Summer is here! For some homeschool families that means a total break from all things “school”. Others do full-on school and some find themselves somewhere in the middle. This summer we are full-on schooling through the summer. I don’t know if we will always do this, but we take it a year at a time and this year it makes sense for us for a few reasons.
Why are we homeschooling year-round?
With the growth of Treehouse Schoolhouse over the last year, I have started having more work hours. This has been such a blessing to our family but has taken some adjusting to as well. One thing that means is that some weeks throughout the year we had lighter lessons because I had a big product launch to prepare for. On those weeks we would keep things short, stick to the basics, and I would remind myself that we can go slower and stretch things out.
Along with this, we have two toddlers in the house! Rather than pushing the little ones aside on challenging days, I am thankful for the freedom to take things slower or call lessons off if we needed to in order to give them the attention they need.
Another reason is the weather! Summers are very hot in North Carolina, while the other three seasons are quite mild. We don’t mind spending more time indoors in the summer and more time outdoors in the other three!
For those reasons, there have been many weeks throughout the year that we didn’t accomplish the amount of homeschool lessons that I originally had planned for. I didn’t allow that to stress me out though and decided early on that we would just stretch the school year through the summer to allow our days and weeks to be more relaxed and peaceful. I love having this option as a homeschooling family!
What does year-round schooling look like?
For us, our summer won’t look too different from the rest of the year. I am trying a few new shifts in our schedule, though to do more focused lessons when my youngest is napping. We are also starting fresh with attempting quiet time for my 3 year old during that time. Another shift is that I am trying to squeeze in bike rides a few times a week (fitting in fitness has always been a challenge for me!)
We do plan to take 2-3 weeks off at the end of the summer to rest and to transition a new school year! This will likely be in late August.
Bear in mind that every family dynamic is unique and that each family has to discover what works for their household as a whole. A family’s daily rhythm with infants or teenage children will look different than a family with only preschoolers in the house. Also, nothing is set in stone! I am always trying new things and I share our current daily rhythm only as a starting point to get you thinking about what would work best in your home.
I am going to share our entire weekday schedule, not just the “homeschool part” because I want you to see it in light of the big picture, in hopes of helping you discover what works best for your family. A few things to keep in mind as you read:
- The current ages of my children are: 2, 3.5, 7.5, and 9
- My husband leaves the house for work around 8am and returns home around 6 each night. On Fridays he gets home around 1 and has the kids in the afternoon so I can spend some time working.
- I also currently have an afternoon nanny 2 days a week. She arrives at 1pm and leaves at 6pm. We wrap up lessons at 1:30 so she works on household tasks while we finish up. Each afternoon that she is at our home she cares for the children, does general home care such as laundry and dishes, and makes dinner. There is no way I could do everything I do at Treehouse Schoolhouse without this help!
- We spend most of our weekdays at home and go on most outings on the weekends. The exception is on Monday afternoon when my son has piano practice. His lessons are short and very nearby.The schedule shown below is Monday- Thursday.
- We only do school four days a week and connect with friends in nature on Fridays for our Wild and Free group.
5:30-6 - Mama Morning Time
6-6:45 - Make Breakfast & Meal Prep
6:45-7:15 - Breakfast & Bible
8-9 - Morning Responsibilities and Free Play
9-10 Morning Time
- Treehouse Nature Study- Songs/ Rhymes, Poetry, Art Study, Projects
- Picture Books
10-11 - Independent Work
- Phonics/ Spelling
- Piano Practice
11-12 - Break & Lunch
12-1:30 - Lessons (little ones quiet time/nap)
- Language Arts
- History/ Geography/ Science
- Read Aloud
- Handcrafts/ Projects
- Loop Subjects (ASL, typing, composer study, etc)
1:30-6 - Free Play/ Work 2 afternoons
6-7 - Dinner & After-Dinner Chores
7-8 - Family Time
8-8:30 - Read Aloud Time
8:30-10 - Connect with husband/ rest
5:30-6a Mama Morning Time
I set my alarm for 5:30 to squeeze in a few quiet moments before the kids wake up. I make coffee and snuggle up in my oversized cozy reading chair and spend some time reading the Bible, journaling, praying, and reading any books or devotionals I am working through. I also take a few minutes to get my head organized for the day by writing to-do lists or other things like that. 3-4 days a week I wrap this up at 6 to fit in a quick early morning bike ride. If it’s an off day for biking then I just spend more time reading or snuggling babies as they wake up!
6-6:45a Bike Ride
On the days I am going for a ride I head out around 6 when my husband gets home from his morning workout. I just do a 30-45 minute ride into our downtown and back home. I like to listen to books or podcasts and pray as I ride!
6:45-7:15a Make Breakfast & Meal Prep
When I get home, most of the kids are awake or going to be soon. I make breakfast (usually with a helper or two). We really like breakfast in our home, so it is usually a full spread of eggs, breakfast meat, fruit, and toast or english muffins. Some mornings we do a simpler oatmeal or yogurt bar. During this time I also think about what we will have for dinner, check for ingredients, and set out any meat that needs to be thawed. If it a day that my nanny comes then I write her a list and what I would like her to make for dinner. I also pack all of the kids' lunches (even if we are staying home) and my husband’s lunch for work. Having their lunches already packed helps tremendously during our busy school day!
