Homeschooling Day in the Life: Hanna, Homeschooling Mom to Four, Living in Tennessee
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 Hanna, homeschooling mom to four children, living in Tennessee.
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.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!
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Hanna @thewhisperingglen is a second-generation homeschooler and mother of four who recently moved back to middle Tennessee (Music City USA!) after 8 years in the midlands of South Carolina. She and her husband have been married almost 14 years and they love traveling together and seeing new places! With or without children in tow.
Even though Hanna was homeschooled as a teen, it wasn’t until her oldest was a year or two away from entering “building school” that she really started to consider homeschooling her own children. Now in their 6th year, she’s even more confident in their decision to continue home educating for the long haul.
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Hanna loves to plan for their homeschool, organize spaces, write for her Instagram and blog, chat with other homeschool moms on her (mostly) weekly live Homeschool Hangouts on Instagram, play with her espresso machine, create digital downloads for the homeschooling community, and create memories with her children.
Hello and good morning! I’m Hanna! I’m a 2nd gen homeschool mama of four goofy kids aged 4, 6, 8, and 10 (all due in May) and wife to William of almost 14 years. We’ve homeschooled from the beginning and are currently in our 6th year!
My blog and Instagram handle name describes my journey from when I felt like anything that was “important” in my life needed to be this big, successful, mountaintop like event. I found it hard to be content in the valleys, or the “glens” as it were, of my life. I have realized over time that those “whispers” of life… where things aren’t loud and in-your-face-exciting, are just as important, if not more, for giving us purpose, joy, and contentment. The whispering glens. That’s where our real lives are lived.
I feel like every year we change things up a bit more to suit what we find to be our homeschool vibe and tweak things to suit the different learning styles of each child. This coming year I will have four “school aged” children, so I am looking to combine even more subjects (older two/younger two) and am creeping over to the Charlotte Mason area a bit more than in the past. Pray for me. It can be intimidating!
We moved back to the middle Tennessee area this fall after spending the last eight years in the midlands of South Carolina. We are also now living with my sister and her husband for the time being, and it has been awesome! They are so gracious, and we are all relishing this time together which is really unique I feel like in our Western culture. We are saving more and waiting to get into a home of our own. We are not in any rush and I am so grateful for this blessing.
The other three adults in the home work from home, so that has changed the dynamic of our homeschool setting quite a bit more than I anticipated. New distractions (while fun) and our environment for learning and studying have taken some time to sort out. We are still quite in the midst of ironing out a new routine and rhythm to our days. That’s your warning that our day may look a bit scattered!
Today is a typical at-home day, so nothing too exciting is happening with external activities. I hope that you’ll follow along as I share our day with you!
Breakfast + Getting Ready
I typically do not wake up before my children due to our (the adults) propensity to stay up late. We take advantage of the quiet hours after the children’s bedtime. I know that alone time won’t be guaranteed if I wake up early due to children getting up at any point. I prefer to stay up late instead. Sometimes I wish I could go to bed early and wake early, but right now that’s not my desire. I fall into the camp of those that find they can be creative in the evening, and take advantage of uninterrupted time to read, write, spend time in the Word, and binge watch seasons of Doc Martin with their sister whilst having tea.
My children are all sharing a room right now, and they typically rise between 7:00-8:00 AM. We are just a room over so we can hear them when they start moving about. They will either start playing with LEGO in their room, read a book in the loft, listen to their YOTO players, build something with magnetic tiles, craft at the “school table” downstairs, or get themselves something to eat. They can handle cereal, bagels/toast/waffles, yogurt with fruit, and cheesy grits. Ha! I used to always make them full breakfasts in the morning, but they are getting older and more self-sufficient! This also saves time in the mornings!
Once I pull myself from bed, I will wash my face, brush my teeth, assess whether my hair is salvageable without intervention, and put on clean clothes. I don’t typically put on makeup every day (I used to), but I do like to put on real clothes to feel pulled together. I will then head downstairs to start coffee for the adults in the French press, and sometimes I make myself an Americano with my new-ish espresso machine I gifted to myself during the Black Friday sales.
