408 | My Family's Homeschool Schedule (Jessica Smartt)

408 | My Family's Homeschool Schedule (Jessica Smartt)

Show Notes:

Looking for a fresh start for your year? In this episode, Jessica shares her family's homeschool daily schedule — for each member of her family. She will explain what led her to schedule everyone's day to fifteen-minute increments and what it taught her. Jessica hopes this will be an encouragement as you see a very normal, real-life schedule for a homeschooling family!

About Jessica

Jessica is a wife, homeschool mom of three, author, and blogger. She lives in sunny North Carolina on a big family farm with chickens, goats, cousins, and lots of mud.



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Show Transcript:

Jessica Smartt Hey, everybody! Welcome to The Homeschool Solutions Show. My name is Jessica Smartt and I'm one of the many hosts here on the podcast. I'm also the author of Memory Making Mom and Let Them Be Kids, and the creator and founder of Homeschool Bootcamp. Each week we bring in encouraging conversation from this busy and blessed journey of educating our children at home. While the title is Homeschool Solutions, of course, we don't pretend to have the answer to every question. It's our hope that this podcast will point you to Jesus Christ, that you'll seek his counsel as you train your kids in the way they should go.

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Hey, everybody, This is Jessica Smartt. I'm glad to be with you here today for another episode of the Homeschool Solutions Podcast. And today I'm talking about walking you through the daily schedules of everyone in our home. And this is a topic that I thought would be interesting to you because I posted something on Instagram at the beginning of the year saying that I was scheduling everyone's day, including my own, to the 15-minute increments, and there was a lot of feedback to that post. I mean, you know, some funny feedback of, like, how in the world could you do that? But people were also really interested in kind of just seeing a sample schedule of what our family does, so I am going to talk you through that today and you can reach out to me on Instagram if you have any other questions. I'm @Jessica.Smartt and I can even to send you a picture of it if you want. Of course, it was not made for the general public. It's got some abbreviations and whatnot, but if you're more of a visual person, I can send it to you. So basically, for an overview of our home, I have three kids, two boys and a girl. My oldest—and I'm going to start with him—is a fourteen year-old-boy and he is in ninth grade. And then I have a seventh grade boy who's twelve and a nine-year-old girl who is in third grade. So I'm going to talk you through what each of those are doing now.

This is the schedule that I created in August. And as we all know, not every day, hardly any day is really going to follow what this is. So two factors of one, we just learned things that would work better. And two, some of it, this is the ideal and really we need to get back to doing it. And that's why I thought this would be a good topic for today, because obviously we're getting ready to launch back into the second semester of our year. And I love January in the sense that's a little bit of a recalibration and a do over, and just kind of letting you get back to the things that you want to fix and do right and do well and putting the important things first. I love just the fresh start that we can get by having a second semester. So some of this I'm going to try to go back to. We've, you know, fall is just really crazy, and sickness and travel and all the things. So this feels, like, a smidge vulnerable. In a way it feels like that time that my husband and I did our budgeting class with- not a class, like a consults basically with a Dave Ramsey certified financial planner, and he literally has you give him all the receipts and, you know, how much you're spending and how much you're making and what you're doing with this and all this stuff. And so that was definitely a little bit of a humiliating process, and some of it you're proud of and some of it you're not, and so I feel a little bit that way about this schedule. I know that people are just so different and some of these things you're going to be like, Wow, that's amazing. You know, I wish I could do that. And some you're going to be like, Wow, I can't believe that she doesn't do this or that she does that. But I just do feel like it's helpful just to get a picture. So obviously, this is a big fat disclaimer that I'm not saying to mimic this, I'm just going to tell you about our family and what we're doing. And if you have questions or feedback or ideas, reach out to me on Instagram and I'll probably do a post about this and then maybe we can talk in the comments.

