Monday, July 26, 2010

A Day in the Life of Our Homeschool

We've been dabbling here and there through the summer in our kindergarten lessons, getting a feel for each subject and curriculum in a low-pressure, fun way. But I was getting nervous about how it was all going to come together when we had to really sit down and "do school" for more than just a half hour at a time. So I planned this week to be our first "official" week of school, so we have time to see what works (and what doesn't!) and tweak the schedule before Fall. Also, big sister is away at the beach, so we won't be tempted to pester irritate play with her instead of buckling down.

So since today was our first day of doing a full day of school, I thought I'd share what a day in the life of our brand-spankin'-new homeschool looks like. Veterans, feel free to laugh heartily at my inevitable hubris, but so far it seems to be going really well!

If you don't hear from me again by next week, send help.

Here's how our day played out, roughly speaking...

7:00 AM - Both kids were up and we made our way downstairs. They both immediately seized the rulers I bought yesterday (and craftily left on the kitchen table, all part of my master plan, mwahahaha), and ran off to measure everything in the house. Listening to the two-year-old shout out "One... two... three... EIGHTEEN INCHES!" was priceless.

Running rampant with rulers

7:30 AM - They wandered back into the kitchen in search of breakfast. Thankfully, by this time I had made my coffee, retrieved my newspaper, and employed one of my favorite tricks for ensuring a peaceful start to the day. I'd covered the kitchen table with paper and set out markers and colored pencils.

A clean slate

Inevitably, this leads to at least a full half hour for me to wake up, read the paper, and drink my coffee. Essential to everyone's sanity.

Coffee and newspaper

Ahhh. I also looked over the plan I'd made for our week. I figure planning out every hour of every day is a level of detail that feels too rigid for me. However, flying by the seat of my pants feels a little too loosey-goosey. So I came up with a weekly plan, so each day can unfold as it may, but I have an idea of what we need to accomplish in order to stay on track. It's stapled to the inside of a folder in which I have already copied all the worksheets, etc. that we'll need for the week. I think this will work well for our style, but I'm sure it will require tweaking until it fits just right.

Weekly plan

So while we were also eating breakfast (and some of us were getting appropriately caffeinated), our resident kindergartener was illustrating (and narrating, I might add) a Lion King-based story so elaborate, it would make your head spin. Pretty cool.

An elaborate Lion King story

8:30 AM - We headed upstairs for me to shower and us all to get dressed and ready to take on the day. The kiddos get to watch a show while I'm in the shower, a routine that evolved when I was still trying to keep a young toddler from unrolling the whole roll of toilet paper and other such nonsense while I was otherwise engaged. But hey, it's Backyardigans! Who doesn't love the Backyardigans?

Mommy's shower time

9:00 AM - Report to the schoolroom! Okay, it's not a schoolroom. It's just the family room. But I put all our school stuff in this corner, so at least it's not exploding all over the house. For now. In reality, we "do school" all over the house, but I love having a home for all our books and manipulatives and such.


For instance, we often do math on the floor. I don't know why, she says she thinks better on the floor...? Whatever, as long as she's focusing, I really don't care. By the way, we are using RightStart math (level A), and so far love love love it.

RightStart math

Little brother loves the geoboards. Which worked out well, since we didn't need them for this lesson. Shh, don't tell him he's just playing! He will tell you quite seriously that he is "doing math too!"


Had to move to the coffee table for our rectangles activity...


9:30 AM - Math was over, and the two-year-old was getting restless (and distracting). So we attempted to watch an Eyewitness DVD about plants, which is our science subject for the week. There was a lot of horsing around and not a whole lot of paying attention, but this just tells me that they needed to let off steam. No worries, they both had a few "hey, that's a cool plant!" moments, so I'm gonna call it good.

We talked about the parts of a plant, which she already knows (the kid's a gardener, after all), so she colored and labeled a worksheet.

Plants worksheet

By the end, there was a major case of wiggling going on, so I declared recess.

Bike ride!

10:30 AM - Bike ride to the playground!

Morning snack (al fresco)

Snack under a tree!