If the children haven’t eaten, or are still hungry, I will usually offer to make eggs or oatmeal with fruit for them while I make my own breakfast. I usually eat two eggs and toast, but have been known to spend time making a crustless quiche or veggie omelet. Today I made baked oatmeal! My husband, brother-in-law, and sister make their way down for breakfast and start their days.
Morning Time + Lessons
After breakfast the children unload the dishwasher, get dressed, brush hair and teeth, straighten up their rooms, and pick up whatever creative messes they’ve made in the school area so that we can start our time at the table together. I will usually start some laundry, clean up breakfast, look at the dinner plan to see if I need to pull anything out or get anything started in the crockpot.
Some days we get to a group “morning time”, and some days we just jump right into independent lessons. I used to keep more of a formal schedule, but right now just getting it done when we get it done is working for us. Oh, also if my sister’s dogs go on a walk in the morning, the children like to join in on that. It just depends on how anxious I am for them to get going on lessons for the day.
Our morning time typically looks like calendar review, reading from our current devotional, going over our hymn of the month, reading a few poems or chapters from our current read aloud and/or Christian Heroes book, and looping through some extracurriculars like music studies, art studies (once/week my sister teaches for me), or the Christian apologetics curriculum we are using (once/week my sister also teaches this for me)!
We then move on to math lessons. The older two do this independently (and they all said hallelujah!). I work with my first grader on her math lessons, and my youngest will sometimes want to do some math. I purchased his math already for next school year, but he said he wanted to start it already. This will take anywhere from 30-45 minutes for all of them to finish.
All three of the older kids will then work on anything else that’s independent for them (handwriting, typing practice, logic puzzles, extra phonics practice, etc.) while I do some pre-reading activities with my youngest. Again, at his request. When he’s done I will do a reading lesson with my first grader. This can take anywhere between 20-30 minutes depending on her mood and attentiveness for the day. There are days when I reserve this for the afternoons.
That’s it for the morning typically! They get more free time at this point while I take care of household tasks.
Once we get to lunch, there is a bit more activity going on in the house. The other adults popping in and out, dogs to snuggle, kids going outside and coming back inside… multiple times. I make the kids all the same lunches and these rotate between the same 5-7 options. I actually have a whole blog post on what my kids eat during a typical week. Feel free to check that out if you are interested.
I will also make lunch for myself as well as for my husband, sister, and brother-in-law. This is when I try new recipes and get creative. Things that the kids wouldn’t necessarily be interested in. I get so much joy from it, and the other adults don’t mind it at all either. Ha! Things like different curries, rice or noodle dishes, salads, fish, roasted vegetables, recreating recipes from our travels, soups, etc. I have several “Mama Eats” highlights on my account called “mama breakfast” or “mama lunch” and you can find loads of inspiration for yourself there!
Planning out our dinners a month at a time is something I always do, and I use a nightly theme as a guideline. I also have a blog post on how I plan those meals. I used to write out the kid’s breakfasts and lunches on a weekly basis, but I don’t have to really do that too much anymore. However, I will take time most weeks to sketch out meals for myself in my planner as I find it helps me to keep to my health goals.
A lot of times while my children are eating, and I’m finishing my lunch prep, I will have them listen to their science read aloud. The curriculum is based on a story, and I find it is just easier to use the audiobook version. We do science two times per week (T/T), and social studies three times per week (M/W/F). If it’s a social studies day (we are doing country studies this year), I will go ahead and play the pre-selected YouTube videos while I finish making my lunch and eating. I will also occasionally pull up a podcast for kids of some kind.
When it comes to planning out our homeschool weeks, I take time on either Friday afternoons after school is done, or on the weekend, to get my planner set up for the coming week. I actually created my own planner over 6 years ago, and have tweaked it each year since. After having enough interested homeschool mamas inquire as to how they could get one, I made a Customizable Homeschool Planner download and it’s available in my shop! I also created a Customizable Student Planner for those children that are taking more ownership in their schooling.
I will also take this time to print out any resources we will need for the week, grab books from our home library (we haven’t gotten set up with the local library system here yet!), and pull up tabs on my laptop for our science, social studies, and music appreciation studies. If I need to switch anything out in our morning menu covers, I will attend to this as well.
