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A Homeschool Day in the Life (with a 12- and 11-year old)

Welcome to our fifth homeschool day in the life of post!

It’s a full, messy and imperfect life inside our homeschooling world, but it’s also full of joy, curiosity and connection. For all its frustrations, I’m grateful every day to be living this life with my special people.

Someone asked me the other day how many hours of work we do each day. And I struggled to answer him purely because it varies so much from season to season.

Because of the 1:1 or 1:2 aspect of our homeschooling, there is little time wasted – you can quickly focus in on any issues – meaning many fewer hours are needed than in school to cover the same amount of work. We could just do our academic learning in the morning and go adventuring in the afternoon.

But instead, we seasonally homeschool. By this, I mean that during the cold, dark winter months, we do the vast majority of our more traditional homeschool work. These days are long. To offset this, we finish in mid-June until Sept, taking a ten-week summer break. And on top of this, we take more holidays within the terms too. Bring on that trip to Costa Rica in Feb – if Covid actually allows it to happen…

Seasonal homeschooling allows time for more adventures like this…

So, here’s for a peek inside one of our longer days of homeschool:

A Wintry Homeschool Day

6am – I’m awake but the house is peacefully quiet, so I don’t risk creeping downstairs and waking the children. There are a million jobs I should be doing, but I choose to talk to God and finish my book (The Sanitorium by Sarah Pearse) as it’s utterly gripping. Turns out to be the perfect start to the day.

7:30am – When my stomach finally drags me out of bed, I find Harry has also been awake rereading his Glory Gardens cricket books. James, Harry and I pootle around getting breakfast, lighting the fire, chatting and playing Wordle – our latest addiction! Harry is very chuffed to get today’s word in only three attempts!

Rosie joins us around 7:45, early for this tween! We’re all quite energetic this morning, so together we tidy the house and get dressed ready for an on-time start (unusual!).

8:30am – James is at his desk ready for a day’s work (love that he can do this from home now). Rosie and I are snuggled on the sofa whilst I dip into another chapter of our current read aloud. It’s the Pied Piper by Nevil Shute, about an old man’s escape back to England from France following the Nazi invasion, with a motley crew of children in tow.

Harry listens intently whilst pacing incessantly around the room – he’s on a mission to increase his daily step count up!

9am – Harry starts tapping away on the computer, writing a story (finally, after 11 years, this “hater of putting pen to paper” has suddenly discovered the joys of creative writing).

Rosie and I discuss some questions about how the hormone ADH is used to balance water content in the body. She’s working through the GCSE biology curriculum right now.

At 9:30am she heads up to her bedroom for her Zoom lesson with her LAMDA teacher. Last week somehow, in the midst of getting back into the swing of things post-Christmas, we accidentally missed the lesson. It was the second time this has happened. I was mortified… This time, we had notes strewn all over the house and multiple alarms set on watches to ensure we didn’t miss it!

Together, they work on “blocking” the Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time piece she’s doing for her Level 6 acting LAMDA exam.

It’s a complex monologue requiring a great deal of emotional maturity. She’s playing Judy, reading letters she’s written to her autistic son Christopher. Clearly struggling to hold a grip on her own mental health, she desperately tries to explain why she left him. Tough for a 12-year-old to portray.

Whilst Rosie’s occupied, I sit and do a grammar lesson with Harry.

10am – Harry returns to his writing, and Rosie and I are back on biology. We discuss the differences between asexual and sexual reproduction.

After about half an hour, I leave her to write up and watch a Mr Exham video about the topic and switch back to Harry.

We have a lot of fun discussing the historical context of Mr Orwell’s Animal Farm. He’s fascinated by history and loves matching up the real Russian political figures to the characters in the book. He gets very excited when he realises the Battle of the Cowshed was a proxy for the civil war between the Bolsheviks and those loyal to the Tsar! Such a clever story.

Last year, we’d read Angel on the Square by Gloria Whelan, historical fiction showing the downfall of the Tsar from the perspective of his daughter’s friend. So, the part of history preceding the revolution and takeover of the Communist party. This has really helped Harry to bring it all to life.

11:15: They’re both writing up their relevant subjects whilst I prepare dinner with James – an easy prawn stir fry. We try to have our main meal at lunchtime as evenings tend to be busy with afterschool clubs.

By 11:30, Harry’s moved onto some algebra and at 11:45, Rosie comes in to do some questions with me. I try (not very successfully) to juggle this with finishing off and serving up the food…

12pm – The four of us lunch together. We sit, we chat, we eat. Often the kids chat too much and forget to actually eat – enter repetitive prompting from me… Despite this, it’s one of my favourite parts of the day. Once we’re done, the kids play.  

