What’s a ‘Typical’ Homeschool Day?

A common question often asked by parents considering homeschooling for the first time is, “What does a typical day look like?”

At first thought, it seems like this would be a fairly easy question to answer, but it’s actually a bit complex. This is due to the fact that 1) one of the greatest benefits to homeschooling is the flexibility and 2) a key goal in homeschooling is to encourage a growing independence and a continued love for learning. Also, another question implicit in the original is often ‘What should I, personally, be doing?’, which is even harder to answer since each family will have a distinct set of circumstances. 


Flexibilitythe quality of easily bending without breaking; the ability to be easily modified

I love these definitions of flexibility! And, they definitely describe the homeschool lifestyle!  One of the greatest benefits to homeschooling is the flexibility – being able to modify or adjust as needed – without it ambushing the entire tone, progress, or atmosphere of your home environment.

One way to  embrace this flexibility is to adopt more of a routine or flow to the day.  Many homeschoolers have found that a flow is easier to maintain as opposed to attempting to adhere to a strict time schedule.  Planning a typical flow or sequence to the day is beneficial, such as: wake, breakfast, chores, bible/devotional time as a family, math, language arts (grammar, writing, phonics, literature), lunch, science, history, free time, dinner, chores.  Planning in this manner allows for less stress or battling feelings of being behind. (There won’t be a need to say, “It’s 10 o’clock. The schedule says we should be doing phonics now! Quick, let’s put this away and get started on…”)  This also recognizes and allows for that flexibility!  Homeschoolers can take a deep breath and contemplate what might be best for their family at the moment, realizing that it will all even out over different days.

Homeschoolers also have the blessing of flexibility to be able to tailor what their kids are doing based upon the needs, progress, and new interests they see develop each day.  Parents and children in homeschooling families have the time and flexibility to either speed up or slow down the pace of their lessons depending on how they respond to the new concepts being presented. Children have the freedom to be able to progress at their own rate.  A child may need additional time learning one concept, but less time with another skill or lesson.  They may not have much interest in one topic, but want to delve in and explore, in greater detail, another idea.  Having more of a flow to the day aids in this.

Also, homeschoolers do not have to do every subject every day.  If the children have lost focus and everyone needs  a break to regroup or the day has just been long enough (moms pick up on these cues ;-)), the uncompleted  subjects can  be saved for the next day and marked to start with those.  For example, most math curricula contain 180 lessons, including tests, so the goal is one lesson per day, but some days a lesson may take longer. Homeschoolers can either choose to continue and tackle it, and in turn remove a different subject that day, or give students a break and continue tomorrow knowing that on some other day additional time may need to be devoted.

Some subjects can also be divided before the year begins to allow for completion within just 3-4 days per week instead of five.   History and science curricula are more suitable for this, as well as electives. This gives more freedom to focus on math and language arts.

As a quick note, given the amount of flexibility, it is important for homeschoolers to keep track of what is completed each day and ensure that (as required by most states) 180 days of learning is met.  However, homeschoolers typically don’t have an issue with days and requirements as there are so many opportunities for learning each day!


Many homeschool families desire to instill in their children a sense of ownership over their learning.  This can be accomplished by gradually giving students subjects that they can work on independently (always with the reassurance that parents are readily available to come alongside them) and by giving them the freedom to make some decisions regarding their school day. 

As students become more proficient at working on some schoolwork independently, they can be given  all of their assignments for the day and be  allowed to choose the order they wish to approach their subjects.  As students mature, they can often determine when they feel most focused and learn to gauge when they should complete subject matter needing most concentration at that point in their day.  They may choose to work on more challenging subjects first, alternate between longer and shorter assignments, or reward themselves at the end of the day with their favorite course. Oftentimes, after a couple weeks into the school year, older homeschool students develop their own routine for their day!

By encouraging independence, students begin to be more self motivated and self-directed, increasing their confidence and their enjoyment of learning.

Accounting for Family Differences

There are so many factors in determining a homeschool schedule. It’s not a ‘one size fits all’ by any means!  What works wonderfully for one family might not be doable for another.