7:15-8a Breakfast & Bible
Breakfast is on the table at 7:15 and my husband leads the kids in family devotions while they eat. I usually sit and engage for some of this time, but my main role is to manage the younger two children so that the others can focus. Sometimes I am finishing up the lunch packing or sitting in the living room nearby to play quietly with the toddlers. This time together usually includes Bible reading, discussion, scripture memory, and prayer time. We have used various resources for this time. You can see some of my favorites here.
8-9a Morning Responsibilities
As soon as breakfast is finished, we say our goodbyes and my husband leaves for work. My older children used to rely on these chore charts each morning, but we have done it so long that they don’t need them anymore. They clear their breakfast dishes and begin their morning chores. Each of them get dressed, brush teeth, tidy their bedrooms, and have a few other small house tasks like sweeping and taking out the trash. After their list is complete, they are free to play until 9:30 when I call us back together. During this time I am getting dressed and ready, getting the littles dressed, doing the dishes from breakfast, and doing at least one step in the laundry process.
9-10a Morning Time
We start each morning by using the Traceable Calendar, Day and Time Sheet, and Weather Chart. Then we go right into Treehouse Nature Study! All four of my children love the folk songs and hand rhymes. We bring out instruments and jam as we listen to the folk song. Then one of the kids takes the lead in the hand rhyme. You can listen to our summer playlist here and watch all of the hand rhymes for Treehouse Nature Study on our YouTube channel. After that we transition into poetry and art study through Treehouse Nature Study. Some days this is copywork or studying the artist, other days it’s recitation or illustration. The little ones play at the table or on the floor nearby. Then we read a picture book or two from the book basket and on some days, we finish it off with a project such as clay sculpting or a simple handcraft. Read more about what THNS includes this blog post. Try a free week of the curriculum here.
10-11a Independent Work
My older children get out their individual school boxes and begin to work on their independent work. This includes phonics, cursive, math, piano practice, and independent reading. I would say that they are about 75% independent in these areas, not 100%. While they work, I am reading or playing with the younger two nearby and checking in on them. I make myself available to help or answer questions and if anything is too challenging I ask them to set it aside until we can have more focused time when the little ones are napping and having quiet time. Once they have finished their work and I have checked it, they are free to grab their lunch and take a play break.
11a-12pm Free Play & Lunch
Everyone eats their lunch while I tidy up from the morning and get prepared for lessons. I usually eat leftovers or throw together a quick salad. We usually take our lunch outside or the older children read or draw as they eat.
At noon, I put my 2 year old down for her nap and set a timer for one hour for my 3 year old to have quiet time. If he stays in his room playing quietly for the one hour, he is allowed to watch one episode of a show. This gives me 1.5 hours of quiet time to focus with the older children! I save all of the more focused lesson material for this segment of our day. Here is what we cover in that chunk of time. Keep in mind it’s not all of this each day, some things rotate.
- Language Arts
- History/ Geography/ Science
- Read-alouds and narrations
- Handcrafts and Projects (such as sewing, baking, or history projects)
- Extra Subjects such as sign language, typing, and composer study
1:30-6pm Free Play/ Outside Time (Work Block 2x/week)
Two afternoons a week, I work in this time block while my nanny is at our home. Either way, the kids’ afternoons look the same. On Mondays my son has piano practice. Other than that, they spend their time mostly playing outside in the afternoons. For the summer, this looks like water balloons, sprinklers, climbing trees, exploring the neighborhood woods, playing in our mud kitchen, or in our sand box. We also have a membership to a local lake to swim and we visit friends’ pools. We may do this once or twice a week when the baby wakes up from her nap. We also have a lot of neighborhood children that come over in the afternoons to play! I usually spend my time in the afternoons doing chores, playing with the kids, reading, or baking!
6-7pm Dinner & After-Dinner Chores
I start dinner prep in the afternoon and we have dinner together around 6pm when my husband gets home. Then we all pitch in to clear the table, do the dishes, and tidy up the main areas of the house and the yard from the afternoon of playing.
7-8pm Family Time
After dinner is family time! Sometimes this looks like board games or baths and other times it’s wrestling or a family walk or bike ride. Around 7:45 we start getting everyone in pajamas for reading time.
8-8:30pm Read Aloud Time
I take the 2 & 3 year old up to my bed with some picture books and we snuggle and read. My husband reads the older children a few chapters of a current book he is going through with them. When I am finished, I brush the little ones’ teeth and put them to bed. The older children brush teeth and can stay up a bit longer to read in their beds with lights. All of the kids usually crash by 9pm.
8:30-10pm Connection with Husband
My husband and I catch up on the day’s events and usually sit together in the living room to chat or read (usually with a snack or tea!). We try to be in bed by 9:30 or 10.
What do our weekends look like?
Weekends are usually filled with lots of rest and family outings. In the summer we like to go on shady hikes, play in creeks, or go swimming in lakes or swimming holes. I also find time on the weekends for the farmer’s market and other grocery shopping. We may also meet up with friends for dinners or at parks. On Sundays we go to church in the mornings and usually rest the remainder of the day. Our older children only are allowed screen time on the weekends, so they usually fit in a show or movie at some point on the weekend as well.
I hope this post gave you some ideas and insight as you are planning your summer or school year!