• Designing a Homeschool Routine that Works

    August 25, 2017 | Tracy Glockle
  • Of all the challenges that homeschool presents, one of the toughest challenges is designing a homeschool routine that allows learning to fit the ebb and flow of life. Homeschool rarely happens in a nice, neat classroom with a set schedule of school hours. Instead, homeschool most often happens at the kitchen table in the midst of laundry and dishes and dinner prep and toddler naps and baby-feeding times. Phone calls, door-to-door sales people, and overflowing toilets are realistic unplanned interruptions to that perfectly laid-out schedule. So how do we do this homeschool thing? How do we design a homeschool routine that works?

     

    5 Tips for Designing a Homeschool Routine that Works

     

    1. Be true to yourself. Your homeschool routine has to be a match for your family and your lifestyle. Don’t attempt to be something you are not. If you are not a morning person, homeschool will not change that. A successful homeschool routine is one you can maintain; it’s one that fits your daily groove. Know what that groove is and work with it, not against it. If you need relaxed mornings, then plan for a read-aloud or some independent learning options in the morning and buckle down for the serious stuff after lunch. If you like to be active during daylight hours with nature walks and field trips, then plan for book work in the evening when everyone’s energy has been expended and your kids are ready for quieter activities. Homeschool allows for that flexibility; embrace it!
    2. Leave margin in your routine. The temptation for us, as homeschoolers, is to pack every waking moment with something. For some of us, that “something” is every extra-curricular opportunity available: homeschool co-ops, music lessons, gymnastics, sports, lego clubs, theater, etc. For others of us, it’s learning subjects: 3 foreign languages, advanced sciences, novel-writing, spelling bee preparation, etc. On paper, it looks like we have time for all of this—until Murphy’s Law takes over and the car breaks down, Joey gets the two-week flu, or you have a surprise pregnancy. To have a successful homeschool routine, we have to leave some breathing room in our schedule. It’s one thing to plan a routine that works if everything comes together perfectly with no margin for error, but will your routine hold when life happens?
    3. Plan for blocks of time rather than hour/minute. Here’s what I’ve learned through the years: if I plan for my daughter to work on math from 9:00-9:30 in the morning, inevitably she’ll have to go to the bathroom for fifteen minutes and my whole day’s schedule is shot. Instead of planning every hour and minute, I’ve learned to plan in chunks or blocks of time. Breakfast to snack time: math and spelling; snack to lunch: reading and history project; etc. These chunks allow for that margin or breathing room. It gives enough flexibility for the unplanned moments and enough structure to keep us on track. The added bonus, extra free time if my child stays on task!
    4. Have an “emergency” plan. Maybe the kids are in one of those moods, and you know learning is just hopeless. Maybe you’ve got appointments scheduled all day long all over town, and you just know the normal stuff isn’t going to get done. What are your essentials, the hardest subjects to “make up” later on? For us, math is one of those subjects. I hate getting behind in math. On our worst days, if we get through math, I still feel successful. After math, I can turn on a science show or pull out a learning game and call it a day. Decide on your “emergency” back up plan.
    5. Be flexible. As parents, we’ve learned to go with the flow and except that things will have to change. Homeschooling is no different. Plan a routine—any routine—and give it a shot. In a few weeks, re-evaluate what you loved and what you hated, tweak the part you hated and try again. Our routine is constantly changing as my kids get older and their needs/personalities change. When my oldest was younger, we did all of our fun subjects in the morning and saved the harder subjects for after lunch. Now, he’d rather get up early and knock out his harder subjects in the quiet of the morning before the younger kids wake up. We flex. We make adjustments. We change as life changes.

     

    Homeschooling, just like parenting, is full of ups and downs, joys and challenges. Designing a homeschool routine that works is all of that and more. While finding your stride can be challenging and take a little time, there is nothing better than a learning lifestyle that is a tailor-fit for you and your family.