Since each family situation is unique, there are many variables involved!  These variables include the number of children in the home, grade levels working with, whether there are babies and toddlers, the differing attention spans, personalities, learning styles, whether the teaching parent also has additional employment, etc. 

Not only are the situations different for each family but circumstances also change within the family unit from year to year. Necessary adjustments are made as new members of the family are added, as seniors graduate and start a new season, and just as children grow and mature. 

All of these are reasons why it’s sometimes difficult for homeschoolers to describe their ‘typical day’!

After prefacing our family’s schedule with the above explanation, below is my attempt to describe a ‘typical day’ of homeschool with our 12th, 10th, 8th, 6th, and 4th grade children during the past school year.  My goal in sharing is not to tell you ‘the’ way to approach your homeschool day, but to share one way that has worked for us. (And our routine and methods have changed considerably within our own family over the years!)

With so many teens in our home this past school year, we allowed our children to awake and get started with schoolwork on their own time frame (although usually no later than 9am).

Each child had a prepared weekly chart of subjects that I aimed for them to complete each day, all of their materials placed in work boxes, and a breakdown for each subject outlining what constitutes a day’s work.  (We used file boxes to contain materials for elementary aged children and drawers for middle school.  My 10th grader wanted to utilize drawers also, but my 12th grader opted for a basket and binder.  All texts and resources not currently in use were stored on a bookcase that we could easily access.) 

Sample Weekly Sheet and Day by Day Subject Outline

Elementary  Level Workbox (description)

Middle School / High School Drawers (description)

High School Binder
(contains the Weekly Sheet in the front to record what is done each day and the Day by Day Subject Outline behind each labeled tab)

All of our children were able to choose the order of their subjects to do each day.  Although, math and language arts were typically completed before lunch.

Any phonics/reading/literature was completed with mom (5th grade and younger) while the oldest four had either an in person class or an online live English class (literature, grammar, composition) one day per week with assignments to work on the other days.

For English and math (6th grade and younger), they would read the textbook explanation, come to me for clarification, work on their assignment, and then come back to me for any needed corrections or reteaching after I checked their work.

Our children who were 7th grade or older had a daily, online, self-paced math lesson with assignments completed and graded on the computer.  (Usually my husband could assist with any concepts the older students struggled with, but the children also had the option to email the instructor for help as well.)

All five students also had daily AWANA work. The older students did their devotional section and memorized their verse(s) on their own and then asked me to listen to them as time to practice before AWANA night. For our 4th grader, I’d help him with memorizing the verse(s).  I would write out the verses on a dry erase board and we would practice using the ‘erase a word’ method.

After lunch was when our 4th and 6th grader would usually do science and history with me. I’d read aloud as they worked in their notebooks, and then we would complete any related experiments.

My 8th and 10 graders read the science text on own and completed their corresponding notebook work. Experiments were completed in a group setting two times per month.

This was similar for my 8th, 10th, and 12th grade students’ history/ cultural issues coursework.  They would read the text on own, come to me for oral questions/answers, and, sometimes, watch a scheduled video.

Several children also participated in instrument practice on their own each day, following plans set in place by their instructors.


Here are some glimpses into our day from previous years, too…Day in the Life

As you can see, homeschooling days are full of flexibility, growing independence, love, and learning!  May you give much grace to yourself and your children as you work together to create your own ‘typical’ homeschool day!  And, as you embark on this new journey and way of learning, may the homeschool lifestyle become a blessing to you and your family.

A Day in the Life of Growing Independent Learners

Growing Independent Learners

We have five children ranging in age from 15 down to 7 and we have been homeschooling throughout their lives.  With each passing year and with the development of each child, our daily routines have considerably altered.  It’s not bad…it’s just different.  It has truly been a gradual, necessary transformation as our children have grown in their maturity, confidence, and independence.

I vividly remember that, just five short years ago, I used to spend a few hours each day in very hands on school work with our three  elementary aged children, an active preschooler, and an ‘into everything’ toddler.  They were enjoyable days, but bone-weary and challenging.  I loved that we were able to enjoy so many activities together and learn as a family, but I also distinctly  remember feeling very divided among each child since they all needed so much of my attention and direct teaching or assistance. 

from 5 years ago…

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to today…IMG_2210 (2)

Now, our school time gets spread  out longer over the course of the day and we are not able to study as many of our subjects together.  However,  those once elementary aged children are all now either middle school or high school aged,  are much more responsible for their own learning, and are developing interests which I see them taking time to pursue in their ‘non-school’ hours.

