Welcome to the Jones Homeschool, our center for self-paced education! I will be your tour guide today. I’m qualified because this is my house and I do half the homeschooling. Right this way, please.

We start off here in the dining room, our base of operations. This is where we keep The School Planner. It’s a simple spiral-bound book, but you can see that it contains each student’s assignments for the week—color coded, no less. Darren spends a few hours every weekend making these plans. Each school day, our kids are responsible for checking the planner and completing their assignments. Yes, it’s great in theory. No, it doesn’t always work that smoothly.

Notice that I didn’t say “each school morning.” Mornings here at the Jones Homeschool are pretty leisurely affairs. The kids get up when they wake up (with the exception of 16-year-old Gamerboy, who usually has to be rousted out of bed by 10:30.) I spend the morning writing; the kids play computer games, watch videos, and make themselves breakfast. Research indicates that the less interaction that happens first thing in the morning, the better the day goes.

My writing time ends around 11:00 a.m., and sometimes a kid has already started on school. Most of the time they just assume it’s a holiday until told otherwise. So here in the living room I stand to announce, “School is a thing!” Now you know why such an aura of excitement lingers over this spot.

Our next stop is the playroom, where Ranger still does most of his schoolwork with me. We sit out here with a closed door because older grumpy siblings think that 9-year-olds are too loud and silly. (See: research regarding household interactions.) I’ve enjoyed this year doing school together with Ranger, because he’s my last “little kid.”

By the time I finish with Ranger, 12-year-old Sparkler is usually ready to do the subjects marked “with Mom” in the planner. If you’ll follow me down the hall here—watch out for the laundry, somebody forgot some chores yesterday—here’s the bed where Sparkler and I curl up to read science, church history, and grammar together.

Real quick, I’ll take you to the various spots where you’ll find the older two kids working away on their own. Here’s the couch, their bedrooms, and the computer. If they need help, they usually call Darren, since he superintends the high school work. (In fact, when asked what school she goes to, Bookgirl usually replies, “My dad homeschools me.”)

You might notice that both of them are currently browsing social media. As long as they get their school done, they can take breaks without consulting me. I’ll remind them two or three times throughout the day to focus on their schoolwork. Once they finish all of their assignments, they’re done for the day and can do whatever they want to. However, if they still don’t have everything done by supper, then they face parental disapproval and an evening without electronics until their school is finished. I’m a big believer in natural rewards and consequences.

A few times a week, I drive a student to an extra class or to our weekly co-op. But both I and the kids prefer to be at home as much as we can.

Now here we are at supper. I limit evening activities to allow for family meals. You’ll see that Darren has The School Planner in hand and is asking each child about each assignment. If there’s a primary motivation throughout the day, it’s the fact that they want to be able to say “Yes, I did that!” at the dinner table.

Moving on from the table, here are our posted chore lists. Again, the kids always assume chores are canceled unless informed otherwise. But the laundry is getting folded tonight.

Finally, we finish up in the living room, where Darren gathers everyone to read aloud. You’ll see that the kids draw or play electronics as they listen, a concession that has made these evening sessions a big success. Our school day ends about 8:30 p.m., which gives our night-owl family a couple more hours to unwind before bed.

And this is where our tour ends. I hope you’ve enjoyed this glimpse of a typical Jones Homeschool day. As you leave, please check The School Planner to see if you need to fill out any feedback forms, and please get them done before supper. Thank you!


Photo Credit: iStock