A Homeschool Day-in-the-Life with Six Kids, Ages 8-15

Yes, I have decided to jump into the January day in the life, bandwagon. Partly because I don’t write many personal posts and thought this would be a good chance to connect with my readers. Also, because in years past when I needed January inspiration these posts sometimes helped, but I found a lot of them were dealing with many fewer kids or kids who were more conveniently spread apart. So we need lots of these kinds of posts to find the people dealing with similar situations to our own.

Perhaps I should also do a retroactive post so my readers who have lots of little ones can see how my days were then.

But for now, I will just overwhelm you with what is my busy, wonderful life right now.

Ideally, I get up at 7:15, usually this means 8:00 🙂 As long as I am ready to begin at 8:30 I am on time. I expect all my kids to get up, be dressed, fed, and have their morning chore (if they have one) done by 8:30. (Dishes will be done and trash and recycling will be taken out.) Every one feeds themselves and cleans up their own mess. (Sometimes the mess cleaning up is only theoretical. :()

At 8:30 we all gather, say a few prayers, sing a song, and read a chapter of the Bible. Then we go over 10 visual vocabulary cards and talk about one spelling rule (this rule is a review/reminder, my kids are all naturally horrible spellers).

At 9:00 we split up. This semester I am working with the 14 and 15 year-old boys for one hour. We are studying for the U.S. History CLEP. Once we have done a CLEP or two, I may leave them to do this on their own, but right now I want to make sure we get down a good studying process so I am working with them.

During this hour between 9 am and 10 am my 12 year- old girl is doing her math. Which consists of Life of Fred, Khan Academy and Math Rider.

My 11-year old girl is coloring and reading a human anatomy book, and does a bit a cursive practice in Latin. (She may be an overachiever.)

My 9-year old boy does Math Whizz (this is a computer program and includes instruction so he doesn’t need help), cursive practice, and starts reading from a chapter book.

My 8-year old boy does the same things as his older brother, but in a different order, carefully assigned by mom, so the two boys will not decide they both need the computer at the same time!

At 10:00 I read Life of Fred Pre-Algebra with Physics to my 11-year old, (did I mention she is my overacheiver?) her reading is not as advanced as her math so she really needs me to read this to her so she can concentrate on the math concepts.

Meanwhile my little two are finishing up their reading and spending 10-15 minutes free writing whatever crazy story is in their head that day. Then they go on break for a solid hour until 11:15. If they bother me during their break I send them outside. Most days they just take themselves outside.

My oldest (15) is doing math (Algebra II) and spelling and then his schedule depends on the day. Two days a week I will take him to college at 10:45, the other 3 days he will study French next. Two days he leaves for college at 12:30 and Fridays he has no college. (This is all free college since he is dual enrolled, he will have a technical degree by the end of his Junior year of high school.)

My 14- year old does german, reading, spelling, astronomy, and music during the remainder of his morning.

At 10:15 I teach spelling to my 12-year old. (This is the year of spelling, I am determined.)

At 10:45 my schedule fluctuates depending on the day of the week it is. Two days a week I am driving my oldest to the college, one day I read a Life of Fred math lesson with my youngest, another day I do that with my 9-year old, and the other day I do a spelling lesson with my 10-year old (the rest of the week she is studying spell at the same time of day but independently of me).

By 11:15 I am back from chauffeuring my oldest, or done with whatever once a week task I completed from above and I settle in for story time with the youngest four (8, 9, 11, 12) right now we are finishing up Peter Pan and then will begin Pinocchio, I also sneak in a short history reading here. I read until lunch.

Which brings me to explain lunch. We need to have our big meal at lunch, because my kids are all in Musical Theatre, and several are in dance and we have no weekday evening where we are all home at the same time. So we eat our big meal together at lunch and have self-serve leftovers for dinner, except on the weekends.

Of course, I am busy teaching all morning so how does lunch magically appear? You guessed right! My kids cook. So every day two of the oldest 4 (11, 12, 14, 15) cook dinner. They are assigned two days per week (days were assigned in the summer and don’t change). We rotate partners so they all learn how to work with each other. They have been cooking with me since they were little so they don’t need much from me. Also, we are on a 3-week rotation menu (which I switch up seasonally), so they are familiar with all the recipes. So, whoever is assigned to make lunch that day stops school work at 11 am and goes and makes lunch.

I read story time in the kitchen. (The one who runs away to college is assigned to weekends.) The 14-year old is doing music if he isn’t cooking.

Phew. It sounds like so much and we only got to noon. It is a lot, but it doesn’t feel like too much, because it is all carefully planned to interweave neatly and everyone knows what to do when. Did you notice I have not had to be in two places at once? Or working with two different kids on a different subject, at the same time? Yay!

