Colleen’s Homeschool Day in the Life (with a 10-, 13-, 15-, and 20-year-old)


Colleen’s Homeschool Day in the Life (with a 10-, 13-, 15, and 20-year-old) ~
Written by Colleen Kessler of Raising Lifelong Learners

A note from Jamie: Don’t forget to come share your own homeschool day in the life with us here at this Friday, March 10th!


It’s 7:30 a.m. 

The alarm is going off, and I open one eye, calculate, and turn my alarm off.

Nobody needs to be anywhere until later today, and I had *another* late night of working that kept me up until almost 2:00 a.m. 

Surely the ten- and thirteen-year-olds can get their own breakfasts this morning. Even knowing it means they’ll likely binge watch cake disasters or play on Roblox. So I’ll have a terrible time tearing them away to get a little work done, I doze back off…

It’s now 9:30, and Daisy Mae, our border collie is letting me know she’s ready to get up for the day by quietly woofing from her bed in the adjoining bathroom. She sleeps on a dog bed in there with the opening gated because she randomly likes to jump up on the bed at night to see if I’m still there and might want to play. If I gate her away from me, but allow her to still see me, she lets me sleep.

Daisy and I head downstairs where we find abandoned cereal bowls, a milk puddle (do they ever stop making messes?), and two kids curled up playing No Stress Chess while LEGO Masters plays in the background. I remind them to clean their mess up after the game, and that I’ll be back to start school with them by 10:30. 

Daisy and I go outside and I throw the frisbee for about twenty minutes while the coffee brews. This dog can literally do this for hours straight with no breaks.

Colleen's Homeschool Day in the Life

Me? I’ve reached my limit. I’m ready for caffeine and a shower. 

The dog and I head into the garage where I towel her off for the first of what will be countless times today, then head in, grab my coffee, remind the younger two again to clean up and get ready to do school, and head upstairs. 

I start the process of waking my oldest two. 

My twenty-year-old is taking college classes, working a part time job, and taking freelance video and photography projects while living at home. I usually ignore him, and let him get himself up, but today I need help with driving so he’s going to need to get his own projects done earlier. That’s part of his “rent” — helping to chauffeur his siblings when I need help.

I move on to his sister’s room. This room is like a blast furnace. She keeps a heater going and sleeps in shorts and a tank. I turn her light on, the heater off, and leave the door open after I shout to her that she needs to get herself out of bed.

I go to take a shower.

I have mentioned before (on my site, podcast, and in past day in the life posts) that I am not a morning person. I need the snooze button, coffee, and a shower before I am a functioning human being. 

Once I’m showered and thinking straight, I head back towards the stairs making my second attempt at waking the teen and adult kids. 

It’s a little later than my 10:30 promised start time but I round up the younger two with a snack and their handwriting, grammar, and unit study supplies.

Isaac, my ten year old, goes to the computer first and works on CTC Math, my favorite online math program. Logan, my thirteen year old, begins on her handwriting and grammar, then switches with Isaac to do her math.

Colleen's Homeschool Day

Once they’re done with that, we work on our current unit  study. The younger two and I are learning about Jane Goodall. Logan is working on a poster biography I downloaded from Teacher’s Pay Teachers. Isaac is learning the same material as we’re reading books, watching documentaries, and completing projects all together.

The Jane Goodall study was born out of Logan’s love of animals. She wants to be a zookeeper, and so I try to incorporate things that fuel the kids’ passions and interests into our homeschool whenever possible.

Sometimes they work on their own projects, other times they work on the same topic like they’re doing now. 

It’s almost lunch time, and Molly, my teen daughter has made it downstairs, eaten, and is back upstairs nebulizing and working on some vocal exercises. She has rehearsal and a callback tonight. Molly’s passion is acting, particularly musical theater, and her schedule ebbs and flows, depending on the projects she’s involved in.

Right now she works on a math program at her own pace, usually in the car to and from rehearsals and callbacks, and is annotating several of her favorite classic novels as well as a contemporary one. Molly’s history and science this year is very relaxed and informal. She’s fascinated by true crime, and follows several podcasts related to this topic, taking deep dives into forensic science after each episode.

She also loves and listens to a variety of history podcasts, watches documentaries on time periods she wants to know more about, and generally acts as a sponge when something piques her imagination or interest. 

I love the flexibility of letting her dive down these rabbit holes because, when we talk, she always has such fascinating information to share with me. It is the perfect way to off-set her formal training, which is taxing. She takes private lessons with an acting coach, and participates in masterclass opportunities in the area as they present themselves.

Weekly, she works with a private voice coach and has lengthy rehearsals with an all-girl teen acapella group. She’s a member of a teen comedy improv troupe that meets for practice once a week and performs three times a year, and is so funny to watch. I just adore how quick and talented she is.

Finally, she works weekly with a private dance coach, and takes online lessons in between to hone her skills and keep in shape. She’s an incredibly busy girl, which means that I’m an incredibly busy mama.

