A while back, someone suggested that my fellow HSLDA bloggers and I write a post about a “day in the life of a homeschooler.” I thought about it for a while and decided, “Nah, nobody wants to hear about that.” Our school day starts fairly late, suffers from frequent distractions and interruptions, and often leaves me feeling like I can’t get anything done in a day besides school and keeping the kids alive. In short, my average day is not exactly the most inspiring.
But then, COVID-19 happened. Suddenly, the whole world was trying to do school at home and talking about how difficult it is to stay on top of everything. Granted, I wasn’t dealing with the extra complicating factors some parents had, like working through the technical difficulties of online schooling, or trying to work a full-time job from home in the middle of this mess. But I realized that, even though I’m clearly not Super Mom, we were actually weathering this storm just fine.
To the “crisis schooler”—that is, one who was forced to school at home by these unforeseen circumstances—homeschooling might sound just as chaotic and awkward as what many of you recently experienced. But the reality is quite different. When you’ve planned to school from home, you have much more control over how your schooling operates. Yes, it might include more parental involvement, but you can tailor the whole day to suit you and your child(ren). Perhaps a look at one homeschooler’s day might show that homeschooling doesn’t have to be as complicated as these last few months may have been.
So without further ado, here is an outline of our average school day (from The Shutdown till our end of year in mid-June). For reference, I have five children: grades 4–7 (three girls), K/1st (boy), and a baby boy born last October.
7:00 AM (all times approximate): I wake up, usually around the same time as the baby. After feeding him and handing him off to my girls, I spend some time on my phone—reading a devotion, checking my email, Facebook, etc. Seeing what else has blown up in the world and trying not to get involved in debates. Checking out sales on children’s clothes because somebody has grown out of all their shorts again. Putting in a grocery pickup order that I forgot to finish last night. Kissing my husband goodbye as he leaves for work. Taking the baby back, settling two different fights, answering 25 random questions, and finally getting up and getting ready for the day.
9:30: I eat breakfast—or attempt to—while keeping the baby out of trouble.
9:55: I tell the kids that we are starting school in five minutes. They complain that they were “just about to start playing a story.” I remind them that this is a school day, and we are supposed to get started by ten o’clock. Playing can come later.
10:00: I call the kids into the living room. Someone needs to go potty. Someone else hasn’t had a drink all day and is so dehydrated. Someone else just realized that they never ate breakfast. I tell them they all have five minutes to do whatever, and then we’re starting school FOR REAL.
10:10: We open school with Bible study. I admonish my 6-year-old at least three times to sit on his rear, not to touch anyone, and that there should be no sounds coming out of his mouth or nose except breathing. But then he asks me why God made pain, and suddenly we are delving into theological mysteries.
10:30: We finish Bible study. If all goes well, I put the baby down for a nap.
The next part of the schedule depends on what day it is. On Monday, the girls start their piano lessons via video call with their grandma. On Tuesdays and Thursdays (usually), the girls and I read a history lesson, followed by discussion questions and often a test. This takes the most time of any schooling (1–3 hours), which the girls just love (sarcasm alert). I have enjoyed the history series we’ve been doing, but next year we will likely switch to the girls reading history independently, which should be a good deal less time-consuming. On Wednesdays and Fridays, the two older girls read and complete a science assignment, while I read a science section to my fourth and first graders. Science reading usually only takes about half an hour and is often followed by interesting nature videos on YouTube.
Then come the individual lessons, which are mostly my correcting each child’s homework from the previous day and assigning new work for today. Sometimes more teaching is involved, such as with math, but often the kids will read and figure out the new concepts mostly on their own (even the first grader). This individual time takes about 20–30 minutes per child, assuming no interruptions. (Cranky babies and cantankerous children cause many interruptions, but some days go more smoothly than others.)
Oh, and lunch falls in there somewhere. The kids usually get their own, so sometimes I forget mine until school is over. I need to work on that.
With individual lessons finished, my portion of the school day is over, sometimes as early as noonish, sometimes as late as 6:00 pm, but most often about halfway in between. Officially, our “school day” doesn’t end until 4:00 pm, so no screen time is allowed until then unless it pertains to school. The kids complete their homework (generally within an hour or so), do their chores, and then usually want to play their daily allotment of video games. Meanwhile, I take a short breather or sneak in a quick chore before dinner preparation.
As for the in-between times for the kids, most of the time they are either helping with the baby or keeping themselves entertained independently. They do a lot of coloring, crafting, reading, writing, playing board games, Legos, and dolls. They could stand a bit more outside play in my book, but at least they keep themselves busy!
As you can see, homeschooling doesn’t have to be formal, complicated, or keep children occupied for hours at a time. Of course, someone else’s day might look very different based on number of children, parental work schedule, learning and teaching styles, etc. But that’s one of the great things about homeschooling—the possibilities are endless!
Certainly we all have days where we wonder what we’ve gotten ourselves into and are simply praying for the day to end. Yet in spite of those moments of frustration, homeschooling has been just right for our family. So far, my children’s testing shows that they are keeping up with their peers quite well, and in some areas excelling well beyond average.
Whether you are considering it only for the next year or are fully committed for life, homeschooling is an excellent choice. I hope this “day in the life” provides some encouragement that you can do it!
Note 2: HSLDA offers a wealth of information on homeschooling. If you’re looking for information on how to get started, click here.
Note 3: There are also numerous blog posts on figuring out a school year and deciding whether homeschooling is right for you. Here are some that I have written:
- Every Parent is a Teacher (you are already a teacher even if you don’t feel qualified)
- How Can I Homeschool if I Don’t Like Teaching? (when teaching isn’t your first choice)
- When Should You Start the School Year? (on setting your schedule for the year)
- A Procrastinator’s Approach to School Planning (on picking curriculum)
- Keeping Kids on Task when the Classroom is your Living Room (on home classroom discipline)
- Maintaining Sanity in a World of Social Distancing (on staying sane while staying at home)
- To the Moms of Multiple Littles (encouragement for moms of preschoolers)
- The Great Schoolbook Scavenger Hunt (places to find inexpensive curriculum)
Photo credit: iStock