As a former editorial manager who juggled a team of writers, editors and varying project deadlines on a wall-sized white board and spreadsheet, I didn’t expect to run into challenges managing our daily homeschool schedule. However, our first two years of homeschooling, it seemed that no matter what fabulous recommended scheduling system I tried or homeschool planning app I downloaded to keep our homeschooling days on track, I wasn’t able to get out of the “moment by moment” mode of simply getting through the day — with only the most urgent tasks accomplished.
Then my sister-in-law Rosanna Ward wrote a blog post about the idea of keeping a daily homeschool routine instead of a schedule. I thought it was a great idea and vowed to try it. However, I struggled to figure out what an ideal routine should look like for us compared to other homeschooling families I knew. For starters, we’re not early risers: We’re all alert and active in the evening. Most homeschooling mamas I know get a jumpstart on their day hours before I am remotely functional. Was there a way to leverage our “night owl” nature in our family’s homeschool routine?
We also juggled with some curriculum changes early on in our homeschooling journey that affected how I approached our daily workflow. Once we got the curriculum question answered with Trail Guide to Learning, I was able to start designing a daily homeschool routine that worked with the unit study approach of the curriculum. Having a homeschool routine that flowed with my girls’ different learning styles and kept us all engaged throughout the day, while still being flexible, was much more successful for us than a scripted daily schedule. I also found it easier to handle the extras (such as household chores) by planning our routine around the elements that made up our most productive days.
Here’s an example of a daily homeschool routine that works for my middle schoolers:
- Wake up, pray and read personal devotions.
- Eat breakfast, get dressed.
- Start independent reading and assignments (science or math, grammar, writing).
- Meet with Mom for one-on-one time.
- Group lesson, such as biblical worldview.
- Lunch and cleanup.
- Group lesson from our unit study.
- Independent assignments (science or math) and review with Mom.
- Afternoon pickup (we call it “clean your zone”).
- Afternoon enrichment activity / project / library / exercise / free time.
- Evening (before or after dinner): independent reading & creative work (writing, drawing, etc.).
Notice there are no times attached to these tasks? That’s what made a difference for us. We can work through this routine no matter when we wake up (some days earlier than others), and we can move a few things around on days that we have unplanned extras (such as field trips and dentist appointments) to work into the day.
This has been a huge step in the right direction for my daughters. Overall, we’re moving through the day with purpose. Yet there’s enough flexibility for days when we have homeschool co-ops such as book club, presentation days, and PE. For my two middle schoolers, I’ve also purchased individual Apologia Student Daily Planners so they can keep track of their assignments for the week and work them into the daily routine, giving them some flexibility to accomplish their independent work at their own pace.
Of course, much of the daily routine revolves around the activities of my daughters. My personal routine has been a little more challenging, mainly because I’m not as much of a creature of habit as I used to be pre-kids. My mornings are very consistent: Personal devotions and prayer, get ready/get coffee/etc, and get the girls up. After that, I tend to react to everything on THEIR routine list — trying to fit my personal to-dos into the nooks and crannies of the day. However, by creating a daily routine, I can move from working with them to working on other responsibilities with more intention and focus than in the past.
I’ve come to love the idea of a daily routine instead of an hour-by-hour, or subject-by-subject homeschool schedule that keeps me focused on checking off boxes on a pre-designed lesson plan. If you’re struggling with how to schedule your day, you might want to think about trying the routine method too.
Hear Alicia share in her own words what “bloom” is all about:
Music by bensound.com.
Whether you’re a new homeschooler feeling overwhelmed with trying to create the perfect homeschool schedule, or a veteran homeschooler looking back at the past year and shaking your head, you’re not alone! Throughout the “bloom” online course, Alicia comes alongside you with a step-by-step approach to overcoming common homeschooling challenges such as scheduling and routines with practical, achievable solutions. Topics include: building firm foundations around daily pillars, steps to simple and rest-filled homeschool days, dealing with “joy stealers” such as perfectionism and comparison, and much more.
The online “bloom” course, which you can complete at your own pace, includes At-Home Discovery Packets that accompany each lesson and give you tools to personalize and apply what you’ve learned. Plus the interactive “bloom” Facebook group led by Alicia provides you with a built-in support community to encourage and inspire you during the growing process.
This past month I completed the “bloom” online course with a team of top homeschool mama bloggers, and what a blessing it has been! Although I am now somewhat of a veteran homeschooler (we just finished our fifth year), I learned a lot from Alicia — especially in areas that I still struggle with, such as comparison and perfectionism. I was really encouraged by her personal experience and inspired by her strategies to help all homeschool mamas “bloom” where we are planted!
Registration for “bloom” is currently closed, however you can sign up on the “bloom” information page to be informed when registration opens again!
To find more tools at NextGen Homeschool to help you bloom as a homeschool mama, visit the posts below:
- Ten Things to Let Go of This Year: Writing Plans in Pen
- Top Homeschool Posts of 2014: Homeschooling 101
- 31 Days of Homeschool How-To: Time Blocking
- Review: Five Homeschool Planners with Video Walk-Through
What’s working for you in the scheduling/planning/preparation department? Do you have a schedule, a routine, a day planner, or a fabulous “app” that keeps your family running on track? We’d love to know what works for you!