If there are math problems they can talk to dad when he gets home in the evening. Because mom is busy. Because dad has a Master’s degree in math, it just makes sense.

At 12:30 I will be taking my oldest to college two days a week. My youngest two can take a longer lunch or go play more. My girls (11, 12) do a little Latin together before splitting apart to study their separate languages of Spanish and French. (Why they have to study so many languages and none can pick they same one as their sibling’s I will never understand. I only require Latin during elementary school. But they keep begging for languages, so I caved to their demands.) The girls spend 30 minutes total on languages. My 14-year old does math from 12:30 – 1:30 (Algebra I).

At 1:00 I teach spelling to my 9-year old. My 8-year old will do some sort of hands-on self-guided science. This will probably create a mess. I am unlikely to even notice the mess. If we are lucky he will watch a documentary instead.

At 1:30 I teach spelling to my 8-year old. This is when my 9-year old gets to make a mess. Meanwhile my 11-year old is taking a break and my 12-year old is reading. My 14-year old is starting his writing time, he will write for a hour and be done with school for the day. (He writes this long by choice.)


At 2:00 I will do Song School Greek with the little 3, (8, 9, 11) you would think we did enough language for the day, but apparently not. (And if your brain is going wait, doesn’t that mean the 11-year old is doing 3 languages, just remember, I already warned you that she is my overachiever, and I only require her to do one.)

Meanwhile my 12-year old is making stuff. Crafty things. Baskets and bowls and more, oh my. She has a whole list of crafts she is going to make and post on Etsy to see if she can sell anything. This is my way of forcing her to do more math, she has to calculate costs, profit, shipping and such. She never complains about real-life math, she was quadrupling recipes by the time she was 8, but she is not fond of math in books. Any books. Or on the computer. Only she doesn’t notice she is doing it if life is pulling it out of her. So I decided to give her a life that needed decimals and percentages.

By 3:00 we are all done. I get my oldest from college at 3:00 or 3:30 depending on the day (he is taking 12 credits, 3 classes).

Then the real craziness starts. That’s right, my day up until now has been calm and somewhat relaxing. But in the late afternoon all the after school activities begin. Thankfully we are just 10 minutes from these activities, but since we have different ages, and different classes, the evenings are a real juggling act.

I am not even going to get into it. I am just going to say that every night I take most of them somewhere. My husband does some pick-ups, I do others. I fit all of my writing/blogging time into those crazy spaces where I am waiting for them or supervising one because their class didn’t start yet but someone else’s did. I also get to exercise in the evening, because the place I take the kids has adult beginner dance classes, so I can get a little moving and socializing with other mom’s done during some of my wait time.

I am not home and done until 9:20, then I get to spend a little time my husband before going to bed.

I will get up the next day and do it all over again. I am always exhausted by the end of the day. But I am happy. Because my kids are thriving. And somehow I squeeze in the time to do my own thing. I truly believe we can be busy without being overwhelmed. Because I know what to do when, and I am doing the things I have chosen, I am not overwhelmed. If you could put a camera on me and watch me through my day you would see me calm and relaxed, and most likely sipping coffee.

It’s just another easy, crazy day in the life of the Szwast homeschool!

P.S. And if my kids are overwhelmed they will stop asking me for extra languages!

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6 Responses

  1. Thanks for sharing. My OLDEST is 8, so it is fascinating to see what life can be like with older kids!

  2. Amy says:

    I love how your children cook dinner! So fun. 🙂 And YAY for CLEP exams. 🙂

    • Marla Szwast says:

      I love it too! They also help create a 3-week meal rotation which we reuse for several months until the season changes or we get tired of some of the meals. This gives them the practice they need to get good at cooking a dish before moving on to a new dish. With the added bonus of menu planning being relegated to an occasional chore which also makes it seem less like a chore and more like an exciting event!

  3. Katy says:

    I love this so much. We have 5, and ours are younger than where you are now (ages 1-9), but we’ve already started some of that interweaving of different things with different kids matched up so that everyone ends up doing what they need to do. For someone who does not have that experience, they could read this and be overwhelmed by it all, but I think it’s such a great picture of how you can be successful by figuring out the rhythms and routines that work for your family and finding a way to make it all fit. Thanks for sharing!

    • Marla Szwast says:

      I am so glad you enjoyed reading it. I have been reluctant to share because when I share my schedule in person with people their eyes tend to glaze over 🙂 I understand it looks like a lot on paper, but it doesn’t feel like too much on a daily basis and that is what is important.

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