So we'll get started here. I did want to share the reason that I did the 15-minute schedule. I listen to a podcast and I am not sure that I'm going to be able to dig it up. I found it somewhat randomly, but it was with a very seasoned homeschool mom who had finished her homeschooling years and she was kind of just looking back, and this is one of the things she suggested is that at the beginning of the year you do 15-minutes plan of every single person's day. And when I first heard it, I thought, no way. But as she talked about it, she explained that, no, they didn't always stick to it but at least you had a goal. And there were things that were very obvious as you planned it that you wouldn't have realized unless you planned it. Like at 10:30, everyone's going to need to be on a computer at one time so how do I fix that? or whatever the thing is. So I have found it super, super helpful. And I think what I'm going to do is redo it over my January planning day based on what has actually worked.

So, to get straight into the schedule, my oldest son is in ninth grade and he's taking a combination of online classes, in-person classes through two co-ops, and then some independent work just at home. So I'll talk you through his day. And the first thing is, I chose to let him sleep in. And maybe that's a smidge controversial, but I just feel like he's growing so much and he needs so much sleep, so—and he's not really a lazy kind of person—so I've kind of let him sleep in. And what's interesting is at youth group, there was an older boy who sort of challenged the kids to get up and run in the morning and so, on his own, my son has been quite a few days of the week setting his alarm to get up at like 6:00 or 6:30 and going out and running a couple of miles every morning. So I'm kind of just letting him do his own thing on that. But if he's tired, I do let him sleep in. And I think that's a perk of homeschooling teenagers. So I did say you need to be down here starting breakfast at 8:45. Do your chores first and start your breakfast at 8:45. Typically, he has already started his schoolwork and- these sorts of schedules are just so different based on the kid's personality. When I told him I was going to do this schedule, he did not want me to because he's like typical firstborn and wanted to be the master of his own destiny. So the perk of having a child like that is that they do kind of take control of their day and he works pretty independently. But nevertheless, I wanted to kind of give a sketch of here's how you could do things. So typically, he has already gotten up and gotten started on something. I don't even know what, but he likes to get things out of the way.

So we do breakfast at 8:45, and I actually planned a—between 8:30 and 8:45—and I planned the breakfast for the week knowing that Tuesday we're out of the door to go to our co-op and Friday I'm out of the door to take them to their Spanish class and, you know, Monday I'm doing laundry. And so just trying to plan on how much time I'm going to have. And so I kind of put together a little bit of a breakfast schedule and I can grab that for you in a second. I don't know if that's helpful, or I'll probably just share it on Instagram and save it to my highlights for 'day in the life'. But anyway, I know that on Mondays we do the overnight oatmeal and the- it's an Instant Pot rice oatmeal maker and that's been a huge game changer. You just dump it in with water and then in the morning there's oatmeal. And then I just let them top it with nuts and berries and stuff. So Monday, because obviously Monday is super crazy, I chose a hands off breakfast. So they eat breakfast and then he is in an allergy desensitization program, which I talk about on Instagram. So this is unique to us but he does his morning doses and then I'm suggesting that he gets started on math. And I do kind of leave that up to him. If he's super stressed about some other project, I usually let him, you know, kind of handle that and work through what he wants to do.

So for math, we actually are repeating Algebra 1. He did fine, but I wasn't thrilled with- I felt like he really didn't honestly get it. And I don't see him going into an engineering or a math- he still is on track to do calculus if he wanted to, but I just didn't feel great about the foundation. So we're repeating it again, and that's the luxury of homeschooling. So he is using Saxon Algebra 1, but more importantly, My Math Assistant, which is the most incredible program, and it does a video for the day that teaches him a lesson. So he watches the video and then he inputs the answers to the problems. I have them do just the evens and odds, and then I get a note saying how he did and I can, you know, make corrections or grade something if it's like a graph that he had to draw and I have to, like, check it and then correct it on my thing. But it keeps track of grades for you. So it's super awesome and very inexpensive. Really obsessed with that.