I was talking to a friend the other day about how, when our kids were little, we were pretty much always tired because of the interrupted sleep and constant reaching of new milestones. Now we’re pretty much always tired because our schedules aren’t our own and we’re constantly driving a kid somewhere or picking a kid up from somewhere. 

While Molly preps for her auditions and Logan and Isaac finish their work for the day, I pull together an easy lunch, throw some laundry in, and check my email. 

Lunch for us is usually sandwiches, soups, or cheese, crackers, and veggies all cut up and set out for snacking. Today it’s a snack lunch because I have a creative thinking lesson to teach live to kids in The Learner’s Lab, the community I host for families who are homeschooling gifted, 2e, and otherwise neurodivergent kiddos. It’s so much fun — even my kids participate in the live lesson from another computer in another room.

They bring their lunch into the “school room,” which is our dining room turned project, school, and play space, and fire up the computer, logging into the Zoom room where the lesson will be. 

Colleen's Homeschool Day in the Life

I go to my office to set up my camera and teach. In today’s lesson, we’re explore how emotions look and feel, specifically focusing on stress, and creating the first in a set of emotion cards (we’ll add to the set over the year) that show a creative representation of what stress looks and feels like to each of us and how it affects our bodies, minds, and behaviors. 

It was a great lesson, and the kids were so fun and engaged!

It’s 2:00 now and we’ve already had a full day. 

Well… most of us have. 

My 20-year-old, Trevor, didn’t have anywhere to be, so he’s just getting up now, making himself some coffee, and doing his wake-up-and-meme thing in the family room on the couch. I’ll ignore him for a bit before I dump his list of things I need him to help do on him.

Meanwhile, I’m packing up some snacks for Molly and me, guiding Isaac to get dressed and pack his basketball bag — that boy would LIVE in mismatched pajamas if he could, and begging Logan to feed and water all the pets.

I have a quick summit meeting with Trevor and text my husband to make sure he knows who he’s getting where tonight, and Molly and I are out the door by 3:00. 

Trevor will be working on a few freelance assignments he has right now and making sure Logan gets to her rehearsal. She’s playing a wolf and Mowgli’s mother in The Jungle Book at our favorite fine arts place. Before they leave, Logan will make dinner for the three of them and make sure everyone’s fed and things are cleaned up.

My husband will be swooping in around 5:30 to scoop up Isaac to take him to basketball practice. 

They’ll all (except for Trevor) be asleep by the time Molly and I return home.

Back to us — Molly and I are driving to rehearsal. She is currently playing Bea in Something Rotten at a high school about 45 minutes from where we live and is called to work on a dance number for about an hour and a half this afternoon. She’s doing her makeup in the car, warming up some more, and is belting by the time we pull into the parking lot. 

Thank goodness for noise-canceling earbuds.

Since she’s not going to be in this rehearsal for long, I snack and listen to an audiobook while I wait. We need to leave as soon as she is done.

When she comes back out, we take off in a different direction (another 45 minutes…) so she can audition for a musical that will take place this summer in the city. I’m stunned, but we score a spot at a parking meter right in front of the theater which is a great thing because I need to go in with her and fill out releases and paperwork as she’s under 18 and this particular show — if she’s cast — requires her photo to be shared with local media. 

I hate these auditions because I can hear a teensy bit from outside in the lobby, but not enough to know how she’s doing, and I go a little crazy with worry and hope for her. 

She bounds out of this one with a grin, so I’m thinking it went well. We’ll hear if she’s called back later in the week. The competition is fierce, so I’m hoping she’s at least cast in the ensemble because it would be a great experience for a sophomore. 

Now it’s on the road again…

She’s due at a callback for a play that’s closer to home, but almost an hour from where we currently are now. We make it and I find a corner out of the way and try to catch up on a few emails. It’s getting hard to fit work in during the day in this busy season I’m living with my kiddos, so I travel with my iPad and pay data services on it so I always have internet access and can squeeze in little bits of work wherever I am. 

It’s now 10:00 and callbacks are ending. 

She comes out, exhausted, and doesn’t want to talk about it, but says it went well. There were seven girls in there reading for one role, and they were all incredible, so it’ll come down to whomever the director sees in the role and whomever looks more like the daughter of the people cast as her parents.  

She did all she could do, though. Her best. And she had fun while doing it, which is what I want for her always in this passion — the fun. 

We pull into the driveway around 10:45 and as I thought, everyone but Trevor is asleep. He and I chat a bit, Molly makes herself a snack, and then I get a little more work done before heading to bed around 2:30 a.m. 

My life is absolutely crazy right now and all my kids go in very different direction on any given day, but I wouldn’t change it.

It’s now, more than any other time in these fourteen years of homeschooling, that I feel most grateful for the initial stumble down the path we took when that 20 year old was in first grade.

I have the busy, but I also get to start the busy out with a relaxed morning and conversations with each of my kids. Homeschooling is such a gift. 

My, how the days have changed:

Colleen's Homeschool Day in the Life

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