When I tell people I homeschool and parent full-time, I often hear, “I don’t know how you do it.” The truth is, I don’t. Whatever impossible task you imagine that I shoulder, I don’t. Not only is my life usually manageable, it’s enjoyable.
The following is a typical weekday on furlough. I used to work for a few hours a week as a tutor, but as I wait to hear the verdict on my current employment, I’m seizing the day. But not before coffee.
Homeschool Day Early Morning
5:00: I miss my gentle alarm
5:15: I miss my insistent alarm
5:30: I yield to my angry alarm
5:45: After a bleary-eyed caffeination, and before the kids rise, I read a chapter of An Introduction to Educational Psychology by E. Stones and write a little.
7:30: All the kids awake to an alarm and tumble down the stairs for breakfast. As they eat, and I drink a protein shake, I read aloud a chapter of God King and get frustratingly close to finishing the chapter.
Having shuffled some of our Sonlight History content around in order to refocus on ancient civilizations, I couldn’t resist picking up God King from a later history package (History / Bible / Literature G). I don’t think of the Sonlight guides as schedules so much as research prompts. The book has been a hair-raising drama of Egypt’s place among ancient civilizations.
8:30: The family rolls up its collective sleeves. I tidy the house while the younger boys return to their room to clear a LEGO explosion. But Why: A Podcast for Curious Kids plays in the background for them.
My seven-year-old daughter, who insists on the pleasure of cleaning the kitchen, listens to an audiobook while she does so. Often it’s from Librivox.org. Today it was Helen Keller’s Story of My Life, having recently had her interest piqued by a chapter of a Biography of Helen Keller (from Sonlight History / Bible / Literature E).
The Homeschool Day Officially Starts
9:30: We convene for the Morning Meeting, which is split into nine short sections:
- We sing acapella Cory Asbury’s You Are My Hope.
- I give each child encouragement about their learning or moral development. We also discuss the challenges likely to come up in the coming day.
- We discuss the calendar and schedule, including any changes to our daily to-do-lists.
- I read aloud from the Bible while the kids draw. We also recap our Bible memorization. We are 10 verses into the first Letter from Peter, which I have printed out in large lettering.
- We work on memorizing the same chapter in French.
- I write an English word of the day and its definition and a French word of the day and its translation, which they copy into their books, to various standards.
- I explain a math concept. Today the concept is place-value on an abacus.
- They answer a few questions from an education catechism I developed from Psalm 111.
- We listen to an episode of David Platt’s Pray the Word podcast while we clear the table and organize the shelves with any spare time
10:45: It’s time for my daughter and I to work out in the garage-gym, while the boys play outside. This time of physical activity is crucial because none of us will be ready to start learning again if we have not been thoroughly tired out. In between sets I shovel an enormous batch of something pre-prepared into the oven to serve as our main meal.
11:45: We eat together while listening to the Shine as Lights Kidscast, followed by Pimsluer’s French Language Course. The boys listen as their older sister repeats the words with me.
Photos of Jack’s Day from His Instagram Feed @daddyhomeschools
12:30: My eldest works on her independent to-do-list while I gather the material for our main subject lesson and supervise my five-year-old’s handwriting and readers. The elder child practices piano, math and French on her own, sometimes with ambient noise from Spotify to help her concentrate. Having just finished reading Captain Nobody to her brothers, she is starting The Lion Graphic Bible today for the second time.
2:00: Today our main subject is History, which consists of four elements.
- We start together on the couch, with an illustrated book. Today it is a Ladybird book on Ancient Egypt.
I read from A Child’s History of the World, occasionally using an extract from a more mature history such as H.G. Wells’ A Short History of the World.
We point out of findings on the Timeline and a globe.
I read the relevant historical fiction, God King, over breakfast and before bed.
3:00: I take my girl to the woods for a newly established book club, while my parents care for the younger boys. We meet with one other family to make forts, exchange quarantine-woes and have a socially-distanced chat about The Family Under the Bridge.
7:00 Once home and furnished with cheese, dates, and nuts, we decant to our sleeping quarters, where I attempt to finish our chapter in God King. A teary three-year-old, however, puts that ambition, as it were, to bed.
7:30 I read a short prayer from a Puritan collection titled Valley of Vision, and pray for a friend.
8:00 I call a friend on Zoom, shortly remembering why I don’t call people on Zoom. We talk over each other in a lag-hampered bible-study.
9:00 The three-year-old shouts to signal a toilet-training malfunction.
9:15 I sit resignedly at the computer, only to meet a series of internet blockers, disabling TV and social media at this time of night. “Turn my eyes from worthless things,” (Psalm 119:37), it says above the screen.
I wander back into the boys’ room to play LEGO with them. But my youngest is travelling to distant lands on his pillow, and the elder is travelling to the 1200s in Castle Diary.
I take up a book myself, but quickly find myself following my youngest into distant lands of sleep …until my next insistent alarm.
Jack Stewart is stay-at-home dad, homeschooling his three kids. He believes parenthood is his life’s work and treasures the opportunity to be a powerfully loving force in their lives. It’s just Jack and his kids at home, so he’s always in search of ways to steward his time well and to learn naturally with his children.
Jack wants to nurture minds that love learning, fear God, and serve the world. Jack’s mother home-educated him using Sonlight Curriculum in the early 2000s. Its scope and richness formed not only the way he thought about his role in the world, but also his philosophy of education. Jack, like Sonlight, wants to see fearless and purposeful education at home, to the glory of God. Follow him on Instagram @daddyhomeschools and read his writing on the Sonlight blog.