My family has been officially homeschooling for 5 years. And the one thing that I’ve been striving for since the beginning is: how to have consistent, good homeschool days.
Here are some things I’ve learned so far about what the most important components to a good homeschool day are not:
It isn’t about the curricula. (I put all my eggs in this basket, and – shocker – the checklist didn’t do the work for me.)
It isn’t defined by times of day. (There isn’t something magical about getting lessons started first thing, middle thing, or last thing. There’s only magic in having it done.)
It doesn’t depend on sibling relationships (the presence or absence of squabbles).
It won’t be ruined by getting out of the house. (This one has to be in balance. It goes back to not thinking there is a magical time of day.)
It isn’t about feelings. (Even though sometimes it is.)
Last year when I wrote our day in the life, I started with our evening routine, and I still believe that our best days begin with a good evening and rest the night before.
In the evening:
I write out our lesson plan and schedule for the next day on our chalkboard. I have one kid who relies on this to be done and one who gives me less of a hard time because they can see it written down.
I write who will take care of the puppy for the whole day. (This has put an end to a lot of squabbles.)
And who will clean the kitchen. (This is a bonus for me. Since they are obsessed with everything being fair, I got to add a chore to their plates because of the arguing over caring for the puppy. Win, win.)
In the morning:
5:00-7:00 Personal time for me.
This time of day is when being pregnant really tests me. I know I need this time alone before my children wake up. I gain so many rewards for using this time wisely that I almost always regret sleeping in…but the baby growing inside me makes me feel so tired. Which is why I have decided that, for me, homeschooling isn’t about feelings. Consistency, personal growth, and doing the hard, good things add up to so much more than living by the standard of do I feel like it.
Popcorn for breakfast is not unusual.
8:00 Breakfast and free time
Free time in the morning is vital for one of my children. It’s important for her to be able to warm up to the day slowly without being told 10 things she needs to do right away. She has no problem looking at the board to see if we have appointments or obligations first thing in the morning, but she doesn’t do well if she has to receive her instruction verbally. The writing on the wall saves our relationship. (Seriously.)
9:00 Get dressed and tidy bedrooms
The second most important thing for a good day for us is my with-ness. I’ve learned that I have to do most of the main daily tasks I require of my children with them. Not for them, and not holding their hand, but at the same time. If I ask them to get dressed, I need to get dressed. I’ve tried and tried to live on my own schedule while keeping them on theirs, and it never works well. They follow my lead 100% of the time.
10:00 Household chore
For at least 30 minutes, we all tackle one household chore. Laundry, bathroom, floors, whatever. Again, it’s important that we do this together.
11:00 Free time
When I didn’t write out our schedule in times of day, the kids would have their free time, but they wouldn’t realize that they were getting it. Or they would not use their time on what they wanted most to do and then be upset when I asked them to stop. So, now that we use hour schedule blocks, they plan for what they are going to do and have much better attitudes. They always got free time before they saw the words on the board, but now we all honor it more. I don’t bug them to do chores in that time, and they feel more fulfilled in knowing they can have that time to themselves. (And I use that time to do what I want to do too!)
Sometimes that looks like this.
12:00 Lunch and tidy kitchen
With-ness is important here too. I tend to eat “off schedule” to my kids. They graze in the morning while I eat a meal at 9:00am. I’m not always ready for lunch at the same time as they are and vice versa. But I’ve learned that this sit down time for us at the table is an important informal meeting time where they just naturally share what’s on their minds – about the day, the week, their feelings, whatever. So whether I’m ready or not, I sit down and eat with them!
1:00-3:00 Toddler lays down for a nap and the rest of us start our lessons
My current youngest still takes a 2 hour nap, and we have learned through many disasters (see this post for more proof) that it’s best to do lessons (history read-alouds, unit studies, lapbooks, etc.) while he is asleep or in his bed.
I just started having the kids make their own entries in their journals.
I write on the board all the subjects we need to cover for the day and what we will do. Then they have to copy that list into their Bullet Journals. (If you haven’t started keeping a daily journal for your kids, you should definitely try it. This has been the #1 key to our consistency this year. Read and watch how we use the kids’ Bullet Journals here.)
Vis-a-Vis is a handy tool. My kids love it when I write on the windows.
With-ness is important here too. While half of their lessons require me to read or teach, the other half does not, but that doesn’t mean I’m free to move about the house on other business. I usually do my Bible study while they work through their math, or I read a book while they read alone too. I want to be close so that any question they may have doesn’t become frustrated by having to track me down.
4:00 Kids finish their work or enjoy screen time while I prep dinner
I almost always listen to a podcast while preparing dinner. I love this time.
5:00 Eat as a family and dad reads aloud
We are doing the Read-Aloud Revival reading streak! We’re on day 59 and we are loving The Green Ember (afflink) right now.
Read-aloud time can look like this.
6:00 This time is variable depending on the day
Mondays the kids have Bible study in the evening with my husband, Tuesdays we go to the library, Wednesdays we have a friend over from our homeschool program, and the other days are open so this time is again free time.
7:00 Prep for bedtime
Snacks, water, comfort items, books to read in bed, etc. The parade to get up the stairs can be quite impressive. I find it best to plan for this by starting early.
Once the kids are prayed with and sung to, the evening routine starts all over and I write the next day on the board.
And that’s it! Our usual day. Like most families, we have many variables like errands and doctors appointments that get thrown into the mix, but for the most part I try to keep our routine simple, and home-based. This is what works for us. I hope you have found something encouraging or comforting by reading about our day!
This post is linked up with SimpleHomeschool.net and the Day in the Homeschool Life series. Click here to see all the other amazing homeschool days. Do you have a great routine or questions about creating a routine? I’d love to see it – comment or contact me.
Thanks for reading this post. I had fun detailing our real day. If you want to learn more about how to create a solid routine that serves your family while honoring your personality - I would love to encourage you. Sign up for TheHomeLearner via email and get more information on my program: How to become your own, best accountability partner.