Homeschool Day in the Life: Mary, Mom of teenagers

day in the life mary

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 Mary, homeschool mom to a house full of teenagers!

Regardless of our homeschool approach, how long we’ve been homeschooling, or how old our kids are, we can all learn and be inspired by one another. 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 Mary

day in the life mary

Mary is a writer, tea drinker, and traveler who loves a good thriller book. She is currently homeschooling four kids – 12th, 10th, 8th, and 6th grade – and loves the life that her house full of teens brings.

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Mary loves to play games (Quixx is a current favorite), watch fun TV shows, chat with friends (thank you Voxer!), and exercise (a good walk or run these days).

She describes herself as not all that great at decorating, cooking, or keeping her kitchen cabinet doors shut, but if you are up for a deep conversation, last-minute adventure, or creating some book club fun for the kids then Mary is your gal!

Morning Tasks

morning tasks mary

Good morning Learning Well mamas! I’m Mary from @marywilsonblog and I am so excited to be here this morning. I start my day SLOOOWLY. And with hot tea. Always.

I set an alarm for sometime in the 7:00 hour. We don’t start our school day until 9 AM so that gives me an hour or so to get things accomplished before I have to eat breakfast and get ready for our school day. My first priority is to pick my tea mug for the day and get the hot water brewing. Yes, my husband makes pottery on the side so my mug options are endless and delightfully handmade.

Once the tea is poured I begin working on my ONE morning task. This is a new routine to help me get focused right away. This 2020 year has pushed me into a very distracted brain space, so focusing on ONE thing helps me get the most important thing on my mind done right away.

I like that this routine allows for a little variety in my morning. Some days I focus on something for work, while other days there is a household task that needs my attention. There are even days that I workout first thing, though that is rare because I like a slow morning. If you see me working out before 9 AM, it means the rest of the day is packed solid.

I typically determine the one thing I’ll get done the night before and write it on a post-it note on my laptop. It sets my priority for the morning and reminds me to focus and get going!

This week my ONE THING has been to finalize and release the @celebrateabook guide for A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. This particular goal has many little pieces so I picked ONE each morning to keep making progress.

Today is Wednesday and I don’t have quite as much quiet time to work because my son, David, has an English class downtown and I drive every other week. Today is one of the weeks that I drive so we try to start our school morning closer to 8:30 AM. We usually have time to watch @CNN10 and read one of our books for history. We’ll circle back to the rest of our “Morning Time” in the afternoon. 

Embracing the Opportunities

embracing opportunities mary

As my kids have gotten older, everyday looks a little different. Our routine includes courses outside our house, working shifts for teens (Chickfila!), college classes, and other interruptions. Every day looks a bit different.

On Wednesdays, my 13 year old attends an English class downtown and I drive every other week so my 11 year old comes along. The older girls (16 and 18) stay home and work on school. We usually grab breakfast and sit at a local coffee shop to get his independent school work done. We work and chat over drinks and make the most of our morning together.

That changed about two driving Wednesdays ago when he asked to play Pokemon Go downtown – apparently there are a ton of Pokestops in the downtown area – and I said YES! I downloaded the game and joined the fun! Instead of getting work done, we spent the morning walking around catching Pokemon and spinning Pokestops.

I will always choose the memory making adventures and opportunities over workbooks and school assignments. Because our kids are learning all the time.

While we play Pokemon, he explains the rules, strategy, and how the game works. Guess what? Teaching someone else how to do something is a difficult task to master. He is practicing without even knowing it but it will show later in his writing and ability to communicate. We also discuss different current events and thoughts on his mind as we walk around catching creatures. And you better believe that focused conversation with an adult who is interested in you is an excellent way for kids to grow and learn.

When it boils down to it, time to play with my youngest kiddo is a special opportunity that I am not about to turn down. If we get bored of Pokemon, we’ll park ourselves somewhere and get a few of his assignments complete, but if there isn’t time we’ll work on them this afternoon.

In a few weeks, the weather won’t be so lovely and we’ll find ourselves hunkered down doing school work and reading quietly while we wait for his brother. But for now, we’ve embraced this opportunity for fun and we are loving it.

“Morning Time”

morning time

Our “Morning Time” doesn’t always happen in the morning. Online classes, in person classes, and work schedules make every day a little different. If we can’t gather in the morning, we gather around lunchtime or we split up the activities of Morning Time throughout the day (and evening).

