What does a typical homeschooling day look like?
Homeschooling looks different for each and every family. It is largely a lifestyle choice, and no two families ever do anything exactly the same. Your day will largely depend on your priorities, the method you choose to use to homeschool, and well.. how cooperative your children are on that particular day. Your routines will change with the seasons as well, and will change as your children grow and learn. You’ll fall into a rhythm too as you get more comfortable with the whole process of homeschooling.
For us, my priority is to foster a love of learning and equip my girls with the skills and confidence they need to tackle any project and any career that the future might hold for them. Academics are part of that, but I’m not worried about grades, but mastery of skills. I’m not concerned with mindless rote memorization, but to inspire their creativity and develop their curiosity. The methods I choose are eclectic and wide ranging, but generally we like worktexts and lapbooks, that give us short bursts of information, with plenty of space to work with and practice the skills.
Your day may be different
Learning doesn’t just happen in the books, of course. We spend a lot of time outdoors when the weather’s nice, and I try to give my children plenty of opportunities to take classes, participate in sports and play with friends. I also emphasize that we are a family, therefore we are all responsible for the care of our home. Each of my girls have chores, and are expected to help out as needed, even be proactive and volunteer to take care of things they see need doing.
Our days are busy, noisy, and fun. We are late sleepers (by my encouragement — I’m not a morning person!!). So we don’t usually get started with our day until around 8 am. By the time breakfast is finished and cleaned up, it’s usually 9:30. During the warmer months, I shoo my kids outside in the mornings, so that I can have a few minutes to enjoy my breakfast (I eat after my kids). During the cooler months, I send them to their playroom. Around 10 am, I call them in to do our chores, or go out and do outside chores (like gardening or snow shoveling).
A day of actual school
We are usually ready to start formal academics around 10:30-11 am, depending on how cooperative the kids were. They all grab their pencil boxes and I start handing out their assignments. I try to set it up that I can work with one child while the others do independent work. I rotate through the girls, working with each in turn on varying subjects. My older grades do history and science along with the basics, but my younger ones stick to the skill basics such as phonics and math.
By about 12:45, my youngest one is done her work for the day, and my special needs child is done all she’s going to do that day. We are ready to break for lunch, so my girls clean up while I or my oldest make lunch. We will take a short break — either with outside play or a little screen time, after lunch. Then my youngest goes down for her nap around 1:30 pm, and my special needs kiddo gets her tablet school time. She plays educational games and watches videos on her tablet for a couple of hours.
My other three girls and I head back to school work. Now we can really focus on some of the more challenging things. They finish in staggered times according to grades and how willing they are to work, but mostly we are done by 3. Even my oldest only takes about 4 hours to finish school total, doing middle school work, despite ADHD and puberty hormones.
Our day after school ends
Since the formal academics are completed, my girls are free to play or enjoy the rest of their afternoon. They will often get a snack, and settle in for crafts, reading, baking or playroom. My youngest is usually awake by then too, to join in the fun, and my special needs girl is done with her tablet, ready for a new activity. I settle in to work on various projects, from work-related to future planning or household organizing.
We’re ready to start supper around 4-4:30 pm, depending on activities we have planned that evening. I aim to have us eating by 6 at the latest. My girls are in charge of cleaning up after supper, so I can go back to work. By 7:30 it’s time to start baths and showers, by 8:30 everyone’s in pjs and getting teeth brushed. No later than 9 pm, everyone is in bed.
Generally this is our routine. Of course, things change on the days we have swim lessons, evening programs, or afternoon sports. Some days we may suspend school for the day, and head out to the park with friends, or go for a picnic. The flexibility of homeschooling lets me take advantage of daytime doctor’s appointments and off-peak shopping times. We also occasionally do field trips with our local homeschool groups.
Current day’s studies
Currently, I’m educating 5 little girls. My youngest (as of January 2017) is 3, doing preschool/jk. Next is my 5 yr old doing 1st grade. Third, I have an almost 7 yr old in the middle of 2nd grade. My special needs child is 8, and doing modified kindergarten. My oldest is a new 13, doing grade 7.
For preschool and kindergarten, we do an intro phonics program, Handwriting Without Tears beginner printing books, and an intro to numbers and counting. I also add in various coloring and sticker books from Rod and Staff, to work on math and fine motor skills, including cut-and-paste. In kindergarten, we start science, studying space.
For first grade, we continue phonics, with the goal of reading fluently by the end of the year. I also encourage printing practice, both with the HWT books and copywriting. In math, we move beyond counting to beginning addition and subtraction. I add in art, with an introduction to famous paintings, as well as familiarity with the color wheel and different kinds of art. We also continue with science studies, this time looking at weather. And I add on a history/geography program, looking at our country of Canada.
For 2nd grade, I start spelling program, and introduce the beginning rules of grammar, with sentence types and their punctuation rules. I also work on reading comprehension, and encourage lots and lots of reading for fun. In math, we continue looking at addition and subtraction, now adding in place value rules, along with time, money and measurement practice. With art, we now start to practice different styles, continuing art and music appreciation as well. We move on to geology in science, learning about rocks, land forms, and crossing over into geography with the continents and oceans. In history, we start at the beginning, and cover the first major civilization in the Middle East, Egypt and Mesopotamia.
In 7th grade, we do vocabulary studies rather than spelling, and we are beginning literature studies. I have included reading two of Shakespeare’s most famous plays, Romeo and Juliet, and Hamlet. I encourage a lot of creative writing, and my daughter is currently working on writing a novel. In math, she struggles, so we’re spending the year doing a lot of review of concepts in multiplication, division, and fractions, so that we can start pre-algebra next year. In science, she’s learning about animal kingdoms and classification, with a beginning introduction to cells and genetics. And in history, she’s doing the Greek and Roman empires, along with comparable cultures, along with a geography course studying Europe. And finally, we do a lot of life skills, such as a course on handling money and a course in typing/keyboarding.
Customize your day
Our choices aren’t going to be the same as yours. Don’t feel the need to do the same topics, or even the same subjects! One of the beautiful things about homeschooling is the customization. But this will give you an idea of what a medium size family does, with these priorities and subjects.