My last two "students" are my five year old and my three year old. When my oldest daughter was 5 I was so anxious to get started really teaching her things. I found myself getting frustrated that we weren't really getting into "meaty" stuff yet and I wondered why she didn't have her mutliplication facts memorized. Six kids later I have definitely "lowered" my expectations and standards.
Now that my little 5 year old is in kindergarten, we spend about 1 hour a day in formal studies. I got a big workbook for her to help her learn her letters and numbers and all that other fun stuff. I know I could have just taught her this without the big workbook but it would have taken more time for me to get it all together and I'm afraid I would have never gotten around to it. For now she enjoys her workbook pages and is catching on to that whole alphabet thing. The rest of her learning occurs by just following the rest of us around and by being in the same room during a lot of our discussions and reading. I continue to be amazed at the things she picks up.
There is one thing I've noticed about the differences between my girls and my boys for which I am very thankful. It appears as if my boys have much more vivid imaginations than my girls do and therefore are quite capable of entertaining themselves for long periods of time. Now that he is three, my son in quite content playing with whoever happens to be available to him. If no one is, then more often than not, he doesn't mind playing by himself.
Throughout the day I schedule the other kids to take their turn with the younger ones, so this way I can focus on the difficult subjects a little better. More often than not, though, these two are never very far away from the hub of activity. For the most part they are content with this setup, but I assure you that if either one of them is having a bad day it definitely has an impact on the school day.
So that is how we run our school day. We are pretty consistent with a 4 1/4 day school week. We use Friday mornings to finish up things from the week and take any math tests that might need to be taken. Sickness and clubs are about the only things that get us off track the rest of the week.
I've given you a glimpse of our day, but if you are interested in how I put my whole day into a schedule and how I've learned to live with a routine, check out my website. I have put together a workshop called "A Plan for Joy in the Home - A Workshop on Organizing your Day for Catholic Homeschooling Mothers". In it I walk you through some important areas that I think need to be organized and at the end of the workshop, we put all of these areas together into a master schedule. If you are organizationally challenged and would be interested in this workshop for yourself and some of your friends, check it out here and contact me for more information.