I often get asked what our day looks like. How do we fit it all in? Do we ever leave the house? Do my kids ever play, or do I ever get a minute alone? Honestly, I’m always curious how other people’s homeschool day is structured, too. I love to make adjustments as I add new things or take things away or find a better way. Our way is far from “the perfect way,” but it’s working well for us.
Like all homeschooling families, our day is busy. We have a lot of togetherness, which I think is a good (great!) thing, and I’ve put together a fairly rigorous curriculum. Add to that the fact that I’m going to graduate school full time, I’m on the women’s ministry board of our church (which involves teaching and planning), and I still believe in cooking for my family and doing their laundry and all that.
I try to give priority to our school activities during the hours I’ve set aside for them. In other words, I’m a teacher. I’m not available to have coffee with the girls or extended phone conversations or trips to the store, and I often “miss out” on ladies luncheons and other functions. Just because the school where I teach is in my home doesn’t mean that I’m available (though this doesn’t mean that I won’t be flexible to help a friend in an emergency). For these few, precious years that I have with my children, this is my calling. I have the distinct privilege of training my children in the way they should go during every waking hour. So I don’t have a pity party for myself because I don’t get as much “me time” as some other moms or because I can’t attend women’s functions during the day. I can do all that in 12 years, Lord willing. Right now, this is what we do, and we love it!
Here’s what our typical school day looks like (barring unforeseen circumstances, of course). This is for Kindergarten and 2nd grade–keeping in mind that I’m only balancing two grades, unlike many homeschooling moms–but many of our subjects will stay the same next year and will work for multiple grades at once. However, you can see where I alternate my time between the kids and how.
We do a four day week, with errands on Thursdays (which my kids affectionately call “grocery day” and don’t understand why other people buy food on a different day). That leaves Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday for our heaviest normal work and Friday for some normal work and some extras. (This also means that, if a function comes up, like this past December when I attended a church Advent brunch with family Advent ideas, we can move school to Thursday and I can run errands in the evening or on Saturday that week.)
7:30 am — Kids wake & eat breakfast (Scott gets them breakfast before he leaves)
8:00 am — Kids dress & do morning chores (Whatever time is left they may play or read.) I also do “morning chores” and clear my email inbox. I usually try to get a little bit of my grad school homework done during this hour as well.
9:00 am — I get out books and supplies
9:15 am — School starts with a Latin greeting, a hymn, prayer, and pledges (This may seem like unnecessary classroom stuff, but I think it’s important to 1) start with a routine to get our minds in “school mode,” 2) focus our attention on God first thing every day, and 3) learn things like hymns and pledges.)
9:30 am — Recitation (Each child has a poem they’re learning, and we also practice other things like our grammar jingles during this time.)
9:45 am — History story and coloring page (I read Story of the World or Mystery of History aloud–see my reviews on how I use both–and I allow the kids to color the corresponding coloring page as I read.)
10:00 am — History mapwork or Timeline song (On Monday and Tuesday we sing our timeline song, which I will blog about soon. On Wednesday we label and color the map that goes along with our history lessons for the week.)
10:15 am — Snack (Taking a break for sustenance helps my kids a lot with behavior!)
10:30 am — Skip counting songs & Math lesson (For this year, I have just let Kate sit in on Caleb’s math lessons. I’m not doing formal math with her yet.)
11:00 am — Caleb: Math workbook exercises; Kate: Handwriting
11:20 am — Flash Card drill (The kids drill each other. Caleb drills Kate on phonogram and number flash cards. Kate drills Caleb on addition and subtraction flash cards and Latin flash cards.)
*So 11-11:30 is a half hour that I can be in and out, doing other things.
11:30 am — Caleb: Latin (Caleb watches the Prima Latina DVD lessons.); Kate: Phonics
12:00 pm — Lunch
12:30 pm — Read Aloud Story (This semester we’re finishing up The Princess and the Goblin by George MacDonald. We’ll soon be starting The Enchanted Castle by Edith Nesbit.)
