If homeschooling has you stressed out and overwhelmed it’s time to figure out what’s going well and what isn’t. Let’s figure out how to find a homeschooling routine that works for you and your family!
Have you ever asked yourself any of the following questions?
How in the world am I going to stay organized?
Will we be able to cover everything we need to?
Don’t we need structure to keep from driving each other crazy?
Do any of these questions feel familiar?
And if so, have you experienced a variety of physical symptoms ranging from mild discomfort to complete and utter panic?
Racing thoughts? Clammy palms? That topsy-turvy tummy thing?
Rest assured that I’ve had these same exact questions and have experienced these very same symptoms.
In my experience, I have found creating homeschooling schedules to be stressful, unproductive, and unnecessary. In fact, these schedules have usually left me feeling frustrated, overwhelmed, and insecure.
But my kids and I need structure! How are we going to get anything done?
Well, I propose that instead of a schedule, you focus on having a routine.
Now I know that deciphering between a schedule and a routine can feel confusing at first.
so First, Let me break down the differences between a schedule and a routine.
Because understanding the subtle and not-so-subtle differences between a schedule and routine is the first step in finding a homeschooling routine that works. And finding this routine is going to set your homeschool up for huge success!
The definition of a schedule includes words like lists, tables, inventory, and specific times.
Schedules can be, um…well…a bit rigid.
Now, obviously, schedules are a necessary part of life. When the dentist appointment is scheduled for 9 am, you make sure you are there by 9 am. If piano lessons begin at 1 pm, you arrive on time for your 1 pm appointment.
There are also many children who have special needs or limitations which necessitate a schedule. A strictly enforced schedule caters to their unique circumstances and allows these children to thrive in ways that best meet their needs.
However, if this doesn’t describe your situation, there is probably no reason for your family to follow rigid schedules within the walls of your home and your homeschooling.
A huge benefit of homeschooling is the ability to abandon rigid timeframes within your educational endeavors.
Look at it this way: It takes just one morning of sleeping in, a child who is feeling under the weather, or a neighbor stopping by unexpectedly, and the next thing you know, BAM!, your schedule is off. It really doesn’t take much AT ALL to completely derail your day.
A strict homeschooling schedule often results in an undercurrent of anxiety. And this is definitely NOT an undercurrent I want for your homeschool!
A routine, on the other hand, includes words like regular, sequence, and program.
A routine allows for more breathing space.
More wiggle room.
Routine means that if you sleep in, you still know what will come next, it simply doesn’t have to occur at an EXACT predetermined time.
If your child is sick, you have the flexibility needed to accommodate their unexpected needs.
If a neighbor stops by, you are able to extend hospitality and then resume homeschooling where you left off after they leave.
A routine allows for an undercurrent of calm. And this is an undercurrent I would HIGHLY recommend!
Routine honors the need for structure without rigidly held expectations and specific timetables. Routine provides a consistent rhythm offering peace and calm.
Now, as I’ve already mentioned, I completely understand that we cannot function in this world without various schedules. But during our homeschooling time, we certainly don’t need to feel tied to a schedule. Often our homeschooling days are bookended by scheduled times out of necessity, but everything in the middle has the space and wiggle room for routine.
I’m proposing that we embrace routine.
Let me give you an example of our current daily homeschool routine.
Note the bookended times, which tend to be scheduled more or less, out of necessity. But everything in the middle is allowed flexibility and this is where we follow a routine.
6 am – I wake up, do 10-30ish minutes of exercise, and squeeze in a little writing. (Please note that I AM ABSOLUTELY NOT A MORNING PERSON! 6 am feels SO RIDICULOUSLY EARLY so for the love, why in the world am I doing this to myself!?! Well, it’s because I love this early morning time to focus on my own self-care. But this 6 am time is a fairly recent development. There have been plenty of years where I’ve regularly slept until 8 am. BLISS. And since homeschooling allows for so much flexibility, we’re able to make these tweaks as needed.)
8 am – If my kids aren’t up already, I wake them up and they begin their morning responsibilities, (brush teeth, get dressed, make their beds, unload the dishwasher, pick up their bedrooms). Sometimes the kids will eat breakfast but they often aren’t hungry yet. I’m fine with them eating while we do school as long as it’s not messy, (examples of “approved” food: granola, yogurt, fruit, protein bars, veggies, smoothies, etc.) While they are doing all of this, I get ready for the day and make myself tea or coffee.
9 am – Our homeschooling typically begins. We *usually follow this order: Math, History, Memory Work, Language Arts, and Japanese. (This year our Thursdays consist of a morning group natural science class and Fridays we have group science.) We rarely spend more than an hour on one subject at a time. We take frequent breaks as needed to move around and get snacks. But there is no scheduled, 9-10 am = math, 10-11 am = history, etc. If for some reason we’re on a roll with a particular subject, we follow our curiosity and continue on.
* Usually means that sometimes we mix this order up based on overall need and desire.
2 pm – We finish up. The kids have an hour before they need to get ready for their afternoon activities. This is a time when they can read independently, work on a project of interest, or finish up any extra work they need to complete for outsourced classes.
Once afternoon activities begin, we need to follow a schedule since practices begin at specific times. But as you can see, between the hours of 9 am and 2 pm, we avoid being governed by the clock.
Instead, we flow with the rhythm of our homeschool routine.
So how can YOU find a homeschooling routine that works for your family?
Step 1 – Identify your “peak” homeschooling times during the day
This means that you will take into account any of your “bookended” commitments, (extracurricular activities, appointments, meetings, etc.) and consider the necessary scheduled parts of your day.
Also, consider the natural rhythm and flow of your family. Are you early risers? Night owls? Are you raising extroverts or introverts? A combination of both? These are considerations you’ll want to incorporate as you figure out your “peak” homeschooling times during the day.
Step 2 – Keep your expectations in check
Write down the subjects/topics/activities you are hoping to cover on any given day.
Now, get real with yourself… are you trying to do too much?
It’s common to try and cram SO MANY THINGS into our days with limited hours and this is a recipe for stress and burnout!
So as you factor in your “bookended” commitments, determine your peak homeschooling times, and account for the unexpected twist or turn, remember to keep your expectations in check.
Step 3 – Stay flexible
Remember that you are allowed to tweak your homeschooling routine ANYTIME. Isn’t that fantastic!?!
So play around with your rhythm and routine. Incorporate music. Switch around the order of subjects. Take more frequent snack breaks. Incorporate a daily walk.
Remember to play, experiment, and stay flexible!
To recap, here are your 3 steps for finding a homeschooling routine that works:
- Step 1 – Identify your “peak” homeschooling times during the day
- Step 2 – Keep your expectations in check
- Step 3 – Stay flexible
I would love to know what your homeschooling routine currently looks like. Have you made any recent changes? Struggling with any particular area? Let me know in the comments below!