Do you have a homeschool routine set-up, or do you follow a schedule? I’m a planner. One of those people who like to make lists, just for the sake of checking boxes.
The list checker and minute-by-minute planner in me has hindered our homeschool in more ways than I want to admit. I’ve spent so much time focusing on what didn’t get crossed off the list, that I failed to see what we learned, and how much fun we had.
Instead of a super rigid schedule, a wise mom advised me to instead, implement a routine. A guideline, of what needs to be done, minus the stress of box-checking.
The word routine tends to have a negative connotation. Wikipedia’s sample sentence for routine is:
- Connie was completely robotic and emotionless by age 12; her entire life had become one big routine.
However, a routine is simply a sequence of regularly followed actions. Notice I said regularly, and not always.
Routine vs. Schedule
Schedules dictate what and when things need to be done. A schedule implies a deadline, which is great when working on a project, however, schedules and deadlines for in homeschooling can be overwhelming, and impede the process and joy of learning.
Take a few seconds, and recall how many times you’ve fallen behind on your schedule. Whether homeschool related, or even when getting ready to attend an important event, like a wedding. How did you feel? Stressed? Frustrated?
Two years ago, our history curriculum led us to learn about the middle ages. The recommended time frame for this particular time period was roughly 6 weeks. If we had followed the recommended timeline, we would have achieved a pretty good understanding of the time period. However since we were not bound to a schedule we spent nearly four months learning the codes of chivalry, building medieval castles, attending fairs and museums, writing research papers, and watching movies.
Had we been on a schedule, the constant concern of going back and to catch up on what we ‘fell behind on’ for the sake of the schedule would have been too much and we would not have absorbed as such as we did.
Because there are no specific times or dates for completion, a homeschool routine allows you to jump back in, and continue right where you left off.
Setting Up A Routine That Works
This is what a typical school day looks like in our home:
- Morning Meeting & History
- Independent learning (Maths, Science, Music)
- Literature, Writing & Read Aloud
A homeschool routine allows us to prepare for what comes next, without the bind of time restraints or scheduled deadlines.
First, take a few moments, and jot down the three most important tasks for each day. In our case these are 1) breakfast, 2) chores, 3) morning meeting. Knowing what these three most important tasks are helps us drop everything else at the drop of a hat when we have an opportunity to take an impromptu field trip, or when a great friend stops by to visit, or when dad decides to take a day off.
Next, figure out what subjects inspire you and your children. Math and grammar are great and necessary, however, there is nothing like spending time on those subjects that inspire creativity and foster a love of learning. One of my girls absolutely loves science. On a typical day, she spends 2 to 3 hours reading, writing, and doing experiments. In years past I demanded she spend no longer than an hour in science, and that she spend the same amount of time in math, for the schedule sake (facepalm, I know). Not a good strategy to say the least.
Finally, establish a simple and flexible homeschool routine, taking in consideration the three most important tasks in your homeschool, and what inspires you and your children.
Freedom From the Timeline
For years, I worked from home and at very specific times of the day. Due to work time constraints, our school days were structured, and we were bound to specific starting and ending times. Yet, having a homeschool routine to fall back on, allowed us to take our learning to the next level. It has allowed us to pause and spend time with the baby cousins, that often come by and visit.