Monday, March 16, 2015

A Day in the Life of an 8 Year Old Asynchronous Homeschooler

I used to think our homeschool schedule would be clearly determined:

8:00   Start school
12:00 School is DONE!  

But in our experience, I have discovered that learning happens ALL THE TIME. I cannot imagine restricting education to specific times of the day.

Our Typical Daily Schedule

Our typical homeschool day at home (three to four times a week) looks like a mix of project-based learning and a very structured program that challenges our son. The Independent Kid is an imaginative, creative, and asynchronous learner:
  1. does NOT like to be rushed through academics,
  2. wants to mix in his own independent/child-led projects throughout the day,
  3. focuses on creative projects that require a LOT of TIME.
This means our homeschool day CAN last all day: 

  • open communication with our son allows us to be aware of his homeschool needs and deliberate in our methods.
  • we all contribute to the homeschool day.
  • it is fun, engaging, and rigorous all at the same time.
  • learning happens ALL DAY long.
  • it is all-consuming.

  • finding an engaging program (curriculum, books, topics) may take a while and is a trial-and-error process.
  • we still haven't figured out Maths.
  • it is an all-consuming homeschool lifestyle.
  • few understand our intensity.

7:00 Wake Up: Quiet Time

This is the time when The Independent Kid reads or plays quietly by himself. He is now engrossed in the Harry Potter series and presented this letter to his Hogwarts Students (a.k.a. us/his parents) this morning. Why? Because he now wants a broom to add to his increasing costume wardrobe.

It says:

Dear Hogwarts Student,

We are sad to inform you that the Nimbus 2000 and one is no longer the best broom. Ravenclaw has them and so does Hufflepuff and Slytherin. The Firebolt is recommended for Gryffindor. Do not confuse the Firebolt for the Shooting Star. 

We have a new teacher for defense against the dark arts. It is Professor Lupin II. Snape II is not teaching potions but now wisarding wolverins. Professor Dumbledore II is not the head anymore since he is ill. Ron Weasley II and Harry Potter II must report to Snape's office immediately. Yes I know what you did.

Fifty Points from Gryffyndor.

Pro. Minerva McGonagall
Head of Branch Gryffyndor

8:45 Breakfast

We watch CNN Student News and check our various iPad pets.

9:30 (or later depending on our day) Start School

The Independent Kid will sometimes choose to come to school in costume or with action figures or animals from his Stuff Land.

1 hour of Math: Khan Academy.

Right now, this is the subject that frustrates both of us. Three days into trying out Grade 4, so it is still too early to tell if he likes/doesn't like it.

The Independent Kid likes the Scratch Pad mode and the Avatars.

1 hour of History :  IEW's U.S. History-Based Writing Lessons, Vol. 1: Explorers–Gold Rush and supplementing with other resources. 

He enjoys writing these outlines because he gets to draw.
He doesn't enjoy writing out the paragraphs, but he understands how much he has learned from the IEW programs.
If the first draft looks neat enough, I don't force him to rewrite.
We use movies to supplement our curriulum. This is his first response to Roots Episode 1. Obviously, he was affected by how the Africans were treated.

1 hour of Science: Real Science 4 Kids Middle School Biology. The Independent Kid didn’t feel like drawing cells today, so we worked together to build them on Minecraft instead. 

Prokaryotic Cell - we labeled all the parts.

Plant Cell

We built the animal cell on another day, but I wanted to show you all three together.

Animal Cell - notice he added a moving MineCart, i.e. his "roller coaster".

20 minutes each Foreign Language (depending on the day): GermanSpanish (Grade 3-4 is very S.L.O.W., rethinking this), and Rosetta Stone Mandarin.

Always a drawing. If you know the Muzzy stories, this is a drawing of Corvax.
Today, Spiderman is in our house studying Mandarin. How he can see through the head gear, I don't know.

1:30 Lunch Break 

This usually means leftovers from last night. Easy for Mama.

You will notice that we don’t have a morning break. This works for us. The Independent Kid usually doesn't need a snack or a break in the mornings. But by lunchtime, we both look forward to lunch!

