Homeschool, a day in the life : what I plan to happen, what actually happens.

I'm so excited! Today we're going to learn so much stuff! It's going to be a mix of hands-on and academic learning and we're going to make so many great memories and everything's gonna stick and there'll be smiles all the way around!

I'm going to outline a simple sample day, picked out of many, for what I have planned, and for what happens:

(Italics are what I have planned. Regular is what actually transpires)



I'm going to wake up and do some yoga (been planning to start for nine years), maybe a quick run, perhaps start meditating so I can fully be present for the glorious day ahead, take a quick 15-minute hot shower.

I don't.


Drag myself out of the comforting comforter, where I am surrounded by multiple limbs at impossible angles, and possibly a soggy mattress that inexplicably smells like urine and cereal.

I do not shower, do not do yoga, do not meditate, and do not fully remove the urine smell from myself. But I do find a hat to wear.


I'm going to make a simple breakfast of fried potatoes, turmeric-flavored tofu, homemade whole-wheat bread, and three kinds of whimsically-sliced fresh fruit. Also, I will make lattes with a dollop of whip cream.

Cold cereal with over-ripened banana slices. I try to feed the brown mushy parts to the youngest child. Even he won't have it. Fell on the floor? Too bad. Eat it.


I'll have my wife's lunch lovingly wrapped with all the right food groups, plus a morning and afternoon snack, and I'll stick a little note inside with a secret message for her as she heads to work.

"Sorry I couldn't find any lunch for you. But you can walk to Trader Joe's on your break and find something. Try to keep it under four dollars."


Those lattes.

Nope. I make an Americano in a to-go container for Becca. I am mortified to acknowledge how many shots I pull off a single pod. Out the door she goes. We wave farewell until she's out of sight, as we always do.


Down to business. Crank some Tchaikovsky or Hayden or Ellington, inspire the children to not only do their morning chores with reckless joy and infectious enthusiasm, but to sing and dance as they do them.

The children do their chores with recklessness. The joy is not evident, and the dancing is on hiatus. But the music is loud. Good.


I will potty train the youngest today. It's time.

I change one of the grossest diapers in the history of diaper-changing. Some poop falls on the floor, but I pretend I don't notice and slide a book over it.


School starts at 9am, so I should have time to read a couple chapters of Jay and Mark Duplass's book on brotherhood and moviemaking, zero out my email inbox, and finish learning JavaScript.

I check out Instagram.


I'll sip a second cup of coffee at the bar counter, watch the birds outside, and contemplate some fresh ways to integrate hands-on project-oriented learning into our science course today on Astronomy.

I look for the first cup of coffee I started drinking forty-five minutes ago, misplaced, and finally find it in the microwave, where I reheat it for a third time.

The children are drawing or reading or something, I don't know. I tell them to knock it off because we haven't started school yet, so they should be playing. So I force them to play, and it reminds me what an incredible gift I have for inspiring children to play before nine o-clock in the morning.


"Can you read some more Shakespeare with us today?"
they will ask.

"Can you read some more Shakespeare with us today?"
they actually do ask.

I say.
"But not yet. School hasn't started. We can't school yet."

They grumble. Children grumble. That's what they do.


We will start school on time. Period.

Another poopy diaper. Timed to coincide with when I was trying to start school.


We start school.


Raised hand.
"You sure are a wonderful and patient teacher, Daddy!"

Raised hand.
"I have to go poop. Can I go now?"

three children homeschooling at table


For the next three hours, I will captivate and astound my young charges with an incredible balance of academic and hands-on learning as we explore the universe of ideas together.

We'll take a beautiful journey through Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, a quick refresher on the Greek and Roman glory days and the ways they inspired a northern European Renaissance fifteen hundred years later. I'll make mathematics exciting and applicable to real life and they'll be begging to diagram more arrays and do just ten more multi-digit decimal-by-decimal division problems.

I'll hold firmly to a short and efficient primer on German and Latin and connect it to our explorations of the Bard. We'll examine the relative strengths of Hungarian composer Bela Bartok over that of Hungarian composer Franz Liszt and the impact the Bauhaus School of the 1920s had on urban housing development today.

We'll write Wolf point-of-view versions of Little Red Riding Hood using no more than three adjectives. Somewhere in there, we'll build a scale model of the Earth-Sun-Moon system and how they magically work together, and probably pivot for short discussions on Copernicus, Galileo, and Isaac Newton during recess.

Although this will take us to lunch, the overwhelming eagerness to learn will cause us to cram in just a few minutes of Python coding before lunch, which they will make and present as a three-course picnic.

We do math, some writing, and get in an argument over why we're listening to Baroque music instead of What Does the Fox Say. There are tears and an adult raises their voice in frustration. Becca is gone working.

12.00 noon

We will eat a lovely picnic lunch and talk about our favorite Sherlock Holmes stories and the role Edgar Allen Poe had in developing the trope of the modern detective.

I find some old pickles and cobble some sandwiches together. We sit around and laugh about the time that guy tooted during church.


We will resume formal learning.

The children run off and hide so they don't have to listen to me talk, lecture, monologue, or teach anymore.

I find them by 12.55 and drag their living carcasses back to food-covered chairs. It's time to switch from Classical to Jazz. Charlie Parker, Count Basie, or Duke Ellington.


They run away and hide together. Again. I give chase.

Dad holding two-year old in bedroom before nap


We resume formal learning.

"You sure like to make yourself sound important!" one of them says disparagingly.

The others nod.


I will wrap up and review the recent learnings in mathematics, literature, social studies, and science to ensure they have embedded the fundamentals.

I try. But there's an airplane, or a bird or something outside. So I send them out, with cameras, to take photographs and film interesting happenings.

They come back with pictures of animal poop and video of smearing dirt over each other's faces.


We'll close out the school day with music. Piano, guitar, ukulele, maybe some GarageBand recording and mixing. Who knows, maybe we'll even get around to finally starting a podcast.

After the grumbling has calmed, a timer is set. Music practice begins, and ends the instant the timer goes off.


Let's talk about what we learned today, okay? A quick recap? They will jump in with enthusiastic recitations of the many activities and areas they progressed in.

"Uhh, what did we do again today?"


The formal school day will end, and I will be flooded with hugs and squeezes and comments of affirmation and love for the tremendous job I did educating them in a patient and effective manner.

This is what I get:
"Are we done? Do we have to do anything else? Okay, bye. I'm going outside."

I say.
"Fine! But come back in 30 minutes because we still have some physics, geography, coding, and didgeridoo to finish up!"

They must be too far away because I don't hear any reply.

I turn to the 22-month old, who is still a squirmy character, but a captive audience of sorts, due to his plumb legs not being swift enough to escape from my clutches every time.

"Have I ever told you the story of Robert Bruce?"
I begin.

He knows what's coming: more mandatory learning. With a shriek and a toot, he spins around and tries to take off for the forest and freedom.

But I am fast, and strong, and sit on him gently to make sure he can't leave until I'm done.

This is the gift we give to our children, those precious angels. The gift of having knowledge and wisdom shoved and thrown and dumped onto them; thickly and incessantly, blatantly and sneakily. Someday, they'll thank us.

Or write a book about us, and maybe we'll get some royalties.

Tonight, I'm either going to sit down and bang out a chapter of my great American novel, or I'm going to watch a couple episodes of The Office, season 3. It's a tossup. We'll see which one seems more relaxing by 9.30pm.

And thus is the day done.