Homeschool Day in the Life: Gretchen, homeschooling mama of five from kindergarten to college age

Day in the Life Gretchen

A homeschool day in the life looks different almost every day, right? Over on our Instagram page, we love to give you a peek into lots of homeschool days regardless of how they change day to day.

Today, we’re going to give you a peek into the homeschool day in the life of Gretchen, board certified pediatrician and homeschooling mama from kindergarten to college age.

We can all learn and be inspired by one another, regardless of our homeschool approach. It’s not about looking good for social media, it’s about the connection going on inside our homeschool walls and sharing with others what works for us.

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We might all homeschool a little differently, but we can always look for ideas from each other that inspire, encourage and equip us in our own homeschool days. So each week we create blog posts for you to access later of each of those “days in the life”. We hope you keep coming back for more inspiration. Keep going, mama! These days at home are so worth it!

Meet Gretchen

Meet Gretchen

Gretchen lives in coastal North Carolina with her husband of 22 years and their five children. She is a board certified pediatrician, and while she has not been in practice for many years, she continues to keep current with CME. She also loves to discuss recent research with her physician husband. 

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Gretchen is in her 13th year of homeschooling, with their oldest now in college, and their youngest in kindergarten. Their middle boys are in 5th, 8th, and 10th grade. Gretchen describes their homeschool style as a mix of classical and Charlotte Mason and their homeschool philosophy can be summed up with the following: “We read good books, engage in conversation, experience nature and beauty, do meaningful work, pray and are in the Word, and love people.”

For the past 10 years Gretchen has served in ministry with her friend and mentor, Sally Clarkson. She is currently an administrator for her membership site, Life With Sally. 

Gretchen loves encouraging moms in all stages of parenting, from infancy to college. Motherhood and homeschooling is a gift and needs to be cultivated like a garden. Gretchen believes we will go through many seasons of pruning and growth, but learning to faithfully tend the soil of our heart and mind will yield a beautiful harvest. 

Homeschooling is a Marathon, not a Sprint

Day in the Life Gretchen

Good morning! I’m Gretchen from @lovingmytribeoffive and I’m excited to share with you what a day in the life looks like in our home. We have five children. The oldest was homeschooled all the way through and is now in college. Our youngest is five, and we also have an 11yo, 13 yo, and 15yo. As I thought and prayed about what to specifically share with you all today, I knew that one of the foundational principles I needed to communicate about homeschooling and our day to day is living a sustainable life. 

Motherhood and homeschooling is a marathon, not a sprint. In order to finish well, to help with exhaustion, burnout, or depression, we have to incorporate sustainable practices for ourselves. This has looked different over the years and will look different based on your personality, needs, and challenges. As a mom we pour out into the lives of those around us all day, so we need to be sure that we are allowing ourselves to be filled. And we need to be mindful to be filled with things that are good, true, and beautiful. 

In my particular season, my children are all school age and able to begin their day with their own devotion time, breakfast (we are so thankful for daddy, the servant-hearted faithful breakfast preparer!) and “work cards.” I begin with a slow wake up. I am not a morning person even after years of getting up before the sunrise to go to the hospital. I spend time enjoying coffee, listening to the Dean of Canterbury’s morning prayers, reading scripture, a devotion, and a poem.

My mornings for many many years was nursing a baby, changing diapers, and cleaning up messes and my “quiet time” was in the evening after everyone was tucked in bed. So live into your season, embrace where you are, and find the moments to fill your soul.


Symposium Gretchen

We start our homeschool day with what we call “Symposium.” It has looked different over the years in various seasons. But for the past several years, we have signaled the beginning of symposium with the Doxology. This offers a little flexibility as some mornings we may begin at 9 and others closer to 9:30.

When the music plays, everyone makes their way to the living room. Following the Doxology we share in prayer, catechism, poetry, hymn, scripture, history timeline, and then rotate through one of either geography, science, artist study, composer study, or nature study. Two mornings a week our older boys have math and Latin online, so I soak up special symposium with my youngest. 

During the summer months I work on our symposium notebook. I pull from various resources and compile it into a pdf, and then send it off to be printed and spiral bound. Each child then has his own book to make notes, drawings, and refer to during our time together. 

I love this part of our day. We have had the best discussions over the years and learned so much about each other and God’s amazing world.