So after he finishes math, he works through whatever his other independent work is for our co-op. And for our co-op he is doing- for his core classes he's doing a world history, world literature, biology and music theory as an elective. So the bulk of the work is our Apologia biology. He's just working through, like, a module a week, basically. And then he'll have, you know, papers and writing and reading and all that for his history and literature. And then- so he'll just kind of work through that. And then right before lunch, he hops on to his online class. And we're not like huge online class people, but I have been so, so pleased with this program from Classical Academic Press, Scholé Academy. It's their online homeschooling class offering program. And this academy is phenomenal. So far, all of the classes we've taken have been just A-plus, and there's some really cool kids in it. He's really met some very interesting people from all over the world, honestly, and all over the country who lead some really interesting lives. The kids are all very- well, for the most part seems like they're real engaged and love to learn. So he is taking a debate class and we've been really pleased with that. So it's just an elective for this fall semester, but he'll probably do another elective with Scholé Academy online in the spring because we've just been really impressed.

So he does that online and via Zoom, and then when he's done—and this is one of those things that I set up and have kind of slacked off—we have a 15-minute meeting just to kind of check in. How is your life? What are you doing with school? What can I help with? What have you gotten done? What's due tomorrow for co-op? That kind of stuff. And then he does lunch, and honestly he is working from 1 to 3 independently on whatever he's working through. And we're kind of a unique set setup is that, as you guys know, I've shared about this quite a bit, we live on a family compound, more or less with my sisters and their kids and my parents across the street, and one of my sisters across the street has a son who's exactly my son's age, and they're taking all of the same things. So they- this is like an amazing ideal setup, but a lot of times in the afternoon they group up together and just do a study hall and work through stuff. And, you know, they're the typical firstborn, so they pretty much stay on task. Every once in a while I'll be like, I'm pretty sure you're checking your fantasy football team, can you please not do that? But it's been just a huge perk for them to be able to work through stuff together. So they'll work until they get done, and it's 3:00 or probably 3:30. One of the downsides, I feel like, of my son taking a more advanced workload is that I feel like chores have kind of been hard, and open to feedback on that. I don't know if you figured that out because he just has a lot on his plate academically, and I feel like by the time he's done, he's just brain dead. So he does like two small chores in the morning, but then when he's done at 3:30, they're outside and they're playing soccer and they're running around. If it's terrible weather, sometimes they'll do board games, but they're pretty much just running around outside until dinner.

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Monday is my laundry day, so I ring the bell and have them come in before dinner, showers if they need to, and then put away their clothes. So I do various amounts of work. Maybe I'm a little bit controlling on the laundry, but I really like to wash it myself, but then they put it all away and fold it. So that's just what works for me. And at some point, I will turn over the reins to them washing it themselves. But for now, I like how I sort it and take care of the different colors. So I don't know if that's- I'm weird. But anyway, pretty much the other days go like that, except for our co-op day for him, with the exception that we found a local place to do Spanish 1 and so we hop in the car and drive down with two other kid- I take two other kids and they do an in-person Spanish class. I felt like Spanish was important to do in person, and that's kind of cool just to get to meet some other kids in the community. And then Tuesday all day is our co-op day, so they don't come home and do anything. We skip math, so they really only do math four days a week. And that's my 14-year-old. I'm trying to see if I've missed anything else that I wanted to share with you. They don't really- my 14-year-old will not typically work after dinner, so he's working pretty intensely for the whole day and sometimes, like I said, will start at 7:00 or 7:30 if he's been running and he's up, but then he just doesn't want to deal with it after lunch. And again, I'm like, Perks of homeschooling. That is fine. I mean, not after lunch, after dinner. So that is his life.

My seventh grade boy has a significant amount less, but a still, you know, a fairly challenging day. I'm going to actually add something, I think, for him in the spring, because he's done a lot better than I thought he would with his workload. So for him, he's on a little bit of a tighter leash just with that transition to middle school. So his day's a little bit more structured and he doesn't have quite as much freedom. And this is kind of how I laid it out for him. So he's usually up earlier. He's one of those kids that wants like a first breakfast, second breakfast. So he gets first breakfast independently and then eats again with the rest of us, and does his chores of taking care of the chickens and a couple other things around the kitchen, and then joins us for morning time with my- all three of us, I think I forgot to say this for my other son, do a 15-minute morning time of just hey, let's check in, let's all read a scripture together. Here's our schedule for the day. Do you need anything real quick? It's just 15-minutes of like, hey, let's look at each other's faces. And then I do just morning time with my elementary students.

