Cara’s homeschool day in the life {For SimpleHomeschool.net}

Being a homeschool family means we have the joy and struggle of doing life together everyday. For us, having a great day starts the night before at bedtime. Prioritizing. Each new day is given a fighting chance when I take the time to set out clothes, talk through timing and any questions the kids may have, share love and belonging, and get a good night’s rest.

Cara homeschool day in the life

So let’s start by looking at a normal evening:

7:00pm – This is the littlest’s bedtime. He goes to bed before the older kids because the longer bedtime routine that we do with them is too long and late. He gets some needed one-on-one cuddle time, his own books, and a song.

This is also the time when the older kids get to watch The Wheel of Fortune! And we love this game so much that my husband and son created their own wheel with the toolset my son received at Christmas. (Great way to encourage correct spelling!)

Homemade Wheel of Fortune

7:30pm – The older 2 kids start their bedtime routine. This is the time we’ve found that works best for read alouds. Some of our favorite memories from 2014 were from this time of day. My husband usually does most of the reading – the kids love this. After the kids have changed their clothes, gone to the bathroom and brushed their teeth (and passed inspection), we all crawl into “the big bed” where we snuggle and read. This usually ends at 8pm with prayer and good-night-I-love-you’s.

8:00 – 10:00pm – This time to be with my husband or all by myself is a sacred time of day. Because it is, I have learned to pour myself into the bedtime routine for the kids. If I hurry them, ignore their concerns, or just generally disconnect – then they will most often get out of bed and need more of me. During this time I read, catch up on social media, talk to my husband, plan for the next day, and go to bed early or on time. Because I like to wake up early and get a good start on the day – I do not stay up late! I’m pretty strict about my own bedtime.

The next morning:

In the early morning, I get up 1.5 – 2 hours before the kids to get in time alone for personal and practical reasons. I start with reading and praying, and then I write and plan. On days when we have appointments outside the home, I write out a time budget for how we will get everything done.

The kids come down at 7:30am and we watch Wild Kratt’s on PBS. They snuggle, eat, generally wake up, and after the 27 minute show we start the morning routine. I also start thinking through what we will do for dinner. If anything needs to thaw or go in a crockpot, I like to get my mind set on what we I need to prep now so that when 4pm rolls around I’m not scrambling.

Homeschool Music 1

We use the workbox system for organizing and housing all the kids’ subjects. They each have 5 drawers. Three they use everyday: calendar, math, and language arts, and the other 2 house history and science. In the fall, I worked on creating a learning routine with each of my kids. I sat with each of them one on one for an hour and we worked through each of the subjects together. It was a huge exercise of personal discipline for me because I was tempted by a variety of things to try to multitask during this time every day, but I held my ground and stayed committed to it. And after a month, my kids were taking off with the routine all on their own. They were pursuing their own learning, interests, and challenges. Gradually they both became self-starters with their work, and now I simply have to supervise. {If you’re interested in what curriculum we use this year, leave a comment below.}

After the main subjects are completed, the kids then practice their piano lessons and do their daily reading. This completes their “school time” for the day, and they give themselves check marks for each subject on a reward chart.

What does the 19 month old do during this “school time?” We have lots of “school” toys for him that I only get out during school time. And because the older kids take turns in the school room, one older kid is usually available to keep an eye on the little guy.

Toddler Toys

When everything is completed on their agenda, then they are allowed 2 small pieces of candy and an hour of screen time of their choosing (parent approved and supervised).

10:00am – The little guy gets to enjoy Sesame Street on PBS while the 5- & 7-year-old enjoy their own activities. We all enjoy this hour of free time. If I didn’t get dressed and ready for the day before 8:30am when the kids start school, then I do it now.

Midmorning to just after noon, I plan lunch and start household chores. Setting a simple schedule for cleaning certain categories every week on the same day has helped me so much. Like I’ve said before, I try to create patterns in my day to minimize the amount of decisions required of me. It’s simple. Monday = clean kitchen.

