Wondering what a day in the life looks like for a first-year homeschool family? Check out what our kindergarten homeschool schedule looked like this year.
Isn’t homeschooling…” she paused to search for words, almost speechless at the thought, “Overwhelming?”
I love visiting my dentist. She is so sweet and adorable, and no matter what conversation topic we seem to land on from how I make money blogging to homeschooling, she’s baffled by my lifestyle choices in the best, authentically curious way.
At my last check up we were chatting about school options since she has little ones too, so of course, our choice to start homeschool at age 4 came up.
As I look back to a year ago, searching for our first curriculum and wondering whether I could possibly hack it as a homeschooling mom, yes, it did feel overwhelming.
However, if you’ve asked me how things are going anytime since, I would have told you that homeschooling my kids has been the absolute highlight of my life this year.
I have always loved the day in the life posts on Simple Homeschool and I want to capture what a typical day-in-the-life of our homeschool Kindergarten looked like this year.
As we end our first year and move into first-grade work, I can’t believe how fast things are already changing.
A Day in the Life: Our Kindergarten Homeschool Schedule
By the way, this post contains affiliate links to some of the curriculums we used this year.
I have two kids, a 2-year-old and a 4-year-old, and both of them have always been early risers. So early in fact that we’re doing great to have finally taught them to stay upstairs until 6 am.
In the first couple of months of homeschooling, I soon realized how much sticking with a daily school routine limited my ability to sneak in work time, so I attempted the old standby of busy work at home moms.
I set my alarm for 5 am to get some work done before they woke up.
While I fought hard and established a habit of waking up at 5 am for several months, it turned out to be too hard on my health, and I couldn’t get much done at that bleary-eyed hour. As I already knew but tried to deny, I must prioritize sleep in this season.
The One Thing that Saved my Sanity
Once the kids are up, we hit the ground running. My husband gets breakfast going while I shuffle around, making the bed, opening curtains, putting in my contacts, and anything else I can do to tell my body it’s time to wake up.
If I’m really on my game, I’ll start a load of laundry on my way into the kitchen.
After breakfast, I’ll get the counters wiped up and the dishes under control while the kids finishing eating or start playing.
I would have been lost without my morning routine this year. These are minimum household chores that I decided years ago to prioritize for my home.
And thank goodness I had this routine, this habit, to fall back on when I felt like everything was shifting and changing and there was not enough time no matter where I’d run around the house looking.
These basics were a must anyway, since we use our kitchen table to do school, and I use the kitchen counter as my ‘teachers basecamp to hold and organize all our books and supplies.
After everything is wiped clean, I quickly line up all our school materials we’ll use that day.
Being prepared and organized is so helpful to keep things moving, so I don’t risk losing my 4-year-old-boy’s attention.
When things go according to plan, I’ll get everyone dressed and teeth brushed. Though my 4-year-old would much prefer to stay in jammies as long as possible, and sometimes I relent.
Our morning routine ends at about 8 am with me getting a cup of coffee and snuggling up on the couch to read the kids a chapter from the Bible.
Starting school, without resistance…
We aren’t following a certain Bible curriculum right now, so we tend to go along with whatever we’re studying at church or continue through whichever book we are in at the time, starting from Genesis.
My kids and I both thrive on routine. Since we already had all of the above fixed in our daily rhythm, stacking on a new habit like reading was relatively easy.
So, right after Bible, we stayed in our happy, snuggly spot while I pulled out Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons (review here) and placed it on my son’s lap with as much nonchalance as my excited first-time-homeschooling-mama heart could muster.
“Today we’re going to learn to READ, ya, no big deal honey.”
Luckily, for the most part, my son went with it and was happy to stay put next to his mama and sister and learn this magical new skill.
What to do with my toddler?!
I’ll pause here to address a question I was quite twitchy about before starting homeschool: What to do with the toddler?!
By August last year, I had gathered all kinds of fun new toys and activities to occupy her while I did school with my older child.
I had five different “busy boxes” all organized and hidden away that I could rotate for each day of the week to keep her interested.
As with most things to do with motherhood, this did not go at all as I planned it.
Instead, early in the year, she spent her time nursing while brother read. Then she’d sit on my lap during the rest of school.
We cut out a couple more nursing sessions later in the year, and now she wants to participate in whatever we do.
If her brother writes in his notebook, she “writes” cute pretend cursive curlicues or puts stickers in hers. If Brother is doing math, she’s playing with teddy bear counters and linking cubes.
She just gets that there’s something special about this school thing and the girl doesn’t want to miss out!
So even though it didn’t go how I thought it would, it’s even better. And I’m so thankful!
What we do for school, and how long it takes…
At the end of each of the TYCTR lessons (around 20 minutes total), it asks you to have your child practice writing the letter sounds that were introduced that day. So, we head over to the kitchen table with a sharpened pencil and handwriting paper.
Once there, it was only natural to march right on into our Saxon Math K lesson (review here), also about 20 minutes.
Finally, on most days, we’d review our Classical Conversations memory work, which usually meant singing the songs or reviewing Geography. Occasionally we’d go on Pinterest to find a fun activity or craft to reinforce what we were learning.
This also took about 20 minutes.
All in all, we finished with our “formal” schooling for the day by 9:30 or 10 am.
After that, the kids would want a snack and then head off to play.
At about 11 am, we’d have lunch, then more play time until we’d get ready for naps about 12:45 pm.
Sneaking in a little more laid-back learning
Before nap each day, after Little Sister was already asleep, I’d do one or two lessons on the free app Duolingo in French with my son. At first, he needed a lot of help reading instructions and the answers. Now that he’s reading more, he likes to hold my phone and click the answers himself.
During nap, I’d sneak in some work, reading, or take a nap myself.
The kids would wake up around 3 pm. They’d play. We’d have dinner sometime after Daddy arrived home.
We start the evening wind down with bath around 6:45 pm. Then, once they’re in their pajamas, we read a chapter or two as a family of whatever read aloud we had going at the moment, and they’d go to sleep about 7:30 pm.
All in all, our kindergarten homeschool schedule flowed naturally into our days. Usually.
A Homeschool Routine without the Overwhelm
So, is homeschooling overwhelming?
At first, the weight of making sure you’re thoroughly educating your precious child is overwhelming.
Finding time and a routine to give your best as a teacher, it is a major learning curve for sure.
But the reward for our family, I’ve found is well worth it.
Now that we finished our first year of homeschool, I realize that this was just as much about me learning to effectively teach my unique child as it was him learning to read, count, or do show-and-tell.
I now know he’s a smarty who will figure almost any new concept out if I give him space and time to think. It’s best if I seem to make myself scarce with some chores in the kitchen while his mind works.
I learned he has a natural love of learning, asking to do school every day, so he needs little external motivation. He can be as much of a perfectionist as his mama and is afraid to jump in and try new things sometimes, something we’re both working on.
Also like his mama, I realized well into the year that he is a visual learner, so we’ll be doing a lot more of that next year, especially for our Classical Conversations memory work.
This year was a huge growing experience for us both, with all the frustration that can sometimes come along with growth, yet with the amazing accomplishment of becoming stronger and better for the struggle.
And all these things will combine to, hopefully, make the upcoming years of homeschool even more fun and less overwhelming for us both.