Donna’s Homeschool Day in the Life (with 18, 15, 13, 10 and 6 year-old)

Vail Family (3 of 4)

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.

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 exercises, 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 as a large family 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 as partners and mentor them. My two older children have opt’d to go to a Charter School in the mornings half days while I still have my three youngest at home. First we study math and everyone knows to stay focused and keep the house quiet during this time. As they move at their own pace they know what to study and work on using their Self-Educator Study book 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 until 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 and the two older children are home 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 our local homeschool co-op weekly as well as participating in field trips, events, park days and hiking.



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.  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


What is your favorite part of your homeschool day? Share the inspiration by leaving a comment.

About Donna Vail (63 Posts)

Donna Vail is an education-parenting specialist, coach, mompreneur, homeschooling mother of six children, author and founder of An Inspired Education. She helps families create a lifestyle of true freedom by balancing education, work and life through self-education, entrepreneurship and inspiration. She is a highly sought after consultant for her successful guidance and resources that enable parents to let go of traditional parenting and education models, creating a lifestyle of learning where the whole family flourishes. Donna consults families around the world who all repeatedly express their restored confidence in homeschooling, parenting and personal development. In 1995 when homeschooling was little known to the masses, Donna traded in her daily commute to the office, to work from home and homeschool her children. For the last 17 years, she has successfully homeschooled her children and now through her writing, speaking, workshops, special programs and private consults coaches parents around the world to success in their homeschools. Her passion for education excellence has her constantly researching and developing new ways to support and nurture children. She lives an Inspired Education with her husband and children in Plano, Texas. Connect with Donna and access her wealth of resources at her website: An Inspired Education.

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  1. 1
    Victoria says:

    I’m just getting started homeschooling and I looooove your blog! It’s very helpful.

    • 1.1
      Dr. Daisy Sutherland says:

      Yay!! Welcome…Donna has wonderful homeschool tips..I too, homeschool my children…have graduate 3 and have 2 to go :) Hugs!

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