“What does an average day of homeschool look like in your home?”

I get asked this question (or something like it) often. And I find it a difficult question to answer.

Our “school” day looks an awful lot like normal life. 

Make Space for Conversations and Connections

Education is something that flows throughout all of life— opportunities for learning and growth are quite literally everywhere. I’ve found that if we don’t divide the disciplines from one another, that if we make intentional connections between them and to our daily lives— we seem to understand them a whole lot better. So I aim to order our day in a way that makes space for organic conversations about math, poetry, architecture, and philosophy. 

This means that when we’re outside and my son inquires about the height of a tree, we figure it out together. And then we might talk about how deep roots are necessary for strength. Or how the Psalmist said a tree that doesn’t wither lives by a stream of living water (Psalm 1). 

I might ask about syllables and poetry while we wait in the doctor’s office for a well-check. 

We might discuss musical themes and famous composers as we listen to them on a drive to go hiking. 

As we study architectural history, we note Jesus’ words on foundations. We reflect on the repeated folly of mankind who build temples for gods, when we know “God does not dwell in temples built by man” (Acts 17:24). 

We might discuss worldviews, ethics, ideology, and the evolution of fairy tales and legends after watching Disney’s Robin Hood or Cinderella.

These organic, cross-disciplinary connections are just as important as sitting down to a sheet of problems. Perhaps even more so. It’s certainly more challenging; it requires way more time, effort, attention and intention. But as in most things, the greater cost yields greater rewards. 

Remember Your Purpose and Establish a Rhythm

This isn’t to say that we don’t have a planned order to our day. I don’t fly completely by the proverbial seat of my pants; we’re not all whimsy. But I try to order our days, weeks, months, and years in rhythms. 

The purpose is always the same: God’s glory magnified in our days and lives. But the rhythm is flexible. It’s planned, but allows for real life— in all it’s messy unexpectedness.

We wake and have breakfast, read devotionals and poetry. We practice memory work and sing hymns. I aim to begin our day oriented toward God. We remind ourselves that He is the Bread of Life— more crucial than the toast on our plate to sustain us.

Together we move into chores, working as a family to be good stewards over our things. We care for our home and for one another. With small children, this is time consuming work. It means my favorite mug may have a chip in it from many hands putting away dishes. But it also means— from the smallest member of our family upward— everyone has a sense of both belonging and responsibility. 

The rhythm is flexible. It’s planned, but allows for real life— in all it’s messy unexpectedness.

Next we make space for independent time. We encourage creativity here– and we encourage our children to be alone with their thoughts. Our children listen to their favorite audiobooks, often the same ones over and again. They begin to feel themselves akin to a brave Hobbit, or fall in love with Aslan. Hopefully they follow his wisdom, “that by knowing me here a little, you may know me better there” (Voyage of the Dawn Treader). 

We move to table work, where we work on more traditional academics: mathematics, language arts, foreign language, and handwriting. Our time is wrought with life’s distractions. And so we learn how to focus and have patience. How to work hard while also valuing younger toddler siblings who interrupt. 

The rest of our day tends to flow more loosely. We play games or draw, we spend uninterrupted hours outside. Small hands help me make meals or fold laundry. We pick up books to read based on interests or our latest loop for history, art, music, or science. Sometimes we simply watch nature unfold around us. We admire how God’s hand is evident in the swirl of tiny snail shells, or weird creatures like shovel-headed garden worms.

The Gracious Gift of “Bad” Days

Some days we are impatient, or someone wakes up tired. Table work slows to a snail pace and words are short. 

We might struggle through hours of dissonance as we try and fail to remember our purpose. Other days we are gifted with a gentle whisper that reminds us: “God’s glory and goodness. His sovereignty over our days and lives. This is what matters.”

I’m reminded that the beauty isn’t in perfectly executed multiplication problems, but in a 7-year-old boy learning to persevere. it’s in apologies made and forgiveness given. It’s in a simple meal with joyful conversation.

I’m reminded that what matters isn’t that everyone listens perfectly during a reading about moss. What matters is a mother patiently directing and disciplining in love.

Sometimes our rhythm is disrupted and we regain it in a new way. Like when illness hits and we settle into a gentler rhythm of caring and being cared for. Or when a friend needs us to watch their baby and we spend the day loving a tiny person in need, not writing cursive. 

Soli Deo Gloria

In this way, we remember the purpose of our days isn’t the tasks or “school” itself, but the God who is weaving his glory in everything. We learn to see God as sovereign over math and dishes, world religions and grammar, laundry and dinner. 

If this is the music we want to play with our lives, we have to keep our rhythms subject to it. Only then we can point to our God, our Creator and Redeemer, in all the academic disciplines, chores, and unexpected interruptions. 

We can begin our day as Bach began his manuscripts, “Jesu Juva—Jesus Help!” and end our days the way he ended his music, “Soli Deo Gloria—To the glory of God alone.”