The List: A "Typical" Homeschool Morning

Each morning, I hand each of my kids a clipboard with a list attached to it. This list, folks, is a pipe-dream, a wild hope that they can manage to get through all of their assignments before 4:00. It rarely happens. But, after seven years of homeschooling, I still hope. And, after most-of-their-lives of homeschooling, they still react with shock and dismay to The List.

Our days start quietly. Each child operates according to his or her own rhythm. My daughter (The Ballerina) gets up, showers, and cleans her room before we even see her emerge for breakfast. The two younger ones sleep in, and The Professor drags himself out of bed, asks for a stack of books and a cup of tea, and starts reading immediately. Sort of. Is he reading, or sleeping?

A dirty little secret: Sometimes we call something “school” when it’s actually just parenting. Like teaching The Ballerina to be a lady.

Or teaching the boys to be gentlemen.

Or not.

This was not on The List.


Obviously, this party needs to be broken up. I send one of them out to do his chore.

I did NOT send three of them out! I call them back in and get them back on task.

One child is missing. I make a search.

I help him down, send him inside, and go check on the garden.

When I come back in, THIS is what I find inside.

Sack-race wasn’t on The List, either.

After a long lecture about the importance of The List, they are all back on track.

When I am asked what a typical homeschool day looks like, I’m stumped. I’ve never had one. We work hard; we play hard; we get distracted; we pick up and move on. Every day has surprises, mini-disasters, delights, and quiet hours that actually go as planned. The kids are learning everything very well, and we’re loving (almost) every minute of it.

I should probably note that these are scenes from several schooling days, not just one. They do represent a typical day at our house, for sure. I spend a lot of time just keeping the kids on track, or making the quick judgement-call that hand-feeding chickens and climbing orange trees and having sack-races is sometimes more valuable than whatever I put on The List. I try to put on my you’re-busted-but-I-still-think-it’s-funny face, and pull out my camera. We do study–hard–a lot, but I think these pictures are lots more fun than a whole blog full of photos of my kids reading and writing, don’t you?

16 Responses to “The List: A "Typical" Homeschool Morning”
  1. I love all these pictures, Julie! The orange tree, the fingernail painting, the wagon… so many fun ones! I know your kids learn their stuff really well. It’s nice to know you don’t have to be a drill sergeant to have a successful day.

    • Julie says:

      Some days I do feel like a drill sergeant. Those are the days I start fantasizing about school buses picking up my kids every morning. Most of the time it is pretty fun.

  2. Grandma Sing says:

    So fun to see the kids in action. School looks fun. Keep up the good work. Love Grandma(Grammie)

  3. Mom says:

    Great pictures, Julie. Love the wide-mouthed frog, the dog pile, pulling the wagon, and The Awakening of Europe!

  4. Kerstin says:

    What a relief that more experienced mamas spend a chunk of time redirecting and laughing during a regular day! Thanks for sharing, Julie. I particularly like the dog pile pics, as we relate well to those around here.

    • Julie says:

      Kerstin, it’s so nice to hear from you. I love what you said : redirecting and laughing. Yep, that’s pretty much my life!

  5. Lisa~ says:

    Love. This. Post.

    It says it all….life is good and school is learning mixed with fun. But it’s all learning. I’m going straight to our clipboard and add “paint fingernails” to tomorrow’s unacheivable list. LOL!

    I just have to add….in reading through the other comments, every time someone says “dog pile”….well, let’s just say I need to get my head out of the gutter. Or away from the fire hydrant.


    • Julie says:

      I went over to your blog, Lisa, after I read this. I’d just returned from a very hairy kids’-clothes-shopping trip, and your blog was just what I needed. I’ll be back to visit more often.

      And thanks for you encouraging comment.

  6. Emily says:

    I just love this post! You inspire me! It takes a lot to homeschool. I’ve certainly pondered it myself, but worry I’m not patient enough (or smart enough!). My neighbor home schools and we’ve spent a lot of time talking about it.

    • Julie says:

      It’s a full-time job, for sure.
      Patience grows with the job, and comes and goes. Sort of a two-steps-forward, one-step-back kind of thing. And I don’t think I’d qualify as anything like “patient” today!

  7. Theresa Pinkerton says:

    Oh my….I happened across a blog by Julie Sing. I don’t read blogs. This is my first (well, for a long, long time). I’m sure I’ve read someone’s in the past. But….I loved the photos of your four and your comments. Home schooling is still my favorite, as I told you, even though I’ve taught in all four known modes;homeschool, public, charter, private Christian. I guess I haven’t done Montessori. Anyway, I appreciate what you are doing to educate your children. I love your clear priorities in life, Julie….and Jeff.

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