I could argue that there’s no such thing—especially when we first started out with the whole homeschooling thing. Each day was quite literally something to fly through by the seat of our pants. But—after almost two years, I can actually look back and see that we’ve developed a pretty steady routine. Here’s a general outline of any given school day:
5:45 AM—my hubby gets up and goes to the gym. I roll over in bed and keep sleeping.
6:30ish—my four year old and eight year old boys wake up and come jump on my head. I order them downstairs to feed themselves and stare at the TV until their dad gets back from working out. Breakfast options are: cold cereal, instant oatmeal, toast, or yogurt and fruit—all of which the eight year old is capable of fixing for himself and his little bro. TV choices consist of PBS or mom-approved videos.
8:00—hubby is home and showered. He wakes up anyone still sleeping (generally me and my 6 and 10 year old girls) and we all pile on the bed for “devotional.” Devotional consists of reading one verse of scripture, a brief explanation of what it means or how it applies to us in daily life, and then we have a family prayer—most days I manage to stay awake through all this.
8:15—hugs and kisses as we send Daddy off to work. Children are reminded that the TV goes off at 8:30. Girls are told to feed themselves, and all children are reminded to get dressed and ready for the day, and to do their chores. I shower and dress (unless I find we’re out of clean clothes—in which case, I have to do a couple loads of laundry before we can get ready!), eat breakfast, and start gathering materials for the school day. I also check e-mail and peek in on Facebook, help the little ones with getting dressed, and do the girls’ hair.
9:00—if everyone is on their A-game, we start school. If not, we start closer to 9:30. Ellen (10) and Calvin (8 ) practice the piano and violin (they both play both instruments, so one starts on the piano, the other one takes the violin, then they switch.) I read stories to Gloria (6 ) and Blythe (4). I also give Gloria her reading/grammar and handwriting lessons. Blythe sometimes plays quietly during the lesson, sometimes he bops around.
Somewhere between 9:45 and 10:00—Calvin and Gloria work on math while Ellen works on writing and grammar. Math lessons for the big kids last about 20 minutes, so when Calvin is done, it’s Ellen’s turn for math and Calvin’s turn for writing and grammar. Gloria’s math lesson takes 5 to 10 minutes. Blythe continues to bop around.
10:30—history and geography for all—Blythe is still bopping—unless there’s a messy art/craft project included in our lesson—then he gets messy with us.
11:30—we take a break—the kids play outside with the neighbors (also homeschooled), or work on chores that didn’t get done earlier, or I read aloud to the kids—it’s basically free time (unless there are chores) and the kids can do whatever they want. If the little kids feel inclined to play, rather than sit still for stories, I catch up on e-mail, make phone calls, prepare the next day’s lessons, tidy up from the morning, or whatever.
12:00 lunch time. Usually, I have one of the kids help me make lunch.
12:30—recess. It’s kind of dumb to call it that, considering right before lunch we’re already sort of goofing off, but after lunch I insist the kids go run around outside (no matter the weather.)
12:45—”science”—we are not currently following an “official” science curriculum, but the kids love to do “experiments” in the kitchen (under close supervision!) or read about animals and plants. This is also the time they look after their pets—feed and water them, clean cages, play with the animals, etc. Once a week we go to the library and run errands.
2:00—The big kids get their writing assignments—usually journal writing and/or book reports with specific requirements and due dates. The little kids get more story/play time.
2:30 to 4:00 PM—NAPTIME (for the two little kids). Depending what day of the week it is, the big kids have music lessons (both the piano and violin teachers live in the neighborhood, so that makes transportation fast and easy), play board games with an elderly neighbor, or have quiet time at home in their rooms. Ellen also has another 20 minute math session. This is my time to write, nap, clean the house, read, study, or work on personal projects. (Lately, napping has been my activity of choice!)
4:00—back to real life AND snack time!
4:30—usually by this time, we’re on the road--headed for tae kwon do classes, Boy Scouts, Activity Days, or choir practice.
6:30—back home, making dinner, and working on evening chores.
7:00—dinner and Spanish lesson. My hubby is a native Spanish speaker, so this is his gig. Oh, and the Spanish lesson is very informal---we talk through dinner, talk about our day, learn or review vocabulary, etc. This is also a good time for my kids to review/clarify their math stuff with their Daddy.
8:00—get ready for bed, family prayer, personal prayers for the kids, cuddle and story time—hubby takes the two younger kids and reads to them or plays with them while the big kids and I sprawl on my bed and read a chapter out of a novel together or just chat.
8:30—little kids put to bed. Big kids get time with Daddy.
9:00—all kids in bed—they can read or play quietly until LIGHTS OUT at 9:30. Meanwhile, the hubby and I are catching up with each other.
Somewhere between 10:30 and 11 PM—we grown ups hit the sack.
Of course, this schedule is not set in stone—sometimes lessons go faster or slower than anticipated, sometimes we take field trips, or take days off. Some days I declare it Pajama Day and we don’t bother getting dressed. Those days tend to be very relaxed and we focus on art projects and other creative pursuits, rather than academics. We had a lot of pajama days during our first year, but we finally got to the point where we all craved more structure and more intellectual stimulation. I knew we were ready to kick it up a few notches when the kids started asking for math worksheets. (YESSSSSS!)
On the first Monday of each month, I have what I call “Teacher Inservice Day.” I have a meeting with the kids to review what we’ve done for the past month, introduce what we’ll be working on in the new month, and dole out the rewards for meeting/exceeding expectations. Inservice Day is also the time I introduce new incentives and programs (if any) and rearrange our schedule. We take stock of what worked and what didn’t, review our goals, and set new ones. After meeting with the kids and getting their feedback, I can better plan for the next few weeks. I make meal plans (that I end up never really following), set up play dates and field trips, and then we deep clean the house (well, I deep clean the house—after a month of “kid-quality” cleaning, it’s time for the place to have a good scrub-down, ya know?) We don’t have formal lessons on Inservice Days. It’s a great way to help keep us from burning out with the same old routine and gets us excited about the coming weeks.
Occasionally, a “regular” day will be disrupted to the point that we don’t bother with or quit the formal lessons. (Think illness, emergencies, or “Murphy’s Law” days.) In those rare cases, we pick up the slack on the weekends, dividing up the missed day’s work between Saturday and Sunday. I hate when it happens, but sometimes it does, and I’m glad we have the flexibility to ride out the bad days and pick up later.