So back to my seventh grader, he's going to check in for his real quick morning time, and then he's going to hop on the computer to do his My Math Assistant math video and then he's going to work through his Saxon math. And then at 10:15, he's going to have a snack. And he also likes a cup of coffee. And you know what? He's not really one of those overactive kids so I let the kid enjoy a cup of coffee. It's kind of our little thing together. Then he has his meeting with me just to kind of check over what's due for co-op. Did you have any questions about math? Let me see your planner. I usually have him fill in his planner of like, here's what I'm going to do every day and kind of space everything out, but I check it to make sure that he's put it all in. So that's been kind of a nice compromise. And then he moves on to his Apologia general science. And then he's doing a poetry unit with me at co-op that I'm teaching for the middle schoolers, so he'll do that. And then he's also doing obviously a literature class at co-op, so sometimes they'll have work for that. He'll have a lunch and then we watch World Watch together after lunch. Super Love World Watch. And then after lunch as well he'll finish up his history, and if he has anything for Bible or for elective, he'll finish that up. And then at that point, I send them into the school room to tidy that up because it looks like a bomb went off. And then he will pack up for the next day of co-op. And I really have to be on the younger two to make sure they put everything in their bag that they need, including a snack, including water. And it's just way easier to do that the night before, as you guys all know. And then he is pretty much done 2:00, sometimes earlier. He will run out and play soccer and do all of the things. And I don't really see him again until right before dinner when he comes in and puts away his clothes. And same thing, he doesn't really have any after dinner homework. I've had to add more reading because I felt like he didn't have enough with his actual workload, so I picked- he's into biographies and I just kind of arbitrarily pick a book because I've sense that his workload isn't maybe quite what I wanted it to be, and so I'll add, like you need to read 30-minutes of this book every day. And so sometimes he has that with his coffee or whatever.

Electives that I would add at this age is sometimes to add a class on the Scholé Academy, I may add that for the spring semester. We've done Latin cards, like Latin roots. I'm going to add something because I feel like he doesn't quite have enough. He, like I said, he's done pretty well and I'm feeling like he needs a little bit something else. So that is his day. And other things that he might add, he does a sort of like a study hall with some kids in our co-op, and this is actually been a big surprise that seventh grade and ninth grade, we kind of let them work for an hour or two together—this is like a girl, a couple boys, I'm trying to think how many kids it is, maybe three for each level—and they have done such a great job having a little study hall and working together, and I just feel like that's really essential as kids get older in homeschooling to have that time. At least it has been for ours. Even if, you know, it's not adult structured, but it's still kind of like, hey, we're all going to hang out, we're all going to work together on something, work through our list, and they'll decide each week what they want to work on or whatever. So that's his day.

Flipping my page here to tell y'all about my daughter, who is nine and we're doing third grade. So obviously her day is a lot more scheduled. And she's my early riser, so she frequently does her reading in bed or in the morning and then she has her chores—she feeds the chickens, does a couple of things around, has a little bit of free time, then she has breakfast and she has to go get dressed, hair, teeth, that whole thing. I did have a child—I'm not going to name who it is—who was just genuinely shocked within the last six months that we brush our teeth in the morning. So that's one of those moments that makes you feel like you really have somehow failed in being a mom. But anyway, we are supposed to brush our teeth in the morning and then we do morning time together at 9:15 for 45 minutes or an hour. So we're working through- we do a Bible, we're using Old Story New—love it!—and then we do a novel we're reading, we just finished Heidi now we're doing—as our record this it's the Christmas season so we are doing our Advent devotional, Tabitha's travels, which is fun. But either way, we have a novel, we have our Bible, then we're reading through our history, Mystery of History, and then our science, Apologia science, and I'm actually only doing that two days a week of the science. So then we have a meeting and I kind of set up, do you have anything do for your co-op? It's usually like pretty low key, but she might have something little. What are you going to work on today? Let's look in your book and see if I need to help you. So she watches a math video as well for My Math Assistant, and then she works through her math. She usually has a couple questions more than the boys, but it's neat that she can kind of work through that alone. And then she has a snack and then works through language. We're doing The Good and the Beautiful language and I just adore it. It's so precious. We usually have something we read together, so we'll sit on the couch and get cozy and read through one of the stories. And then she has some either independent workers things that I'm kind of helping her with, but just absolutely love this curriculum. It's so precious.

