Inside: Want to take a peek into a day in the life of a relaxed homeschool family? Here’s your chance! I’m sharing our day in life of our relaxed homeschool (with a 7, 5, 3, and 1 year old).
Inspired by the Day in the Life series over at Simple Homeschool, I’m sharing what a typical day looks like around here.
For all you moms out there considering homeschooling, I hope this encourages you that homeschooling is a lifestyle, and learning happens from the moment kids wake up until the minute their heads hit the pillow (literally).
Related: Our 2017-2018 Relaxed Homeschooling Curriculum Choices
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I wake up when the baby does, sometime between 7:30 a.m. and 8:00 a.m.. He still wakes up frequently at night, and how he sleeps can dramatically affect my day.
I’m learning to give myself grace for interrupted sleep, though four kids later I have mostly adjusted and feel like a zombie hardly ever.
I gave up years ago attempting to get up earlier than my kids. Riding the waves of pregnancy, nursing, pregnancy means any early morning routine I try to implement is short-lived, and since we plan on having more kids, the end isn’t in sight.
Maybe another season of life?
I take the baby to the bathroom first thing. I’m currently rocking early potty training (the lazy way); the baby pees, I give him a fresh diaper and go downstairs to see who else is awake.
Rarely, I catch my husband on his way out the door, but I try not to talk to him too much (an introvert’s quiet morning is sacred).
Micah, my 5 year-old, is usually awake before everyone else. I turn on the Keurig and wait for it to heat up. A few days a week, Micah and I will do a short reading lesson together using the I Can Read It! Book Series from Sonlight. I received all four books without meaning to in a used Sonlight first grade curriculum package, and I am so thankful for this happy accident!
The program is ridiculously simple. You simply practice a word list using this book, then read the corresponding story in Book 1, 2, or 3. Micah reads a page, maybe two, and then announces he is done for the day. I don’t push it.
I want my kids to love reading. I’m confident that as long as I am consistently reading aloud and exposing them to great books, each one will learn at his own pace.
Read More About Why We Love I Can Read It! HERE
Lily, my 7 year-old, wanders down just as I’m setting up “science” class for the morning. We choose Wild Kratts (either on Amazon Prime or YouTube), Magic School Bus, or Planet Earth (both on Netflix). Screen time first thing gives me time as an introvert to wake up and to think, to read my Bible or pray. Sometimes, depending on how bad baby slept the night before, I just stare blankly, while I drink my coffee.
Time with Jesus
After Science, the kids eat breakfast and do their family service. Then we worship for a song or two and practice listening to God.
I’m learning about priorities.
No one can possibly do it all, even something that we value as highly as transferring our faith to our kids. When I try to do everything (Bible study, worship, hearing God, journaling, memorization), I either fail miserably, or I create a stressed atmosphere focused on tasks, not relationships.
As I thought about what I want my kids to know most when it comes to having a relationship with God, I determined that most of all, I want them to be passionate worshipers and to encounter the presence of God in worship. I also want them to learn to hear God’s voice, to intentionally practice that on a daily basis.
If they leave our home with nothing else, I want them to know these two things. Once I determined those two priorities, I consider it a win when we accomplish both in a day.
I have decided to follow our church’s curriculum called HomeFront. It is the same Bible text and memory verse across all ages, with obviously differing depth of teaching. There is only ONE memory verse a month (praise!), and the kids all encourage each other to learn it.
Spontaneous Handwriting Practice
Next, I pick up our latest historical autobiography (picture book). Before I start reading, Lily notices our Wipe Clean handwriting books on the shelf. She picks up the lowercase letter book with enthusiasm, announcing that she needs to practice her lowercase letters!
Micah follows suit, agreeing to take the uppercase book. They find the expo markers and get to work, listening to the book at the same time.
History & Math Integration
The Tree Lady tells the story of Kate Sessions (1857-1940), a female scientist who changed the landscape of San Francisco by finding trees that would grow in its arid climate.
I love inspiring Lily with tales of women who broke invisible barriers; in this case, Sessions was the first woman to obtain a natural science degree from the University of California. We find California on our world map in the dining room.
When we finish, we work on estimating how old she was when she died by doing practicing mental math with the dates given in the book.
Leadership Education balances my unschooling approach. In this philosophy, parents dedicate some morning time to sharing their own interests with their kids. What excites you as a parent? Share that with your kids!
For me, that’s history, and I love learning about such fascinating people and their achievements alongside my kids in an engaging way.
