Tuesday, March 29, 2016

A (School) Day in the Life: Version Spring 2016

A few times per year, I like to take a detailed look at my school day routines, as I find our routines change that often, with babies and toddlers aging, and school needs increasing.

As of Spring 2016, with children ages 9 (third grade), 7 (first grade), 5 (pre-school), 3, and 8 months, our routine four days per week looks like the below (with the fifth day being when we attend CCE).

Between 6:00 and 6:30 a.m.: Mama and the youngest set wake up.

Mama does kitchen chores (e.g., put away dried pots and pans, fold laundry, check email) and prayer journal time.

Mama exercises (video or outdoor walk with littles in stroller) and has to be completed by 7:30.

By 7:30, Mama wakes up any children still sleeping. Children five and older are expected to dress by themselves before they come downstairs.

Children do Morning Chores, such as emptying the dishwasher.

We all have Holy Reading to do (e.g., one chapter from a children's Bible, or that day's Mass readings) before breakfast. This is a weak area that gets skipped first, so I am examining how to anchor this to our day.


We go upstairs to finish dressing, making beds, and brushing teeth.


We start with Morning Basket Time, with all children gathered at the kitchen table.

  • CCE Memory Work
  • Baltimore Catechism
  • Music Theory (flash cards)
  • Read-aloud History/Literature (e.g., "Robin Hood" currently) while the children color

LESSONS WITH MAMA--We move up to the School Room.

  • Margaret: Phonics, Music Theory (worksheets)--When she finishes, she's dismissed to play with Joseph in the play room or outdoors.
  • Mary: Math, Spelling, CCE Presentation, First Holy Communion catechism, Cursive
  • John: Math, Spelling, CCE Presentation, English (Composition)

INDEPENDENT WORK--Children are doing this while I'm working with another child.

  • Mary: Grammar, History
  • John: Grammar, History, Cursive

Of course, this is what the routine looks like on paper. During this teaching, the baby gets tired for morning nap: with the time change and with his dropping to two naps daily, he now nurses down for nap right in the middle of the school time, which is inconvenient. When I leave the room for about 20 minutes, I might leave the olders doing independent work and put the youngers on a cartoon; or I might put on an educational video for all (e.g., Mr. Wizard for science or a religious history video). Juggling a baby's needs with school time brings me to tears.

What else brings me to tears are breaking innumerable sibling fights during this time. After I'm done being a homeschooling mother, I may get a job as a WWF referee.

As it is springtime, I'm thinking about macro school planning for next year. With John beginning fourth grade, I want to add in formal science, formal geography, as well as Latin (as I've heard it is important to get in a couple of years of lower-level Latin before tackling the challenge of middle school Latin). I figure I will add in more subjects into our limited time the same way I could squeeze blood from a stone: it's a mystery to me! I will have to (1) make more subjects independent work, (2) do more direct teaching into the afternoon hours.

~11:30 a.m. We stop school so all the children can have outdoor recess time. This is important, as they would be overly rambunctious if I tried to get them to sit all morning for school time, then sit for lunch, then sit/be quiet during Quiet Time.


By 1:00 p.m., we've begun Quiet Time.

  • Joseph: napping
  • Margaret: piano practice, then playing quietly alone.
  • Mary: piano practice, reading literature for 30 minutes (e.g., currently "Captains Courageous" by Rudyard Kipling). Then play quietly.
  • John: piano practice, reading literature for 30 minutes (e.g., currently "King Arthur" by Howard Pyle). Then play quietly.

By 3:00, I wake up Joseph if he is still asleep. I try to have everyone play outdoors at this time of day.

Our afternoons vary more than our mornings: right now we have swim classes and music lessons.

~4:00, I bring children inside to do any daily chores (e.g., cleaning bathrooms, vacuuming). Then they get to watch a television show while I cook dinner.


After dinner, we have end-of-day chores. Often I try to carve out time to finish the daily read-aloud chapter while Chris occupies the little ones (who make read-aloud time soooooooooooo challenging). I've begun reading chapter books to Margaret that are specific to her younger age level (e.g., currently "Little House in the Big Woods" by Laura Ingalls Wilder). Usually I run the bedtime routine with the littler set (8:00 p.m. lights out) while Chris leads the older set in the Rosary.

After the children are asleep, I can now manage to stay up for a couple of hours, during which time I start laundry for the next day, write the children's daily school/chore lists for the next day, write, plan school, plan meals, shop online, etc.

Changes? Improvements? Streamlining? Share what you do! I love to learn how other homeschooling families run things.


  1. Re: Latin for next year...
    I have had great luck with Prima Latina - the accompanying instructional DVD and pronunciation CDs have both bought me extra time in the school day to multitask where necessary. :)

  2. Katherine, I second Prima Latina DVDs. Everyone can watch it together once a week and then just John can do the workbook. It is straight forward and the teacher is engaging so the kids don't hate it! Then you can listen to the vocabulary CD in the car and everyone is building a basis for Latin!

  3. I always enjoy seeing how others run things - thanks for posting! One curriculum you might want to check out for 4th grade science is Lifepac from Alpha Omega. Very independent, student-driven, text and workbook all in one. :)