12:45ish pm — Kate is done. (She’s free to go play or sit quietly and color.) Caleb: Spelling/Handwriting (alternating 2x each per week)
1:00 pm — Caleb: Grammar Lesson and worksheet
1:30 pm — Caleb: Literature (I get him started, but he does the majority of this independently.)
2:00 pm — I’m done teaching (actually a little before 2). Caleb does any Copywork that I have for him (I have him copy out all kinds of things like passages of literature or Bible verses or drawing exercises or musical scores or maps of the world.) Kate goes to her room for a nap.
2:30 pm — Caleb is done. He goes to his room for “room time” in which he may read or listen to a book on CD or draw. He must stay in his room quietly with the door closed. (For those who are worried, there’s a bathroom in there.) This is when I fold laundry, check my email again, prep for dinner, do my own homework, etc. It is during this time that I am writing this blog post. If it’s a nice day, I will also let the kids play outside during this time.
*So 2-4 is two hours that I can do other things without interruption.
4:00 pm — Kids may get up. Caleb practices piano. Then they may play until dinnertime.
5:15 pm — Kids set table
5:30/5:45 pm — Dinner
6:15 pm — Kids load the dishwasher, vacuum the floor, and wipe the table. I do the dishes.
6:30 pm — Caleb practices cello with Scott. Then Kate practices violin with me.
7:00 pm — Kids do evening chores (get ready for bed, clean up any toy messes, etc.) On most days this is quick, since I don’t let them get out too many toys at once anyway. Therefore, if they’re quick, they get to have Daddy read aloud to them. He’s reading through the Lord of the Rings books right now with them.
7:30 pm — Family worship (*NOTE: This is why you didn’t see “Bible” listed in our school schedule. I will be starting a formal Christian Studies curriculum with Caleb next year, but this year we bumped everything I was doing with them in school to family worship time, which was simply Bible verse memory and catechism. You can see what we do in family worship and here what we use for Bible memory. Scott will be writing a post soon on what we use for catechism.)
8:00 pm — Kids bedtime
Friday is a lot lighter. We don’t do Recitation or History, so Math lesson and workbook is during that time. We don’t do Latin on Fridays either, so Handwriting, Grammar, and Literature get moved to before lunch. After lunch we do our Read Aloud Story and then Art.
Where is science? Well, for this year Caleb has a bunch of nature readers and animal and human body encyclopedias for kids. He loves to read them. Next year I have a great science curriculum picked out for him which begins in 3rd grade. For now, I let him read about the world.
This may sound rigidly horrible to some of you, but I really appreciate knowing what I’m supposed to be doing and when I’m supposed to be doing it. It frees me to not have to think about it or worry that I’m forgetting something! As the teacher, I can mix it up if the kids are getting antsy, but on the whole, we all like the structure of our day. The kids have plenty of time to play (more than most school kids, as I remind them often), and I do get more-than-plenty of time to get other things done. Do I sometimes feel more like Captain Von Trapp than Maria? Yep. (Especially when I use the whistle I bought in an effort to not shout across our square footage above my kids.) But when I committed to doing this, I committed to giving my kids a better education than they would get in school, not a worse or haphazard one. For me, that means a daily schedule. For them, that means that in addition to learning facts, they’re learning discipline. (I am discipling my kids’ character as well as their mind.) Also, remember that this is at least two hours shorter than a normal classroom school day and only four days per week, so it may seem like a long day, but we get a lot accomplished in a lot less time!
If we get behind on a certain day, I simply eliminate the things that won’t throw off the year, the repetitive things that aren’t part of a curriculum. These things might include flash card drill, songs and recitations, read aloud . . . things like that. I still highly value these things, but since we do them so often, skipping them one day, only if necessary, won’t hurt us.
Coming up soon I’ll be posting on exactly what curricula we use in each of these time slots. Even more than working out the daily schedule puzzle each year, choosing the curricula is my favorite part. I love everything we use!