12:50pm – The kids and I head off to drop Rosie at her piano lesson. Harry and I take advantage of the beautiful day to wander along the canal path whilst doing physics questions. We get some odd looks. Ignoring them, we honestly have a great time (never thought I’d say that about physics).

It’s the final review of the waves section and I’m fairly blown away by how easily he’s picked up this GCSE level work. He knows it much better than I do.

We stop to watch a host of sparrows playing in a bush, so close we could touch them.

1:45pm – Picking up Rosie, we head down to the beach. I’d planned a “microadventure” (see this post) to wander along the seafront collecting litter. The bulldozers are there moving the shingle to prevent erosion and there’s not a single piece of litter! But there is a beautiful rainbow!

As the rain sets in, we decide to abort and drive back to the park in our village. Enter this point a heated discussion (let’s face it – an argument) between the kids about the scoring for the “yellow car game.” Finally, they agree on 1 point for spotting a yellow car (but not van), and 10 points for a pink, purple or supercar. The latter is defined as a Maclaren, Ferrari, Aston Martin or Lamborghini. Neither Rosie nor I will recognise any of these but as the likelihood of seeing any near us is so low, we accept it.

At the park, there’s still no litter! We’re now determined to find some! Trying a new location, we walk along the path by the church and find lots thrown into the hedgerows. It feels like a treasure trove!

2:45pm – Back home, Harry finishes off some maths. He then spends an hour doing some “mechanical engineering” (his latest obsession) aka watching instructional videos on how a carburettor, gears and a clutch work.

Checking maths with Daddy!

Rosie and I sit down in front of the fire to read about human reproduction and how hormones control the menstrual cycle. There are a LOT of questions. I’m thanking God Harry’s more interested in physics than biology right now!

3:30pm – Finally, Rosie finishes off some Spanish connectives homework ready for the lesson with her tutor the next day (so grateful for our amazing Spanish tutor).

By 4pm, we’re all done, and Harry decides to dissect a pencil with his penknife… Rosie relaxes and gets ready for her dancing lessons.

After dropping her off, I return to find Harry practising cricket with the bowling machine. He alternates this with reading, chattering away to me and generally pootling around. I take the opportunity to write this post in between the chat.

The scary looking bowling machine!

6pm – Harry and I go together to pick up Rosie since James is out at a first aid course (to allow him to coach junior cricket this year). I’m exposed to Radiohead (excellent but you need to be in the right frame of mind), the Beatles and Queen as Harry controls the music selection.

Once home, we have tea, all reading as we’re tired (Epic Hikes of Europe for me, the Beano for Rosie and more Glory Gardens for Harry). And then we come together to play our new favourite Christmas game – 7 Wonders. As usual, Harry opts for aggressive battle tactics, which loses him the game, but the scores are tight.

8pm – Bed for Harry with a promise of 30 mins reading. Rosie and I have some girl time baking a coconut cake together. Harry hears us and gets jealous, so I allow him to come down for five minutes and lick the bowl…

9pm – Rosie’s bedtime and time for a chat and cuddles with me about some issues she’s worried about.

After this, I spend some “me” time perusing the Introverted Mom forum and adding my thoughts about our latest shared book. As always, this fills my bucket and calms me. Then there’s just time for a chat with James, and a few pages of my new book choice (Around the World in 80 Trains) before my head hits the pillow and I fall into an exhausted sleep.

So, there it is, a glimpse into our lives, warts and all.

But maybe I’ve been a little unfair. I’ve chosen a day which went smoothly. The kids enjoyed their work (except for maybe Harry’s grammar) and the day progressed kind of how I’d envisaged. This is NOT always the case.

There are other days which feel like an uphill battle. Sometimes keeping them focused is like wrestling a bear up a hill.

And other days, our plans are utterly derailed. They are always full (my new positive spin on busy!) but not necessarily as we’d expected. If we take the equivalent day from the previous week for example, we had to cancel all Rosie’s planned work as she was asked to film a self-tape for an audition.

She spent the day learning lines for three scenes, practising dancing, being a grumpy teen and crying on demand, working with her very talented acting coach. Whether she gets this role or not, she’s had a great learning experience for the job she would love to do in the future.

Previous Day in the Life Posts

I love looking back over the previous years’ posts to see how much the children have grown, and our lives changed (although my favourite has to be from our worldschooling time – oh to be back in New Zealand walking up to glaciers again!). Here they all are:

A day in the life of a homeschooler (with a 7 & 8 year old)

A day in the life of a worldschooler (with an 8- and 9-year old)

A homeschool day in the life (with a 10- and 9-year-old)

A homeschool day in the life (with an 11- and 10-year-old)

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