It has been rewarding to see our older children begin to ‘own’ their school work, take initiative, and be self sufficient.  We have seen them develop into independent learners!



So, what does a typical school day look like
for our homeschooling family at this new stage?

Well, you might be a bit surprised.

I will be the first to point out that, as the kids have developed and progressed in their autonomy, my own role has changed considerably – from direct teacher to more of a facilitator for most of the kids as they learn.  This has been a difficult process for me as I feel a lot of guilt for not being as engaged and directly involved as I once was in their education.  However, I am confident (as is my husband) that this is what our kids need in order to succeed.  So, I‘ve been gradually and intentionally giving our children more options, space, and time to learn and flourish.


Here’s a sample day!
(a full day at home, one without music lessons or other outside learning with friends)


  • Our 6th grader is habitually up around 6:00am to start his schoolwork.  He chooses this time of day because it is quieter and there are no distractions.

from DSC_3093

  • I’m typically awake between 7 and 7:30am.  I check in with our 6th grader and then do my Bible reading/memory work, showering, eating, and a bit of computer work.  Characteristically, I am ready to dive full force into school with the kids by 9am (well, after I start a load of laundry =) ).  (This is so different from my former season with lots of little ones.  Then, it was critical for me to be awake before all of the children so that I would have ample time to get ready for the day and have a quiet time with the Lord.)
  • Our 4th, 8th, and 10th grade girls wake up and get moving around the same time as myself.  They can be found doing their own morning routines which includes Bible devotions and AWANA work.  Our oldest often begins schoolwork during breakfast at the kitchen  table. The other girls prefer to start working at their desks in the school room.
  • As for our second grader, lately, I have been having to wake up him up -no later than 9am.  (Can you say ’growth spurt’? LOL.)
  • I usually start the school time by listening to all of the kids’ AWANA verses and helping the youngest two to memorize their Scripture work.
  • I make sure to check school work that has been completed by our 6th grader and review/assist him with any errors or misconceptions that I may notice that he has.
  • Next, I devote a large chunk of the morning to focus on our 2nd grader.   As is to be expected, he still has lots of ‘work with mom’ subjects.  These include Bible, AWANA, All About Reading, book basket reading, read-alouds, English, and spelling. He does pretty well with math and just needs some assistance with it from time to time as well as direct teaching for brand new concepts. His Xtra math and piano are independent. He is then free to play until I call him for history and science later in the day. (Our 6th and 4th grader complete a Bible study together during this time as well as work on other subjects independently, coming to ask questions as needed.)

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  • Mid-morning, kids may get a snack.
  • After working intensely with our youngest,  I usually take a break to check in on our 8th and 10th graders to see how they are progressing and to see if they need help with anything.  (By the way, several of our 8th grader’s subjects, such as math, Spanish, and literature, are online. Our 10th grader takes an online math course, but she has chosen more book based subjects this year. )

from… DSC_3295


  • Reading and discussing literature as well as dictating spelling with my 4th grader is commonly next. 
     from DSC_3111
  • After that, I’ll try to sneak in a few minutes to ask and discuss science with our 6th grader.
  • As lunch nears, if it works with what she is doing, I try to work on Literary Analysis with my 10th grader.
  • Right before lunch, I, once again, check more work and meet with kids as needed for corrections and assistance.


