Homeschooling: A Day in Our Life

We just wrapped up our second full year of homeschooling this week (early June)! Our tradition is to go get ice cream when we finish. My oldest had about five lessons left, but on a Monday, decided he wanted to go get ice cream today. So, he got focused and finished all five days worth of lessons in one day. You better believe we went and got ice cream that afternoon! As we head into summer and gear up for the coming school year, I wanted to share the basics of how we homeschool. 

First of all, there are a lot of different styles of homeschooling (this site explains the main ones in depth: Homeschool Styles). It ranges from families who try to model their homeschool classroom closely after a traditional brick-and-mortar classroom to the unschoolers who aim to freely learn just through natural life and the child’s interests. If you Google “Homeschool Style Quiz,” you’ll get a variety of results. These quizzes can simply help you understand the different types of homeschool environments and which one might be right for your family, if you are considering homeschooling. 

My style is often described as “eclectic or relaxed.” I’ve also been told this about my home decor style, so I guess I’m just an eclectic person! The relaxed/eclectic style simply means we mix and match pieces of different homeschool styles. I don’t shy away from curriculum (as most unschoolers do) but I also don’t use them for everything (like a traditional model would).

I currently use curriculum for math and language arts. Our language arts curriculum integrates other areas of study, like geography, art, and music. For social studies, science, and all of the extra-curriculars, I lean more towards unit studies and interest-led learning. When we do a thematic unit, they often also integrate some math and language arts. As my kids are young (3, 5, and 6), we still do a TON of play and exploration learning as well. 

Therefore, it’s tough to give a “day in the life” of our homeschool journey because we don’t do the same thing every day. One of the beauties of homeschooling is the freedom with your time, so I don’t hold tightly to a certain schedule or idea of what our day has to look like. Our learning will also evolve as my children get older. It really is exciting and freeing! 

On a typical day of full learning at home, we try to accomplish the following:

  • one language arts lesson,
  • one math lesson,
  • part of a social studies or science unit of study (which could be comprised of all sorts of things like experiments, projects, living books, journaling, etc.),
  • read-aloud time (we will also add independent reading as they get older),
  • and Bible study.

Each of my kids have their own grade-level curriculum for math and language arts, but we do the rest all together. We mix art, music, physical activity, and life skills into our days as much as possible too. This doesn’t usually all happen in one sitting and we don’t always do everything every day. My kids spend the rest of their day playing (outside as much as possible), drawing/crafting, exploring, building Legos, etc. I am of the mindset that learning happens through so much of our lives. I look for teachable moments throughout our day to introduce new ideas and concepts and reinforce or expand on the things we learn during “school time.” 

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Further on “school time,” we don’t have a set time that we sit down and do everything (as a traditional model might), but we do try to begin sometime in the morning. If my kids are struggling to focus, we take a break. It’s not out of the ordinary for us to be finishing up schoolwork while dinner is cooking or something along those lines. Homeschooling allows us to fit learning into our normal life. We also like to take our learning outside of our home when we can. The park or a coffee shop are our favorite spots. (Sometimes Daddy even joins us for work.)

Additionally, we’re part of a homeschool co-op that meets once a month. They gather together with other kids for classes such as science, public speaking, woodworking, music, and more!

We adopt more of a year-long learning approach. June and the first part of July are full of fun summer activities, so we will definitely take a little break for the next month and a half. However, we usually do a slow start to the year in mid-July. I’m not going to force school to happen over something fun or experiential in the summer. But there are many 90-degree days that we’re just hanging out at home anyway, we might as well get a head start on our schoolwork. This allows me to not have to force school over something fun or experiential all year long instead of just during the summer! We take lots of breaks through the year, go on plenty of field trips and play dates, spend time with grandparents and friends, and do lots of exploring. Side note: I actually wrote a persuasive essay in college (elementary education major) on year-round schooling. After doing all the research, I was in favor of year-round learning, even for traditional schools and academic reasons, but that’s a different conversation for another day. 

Again, this is just our style and what works best for our family, it’s certainly not the only way to homeschool (although I am pretty biased and absolutely love it!). If you’re not loving homeschooling or it sounds like something you’d never be able to do, maybe a style-shift would help. 

If you homeschool, what’s your style? If you don’t homeschool, what questions do you have about it?