Examples of Typical Homeschool Days

These three families share examples of their typical days. Although “typical days” vary from day to day, all agree that each day provides wonderful learning adventures.

The Bradley's Typical Day

Our children — two boys and a girl, ages twelve, nine, and five — all rise around the same time each morning. After breakfast and morning chores, we usually do math lessons. The kids are most alert in the morning, and that seems to be the best time for them to focus on math. We alternate between using math textbooks and doing hands-on math projects, to keep it more interesting. If we only did written math assignments each day, the kids would lose interest. So we use math skills in construction projects, cooking activities, art activities, and in logic games that we find online. We use Saxon math textbooks to learn math concepts and to build upon previous math skills.

From math, we move on to science. The two seem to be interconnected much of the time, so it's a natural progression for us. Science is probably the most interesting part of our day. It often consumes two or three hours out of the day, sometimes more! We do experiments from books we find at the library, such as The Big Book of Science Activities and Hands-On Science, or Janice Vancleave's science books.

When it's time for history, the science lessons often provide ideas for the history lessons. For instance, the book, The Picture History of Great Inventors, is perfect for learning history along with science. The era of the inventors in this book date back to the first century, the medieval times, the 1600s, 1700s, and through the new millennium! We choose certain eras and not only learn about the inventions, but also about the lifestyles and other historical events of those times.

For language arts, we read the science books together, then use comprehension skills to understand and perform the experiments. The children also write about what they learned from the experiment, compared to what they thought they were going to learn. Sometimes they'll write stories based upon their science experiments or inventions. For grammar help, we have a handy book called Painless Grammar, which is easy to use and right to the point. Our five-year-old likes the Amazing Pop-Up Grammar Book, which my older ones enjoyed, and learned from, when they were younger.

The lessons portion of our day basically runs from 9:00 in the morning until about 2:00 in the afternoon, with breaks for lunch and for switching gears. The rest of the day is spent on art projects and music. Our daughter takes piano lessons and our son takes guitar lessons. Our five-year-old isn't taking any formal lessons right now. But he likes to create music with toy instruments while the older children are practicing.

Each day, there seems to be a new interest or activity that's introduced into the lessons in some way. Usually it's a result of studying something that creates a question in our minds about another topic. This gets the kids excited about researching it online or in a book. That's an added benefit of homeschooling: seeing the children become enthusiastic about learning something new or unexpected!

Our daughter recently developed an interest in learning about musical composers. On her own, she researched various composers — Bach, Beethoven, Handel, and others. She found images of them online, printed them out, then created a collage on poster board. She added quotes by the composers or information about each. Then she sealed the collage, framed it, and hung it in her room. It's not only an educational project, but also a nice piece of artwork. I'm always thrilled to see my children involved in activities like these!

The Nolan's Unschooling Day

Our family tried following a homeschool schedule when we first began homeschooling.

But after struggling with that for a couple years, we gave it up. For our family, it just didn't work. The kids weren't happy, and my husband and I weren't pleased with the situation. On the verge of sending the kids back to school, I decided to try unschooling first. That was the best thing we ever did!

Our daughter, Sienna, is fifteen, and our son, Sam, is twelve. We've now been unschooling for four years. It's difficult to describe a typical unschooling day. That's because each day's learning is so spontaneous or occurs due to events that unfold during the day.

Sometimes the day's learning will be weather-or nature-related. We enjoy spending time outdoors, even in misty, rainy weather. Interesting things occur in wet weather conditions: fog, drizzle, hail, ice. These, in turn, elicit interesting responses in birds and wildlife. We might observe them drinking water from a leaf, pecking at ice, or hiding from hail under a fallen log. We have scrapbooks full of photographs and nature sketches depicting such scenes.