2:15 Resume School

1 ½ hours English Language Arts

Spelling: All About Spelling 6 without the manipulatives for my natural speller. I dictate the words/sentences and  he simply writes them. 

Notice the drawings!

Grammar: Michael Clay Thompson's Level 2. 

The Independent Kid LOVES these word searches and questions.

Of course, our day would not be complete without humor.

And lots of doodling.

Literature, we choose from the Age Levels 8-10 and 9-11 Moving Beyond the Pages units. 

We just started reading Holes by Louis Sachar. Of course he loves it that one of the characters is called Armpit. And when you homeschool a boy, these are the sentences that they enjoy writing:

If you think this is funny, you should see our Mad Libs books!
After the unit activities, he wanted to watch Bill Nye’s Rock and Soil episode. And after that, he wanted to play outdoors.

3:45 Break and Play Time

What's the first thing he wanted to do during his break? He spent about 30 minutes to an hour role playing "Holes" by digging and /or pretending to have his own soil laboratory like Bill Nye.  This kind of pretend play related to homeschool work is a constant at our house. 

Digging and sorting.

Have you guys noticed the gloves yet??? Are any of your kids the same?

5:00 Resume School: Daddy takes over now.


We are indoor rowers. So the little guy does his share too.
20 minutes or so Drum Practice

A lot of dreams at our house.

5:45 School is finally DONE: Quiet Time/Independent Work

These days, if not reading, tinkering with his keyboard, creating a gadget, or playing out some imaginary scene in his head, he listens to his latest music obsession: the soundtrack of  Doctor Who. For the past few weeks, he has independently studied all the Doctor Who Theme Music from 1963 to the present and can now distinguish each song by year and Doctor.

6:30 Dinner

Slow cooked by Mama. I love that I have the time to do this for my family.

7:30 Play with Daddy or watch a show/movie together as a family.

These days, he enjoys playing video games, action figures (Superheroes, Star Wars, Doctor Who), or role playing scenes from favourite shows with his Daddy. He also asks to watch Who's Line Is It Anyway? in preparation for his own upcoming Improv Show at a local theatre.

9:00 Bedtime 

More reading and talking about the good things that happened during the day.

The Best Part

Homeschooling definitely brings us closer.

Like all homeschool families, we have both good AND bad days. Homeschooling days do not always flow perfectly. They are definitely not always how I planned. And I often need to remind myself that the struggles, the challenges, and the frustrations (big or small) must be welcomed as part of the homeschool day because they will always be there. What is important is that we have created a deliberate homeschool lifestyle together that prioritises and encourages learning in a nurturing and enjoyable environment.

Recently, someone asked The Independent Kid if likes homeschooling. Without missing a beat, his heart-warming response was: "I love it!" As for me, there is no other job I would rather have than to be his Homeschool Mama.

I am participating in the Gifted Homeschoolers Forum March 2015 Blog Hop: A Day in the Life of a Gifted Homeschooler. Please visit the GHF website for more posts like this:


  1. Wow! Too funny that "all consuming" is both a pro and a con. There is so much stimulation in any given day! Your pictures and description inched me closer to actually checking out Minecraft someday. Is there ever any rest?

    1. I think there is less rest when you homeschool an only child vs multiples. I am mama, homeschool teacher, friend, buddy... ;) but it's so rewarding!

  2. Your day sounds so varied and so much fun. Thank you for sharing it.

  3. "learning happens ALL THE TIME" <---That was the most difficult concept for me to remember having been a classroom teacher on a tight schedule, but it is absolutely true. Children learn all day long and not just at school from books. Your homeschooling day made me smile. It sure seems like you all have loads of fun! Thanks for sharing you lovely day!

  4. I could relate with the humor. My kids laugh at so many things and sometimes I don't get them. haha They love to clown around, especially my second child.

    Loved this line: "there is no other job I would rather have than to be his Homeschool Mama." I can relate!

  5. I loved reading about your day! I also love how "learning happens all the time", and how your homeschool is "not always how I planned"....truth 100%