Donna’s Homeschool Day in the Life (with 17, 14, 12, 9 and 5 year-old)

 Vail Family (3 of 4)

Donna’s Homeschool Day in the Life (with 17, 14, 12, 9 and 5 year-old)

When I first began homeschooling in 1995 with my oldest, now in college, I had a strict routine loaded down with curriculum and seemingly burdensome deadlines to meet. Like many new to homeschooling, I did all I knew to do and that was to structure my homeschool based on the public school model I grew up with. I was bold and determined and it only took two and a half years until me and the kids experienced homeschool burnout.  I knew that homeschooling couldn’t be this maddening for everyone so I took time off to explore different paths. After reading and researching I discovered self-education and An Inspired Education was born.

We’ve evolved a lot since our early days of strict schedules and mountains of curriculum and now follow a family rhythm. With the birth of each new child I’ve learned to expand time, be more flexible and simply allow. This greatly reduces stress. Trying to “fit it all in” and always pushing the children to what’s next is not only stressful for mom but also the children. I want my children to remember the freedom they grew up with exploring and following their curiosity, having plenty of fun and adventure where they could and honing in on their life mission, focusing on their highest values.

CLICK TO TWEET! Here’s today’s Tweetable: Trying to “fit it all in,” pushing the children to what’s next is stressful for mom but also the children. via @DonnaVail

Our family rhythm is set up in quadrants and time blocks that are sliding. This is where I create flexibility. Caring for a child’s need or character takes precedence over what time it is and what we “should” be doing. For the most part though, our family rhythm flows steady and we are constantly learning and growing.



Before the sun comes up, as my husband leaves for work, while all my children are snuggled in their beds, the house is quiet and the morning is still; I rise early to do my uninterrupted desk work. This is when I get most of my writing done and anything that requires concentration and quiet thought. After my writing time, I’m empowered for my day. Next I do some exercise, shower and get breakfast started as children wake and begin their day.

I allow a full hour for breakfast prep, clean up and getting the laundry started. I only do laundry Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday’s; otherwise laundry quickly becomes an everyday chore and a huge time killer. I developed a system our whole family follows making it more manageable so we’re never buried under a mountain of laundry.

Mid morning everyone begins their academic studies with math first as the central focus. In An Inspired Education we move from core subjects to practices and then explorations, all interwoven for whole life learning. I do not stand in front of my children teaching but rather walk beside them and mentor them. My older children study independently while my younger math students are still mastering self-educating math skills.  So they sit at my desk with me to do their work, as I do my mine. Once they learn how to navigate and become self-disciplined and stay on task, they will graduate to their own desk like my older children. They know what to study and work on using their Self-Educator Study books and based on our regular mentor meetings.

My youngest is learning to read. I make time to sit with her for her reading lessons and writing practice. I won’t start her in a math curriculum she’s a skilled reader. Reading is the foundation of all learning and once reading if firmly established, everything else falls into place. Young children need time and space for plenty of play and exploration. This is her work and how she learns is unique to her. As she sees her older siblings and me modeling self-education she grows up learning that this is how people live. A little time each day forming good learning habits develops self confidence and a love for learning.

Lunch Begins the Afternoon:

Once the academics are complete we share lunch together. Everyone is usually talkative and ready to eat. I allow at least two hours for our lunch as everyone is coming together after focused academic studies, preparing and eating lunch as well as tending to household services. This is when I continue the laundry and any other household tasks that have been on pause as we studied. I want my children to be dedicated to study. If I’m hopping up and down to tend to household chores, they will model what they see and won’t be inclined to stay in one place very long, let alone get any real studying done. This is why I make time everyday for my own study time. My children’s success in self-education is more important than laundry, which can always be finished up later in the day.

Afternoons are for exploration, individual pursuits, projects, free play and interruptible work for mom. We keep our television off during the week to encourage other interests. A day or two during the week is allocated for outings to the library, errands or playing outdoors with neighbors and friends. We carry our learning and pursuits into Saturday when the children participate in 4H activities for archery and other outdoor skills. Saturday’s are also for our Teens Write Now! Writing group. I co-lead with the librarian a group of local teens who meet to share their writings such as short stories, novels and friendship. The group also serves as a mastermind group as they encourage each other in their various different writing pursuits while establishing accountability and receiving support from the group.



As my husband arrives home there is much for everyone to share with him, especially the youngest who is ready to consume all of dad’s time and attention. Our evenings are spent mostly on preparing dinner, visiting during dinner, cleaning up as a team, then reading or playing games before bedtime.  Some evenings happen earlier when we need to be out of the house to a 4H meeting or local event. Everyone is usually tucked in by 9:30 or 10 p.m. Even though they are in their beds, they have a book light or Kindle to read before they go to sleep. I’m a night owl and my husband is an early bird so we work on balancing each other out by getting to bed at a decent time so we can get plenty of rest and wake up inspired early the next morning. Pillow time means going to sleep feeling extremely blessed to share each day fully as a family together.

“We are all born for love. It is the principle of existence, and its only end.” –Benjamin Disraeli

We’ve linked up with Jamie Martin at where other homeschoolers are sharing their homeschool day in the life. Thank you Jamie for connecting us all and inspiring us to always create our own unique days according to our individual family and homeschool needs.

What does your day look like? Share the inspiration by leaving a comment or a link to your blog.






 About Donna Vail

Donna Vail, Education and Parenting Specialist, is founder of An Inspired Education and the Mentor Mastery Inner Circle, the proven step-by-step program dedicated to maximizing the success in the human potential through homeschooling and life mastery for the whole family. She creates educational programs for homeschool children, “after-school” study programs for public schooled children and personal development for moms, while homeschooling her five children. Get free tips and resources from Donna Vail at:

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