Sienna and Sam have always liked to observe how squirrels and chipmunks prepare for winter. When they first began noticing the critters' winter preparations, both kids began planning their own winter preparations. They'd make lists of food staples they felt would be necessary in case we were snowed in. They'd plan to check out extra books from the library, in case they'd need more reading material for long, snowy days. They would sit together and devise games or construction projects to keep them busy and entertained over the approaching winter. It's interesting to me that these activities were inspired by their observations of wildlife, and each fall they began making their winter plans again.

The best learning seems to take place when questions arise. What makes an engine start? Where do frogs go when it gets cold? How are skyscrapers built to withstand earthquakes? Why hasn't anyone gone back to the moon? A single question can lead to a day's worth of research, new knowledge, and new activities!

In spring and summer, both kids are outdoors more than they are inside. Their days consist of climbing, inspecting, and identifying trees by their bark and leaves. They take many digital photos of trees, leaves, birds, and squirrels. They have determined which plants on our property are edible and which are not. They plant vegetables in their individual garden patches, and each child has a flower garden. The flower gardens were originally a result of determining which flowers would help to keep pests away from their vegetables.

Their days have been filled with building chicken coops, gathering eggs, building bird feeders, and then feeding and monitoring a variety of birds. They have collected and identified leaves, rocks, fossils, shells, and plants. Every few weeks, a new hobby is born. Sienna has made biscuits from scratch, has sewn aprons and clothing, and knitted scarves. Sam has built stereo speakers with his dad and has taken apart lawn mower engines and rebuilt them.

Both children are capable of creating grocery lists, doing the grocery shopping, and cooking meals. They can balance checkbooks and keep track of their savings accounts. Sienna loves to write, keeps a daily journal, and creates fictional stories based on a character she's written about for the past four years. Sam likes to take apart engines, customize his bicycle, and design and draw new styles for model cars and trucks.

We never seem to have a dull day. We might have quiet days, but Sienna and Sam enjoy them as much, if not more, than busy days. They always have plans or ideas for their days, or can find something interesting to occupy themselves. Best of all, they learn and grow from the things they do each day!

The Reilly's Daily Schedule

Although I'm up by 7:00, the kids, ages sixteen, thirteen, and nine, get up a little later. Rachel, age thirteen, usually wakes before the boys and gets on the computer before breakfast. She has to read the news on CNN.com or MSNBC.com, so she knows what's going on in the world first thing in the morning. Jared, age nine, is ready for breakfast as soon as he wakes, so he sits down to eat, then Rachel joins him after she's read the news. Matt, age sixteen, usually sleeps the latest. He comes to breakfast as we're cleaning up, and listens to Rachel fill him in on the news stories she read. He finishes cleaning up the kitchen after breakfast as we prepare for our school day.

The older kids are mostly in charge of their studies. We never used a formal curriculum until the kids were older. Matt decided to enroll in a correspondence school affiliated with a university, and Rachel is trying a school that is Internet-based. I still homeschool Jared using an eclectic style that varies from day to day. Even so, we stay focused on lessons from about 9:30 until around noon.

At lunch, we all sit down together and discuss everything that the kids have been doing that morning. If any of them have questions or concerns about their daily lessons, this is when we discuss them. Then I can spend time helping them if necessary before I leave for work. On days when the kids are doing experiments, I request that they're done in the mornings before I leave for work at 2:00, or that they wait until the evening when I'm home. You never know what might result from an unsupervised experiment!

Each child has lessons and chores to complete while I'm gone and before their father gets home from work at 4:30. If they complete everything early, then Matt works on his computer, Rachel on music or writing, and Jared on art projects. Each of them must write down what they did each day, too. By the time their father is home, their school day is done, and they look forward to spending time with him. If they have meetings or games in the evening, he'll drive them.

When I arrive home, I take a shower and relax a bit, then we all pitch in to fix dinner around 7:00 most evenings. Sometimes, the kids and their dad will fix an early dinner, and I'll eat alone. Later, we gather in the living room and talk about our day. In this way, our entire family stays in touch with what each child is learning and any concerns they might have. After our family time, the kids go off to work on hobbies or talk with friends. Ours is a comfortable schedule that suits our family's lifestyle.

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