsal, I can answer emails, work on non-fiction, blog, or take care of many of the little tasks I need to do. I’ve always really liked watching my kids rehearse, so I only do work that I can be interrupted with. That way, I can watch on and off as I am working.
Sometimes, I’ll take an entire Saturday and write a few blog posts at once. (That’s what I’m doing today as I write this. My husband took Soleil out to a movie and I got five posts done!) Then, I’ll schedule the posts to go out over the month. I don’t always set that time aside, but as Soleil gets older and busier, it’s been easier for me to make that time.
I try not to work during school hours, because I don’t want Soleil to feel like she is interrupting me when she needs help. However, there are times I have a lot going on and we’ll work side-by-side and it works. As long as it’s not a regular thing, I’m okay with that.
So, that’s a somewhat average day in the life for us.
First of all, kudos to you if you made it to the end of this very long post! Now, if you’ve shared a similar post, link to it in the comments so I can come read about your day!
This is the book that has inspired my homeschooling methods more than any other book:
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