Monday, February 2, 2015

Homeschool Day in the Life with a 3, 5, and 7 year old

Every year Jamie at Simple Homeschool hosts a series titled A Day in the Life of Homeschoolers. She invites dozens of families to share what their days look like -- from what curricula they use to how they organize meal times to how they squeeze in housekeeping and what challenges they face. Folks with all different philosophies, situations, and kids' ages and abilities share a peek into the workings of their home.

I've come across great resources and gleaned lots of useful ideas from these posts.

The neat thing about homeschooling is that there's no one-size-fits-all approach. I've never met another homeschooling family whose day looks like ours. That flexibility is one of the things that appeals to us, of course. 

No one day looks like another, but there is a simple rhythm to our days. There are a few things that have been consistent for at least three months and look to be consistent for the next three, so I'll include those. 

Around 5:30 I wake up and prepare to run. If it's speed work and it's still dark outside, I drive to the gym for the treadmill. If it's an easy run, I head right out our front door.

The kids get up anywhere between 6:45 - 7:30. Ryan eats breakfast and gets coffee somewhere in there, and he puts breakfast out on the kitchen table for them. 

I arrive home about 7:30, and Ryan leaves for work shortly after. I shower and encourage (haha) the kids to make beds, brush teeth, and get dressed (if it's a co-op day). (If it's an at-home day they make beds, brush teeth, and stay in their skivvies or PJs.)

We leave for Classical Conversations and our Fine Arts Co-op two days a week at 8:30. Those days we do co-op until noon-ish and that's it for school. 

Assembling their bodies at CC. This was guest day, so their dad and local grandparents came.
The other days we camp out somewhere in the house. We've done school in just about every room except the bathroom. And actually, knowing us and knowing our bathroom has a space heater, it's shocking we haven't whipped out the math books and used the toilet lid as a desk.

Homeschooling, y'all.

One of the most frequent questions I get is, "What do the younger ones do while you're doing school with Lee?" The answer is, "Anything and everything."

I don't do anything formal with Daniel or Eliza (outside of co-ops). (We didn't start formal instruction with Lee until he was six, and don't plan to start Daniel until at least then.) Daniel has math and handwriting books if he's interested (he's not usually), but most likely they're simply playing around us. They're very good at entertaining themselves, and I'm amazed at what they absorb simply by being in the same room. 

Lots of times I just let them play -- in our opinions, relationships are as important as (or more important than) academics at this age.

There's no set schedule for our schooling. We try to get all the subjects covered. Some days we double up, and some days we skip school and head to a playground. Some days - like today - they spend an hour at the kitchen table counting their savings. Indiana requires we have 180 days of instruction, but we get to determine what constitutes a "day."

Here is our curricula and such. Lee chooses the order, which means we always start with CC memory work songs or The Hardy Boys -- his favorites. Lee doesn't work independently yet, except on math worksheets. Most all of these lessons are teacher-led.

Classical Conversations memory work -- includes memorizing facts (to music) in math, science, geography, English grammar, Latin, history, and a historical world timeline from creation to the present. Often the memory work leads into other things. For example, we watched a video of Mount St. Helens erupting after learning about its location in geography. 
Phonics Pathways -- Lee's finished with this, and it was great for him. We'll likely use it with the others, too.
All About Spelling -- We're starting Level 1 in a couple of weeks. 
First Language Lessons Level 1 -- English grammar
Writing with Ease Level 1-- We LOVE this writing curriculum. It teaches them to write from examples in classic literature.
Bible Study Guide for All Ages -- This isn't a devotional; it's a structured study to learn the content of the Bible. We're starting it in a week or so, and I'm super pumped. Daniel will be in on it, too.
Horizons Math -- Love this one, too. We're finishing K and starting on Level 1 soon. 
Various books from our collection and the library
Handwriting Without Tears (when Daniel feels like writing) 

They do a science experiment and art project at CC. They take an art class and violin class at the fine-arts co-op. (Both boys participate in CC and the fine-art co-op.)

On non-co-op days, we do school until 11:30ish, then eat lunch. After lunch we watch a show or two and head upstairs for "rest time." They rest for an hour -- Eliza naps and the boys play quietly, separately, while listening to an audiobook. (I've discovered the best way for us to do audios is to download books from the library onto our iPods and hook those up to speakers. It eliminates the whole, "MOM THE DISC IS SKIPPING!" dilemma.) 