Reading Aloud

Reading Aloud Gretchen

One of my absolute favorite things about homeschooling over the years has been our read aloud time. After symposium and any online classes for the older boys, I rotate reading aloud. My goal is to read aloud with every child most days. We have read fiction, non-fiction, classics, theology, picture books, and more. This time has led to meaningful learning, excellent discussions, and wonderful memories. Reading together is a priceless investment in learning and relationship. Education is a life, so we have enjoyed family read aloud after dinner and at bedtime too.

Homeschooling High School

High School Gretchen

From my experience, many families may be confident to homeschool in the younger years, but when the time for high school comes, the confidence plummets and the worry surges. I want to encourage you to not fear. You have been educating your child from birth whether you homeschooled or not or realized it or not. And you can homeschool high school!

A couple of steps you can take to help you feel more confident and prepare for high school:

*Research your state requirements for graduation. Different states have different laws and requirements, so find out specifics for your state.

*Discuss with your teen. Have lots of discussions and practice listening. Listen to their concerns, interests, goals, and ask questions.

*If college is the next step, look at incoming freshman requirements for each of the universities your child is interested in. There is quite a range, and this will help you as you plan for particular classes and areas of study.

*As you plan the high school years, involve your child in the decision making process. Show them the options for books, classes, opportunities, and engage them in the process. Let them own their choices. High school is a great time for them to take initiative, own their work, and learn to manage their schedule.

*Transcript. Try to keep your child’s transcript to one page. Most colleges don’t want a detailed account of every class and book read. Include your school name, address, and contact information for your child at the top. I organize them by subject/area of study (english, social studies, math, science, foreign language, fine arts, electives) and include hours of credit and grade. There are numerous online transcript templates you can use. I created a simple one using numbers/excel.

*Resume. This is separate from the transcript and a place where you can include extracurricular activities, awards, honors, areas of leadership, areas and hours of service activities. Not all universities will ask for these, but it’s great to start it early so you can add things as you go and not forget by the time they need it. Again, there are a lot of online templates for these too. Homeschooling allows our children the freedom to explore unique interests, jobs, and volunteer work. The resume is a place for them to share who they are beyond academics.

Family Culture

Family Culture Gretchen

Once our work cards and schoolwork are mostly finished for the day, we can often be found at our neighborhood park playing ultimate frisbee. It’s a great opportunity to invite friends and neighbors to run around and play! 

One of the gifts of homeschooling is that our children get to become each other’s best friends. Not that they always get along, but they are able to work through and resolve issues all day. I call us a tribe because we value being together and our family culture. I pray that home will always be a place they want to come to. A place where they will be met with unconditional love, a safe place to process life and ask questions, a place where their uniqueness will be valued and their opinions heard, a place with feasts, puzzles, and games around the table, lively discussion, and books to read. And I pray that they will take this foundation and go out into the world bringing light to the darkness and love to all.

Wrapping Up the Day

The books are back on the shelves, we enjoyed chick pea curry for dinner, and now we are off to baseball practice, bass playing in the band at church, middle school small group leading, and a night not on call for daddy!

Thank you so much for the opportunity to share our day with you! It has been an honor. I love all of your questions and comments and would love to keep the conversations going over @lovingmytribeoffive

As each day comes to an end, I reflect on the time we spent together…the stories, the conversations, the struggles, the laughs, the food (yes, homeschooling is so much about the food! Does anyone else have second breakfast?), and I thank God for this gift. It is all a gift. Every day that I get to be their mom, build relationship, learn who they are and who they are becoming is pure gift. 

I hope you have been encouraged throughout our day together, possibly got a couple of ideas and some books to add to your reading list. I think it’s important that we remember as we get a glimpse into each other‘s lives that each of our families is unique. We each have our own struggles, personalities, and puzzle to navigate. It is not our job or calling to try to live someone else’s life or follow a formula.

God made you for a purpose and entrusted your children to you to steward and colabor with Him. As we take the time to get to know and understand ourselves and our children, we can live into the life that God has given us. There will be struggles, there will be dark days or even dark seasons, but remember you are not alone. Extend grace to yourself and your children. It is not easy but most worthwhile things aren’t. Blessings to you.?

Thank you so much to Gretchen for sharing your family’s day with us!

Day in the Life Gretchen

If you want to see more Day in the Life photos and videos, be sure to check out our Instagram profile.  There are highlights of each takeover at the top.

Day in the Life Homeschool

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