Friends and acquaintances sometimes wonder what a “typical” homeschool day is like. While there can be unexpected challenges and surprises on occasion, most of our school days have a routine that has worked well for us.
Shortly after waking up, we sit down to eat breakfast. I have always insisted on this because it is well known that this is the most important meal of the day. It jump-starts metabolism and wakes up the brain so that children can be at their sharpest mentally, ready to learn and work hard on their studies. Furthermore, eating a nutritious breakfast is a powerful weapon against obesity because it not only speeds up metabolism, but studies have also shown that people who don’t eat the first meal compensate by consuming too many calories later, usually at night and usually with a sluggish metabolism.
Right after breakfast, everyone pitches in to get chores done. This is one of the major benefits of homeschooling, in my opinion. Instead of rushing out the door, kids who are homeschooled can help take care of pets, do the dishes, take out the garbage, make beds, and help with laundry. When home is also a “classroom,” it is even more important to keep it clean and neat. Clutter and messes are a distraction. It should be noted that a huge side benefit of this is that kids who have daily chores really internalize the fact that they are important and that their help is needed. This is one of the ways that “self-esteem” is properly developed, unlike the contrived and ineffective methods used in the public schools.
When the house is cleaned up, we all sit down to study the Bible together. Since we are Christians and learning about God is important to us, we make it a priority by doing this study first. This year, we are reading through a fantastic book entitled, Essential Truths of the Christian Faith by R.C. Sproul. Every day, we first pray, then read through a lesson and look up the suggested Bible verses. This has been one of the best Bible studies we’ve ever done, and we are all learning a lot.
While we are still gathered, we work on history, which we are studying as a group. Certain subjects cannot be studied as a group, such as writing, science, and math. However, there is no reason why the same history material can’t be taught to a variety of ages. If there are younger kids, the teacher can read aloud. If the kids are older, they can do the reading on their own and then gather for the discussion and analysis. All three publishers that I highly recommend work beautifully when used by a group: Greenleaf Press, Beautiful Feet, and The Story of the World. Greater understanding and more in-depth essays should be expected of older students, but all ages can learn a lot.
When our group study is done, the older kids go to their quiet areas and work individually. This is when I work side-by-side with our youngest child, guiding her through lessons and making sure she understands the material. The bulk of schoolwork is done in the morning, but the older kids (especially high school students) always have work to do later in the day and sometimes in the evening as well.
Another major benefit of homeschooling is the extra time that is available. Instead of wasting an hour or more riding a bus, or repeatedly waiting while a teacher tries to get the attention of an unruly group of twenty or thirty students, time is instead freed up for jobs, sports, and hobbies. All of my kids have worked while in high school, saving as much as possible for college and also gaining valuable experience. My four oldest children have all held interesting jobs during the teen years: at a library, an insurance office, a law office, a newspaper, and as a private piano teacher. Thus, with homeschooling, there are more hours in the day for all these great activities without sacrificing time spent on academics.
After all our work is done for the day, everyone is expected to read for about an hour before bed. I have always been a stickler about this, and if you’ve read some of my other articles, you know why. Its value and importance cannot be overstated. Once children can read independently, they should spend no less than one hour per day reading – and it should be something worthwhile. For ideas, visit this website: http://www.classical-homeschooling.org/celoop/1000.html
Finally, it’s time for lights out and hopefully a decent sleep before starting all over the next day.