Saturday, August 11, 2012

"Day in the Life" of a Homeschooling Family

When I first began homeschooling Sophia, I had a more formal schedule with timed blocks for different activities and lessons. What I quickly discovered is that having set times for activities and ending them before she was done was frustrating and counter-productive.

Sophia Doing Wet-on-Wet Watercolor Painting
Sophia doing wet-on-wet watercolor painting.
(Taken on January 30, 2008 when Sophia was 7 years old.)

Fast forward seven years later to starting sixth and fourth grades for Sophia and Olivia respectively. As I look at the upcoming homeschool year, I have rough schedule and goals for each day. If we are able to get to everything on the list...that's great. If not, there's tomorrow and the next day. Hopefully, by the end of the week we will have achieved the majority of goals and lessons which I wanted to accomplish.

This year, because of the wider variety of topics and activities each of the girls is doing, they will each have a checklist with boxes that they can mark off when they complete a lesson or activity. In this way, they are learning time management skills, and can do lessons in the way they prefer.

At this point, this is how I envision the school year to be:


- I wake up between 3:45-4:45 a.m. to let the dogs outside; and then feed the dogs and cats.

Playing with a Catnip Toy
Sophia playing with four of the five cats.
(Taken on June 14, 2011.)

- I use the computer to go through email, check if any orders came in (for Harvest Moon by Hand), order books from the library, and do any prep work for lessons for the upcoming week. I read various blogs to get inspiration and ideas for homeschooling as well as other aspects of my life.

This is also the time that I make window stars or other products; pay bills; and do other work that is necessary to running a household.

I aim to get between 3-4 hours of quiet time in the morning. This is my most effective time because I am not tired and do not have any interruptions.

- If Sophia and Olivia aren't awake already, I wake them up at 8:00 a.m. They are responsible for checking on the horses in the morning, and giving them their morning meal. The exception to this is when it is raining or cold outside (under 10 degrees in the morning), then I will do the morning chores.

Horses Galloping to Get Breakfast
Hoss and Bailey and Hoss galloping towards me as 
I wait with their breakfast.
(Taken on April 11, 2012.) 

If the horses need water or bales of hay need to be tossed down, I am out there doing those chores. We generally will clean the barn and in back of the barn in the morning. Sometimes we do this during the mid-day in the non-summer months.

We have breakfast together and discuss where we will be going during the day and if there are any additional appointments (e.g., doctor, dentist) or activities (e.g., volunteering, visiting a grandparent).

- By 9:00 a.m., we begin homeschooling and continue until lunch time.

Sophia with Fossil Sandwich
Sophia making a fossil sandwich.
(Taken on May 12, 2008.)

- Lunch time is flexible. Generally it is between 12 noon - 1:00 p.m. We eat together. I then do some work in the kitchen (e.g., load/unload the dishwasher, wash dishes) while the girls play outside. The dogs are fed lunch.

Turkish Lunch
Having a Turkish lunch.
The girls made all the food during the morning
as part of their geography study about Turkey.
(Taken on January 20, 2011.)

- We resume homeschooling in the afternoon from 1:00 p.m. - 3:30 or 4:00 p.m.

Olivia Cutting Rhubarb
Olivia learning how to cut the leaves off of rhubarb stalks.
(Taken on June 1, 2008.)

- The girls have time to play indoors or outdoors (depending on the weather) while I begin to make dinner and clean the house.

Girls on the Swingset in the Snow
Playing on the swings in the backyard.
(Taken on December 2, 2007.)

- Either the girls and/or I will check on the horses, and give them their evening meal.

- We eat dinner together. The dogs also eat dinner.

Montague and Gretel
The dogs enjoying a picnic under the willow tree.
(Taken on August 27, 2010.)

After dinner, the girls are free to do what they would like to do. I have some time to myself to do what needs to be done around the house, for Harvest Moon by Hand, and personally (e.g., reading, writing, embroidery work).

Felt Zebra on Green Wool
One of the many toys I've embroidered.
(February 2011.)

- Around 9:00 p.m., Phoenix (the hedgehog) wakes up and we play with him for awhile.

Phoenix waking up around 9:00 p.m.
(Taken in July 2012.)

- By 9:30 p.m., the girls need to be in their beds - either asleep or reading for a bit before falling asleep.


The schedule above is a general guideline. Each day, there are different activities which affect what we do and the time frame in which we do homeschooling.

The activities noted below are additional ones that are done on specific days. I won't go into detail about how each day's schedule is rearranged to accommodate these activities.

- Homeschool co-op for 3 hours which includes piano lessons and two classes. (Sophia and Olivia)
- 4-H meeting - 1x per month in the evening. (Sophia and Olivia)

Olivia Petting a Dairy Cow
Olivia taking a look at one of the cows 
at a dairy farm during a 4-H farm tour.
(Taken on June 27, 2011.)

- 80 minutes reading and math guidance through Special Education. (Olivia)
- Harp lesson (Sophia).

Practicing the Harp
Sophia practicing the harp.
(Taken on June 10, 2011.)

- Choir practice. (Sophia and Olivia)

Children's Choir
The childrens choir in their robes.
(Taken on December 18, 2011.)

- 80 minutes reading and math guidance through Special Education. (Olivia)
- 60 minutes speech therapy. (Olivia)
- Equestrian vaulting (a combination of dancing and gymnastics on top of a moving horse). (Sophia and Olivia)

The pictures are dark because the girls are in an arena and
far away from the camera.
Above - Olivia practices walking on a balance beam.
Below - Sophia is about ready to 
sit on her knees on top of the horse.

* At home and can follow above schedule; or a field trip. (Sophia and Olivia)

Obstacle Course at Fort Snelling
Sophia, Olivia, and their cousin
during a homeschool day at Fort Snelling.
(Taken on September 14, 2007.)

* At home and/or do a special activity. (Sophia and Olivia)

- Church. This year we have two churches that we split time between. One is where Sophia and Olivia sing in the children's choir. The other is where I go twice a month and do a two-hour spiritual growth program after the service.

Singing in the Children's Choir on Easter
The girls singing in the choir on Easter Sunday.
(Taken on April 24, 2011.)

In addition, once a month we will be visiting other churches and spiritual gathering places as part of Sophia's homeschooling curriculum that focuses on the Eastern Hemisphere (Sonlight - Core F). This will be quite enlightening since these are religions that we know very little about at this point (Buddhism, Hinduism, and seven other religions).


Being able to homeschool Sophia and Olivia has been such a wonderful experience. The things we've learned together has been enriching for us all. Having the opportunity to see the milestones they have reached in their learning truly has been memorable and a privilege to see. I wouldn't want it any other way!


Dawn said...

Wow! Your days are full to busting! The classes all sound wonderful. Happy homeschooling.
Blessings, Dawn

Domestically Seasoned said...

I love your schedule for homeschooling. Do you ever write out lesson plans? or have some sort of binder to keep things organized? What are your laws in the state you reside in for submitting a curriculum. I am so very interested in homeschooling my kids.

Nicole GF said...

What full and exciting days that you have! Learning together makes it all the more special.

jennifer zuna said...

Love the animals! Full days though for sure lol

Rita said...

A great schedule that is adaptable, too. Busy school year ahead for all of you. :)

Anonymous said...

I give you so much credit homeschooling your kids. They will get such a well rounded education, but it must be exhausting as a parent to plan it all out.

Good Job!