December 8, 2023

Amber’s Homeschool Day in the Life (with 7, 9, 11 and 13 year olds) ~
Written by Amber O’Neal Johnston of Heritage Mom

I get some of my best ideas from reading how other homeschoolers spend their days. Every family organizes their time differently, but whenever I see another mom weaving something into her day, I walk away with a creative idea that sparks something new in my family.

Our way of doing things has evolved over the years as my children go through new ages and phases, but the one thing that has stayed the same is that we start and end our days together.

Today is no different.

Amber’s Homeschool Day in the Life (with 7-, 9-, 11-, and 13-year-olds)

Morning time routine

This morning I woke up around 6am and knew I couldn’t sleep again so I came into the kitchen for tea and sat down at my laptop. I checked my email, engaged in social media, and did a little research for a writing project. This alone time always flies by and I’m soon joined by my seven-year-old son, Brooks, who wants a good cuddle before breakfast.

After our daily love fest, Brooks unloads the dishwasher while I cook breakfast. When everything is ready, he runs upstairs to wake up any siblings who haven’t made it to the kitchen yet. My husband gets home from the gym and we have a hot meal before starting our morning routine around 9:00.

At the kitchen table, we do the lessons I have planned for the whole family. Today it looks like Bible study, singing folk songs and spirituals, reciting the poetry of Paul Laurence Dunbar, studying pictures, geography and current events. This is by far everyone’s favorite time of day, and we linger around the table talking and laughing far longer than my well-intentioned schedule dictates.

Separate working hours (jointly separate)

After morning time we shuffle around while the older kids grab their books and checklists for the day before finding their favorite spot to settle down. We have an open floor plan on the main floor, so even when we spread out, it feels like we’re all still together. While they go about their (mostly) independent work, I take a quick shower and make another cup of tea while chatting with my husband, Scott.

After I review my “Big Three” I sit on the couch with my youngest while we go through his lessons. It also has a daily checklist. All his work is with me so he doesn’t need it but he enjoys knowing what we will be doing each day and insists on having the same setup as his siblings.

Today we start our daily math, writing and reading lessons before moving on to a mammal book, an African geography story read and two black history picture books from the Joyful Generations Heritage Pack I put together just for him. . We wrap up with an American folktale just in time for lunch and he tells me while I prepare grilled cheese sandwiches, peppers and orange wedges for everyone.

When working with Brooks, the other kids ask me about their lessons as needed. Their level of independence correlates with their age and my 13 year old daughter does most of the lessons independently. He takes Algebra and Spanish online and the lessons are pre-recorded so he can work at his own pace.

He interrupts the video lessons with readings of living history, literature and science books. We usually do grammar and health with her eleven-year-old sister Sasha, but today both girls spend time just writing stories about what they read because we started late.

Amber's Homeschool Day in the Life

Relaxed afternoon flow

After lunch I take a moment to return a few phone calls and make a doctor’s appointment. Then I work on math with my middle kids separately and listen to nine-year-old Beckett read some of his books aloud. He can handle them on his own, but lending my ear will encourage him to stick with it and complete his lessons.

Without regular interaction with me, his day would be filled with nothing but rest because his favorite line is, “I’m taking a break,” which crushes me every time I predictably reply, “A break from what? You haven’t done anything yet!

As long as they complete things on their checklists, my kids can check off their plans after morning time. My oldest likes to finish everything early and have the rest of the day to herself. He is creative and always has projects on hand to dive into.

Today she worked on modeling a paired clay doll. My other kids prefer to meander through the day at a relaxed pace, with plenty of time to play and roam, so they usually finish lessons later in the day.

By mid-afternoon, everyone begins to gather in the living room as we read the fourth book of the Wing Saga; the story is captivating and we are dying to know what happens next. I’ll share a few short chapters and leave everyone on a significant cliffhanger before heading to my room for a little self-care break.

My self-service break

I am recovering from a major infection and spine surgery and am on IV antibiotics daily through a PICC line while listening to audiobooks and checking the news on Voxer. When I’m done with my medication, I respond to emails and social media posts and rest in my medical chair. Then I throw on sneakers and a light jacket before heading out for a therapeutic walk around the neighborhood with Scott.

Closing the day

Friends have been making dinner for my family during this recovery time, so after the walk I head into the kitchen to heat up some food and catch up with the kids while Scott finishes his day in his home office. After dinner we do our daily cleaning and reset everything for tomorrow. It only takes about 10 minutes, but with everyone’s help we can get a lot done.

Then we gather to listen to another chapter or two of our read alouds before getting ready for bed.

The boys have lights out at 8:30, but they can listen to an audiobook for a while before they fall asleep. The older girls read and work on creative projects in their rooms at night. They can stay awake as long as they want as long as they don’t get carried away.

Tonight, they are both still awake when I retire to my room to write this post at 10pm, and are usually lights out by 10:30pm.

In some ways no two days are the same for us, but today was representative of our average day at home. On other days you can find us at musical theatre, piano lessons, home group activities or walks in the woods. I work hard to manage our schedule well so we have a comfortable balance between home days and travel days.

We thrive when we have a combination of both!

Amber's Homeschool Day in the Life

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