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A Day In the Life of a Homeschooler

Monique Forest teaches her 13-year-old son, Shane, in Sunset Park. We asked her to document a typical day.

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Illustrations by Al Murphy  

9:30 a.m.
We woke up late because I took Shane to the Jay-Z concert last night. Normally, he goes to bed at 9:30 p.m. so he can get ten hours of sleep, but I made an exception this time so he could have a life experience. This was his first concert, and I know it will be a great memory for him. I believe in a well-rounded education so I use the Core Knowledge Lesson Plan. It covers all the basic subjects: English, math, science, history, geography, language, art, music, and health. I also teach practical life skills—like budgeting, baking from scratch, and learning the subway system.

10–10:45 a.m., Current Events
We read the newspapers in the morning, mostly the New York Times, and discuss articles we find interesting. Today we talked about the presidential debate. Shane’s uncle gave him an iPad, and he does a lot of his work on that. It’s a wonderful teaching tool. Sometimes we’ll do editing in the morning. Getting him to do this is like pulling teeth, so I try to get it out of the way early.

11–11:30 a.m., Reading and History
He’s reading Fall of Giants, by Ken Follett. Although it’s fiction, it’s a fun way to learn about history. It takes place during WWI and the Second Industrial Revolution. It’s about 1,000 pages.

11:30 a.m.–Noon, S.A.T. Words
Shane has an app for this so he practices by taking a test, and at the end you get your score. He also did another vocabulary app today called Vocabador. I love this one. You knock out your opponent by choosing the correct definition.

Noon–12:45 p.m., Lunch Today
I gave him Ak-mak crackers, sliced raw red bell pepper, a peanut-butter-and-pumpkin-butter sandwich on wheat, and a glass of unsweetened vanilla almond milk with Stevia, a dash of cinnamon, and pumpkin-pie spice. The saying “Change your food, change your mood” is so true.

12:50–1:40 p.m., Exercise and Music
Shane can choose different exercises, but it must be vigorous and last at least 30 minutes. Sometimes we play basketball or walk a few miles or he rides his scooter. Exercise is conducive to learning. Shane is trying to get into La Guardia High School next year, so we also work on music in the afternoon. He’s doing a song in Italian; he’s on level 2 in Rosetta Stone. Instead of telling him he’s the best, I try to be realistic. I let him know the odds are long, and he needs to practice more.

1:45–2:30 p.m., Math
We use the Teaching Textbooks CD. It has tutorials and a fully automated grading system. Right now, he’s finishing up pre-algebra. I expect him to do fourteen lessons a week, though he can choose how he wants to split those up. He has typically ranked between the 90th and 99th percentile in math on the New York State Exam for grades 3 through 8 (with the exception of sixth grade, when he scored in the 84th percentile).

2:40–2:55 p.m., Snack Time
It’s pear and plain Greek yogurt with organic honey.

3–3:30 p.m.
Shane went outside to socialize with kids from his old school. They’re really curious about homeschooling, so they’re always asking him questions. The idea that homeschoolers don’t socialize is just wrong. If I hear one more person say, “What about the socialization?”…

3:40–4:15 p.m., Science
Today he studied science terms; I usually quiz him afterward. Science is one of his favorite subjects. He looks over the eighth-grade curriculum that’s submitted to the city’s homeschool division and can study anything on the list he chooses.

4:15–4:30 p.m., Spelling
I have an app where I record whatever words I pick. He takes the test, and it gives his score. It’s a great app, and free, which is important since we’re on a tight budget. We do school seven days a week because he can’t be pushed for too long on any given day. I have to respect that about him, and I have to make everything interesting, or else he just won’t do it.


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