Our daily dose of Vitamin D, as well as some much needed running around time. Amazing how much calmer and focused they were when we returned.

11:15 AM - Reading time on the couch. I selected the book about plants, but then they each chose a few others to add to the pile.

Pre-lunch reading time

11:45 AM - Free play for the kiddos while I make lunch. Spaghetti and meatballs was requested, and since I didn't have any bread to make sandwiches, I didn't have an easy alternative to offer. So spaghetti and meatballs it was.



12:15 PM - Lunch. During lunch, I read them a poem I had printed out: Robert Louis Stevenson's "Bed in Summer." It's about the unfairness of having to go to bed when it's still light out. They loved it. The two-year-old asked me to read it over and over and over. Then the five-year-old grabbed the paper and read it herself a few times (based on a combination of memory and sounding-out). Very fun.

Lunchtime poem

12:45 PM - Time for the two-year-old's nap. We went upstairs and read a couple of books. As usual, the five-year-old said goodnight to him by declaring him to be the "best brother in the whole wide universe," and he fell asleep to his CD of folk songs from Appalachia.

1:00 PM - With little brother asleep, it was time to really focus. Phonics time. The program we are using is called All About Spelling, and was initially developed as a spelling program, but a lot of people also use it for phonics. It's a wonderful curriculum, and we have both really enjoyed using it. But it does take focus. And time. I think it took us an hour to work through the lesson, but it was worth it. It's meaty stuff.

All About Spelling

2:00 PM - Time to unwind a bit. We have been reading the second Harry Potter book for the past few weeks, and really needed to get past the scary part. (Note to self: do not stop reading at a point where a child may be in danger. You will get woken in the middle of the night by a child having a basilisk nightmare.) We read for over an hour, and were able to get everyone safely out of the Chamber of Secrets... phew!

6 pages from the end!

3:15 PM - Little brother woke up from his nap, and wanted to join in on the reading fun. So we spent the next 45 minutes reading picture books on the couch.

4:00 PM - Tea time, otherwise known as afternoon snack. (The kids get decaf tea that is more milk than tea, but they adore having tea just like Mommy.) They watched a few videos from the They Might Be Giants Here Comes Science album, and we talked some more about photosynthesis.


And that was our day! I can't wait until tomorrow.


  1. I totally love your insight Laura. Gives me a window into your world! Great work. And your blog, formatting, tone and style gives me inspiration. Check mine out.

  2. I love love love it!!! Thank you for sharing!

  3. I love this post, thank you so much for sharing it. We are about to start homeschooling ourselves and i was just considering a trial run to see how it goes. Love the paper on the table idea so you can wake up. And we are using Right Start math, too. Glad to hear it is a hit. Those geo-boards are a big hit here already. Why didn't I know about those sooner? Hours of fun. Bookmarking your blog so I can check it again. Beautiful photos! Thanks again for sharing. Julie at Creekside Learning

  4. Thanks for sharing! I also love the paper on the table idea. Love the handy Weekly Checklist. We do our RightStart on the floor as well. :) We're going to be doing the rectangle activity again in RightStart B next week.

    Can you enable Name/Url so I can comment even if I don't use one of the blogs listed?

    - Angela

  5. What a great first day! We homeschool in Maryland, too. On a farm even, but with chickens instead of ducks.

  6. Oh dear, I meant ducks instead of chickens!

  7. Laura,

    We have found some really cool things off these websites. I thought maybe they would have some helpful things that you could use in your homeschool journey. BTW I enjoy reading your blog. Since I don't get on the board that much anymore I follow you here and facebook


  8. This sounds like a gREAT start! I love the part about rulers. I find it is key to lay out interesting things and walah, they want to use it. So different than saying here, you need to do x,y,z. So much of "school" is just being a know everyday trips to the park, reading books, "playing" with rulers and geo boards. Thanks for sharing your day!


  9. I meant homeschool, school is WAY more than just being a mom ;)

  10. I love how your day flows and thanks for a picture of your weekly to do list. I am going to have to copy you :)