When I tell people that we homeschool, I often get asked what I do all day. Most of the time this question is good-natured. People really do want to know what our days look like! (Occasionally, people are taking a jab at homeschooling moms when they ask, but I like to give them the benefit of the doubt.)
I thought I would share our current routine with you. Obviously, this changes periodically as we go through different seasons of life.
We also have days that are totally different- library and errand days, homeschool co-op meetup days, etc. I also teach out of my home one afternoon a week, and teach at a private school one morning a week. This isn’t an exact schedule for every day, but rather a routine for a typical day at home.
For reference, at this time we have four kids, ages 9, 6, 4, and 1.
Wake Up Around 7
There have been seasons of my life that I have made a heroic effort to get up by 5 or 5:30 in order to drink some coffee, get some computer work done, and start a load of laundry before the kids get up. However, I currently get up about the same time as the kids most days. This is because I am bad about going to bed early… plus I often still woken up in the night by the younger ones. Let’s just say I am grumpus rumpus mom if I don’t get adequate sleep.
The kids usually have an easy breakfast while I get going for the day. This is when I caffeinate, empty the dishwasher, and start a load of laundry. I also prepare our first items for school. I am not always good about sitting down to eat, but I try to join the kids for a few minutes instead of wolfing down an egg while standing up.
Together Time (Usually Around 8)
We don’t have a basket for “morning basket” time, but we do a loose version of this same principle. (Here’s an article from Pam Barnhill on morning time, or morning basket, if you aren’t familiar with the concept.) I am not as ritualistic or disciplined as many homeschoolers in this area, but spending some time together working on common subjects is certainly a nice way to start our day.
Typically, this is the time when we read our history stories, science studies or activities, and maybe read a chapter of our current read aloud. On Tuesdays, we often (but not always) do “Tuesday Tea Time,” when we read poems aloud over tea with milk and sugar in miniature cups. On Fridays, we do “Friday Fred Day” (can you tell I like alliteration?), when we read aloud from the grammar version of Life of Fred in the mornings.
You should note that I don’t do every subject every day. I would rather dig into what we’re learning and really explore it, rather than shuffle from subject to subject just to make sure that we check all the boxes. If the kids are so engaged in history on Monday that we skip science, then we will focus on science on Tuesday.
The nice part about together time is that it’s a slow, painless start to our morning. It can overlap with breakfast if needed, and can also take place while I pause to change the baby or clear the table. Overall, together time is a nice way to ease into our school day.
Snack & Math (Around 10)
Sometimes the snack comes first, sometimes the math does. Sometimes they coincide. Regardless, by this time in the morning, everyone is ready for a bite to eat. Plus, a snack makes math work much more pleasant.
At this point, I let the preschooler wander off to play while I take turns doing math with the older two. Often, I will take time explaining the concept to one of them, then leave them to work on practice problems while I go to work on a different concept with another child.
My eldest will work on writing, reading independently, handwriting, or test practice questions while I do phonics and writing practice with my first grader. Sometimes I will make use of apps like Reading Eggs, Starfall, or Khan Academy during this time to keep one child working while I focus on the other.
If we haven’t gotten to it yet, I call my 4 year old to come “do school” with me. I’m not a huge advocate for giving very young children a lot of busy work, but this particular child loves worksheets. So, I give her a book or several printouts, and she sits there and happily fills out page after page.
Lunch (About Noon)
We all sit down for lunch around 12 or 12:30. The kids will often help prepare certain parts of lunch for me. It’s usually either leftovers, or “snacky foods” like cheese sticks, cherry tomatoes, apple slices, and the like.
Chores (About 1)
I typically finish up my household routines after lunch. I fold and put away laundry, clean the dishes from the morning, and do a general pickup. I have the kids help me tidy their toys and room, and on big clean up days they all have extra chores to do.
Outside time (About 2)
After our work is done, I send everyone outside for a while. In the nice weather, it’s pretty typical for us to do schoolwork outdoors, then stay outside for much of the afternoon and evening. But in the winter, I only bundle everyone up once, and encourage them to stay out for a good long while to play.
Work Block for Mama/Screen Time for the Kids (About 3)
This is the time when I let the kids play video games or watch a show while I sit here and type blog posts, emails, and schedule social media posts. It’s nice for us all to have a little quiet time in the afternoon!
Dinner Prep (About 4)
Once my hour of fiendish typing is done, I go start the dinner. Sometimes one or more of the kids help with this. Other times, they are playing legos, reading, or working on some other hobby while I cook.
Dinner Time (Usually 5)
My husband gets home from work around 4:30, and we all sit down at the table for dinner together. Most of the time we just chat about our days. Sometimes, when we’re on top of it, we have “family meeting nights,” when we talk about our schedule for the upcoming week and any thoughts, worries, ideas, or goals.
If a family meeting time sounds intriguing to you, I would recommend this Sunday Night Prep podcast by Allie Casazza for inspiration. (We don’t do everything she does, and we don’t always do it on Sundays either, but I love some of her ideas.) We have also used some of the free printables from Big Life Journal for family meeting night conversation fodder.
After dinner, we clean up and just hang out for a while. This could be playing board games, movie night, playing music, or just doing whatever the kids feel like doing. Sometimes they make a play or puppet show and want to show it to us. Other times they build with their legos while my hubby and I talk in the kitchen. Every night is different.
Get Ready for Bed (About 7)
We have everyone brush their teeth and get ready for bed. If we’re being disciplined, we try to sneak in a quick tidying session too. (This often doesn’t happen. That’s okay.)
Once we finally round everyone up for bedtime, we go upstairs and I read aloud in their room for a while. (Don’t tell the kids- this is actually a hidden language arts lesson.) We love lengthy family read alouds, and have devoured book after book during this time of the night.
At around 8:30, I finally call it quits and turn out the lights. Inevitably, they will always ask, “Can you sit with us for a few minutes?” Although I am usually really ready to be done at this point, I almost always say yes because this is when the magic happens. When it’s dark and quiet and we can’t see each other’s faces is when they start talking about things they’re excited about, things they’re upset about, their fears, their desires– really, anything and everything.
When everyone is settled and getting sleepy, I tell them all goodnight and come downstairs.
Stay Up Like a Crazy Lady
For some reason, I can’t go to bed at a reasonable hour. Call me a night owl. I sit up with my husband til 11 or midnight (part of why I’m not an early riser), and we catch up, watch stuff on YouTube that we’re both interested in, or work on our individual projects. I like to complete a Duolingo lesson each night and usually do 10-15 minutes of yoga (I love Sarah Beth Yoga), because it helps me to sleep better.
Finally, it’s bedtime for us too. Then it’s time to do it allllllll over again.
What’s your routine like?