While they rest, I either rest, read, waste time online, research, write, or sew.

Once a week or so we skip rest time and have an arranged play date. Or we may do a field trip in the afternoons, like a homeschool class at the nature center or roller skating.

On days when we're at home, after rest time they file downstairs, play a little Mine Craft or watch a little Odd Squad for 30 minutes, and then head outside. The neighbor boys get home about 3:00, and if we don't have karate, they'll play outside straight through until dinnertime. Their favorite spot is the ditch behind our house -- it's like a suburban version of a mountain stream, complete with rocks and mud and abandoned plastic jugs and other "finds." I cross my fingers that nothing's a biohazard. Eliza usually hangs inside with me, but sometimes I'll brave the elements and sit on the front porch with her. I spend this time cleaning the kitchen and preparing dinner. Or sewing if there's a deadline. I'd rather be sewing.

Two days a week we go to martial arts from 5 - 7. All three of them are in different classes. Oy. I LOVE to watch them. LOVE IT. And they love doing it, which is important too, I guess. 

Eliza on her first day of class. She'd been watching her brothers do karate for 6+ months at this point, so she picked things up really quickly. 

This isn't his instructor; this guy's a former power ranger who came to visit
Lee and Ryan are also involved in Cub Scouts, which meets an average of once a week. Ryan leads a weekly Bible study, and sometimes he's out of pocket for several-evening-stretches with work-related stuff. But generally our nightly rhythm is the same whoever's here.

We eat at 6 on non-karate nights. Sometimes I've been a Rock Star and prepared something. Sometimes I've been sewing or otherwise lollygagging, so I let Little Caesar's be the Rock Star and drive through for $5 pizza.

After dinner we pick up the house. Then we play (if Daddy's here) or get ready for bed (if Mommy's alone and in charge). I like to get them ready for bed and have plenty of time for reading. 

The kids are in bed by 8 most nights.

After they're in bed, Ryan and I do some light housekeeping. (Read: he cleans the kitchen if I've been too lazy.) I start a load of laundry, fold the load that's waiting in the dryer, pick up and . . . yeah, that's about it these days. We save the deep cleaning for the weekends.  

Then we either sit on the couch and watch TV together, sit on the couch and read together, sit on the couch while he reads and I waste time online, or I sew and he does something else besides sewing. (If Ryan's not here, I sew.) Before bed, I transfer the clothes to the dryer, and we try to head up to bed together to read around 9:30 - 10:00.

This post is a nuts-and-bolts kind of thing, so I won't share All The Feelings about homeschooling here. Suffice it to say it's 100 times harder than I imagined. And we're digging it big time.

Thanks for sharing our (virtual) day! I'm linking up at Simple Homeschool with all the other homeschoolers sharing their day-in-the-life posts. If you're curious about homeschooling or what other families' versions look like, it'd be a great place to start!


  1. I loved reading this because our kids are the same age. My son will be seven in April and I have a 5 and 3 year old. It's so great to read all of these posts and see how everyone does this thing. Happy to have found you guys this morning :)

    1. Thank you, Cait! I enjoyed reading about your day, too. It *almost* made me long for snow seeing how much fun you guys have with it!

  2. I love reading about others homeschool days! Thanks for sharing momma!

    1. I love reading about others, too! Thank you for commenting!

  3. This was really interesting :). I have a 3 y/o and a 1 y/o and every.single.person asks me if the 3 y/o is in preschool yet. I haven't planned to homeschool, but I do plan to "homeschool" for preschool at least. I just wish I wasn't so lazy!!

    1. We didn't do "traditional" preschool either, and at times it was tough to go against the norm. They learned their colors, shapes, numbers (mostly), letters, and letter sounds just from my reading to them and talking to them! While I don't discount the value of early childhood education in a school setting, I also don't believe it's a one-size-fits-all thing -- education doesn't look the same for everyone.

  4. The co-ops sound fun as do all your activities. You're a busy family! :) I'm glad you shared a day with us. You have a cute family.

    1. Thank you Camie! We've really enjoyed the co-ops this year.


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