Weekly Chick-fil-a Outing
I work on some laundry while the kids entertain themselves for a while. Sometimes during this time, Lily will jump on my computer to work on her creative writing, one she began when I started blogging.
Literally, I started a blog, and she asked to write a book. She works on it from time to time and has plans for sequels.
I take a shower (the baby plays with bath toys on the bathroom floor), and we all get ready to walk to Chick-fil-a (the older two have razor scooters, while my 3 year-old rides this strider bike), which is about a mile away and has a decent play place. Without access to the car on a regular basis, I find we all do better when we have an outing planned two days a week. Tuesdays is Chick-fil-a day.
Math is everywhere!
On the way to Chick-fil-a, we talk about how many miles we have left. At one point, we only have 8/10 of a mile left, so Lily and I discuss whether 8/10 is more or less than 1/2. We practice mentally dividing a circle into ten slices, and I reinforce the concept that 1/2 is the same as 5/10, when you reduce the fraction to its lowest terms. We do some basic division in order to make 5/10 equal 1/2.
Related: How to Homeschool Math without Curriculum
We order one meal with a drink and large fry in addition to a 12-piece nugget and three ice waters. I take the wrap and the coke, and the kids divide the nuggets and fries. Lily practices her math skills as she divvies up the nuggets.
The kids ask for ice cream, and I tell them it’s not in the budget today. Miraculously, an employee shows up that very moment with three ice creams to give away, unable to find the customer who originally ordered them!
My jaw drops, and we celebrate. I make a mental note to record this event on my Gratitude List in my bullet journal.
Foreign Language Learning
We get back from Chick-fil-a around 2:30 p.m., and I just barely manage to keep the baby awake so he will take a good nap at home. After putting on a French cartoon for the older three, I put the baby to nap in our room.
Lily works on learning French using Duolingo, a free online language learning tool that is fantastic (saves us a ton of money at this early age, though if her interest persists we may invest in Rosetta Stone later on).
We reinforce French lessons with a French cartoon we discovered in this article. All three kids love it, even though they don’t fully understand it.
I take advantage of 30 quiet minutes to do some writing.
The kids transition to rest time after 30-40 minutes. As much as I’ve learned to love going with the flow, I’ve found that when we are not consistent with rest time, the kids revolt when I try to enforce it. I now make rest time a priority every day, if only for 30 minutes.
Lily works on a puzzle she got for Christmas while listening to this audiobook version of Little House on the Prairie. I am thrilled that she is finally loving this series, as an earlier attempt at reading them aloud was a total flop.
If something doesn’t work at one age, try again later.
Related: An Honest Big Life Journal Review – What We Loved & What We Didn’t
Micah plays with cars and Magna-tiles in the playroom downstairs. Blaise builds ships with LEGO© in the boys’ room upstairs.
They usually negotiate (with or without fighting) who gets to be in their room versus the playroom. Only during rest time do I wish I had a bigger house with a room for each kid!
Towards the end, I let them hop on the ipad to play Stack the States, our new favorite app to learn United States geography. Lily learned most of the state capitols, recognizes states by their shape, and knows which states border which ones, all after only a week and a half.
Related: 14 Easy Ways Any Parent Can Teach Geography
We have neighbors in our cul-de-sac with two kids, 5 and 3. When the oldest gets home from school around 4:00 p.m., we head outside to their backyard to play or to ride their scooters and bike together in the cul-de-sac.
This is often their favorite time of the day, and we all get to socialize for a bit.
We head back inside around 5:00 p.m. in order to get dinner started. Micah asks to help cook, and he helps me make his favorite dish – homemade mac and cheese with bread crumbs. He pulls out the ingredients and the tools we need. I teach him how to use the whisk for each step, showing him how to hold it so he doesn’t burn himself.
My husband calls to say he’ll be home late (major bummer).
While I ride the introvert/extrovert line, my true introvert colors show by dinner time. Any perfectly normal combination of noises (read: three kids talking at once plus a baby screaming) that did not bother me earlier now makes me feel like I’m going to explode!
The kids finish up their dinner. By this time, the noise has escalated to a point where I can no longer handle it. I hurriedly send them to the living room for fun show time (one show each=about an hour), and I take a very deep breath.
I spend about a minute beating myself up for not making them help clean up, but then I stop. I spend all day with my kids, teaching them, working with them, and I just need a break. I need to put in my headphones, listen to a podcast and clean up in peace.