Here is what we include in our Morning Time in a house full of tweens and teens:

CNN10 – 10 minutes of “down the middle” World News

History reading – We are currently reading “Words that Built a Nation” and “King George: What was his Problem?”

Read Aloud – Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson – this one happens to coordinate with our history time period, but I often pick whatever we are in the mood for during our read aloud.

Sign Language – Two of my kids are using this as a foreign language credit for high school. We watch new lessons on Monday and review and practice on the other days.

Video Learning – Right now we are using Masterclass and enjoying “The Art of Magic” with Penn and Teller. Sometimes we watch a Ted Talk. I give myself plenty of freedom in this category.

Breaking up our Morning Time throughout the day isn’t my favorite option. I miss the cozy days of an hour of Morning Time to begin our day. I need the managers of Chickfila to understand this when they make my daughter’s schedule – HA! (kidding – her job is fantastic!)

But seriously, while I love our mornings at home, I have come to love my life with teens. Yes, things have changed, but I have learned to be flexible so that we can keep our favorite activities (Morning Time) even if they have to look pretty different these days.

Creative Endeavors + Personal Pursuits

It’s the afternoon and it’s time for creative endeavors and personal pursuits. When they were little this looked a lot like legos, dolls, dress ups, and all sorts of creative play. Once they entered middle school, they began to discover their own personal interests and we had to start working out time for their passions. 

My oldest, Kayleigh, was 13 when she began volunteering to work with kids at a local camp. She spent Tuesday and Thursday from 8 AM – 3:30 PM helping in classrooms. Eventually, she was employed there twice a week during the year AND all summer long at overnight summer camp. Of course, today you’ll find her working on college assignments, meeting friends for coffee, or heading to work in the afternoons.

Patricia was about 13 when she began trying different activities that she THOUGHT might interest her and she discovered musical theater. Her theater activities are mostly in the evening, but in the afternoon you’ll often find her working on video edits. 

David has always loved games – board games and video games and all the games. He is currently 13 and began to dive deeper into the world of game development and strategy. (Thank you YouTubers!) These days he spends his free time learning to code and write his own games. He also listens to tons of game theory online, which he tells me ALL about daily. ?

Daniel is 11. His interests include nerf, computer games, and time with friends (similar to my other kids when they were younger). So we make time for these things in the afternoon. We are fortunate to have some kids on the street he can play outdoors with right now and fill his cup, otherwise he would want to sit on a screen all day!

Screen Time

screen time

How can I go a day in the life of a homeschool filled with teens and tweens without addressing screen time? Screens are a part of the world we live in and there is no getting away from it. We have to find solutions that work and as the kids got older, we talk about screen time regularly.

Our only pretty standard rule is no screens for gaming or scrolling from 9-2 PM. During our “school hours” my kids need their screens to take online classes, type papers, and research on google, but they aren’t allowed to scroll silly memes or play computer games. After 2 PM, screens are available for free play and my 11 year old is usually the first to run to the computer. He LOVES Roblox right now.

We don’t have any hard and fast rules about gaming limits. Honestly, there is no way for me to keep track of that and remain sane. If I see a kid spending a lot of time on a screen, I will ask what they are doing. Sometimes they are deep into solving a coding problem or editing a music video. Other times, they are just goofing around and agree that it is time for a break.

We don’t have strict rules as long as everyone remains open to discussion and will respect my concerns. In turn, I respect their desire to play or participate in gaming events. That means we had a BIG Fortnite Day celebration and gaming morning instead of school when a new season released. It also means that I take time to play with them and join the fun in their world!

If I think a child is spending too much time on a screen, we talk and come up with an alternative idea for awhile. It is more work than a time limit, but I hope it teaches them autonomy. I want them to have a healthy relationship with screens as they enter adulthood.

NOTE: This was NOT the case in a houseful of elementary schoolers. We avoided screens as much as possible to encourage creative play, but kids do eventually move out of the doll, lego, and blocks stages.

Good Night!

good night mary

Good night my friends! I’ve had a great time giving you a peek into our homeschool. We’ve made it to the end of the day and I am in my PJs!

After dinner we relax which means something different every night. Tonight it means games in the family room and family laughter. Some nights it means quiet work for me while kids are at activities. Other nights include family movie time. Sometimes we end up using the evening to finish up Morning Time activities! And of course, I’ll decide my one goal for tomorrow AM and it’s looking like it might be laundry ?

I hope you have a great night. You can find me at @marywilsonblog and @celebrateabook. Hope to see you there!

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

day in the life mary

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.

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