So by then it's time for lunch and she usually will make her own lunch, sometimes I'll help her out, but I usually have kind of some good ideas of, you know, you need to have a protein, you can have a carb, have a fruit, have a vegetable, and they can kind of pick some things together. And then, like I said, we do World Watch and she has 20-minutes of reading by herself, which it's not free reading, I'll usually give her like a classic that I want her to work through. And then she will practice either extra math, which is kind of just math facts on a computer, or typing every other day switch those. And then she also has free time. Hers probably starts maybe 1:30. 1:00 or 1:30. And then she has free time. And if she isn't able to play with people, she usually has crafts that she works through or she's always working on some sort of a project. So her room is pretty well stocked with crafts and we're really working on trying to put away our supplies after we are done working. I don't know if you have a child that does that, but open to tips on that. And then like I said, they pack up and dinner and then we usually have a book that we're working through at night as well. So that is the schedule for my third grader.

And then you can probably get somewhat of a hint of what I am doing during that time. So I'm not going to do my whole thing, but I'll point out a couple of things that have been helpful for me in kind of planning my week. Monday is my laundry day, and so in between helping everyone with everything, I'm changing over all the laundry. And then yeah, it's a pretty terrible day of all the laundry, but then I don't think about it again. So that's a big perk. And one other thing that has been helpful is kind of having lunches that I prep for myself and put aside. So my favorite thing is these gluten free, dairy free salmon cakes that I make like one day for like two months, make a whole bunch of them and then take them out of the freezer and put them in the air fryer and eat it with like a salad and lemon and mayonnaise, and it is so satisfying. Just checks all the boxes. And then I also have a coconut Thai chicken curry that I will make and put in little frozen things and put in the oven, and those are honestly my go-tos. I'm pretty much always having that. And then eggs and a smoothie for breakfast. But just kind of knowing that there are some quick options with lunch because I really don't like the feeling of, like, it's 12:30 and I have to make this whole giant lunch for myself. So that's been a good tip.

And then also just kind of trying to schedule the afternoon certain tasks that I need to do. I've been trying to get out and exercise every day, just taking a walk around- or run around. And then having Wednesday be my day that I work on the budget and catching up on email, anything computery, Wednesday afternoon. And then Thursday and Friday afternoon preparing for co-op and homeschool sort of related things, and also scheduling that Thursday afternoon I'm going to pick up my grocery order. So I don't know why that was such a revolution to kind of just like have those things because I felt like it was stressing me out and every week I was like, When do I do all of these daily tasks? So at least kind of knowing that those are my days. But yeah, then I'm making dinner. We always pretty much have to make dinner because my son has food allergies, so I'm always home, you know, doing the dinner at the 4:15 hour. And then whether we have practices or whatever, sometimes things are different in the afternoon, but that's my day.

So if you have any questions about any of this or any feedback, reach out to me on Instagram. Hopefully this has been a little bit helpful just to see a day in the life of what you can do with three kids at home homeschooling. I know that obviously it's going to look different for every family and every child, but this is a little bit of what it looks like and maybe it makes you feel like it's a little bit more attainable that you don't have to squeeze everything in. And also, I think one of the perks is the definitely gets easier as it as they get older. I did not realize that that would be the case, but it is kind of a cool transfer of power when they're working independently. You definitely cannot ignore them and you have to be checking in and managing and tracking grades for high school and all that stuff, but it's a really kind of a cool transition when they can handle things on their own. So blessings to you all today. I hope that it's a wonderful season of planning for your new year and reach out if you have any questions. Bye-bye.

Here's a riddle for you parents: Homeschoolers love them. Enemies of freedom hate them. What are they? They're the Tuttle Twins books. With millions of copies sold, the Tuttle Twins helps you teach your kids about entrepreneurship, personal responsibility, the golden rule, and more. Get a discounted set of books with free workshops today at TuttleTwins.com/homeschool. That's TuttleTwins.com/homeschool. And now on to today's show.

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