As for planning out our homeschool year ahead of time, I use a year-at-a-glance spreadsheet that I created (free download in my shop) to map out how I’d like to see everything scheduled for the year. This is always subject to change, but I find that it’s super helpful to get it all laid out to make sure what I want to accomplish is feasible.
I keep all of our digital resources (waiting to be printed) organized on my computer by subject area and that makes it easy to find what I’m looking for. I also invested in a binding machine many years ago so that I could just print and bind resources and my homeschool planner myself. This also allows me to make changes whenever I need/want to.
I allow myself the freedom to NOT plan out the week in it’s entirety if I just want to plan from behind that week. This way I can just write in what we actually got accomplished that day, and not feel like I have to check off things that just aren’t realistically going to get done. Example: Having to take care of sick kids, unplanned outings and playdates, etc.
Lesson Wrap-up + Quiet Time
We clean up lunch and do any written elements of those two subjects. Notebooking, research in book materials, drawing, or easy crafts. (I don’t do complicated crafts. 🎨 How do you feel about crafts?) Once this group work is done, I send my younger two off to play and generally get into trouble.
I will then spend the next little bit on language arts for my older two. We are using BraveWriter Darts and Partnership Writing this year. Moving through it has been at a slower pace than I’d like, but it’s really gentle and there is no rush to complete anything in any prescribed time frame. We will read a few chapters a day of our current Dart book, have a discussion, go over grammar concepts, spelling, complete a few fun activities, and by the end of the week there is some sort of copy work or dictation to be completed.
The older two then spend about 30-45 minutes reading their assigned books. They are also welcome to read anything else for fun too. My oldest is reading Puck of Pook’s Hill, and my second oldest is finishing up Mary Poppins (she finished today!) before starting Swallows & Amazons.
At this point in the day we are all at liberty to go our own ways. I like to read, check in on Instagram, work on projects I have going on, run an errand, etc. On Tuesday afternoons, with some exceptions, I host a live on Instagram called Homeschool Hangouts with Hanna. This is where I chat with another homeschool mom about all things homeschool! I’ve done over 25 now and I’m always so encouraged and inspired afterwards!
The kids will play with toys, create things, spend time with their aunt and uncle, read more, make themselves snacks, etc. Sometimes we all go on an afternoon walk in the neighborhood. If the children want to watch a show in the afternoon, I reserve that for while I’m cooking dinner… you know, when the kids start to get really crazy!
My long term goal is to institute a more formal “quiet hour” in the afternoon for all of the kids. I want to give them all a special place to go during this time and they would need to do something quietly without disrupting anyone else.
Wrapping Up The Day
At this point in the day the “school” part is complete. It’s often spread out and some days we aren’t done until later in the afternoon. For right now though this is working. We are in a new environment with additional distractions, and it’s hard to create those boundaries at the moment. Still working on that as we all are still settling into this new normal.
As we come to the end of our day, I will start working on dinner and then we all gather around the table and partake. Silliness often ensues and it’s never quiet. Everyone helps clear up the dishes, and if there is laundry to fold and put away that happens then as well. The last couple hours of the day are typically reserved for a movie/show/documentary together, sports games (we have three sports fanatics in the house), board or card games, additional chores, and getting ready for bed.
The children all go to bed between 8:00-8:30 PM, and the routine is simple. Bathroom, brush teeth, pajamas, 1-2 books, a song or two from Mommy and Daddy and lights out. It takes 20-25 minutes. Less if I do it by myself when my husband is traveling. Ha ha!! Somehow they always drag it out with Daddy.
I go to bed between 11:00 PM and 12:00AM most nights and spend the 3 ½ hours from the kids’ bedtime until my head hits the pillow doing the things I mentioned in my second post today.
That’s it! Nothing too complicated. I hope that this was helpful in some way, and I would love to hear how our days compare. If you enjoyed this DITL today, I’d love to have you over to my corner of Instagram @thewhisperingglen!
THANK YOU SO MUCH TO HANNA FOR SHARING YOUR FAMILY’S DAY WITH US!
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.