*This guest post is one in a series on homeschool methods. Scroll to the bottom to see links to the other posts in the series. *
As a mom of many, I often get strange looks when I disclose that not only do I have 11 children, but we homeschool, as well. I can’t say I blame them. On the surface, it does seem pretty crazy, but there are two words that perfectly describe how I manage to pull this off:
In case you aren’t familiar with this term, relaxed homeschooling is simply a learning method that is based on the philosophy, “Less is more.” Instead of spending hours and hours on schoolwork each day, relaxed homeschoolers typically rely on shorter and fewer structured lessons in order to leave ample time for interest-led learning.
Today I’m going to share what a typical day looks like for us.
A Typical Relaxed Homeschool Day
Each morning I wake up at 8am. By the time I come downstairs, most of my children are already awake, with exception to my teenagers. (My two high schoolers do their schoolwork on their own time, so they will not be included in any of our homeschool routines. More on them later.) As I attempt to muster up some energy, I typically do some work on my computer while the children watch some TV or play.
At 9am, either my 11- or 13-year old will make breakfast, depending on whose turn it is.
At 9:30, we all pitch in and straighten up the living room and dining room where most of our schooling takes place. This mama can’t concentrate in the midst of clutter!
Around 9:55 I turn on our “Call to Homeschool” song, “God’s Not Dead.” The kids know that once this song comes on, it’s time to grab their Bibles and come sit in the living room to begin our day.
10 am is the official start time of our homeschool for the Littles and Middles (Pre-K through 8th grade), and, other than lunch break, it is the only set time we have for anything homeschool-related. Rather than limit our activities by assigning times to them, we simply keep moving through our general routine until everything is done for the day or lunchtime arrives- whichever comes first.
First on the agenda is Bible time. We do not use a Bible curriculum; we simply use the NIrV Kids’ Devotional Bible. After doing a devotion together, the Littles (Pre-K to 2nd graders) head upstairs to play as I start our daily homeschool routine with the Middles (4th to 8th graders). We continue our Bible time with reading the Bible aloud together (we take turns reading one verse at a time) and typically do one chapter a day.
Next is our read-aloud time, which is probably my favorite time of the day. We’re actually set to begin reading 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea next. Depending upon how long the chapter is, the kids will either take turns narrating every few pages, or if the chapter is very short, I usually just ask them each to tell me one thing they remember.
After our read-aloud is German with Duolingo. The kids really enjoy this program because the lessons are only 5-10 minutes long. I enjoy it because it’s free. (Wink.)
German is followed by Unit Study Time. Right now our unit study resource is KONOS Character Curriculum, which is probably my favorite curriculum ever. Typically, I will read a few pages aloud from a trade book having to do with our unit study topic, and then we will go on to do two unit study activities, which can be anything from videos to notebooking to hands-on activities.
After we finish up, the kids take turns doing math individually with me, using Life of Fred (Most of the kids are still in the elementary set, but my 13-year old is currently in Decimals and Percents). While they wait for their turn, they do their silent reading and copywork. (We use Shel Silverstein’s A Light in the Attic for that.)
After that, the Middles are done (usually around 12pm). They are free to go outside to play or do anything in the house that is quiet.
Now it’s time for the Littles!
Since they did Bible Time with us earlier, we start their homeschool day with a read-aloud. Afterwards, my 1st and 2nd graders take turns doing reading/phonics and math with me. Reading and phonics are alternated, meaning that one day they will do Teach Your Child to Read
in 100 Easy Lessons, and the next they will do Adventures in Phonics by Christian Liberty Press.
For math, my 2nd grader alternates Life of Fred with Liberty Mathematics Level A, while my 1st grader does Liberty Mathematics Level K (she’s finishing up last year’s book before starting her new one).
Once the two of them complete this work, they are free to pursue their interests for the rest of the day. As relaxed homeschoolers, I firmly believe that children this age learn through play. In addition to this, my Littles often participate in their older siblings unit study activities, and they are welcome to do that whenever they choose.
Lastly is my preschooler. I strongly believe that children this age do not need to use a curriculum, BUT my 4-year old is a little firecracker, and she wants to be big and “do school” like everyone else, so school it is! For her, I’ve been using Learn and Grow Preschool Curriculum, which I adore because it’s not sit-down table learning; it’s hands-on activities that are play-based, and therefore, very appropriate for this age. She’s also been doing Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons- at her request- and she’s actually at the same lesson as her 6-year old sister. What did I say? Firecracker, this one.
Each day at 12:30 we take a lunch break until 2pm. During this time we eat and do chores so that the house is clean for when my husband arrives home at 1:50. We sometimes complete all of our homeschool routines before lunch break, but I usually end up finishing my Littles after my husband comes home. When all is said and done we are usually finished between 2:30 and 3pm.
That’s only 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 hours for 7 kids. Done.
That leaves me with my two high schoolers. (My two oldest have already graduated.) At 12;30 I usually read through some sort of apologetics book with them- right now it’s Answering the Toughest Questions About God and the Bible.
After that, they do all of their own work individually throughout the day, unless they need help with algebra. For that we’re using No-Nonsense Algebra, which I can’t say enough good things about. They know that as long as they ask for help by 7pm, I’ll be free to help them because at 8pm I start my blogging work.
This is what they’ll be using this year:
– A Beka Biology, although I am only using the textbook table of contents as the framework for a living books based approach that I will write myself.
– Daily Grams- This is awesome because it only takes 5-10 minutes a day.
– Apologia American Literature- Only my 15 year old will be doing this.
– Story of the World Volumes 1 through 4- Only my 17 year old will be doing this.
All of their remaining subjects will be covered through living books, notebooking, videos, and field work. As a whole, we are not a textbook-driven family. At all.
Well, that’s what a typical homeschool day looks like for us. I’m so thankful to have come across the relaxed approach. It has enabled me to have some structure in a house that desperately needs it, without overwhelming me with neverending to-do lists.
That’s how this mom of many can manage homeschooling so many kids!
Want to learn more about homeschool methods? Take a look at the other posts in this series.
- A Day in the Life of an Extra-Large Relaxed Homeschooling Family
- Real Life Homeschooling~Our Homeschool Methods
- A Day in the Life of a Charlotte Mason Homeschool
- Creative Learning- A Waldorf-Inspired Day in the Life
- A Day in the Life~A Peek into an Eclectic Homeschool
- A Day in the Life~A Middle Road
- What is Delight Directed Homeschooling?
I’m Shelly, a Christ-following, homeschooling mom of 11. Join me as I write about homeschooling, family, and MAYBE do a little ranting about public schools on my blog, There’s No Place Like Home.