  • Then it is time for a much need lunch break all together, followed by the completion of kitchen chores.  I also check the menu plan and start the crockpot (if it is necessary) as well as  make sure to switch laundry (if I have forgotten it earlier in the day, which is quite typical ;-) ).
  • After lunch, it is usually history time.  I like to do history with our 2nd and 4th grader first.  Afterwards, I call our 6th and 8th grader to work on history together.

from DSC_3095

  • At this point, many of our children are finished with their school day. Our 6th grader typically spends his afternoon free time on coding/ Khan Academy, constructing intricate paper modeling, building with Legos, trying out a cool science experiment that he has found, or either reading or listening to a book for his enjoyment.  The 4th and 2nd graders are usually off playing together.
  • I once again check in with the 8th and 10th graders to see how they are progressing and to see if they need help with anything.  (Our 8th grader is also normally finished with her school day by this point and enjoys reading for fun, checking out new recipes to try, sneaking in some additional piano practice, or hanging out with her siblings.)
  • I’ll meet with our 10th grader to go over her daily end of chapter history questions and, once a week, her weekly end of chapter health questions.  We’ll also discuss her writing assignments.
  • As for science with my 2nd and 4th grader, um, well, in all honesty, we still haven’t started it yet.  Sigh.  But, over the years, I’ve learned that  we will get there eventually and it will all work out by the end of the school year!
  • Laundry and dinner prep sneak up fast at this point of the day.


  • We then have dinner as a family, followed by chores.
  • After chores, we may have evening commitments outside the home or a time of free choice for what the children desire to do.
  • In the evenings, right before bedtime, my husband has been reading a YWAM Missionary Biography with all of the kids as well as leading a prayer time for missionaries and for our sponsored compassion child.  (He used to try to do this in the mornings, but as the kids grow, they tend to need more sleep.  So, our schedule has been adjusted accordingly.)

Throughout the Day

I delight in listening to the sounds of the piano, cello, and violins as the kids take turns practicing when the ‘music room’ becomes free.  I also get to witness gymnastics and crazy sibling antics, aid in resolving sibling squabbles, hear lots of ‘mommy, look at this’, answer tons of questions, refer them to God’s Word, and experience lots of hugs.  I truly do LOVE them and enjoy that I get to be home for them!

IMG_2613 IMG_1079 IMG_2798


When we first started on this homeschooling journey with lots of little ones,
I would never have been able to envision the relatively calm, productive days that we experience now.

Yes, our days are still full and busy, but it’s a different kind of full, a different kind of busy.  These days require much pre-planning to ensure our children’s independence and lots of intentionality to guarantee I am taking time to come alongside our kids and meeting them where they are each day.  It’s far from perfect and I admit that I’m not the greatest at juggling this new stage, but I’m thankful that God is challenging me and growing me, too.   It is a great privilege and season of joy as I get to spend time with my favorite people, guiding them as they develop into independent learners who love the Lord.


Past posts on a typical homeschooling day for our family…
Homeschooling – Day in the Life (K, preK, toddler, and expecting our 4th)
A Day in My Life – as a 9th Grade Homeschooler

Our 2017-2018 Curriculum

Workboxes – a stepping stone to independence

Including Teens: Planning for Their School Year

Including Teens in Planning

If you know me, then you understand how much I  love researching, planning, and organizing – especially in regards to school.  For me, it is more than just a requirement for preparing for another homeschool year.  I actually find it enjoyable! 

As our children have grown, I’ve begun to include them in some of the curriculum selection process.  No, they don’t seem to enjoy it as much as I do.  However, especially as they enter the teenage years, I think it is important for them to be able to have a say in what they will be learning as well as in how they will be learning.

What does this look like?

Starting in middle school, I’ll give them a few options for subjects like history and science as well as seek to somehow include something they are really interested in learning more about. 

For our 6th grade son this year, that involves lots of science – including learning about inventions, reading biographies of famous scientists, and making a science timeline for his history.  It also means making sure he has time during his school day to continue learning how to code with Khan academy.  He is beyond excited for these changes and additions this coming year! 

Our 8th grade daughter loves music.   After looking at curricula, we encouraged her to use her history time this coming school year to study classical composers through biographies and learn about the orchestra and each type of musical instrument.  She also has space in her day to continue practicing her cello and piano, as well as music appreciation.  This is a perfect fit for her this coming year and she is very much looking forward to these aspects in her daily school routine.

For high school students,  it is even more important for them to have a part in the decision making process for each of their subjects.  I explain the graduation requirements, suggest several options, show them online samples, and encourage them to read descriptions in the numerous homeschool catalogs that grace our mailbox. Then, we allow them to attend a homeschool conference with us and to share in the vendor hall experience.  We then talk about the possible positives and negatives of each curricula that they or I are interested in.  In the end, my husband and I are the ones with the final say, but our teens and preteens know that they have had a part in the decision.