After shows, everyone eats a snack (I feel like I have hobbits: elevensies, lunch, afternoon tea…). I read the boys a book or two and say goodnight around 9 p.m..
Next, I read a chapter or two from our latest read aloud to Lily. We just finished Harry Potter & the Chamber of Secrets (we love the new illustrated version, one of a few series we will actually purchase instead of get at the library) are on to the Phantom Tollbooth.
Having started the year with Sonlight books, I’ve felt guilty deviating from the schedule and from designated “classics”. But I now believe that by sharing my infectious enthusiasm for a book or a series, my kids will be inspired to find their own favorites. Again, at the end of the day, my goal is that they love reading.
Related: How to Choose the Perfect Chapter Book for Read-Alouds
If they love reading, they will never stop learning.
Last Drops of Learning
I go to put the baby to bed, and Lily wanders downstairs where Dad is resting on the couch listening to an audio book. He stops when she shows him her new brain quest cards.
I picked these up a thrift store for $1, and she likes to flip through them. They start working on a problem, and he ends up teaching her basic algebra and some long division. She loves it.
I stay up working on my writing for an hour or so, going to bed finally when I hear the baby crying.
Read Next: A Day in the Life in our Relaxed Homeschool (with an 8, 6, 4, & 2 year old)
Wow I really enjoyed reading about your day. Its sounds like the perfect day. I have had days just like that it just seems its been a while. I just found out I am pregnant with blessing number six and it really took the wind out of me. We are so happy but I have been so sick. Kids are not learning very much at all except to do a lot more chores and a lot more independently and that when I am pregnant we eat a lot of frozen food and cereal. Usually we dont have that in the house at all. So reading your post actually brought me hope I have been thinking I should send them all to school. And your post just reminded me of all our good normal days.. I love the ice cream part.. so amazing and that you teach your kids to listen to God and that you take it slow in the morning… thank you so much for sharing it really really encouraged me.
Hi Ellie! I’m pregnant with number 5, and it’s so hard! When I’m pregnant is when I seriously wonder whether my kids would be better of in school. Just remember, they are learning all the time. Go back to why you decided to homeschool in the first place and hold onto that. Hang in there!
Thanks for this! I think you might be the first homeschool blogger I’ve seen admit that they let their kids watch TV (or shows) at all, which is so refreshing! It’s definitely part of our life. Thanks for sharing your day and methods.
Yes! My kids learn SO much from TV. Wild Kratts is where it’s at. Don’t feel guilty! 🙂 You might also like this post, too Yep, Your Kids Watch Too Much T.V., and It’s O.K.. Thanks for stopping by Suzanne!
I’m so glad I stumbled across this! I’m not going to be officially start homeschooling my daughter until year after next when she starts first grade as we are sending her to 4K and then 5K at our church. I’m also an introvert so it’s great to read about another homeschooling mom that is as well! It encourages me so much that I can do this! I love how relaxed your day is but yet there is still some structure as well. This makes me excited to get started!
I’m so glad you stopped by Alicia! Yes – you CAN homeschool as an introvert, and homeschooling the early years can be relaxed if you let it be. There is so much time for structure and intense studies later on. My main thing as an introvert homeschooling mom is enforcing rest time. It’s been a challenge with my particular batch of kiddos (how did I get so many strong-willed extroverts?!), but I try to make sure I get at least 30-45 minutes of quiet during the day to do what I want to do (not the laundry or the dishes). I listen to podcasts, drink coffee, read book, blog. Make sure you set that up early on! I’m rooting for you!
I enjoyed this post so much. It exemplifies the kind of free flowing day I’d like to have homeschooling this coming school year.
Tell me when you fit in laundry, errands, and other household duties.
This is the first time I’ve read your blog. Do your kids take classes or have other out of the house activities?