After lunch, we clean up, the toddler takes a nap, and we all enjoy quiet time. I like to transition this time smoothly into activities the kids can do with their bodies to burn off extra energy they still have from being indoors (we live in a cold weather state).

Homeschool recess

While they are engaged in a game or playing outside, I prep and cook dinner. When my husband comes home, we all gather and eat. Sharing our day around the table has always been a staple for us. A popular thing for us to do around the table is play “Would You Rather?” After we clean up from dinner, it’s usually close to 7pm and we’ve made it a full 24-hours.

This day reflects one where we don’t have any obligations to leave the house. On days when we have ballet, ACE, AWANA, piano lessons, or BSF then our afternoons look a little different. We currently only have one day where we have engagements during the morning and it’s on Wednesday. I’ve learned that having more than one morning out of the house on a regular basis is too much for us. Having this one is special and serves as an anchor for the week as a whole.

It’s taken me a long time to feel like a homeschool family, even though we knew from the beginning that this was the path for us. I know reading other family’s “day in the life” can either encourage and inspire or it can confuse and cripple with comparisons. So I hope seeing into our unique routine helps you!

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10 thoughts on “Cara’s homeschool day in the life {For SimpleHomeschool.net}

  1. It helped me 🙂 I am finding every single one of these posts inspiring. We unexpectedly started homeschooling our eldest this year and it has been a wonderful journey so far, so much so that I want to homeschool all three.

    I love that you started your post with bedtime. That’s so important over here as well. I love all the routines that you’ve worked into your day- must make it so much smoother for all. I’m off to research the workbox system now 🙂 Thanks for sharing!

    Like

    • Cait, I’m so glad this snapshot helped! The homeschool journey is so all encompassing that it can be daunting to start or to share with others – this post to me still feels lacking in how it doesn’t communicate the joys of learning together. It’s amazing how almost every conversation can be turned into a learning opportunity.
      Best wishes to you as you research!

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    • Camie, I am not Type A, but I want to be. 🙂 It takes a lot of prayer, and it’s so worth it.

      I hope your inspiration builds momentum! Thanks for the encouraging comment.

      Like

  2. I love the way you start by sharing the evening routine, there is so much truth in the idea that what we do in the evenings impacts our entire next day. What a great perspective. Also, I can’t handle your cute baby with the ukulele.

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    • I’m so glad you were able to connect with the focus on bedtime. Let me be transparent – I do not naturally look forward to this time of day. It usually costs me more than I’d like to give in the energy department. I have prayed my way through the minutes many times. I’ve realized too that my countenance, simply my expressions, can set the tone for my kids’ behavior. And knowing this has forced me to mature in ways that I haven’t liked.
      But! It’s been so rewarding to grow up along side them.
      It’s funny how this homeschool journey starts for them, and then it becomes about all of us.
      The ukulele baby…he has music in his blood. That boy. He melts me too.

      Like

  3. This is extremely helpful to me. I am looking into homeschooling because my 7yr old is on the spectrum and public schools have been horrible for him. I have the same age range of children right now so it’s so great to see what someone else with kids the exact ages as mine does to homeschool their children. Thank you for this post.

    Like

    • You’ve very welcome! Please contact me again if you need more personal encouragement. I know it can be rough to manage a home and homeschool, so please know that finding balance takes a lot of time and patience – but there are many rewards along the path.

      Like

  4. Excellent focus on starting with an organized, peaceful bedtime routine! I tended to be highly structured for our homeschool days. We accomplished a great deal, but in retrospect, I think I was too demanding at times. If I could do it over again, I would relax and simply enjoy the kids more while they were young. They grow quickly! The little ones I homeschooled are now 21, 22 and 28!

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    • Stephanie, I feel truly blessed to be able to have my children home to enjoy. I love knowing families who have gone through what I’m going through – you provide both perspective and support just by sharing your experience. So thank you!

      Like

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