It is so encouraging to see the different personalities, passions, and interests that God is developing in each of our children.  By allowing our teens and preteens to participate in  making decisions about THEIR education, we can more easily purchase and plan for curriculum that is tailored to their interests.  This, in turn, causes them to approach their schoolwork with a greater sense of ownership, determination, and satisfaction. 

All of this equals a greater joy in learning!

Building a Reader

Some think of the phase when their child learns to read as drudgery. 

It can be so hard for a mom to sit and hear their child painstakingly
   /s/ /ou/ /nd/        /ou/ /t/          /ea/ /ch/            /w/ /or/ /d/.

And, I know, it can be.

Our youngest son LOVES to build things…
building building2
and, currently, has little interest in becoming a reader.  

The different things that our son constructs can be quite tall and detailed as well as functional to play with.  In the process of assembling structures, he has learned some crucial guidelines– like the value of constructing on a solid surface, the importance of adding supports in order to stack the blocks higher, and the necessity of following instructions.

This makes me think how learning to read is somewhat like stacking those blocks
that he spends so much time engaged with…

a strong foundation of being read to, followed by step by step building
   letter by letter, 
      sound by sound, 
         chunk by chunk,
             word by word, 
                 sentence upon sentence, 
                     paragraph upon paragraph
… carefully building until it reaches the peak – an entire book!

early reading early reading 2 reading 3
reading reading 4 reading2 

I have been privileged to see the sheer joy in four of our five children’s faces as they progressed in their reading skills!  If we focus on just the individual building blocks, it can feel monotonous, repetitive, and overwhelmingly slow, but if we step back and look at the bigger picture … we will recognize it for what it truly is … a beautiful creation!  Learning to read opens up a new world of learning and exploration to our children.    There are so many ideas, discoveries, and concepts that I do not know or am unable to teach my children thoroughly.  However, when children can finally read, THEY become able to obtain knowledge so much more easily!  Reading is the foundation for a life time of learning.readingBible1

And, I can think of no greater aspiration or motivation for learning to read than God’s Holy Word.  Sure, our children memorize Scripture verses and listen to Bible stories before learning to read, but once they can read on their own, it opens them up to the whole knowledge of God – who He is, what He has done for us, and how we can live to bring Him glory.  And that is what we try to stress to our children and focus on throughout their journey of building those early literacy skills.
My sweet little builder is progressively making connections between letters and sounds, enjoys listening to picture books and to his audio story Bible, and likes to sing Scripture verses and other songs.  These encouraging signs cause me to feel confident that he is steadily developing into a reader, one building block at a time, following in the steps of his four older siblings.  =) 

Building a reader takes a patient, loving, and encouraging hand.

Mamas, keep stacking and supporting those blocks with your little ones!


More on early literacy and learning to read…
A Love For Reading!
Spelling – When to Start
Hubbard’s Cupboard 
(free printable booklets, story lessons, hands on ideas for manipulating letters and sounds, etc.!)

What Homeschooling Isn’t

Note to Self…

Homeschooling is NOT
– all about the academics (although it is important and I was trained that way).
– a daily checklist of things we must do (although I am wired that way).

Homeschooling IS
3) freedom and flexibility.
We have freedom and flexibility in our daily schedule, freedom to choose and/or create curriculum that fits the learning styles and needs of our children, freedom from assigned homework, flexibility to pace instruction to each child’s level, and freedom to work with the strengths and weaknesses of each child in order to develop their God given talents and calling.

2) family.
We have an increased opportunity to work on nurturing sibling relationships, encourage respect, show compassion to one another, model forgiveness, and learn to be others focused as we work together, day by day, as a family.

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.
Philippians 2:3-4

1) discipleship.
We get the privilege and high calling to lead our little ones to the One and Only Savior, Jesus Christ.  We are able to treasure Christ with our children through songs, Bible reading, Scripture memory, and heart training.

Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.
Deuteronomy 11:18-19

… just because I need to be reminded from time to time as we press on during this journey.

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