Thanks Allison! I’m so glad you stopped by. So laundry, I have a pretty solid laundry routine that I stick to unless we have unexpected things like sickness or traveling. Mondays – kids, Wednesdays – adults, Friday – linens. I wanted something in between one load daily and all loads one day a week. This way, if I need more time for folding and putting away, it easily fits into the in between days. Errands – I try to cut down on these as much as possible. I use our Amazon Prime account and my Target REDCard for a lot of things (free shipping and 5% off with the Target card – yes please!). With only one car, I grocery shop once a week on Saturdays or Friday nights. Cleaning – we do one “reset day” on Mondays when I work with the kids to clean their rooms, do the laundry and clean up the kitchen. Everything else (vacuuming, mopping, tidying) I fit in as I have spare pockets of time and motivation. I feel like I’m doing 5-minute bathroom cleans every other day (4 boys in the house – yuck). I’ve stopped obsessing over a clean house, and decluttering has helped immensely with things not getting too crazy. Does that help? I guess I have a lot to say on the subject – I’ll have to write about it! 🙂
Allison – I also realized I never replied to your second question. We currently are not enrolled in any activities. While one car, one income, and a very active toddler contribute to this choice, I also love the idea of embracing a slower pace and simpler way of life, which is part of why I’m homeschooling.
We are going to try a very laid back co-op this year (when I say very, I mean very – only required to attend one event a semester and plan or help plan one event a year). We also may purchase a zoo membership and a Children’s museum membership. That’s it. I still am not sure how I feel about extracurriculars. I’m definitely for a less scheduled childhood, but I know that today there aren’t kids playing together throughout the neighborhood like there used to be. I’d love my kids to play sports less formally but I don’t know how to create that experience. I hope that answers your question!
Did I write this??!?! 🙂 It sounds VERY much like my days with a 7 year old, twin 5 year olds and an almost 2 year old. Hang in there sister friend! It’s good to know I’m not in this boat alone!
Thanks for stopping by Abby! Yes – isn’t is so good to know you’re not alone? It’s my favorite thing about the internet and blogging. Good to have you here. 🙂
Thanks for sharing your day. Our church uses the Home Front curriculum too. It’s great! My daughter also loves the Duolingo app. Since her Spanish teacher is on maternity leave it’s helping her maintain her language skills.
Thanks Lisa! It was good to read your homeschool day as well. We haven’t tried the duolingo app – I’ll have to check it out. We recently started attempting Ukranian because our neighbors (who we see regularly) speak it, and I thought it might be good to learn a language we could actually practice with native speakers. I quickly realized that Duolingo is much better for more prominent languages. 🙁
I am so so happy that I stumbled across your blog! I read every single word of your post, it was so engaging to see how your day goes. I am a full time working mom that wants so badly to homeschool our daughter. She is 3, so we have started some minor education, mostly in the form of ABC Mouse, reading aloud, and through games. I cannot recommend the illustrated version of the Harry Potter books enough! She LOVES them. It makes my heart so happy when she asks to read the wizard book each night. My husband even stops what he is doing and listens to me reading 🙂 I hope to glean so much more from your blog in the future!!
Thanks for stopping by, and I am so glad reading our day encouraged you! I hopped over to your blog – we are also on a journey to becoming debt-free. We acquired some credit card debt in our recent long-distance move that we are anticipating paying off by the end of the year, along with good old student loans. About both debt and homeschooling, you can do it! With homeschooling, I’ve read some crazy stories about working parents making it work. If its really a priority for you guys, you’ll make a way. It sounds like you already have a great start – we do so much of our homeschooling through reading aloud and games. One of the goals of my blog is to let other parents know it’s very doable. I hope you keep reading! You can subscribe through the form in the sidebar or the bar above. I hope to start weekly e-mails for subscribers in the next few weeks (you won’t get bombarded, I promise!).
Ooh, I love your “math is everywhere” section! It is so true. Thanks for sharing a peek into your homeschool day!
Thanks for reading Chantel! I need to pop over and check out your site – love the name.
Hi! I linked through from Simple Homeschooled because my kids are the same ages as yours. I, too, don’t get up before the kids, for the most part, so I found your day-in-the-life encouraging. So many moms seem to swear by that morning alone time, but, like you, I have found those windows when it is possible to be short-lived. Maybe someday! But for now my days are just fine the way they are. I really enjoyed your post!
I’m glad it encouraged you Laura! I used to feel so guilty, but then I realized I just needed to accept the season of life I am, the amount of sleep I need, and the sleepers I have in the family. It was also discouraging to try for so long and fail, and homeschool moms dont need sustained discouragement. You hear from the “get up early” people all the time – and I love what they have to say…for another season.
Your days sound lovely, and I just love Sonlight’s readers, too!!! They’ve helped more than one of my children along the road to reading. 🙂
Thanks Anne! I know – I am so thankful I accidentally received them with Sonlight’s Core B I ordered second-hand last year. Such a gem as I didn’t love so many other easy reading programs I tried.