Chances are, you’ve tried a schedule or plan only to see it all fall apart by 9 a.m.Take heart! A routine can be a terrific tool if you use it and are not ruled by it. Always keep in mind that our lives with little ones tend to move in seasons, and what worked last month might not work this month. That’s okay.
Before we begin, take a moment to think about what your life is like. Do you thrive on routine? Or do you need flexibility because of your husband’s work schedule or other changing demands on your time? Avoid the temptation to compare your daily activities with those of other homeschooling moms; you are unique, your family is unique, and God’s call on each of our lives is unique.
Next, I’ll briefly explain how you can start to formulate a schedule for your day, but I want to direct you to the best resource I’ve seen on this subject, in case you want to learn a thorough approach to scheduling for the homeschool day: Managers of Their Homes
1.First, Pray and ask God for direction. Ask Him to show you specifically what He wants you to include or accomplish, and what He wants you to drop from your routine. This will differ greatly for each family, and there is no right or wrong.
2.Then, ask your husband for input. If he is not actively involved in your children’s schooling, ask him anyway. Many of us are in the habit of forging ahead without considering what the father of our children wants for them. As moms, we read the homeschooling magazines and books, we study the boards on the Internet, we peruse and purchase the curriculum. It is easy to plan a whole school year without even considering his opinion. His insight might be a breath of fresh air!
3. Now write down everything you need to fit into the day from laundry to paperwork. Then list each child’s name and do the same for each one. From there you can begin to plug things into your schedule.
4. Determine for yourself what you can do in the presence of toddlers and what you’d rather not do with them there. Personally, there are subjects I don’t mind teaching or overseeing with little ones about me (such as grammar, math, and memory work) and subjects I prefer to tackle when the nappers are napping (science, history).
5. The next step would be to determine how to keep the littles busy when they’re not napping. My next "101" post will thoroughly cover this topic, but for now see this post and this post.
6.If you want to go by a time schedule, begin to plug everyone in to time slots, something like this:
8 a.m. Breakfast
8:30 a.m. Devotions and/or Circle Time
9:00 a.m. Chores, including cleaning up breakfast
9:30 a.m. Baby down for nap/3-year-old watches Signing Time/5-year-old reads books with Mom/7-year-old works on independent school work/9-year-old practices piano
10 a.m. 3-year-old plays with 7-year-old/5-year-old works on puzzles/9-year-old works on independent school work
10:30 a.m. 3-year-old and 5-year-old do Play Do at kitchen table/7-year-old and 9-year-old stretch legs (trampoline, bikes, run up and down stairs, etc.)
10:45 a.m. Everyone tidies up
11:00 a.m. Baby nurses/3-year-old reads books with 9-year-old/5-year-old listens as 7-year-old reads aloud to mom
11:30 a.m. Baby in playpen or front pack or swing/3-year-old plays in room with gate up or play yard/5-year-old runs laundry with mom/7-year-old helps mom fold and put clothes away
12:00 Lunch prep. Everyone not helping mom plays in back yard
If you're more interested in a flow chart approach, you can see Why a Flow Chart Works For Me.
Now, all that said, you also need to know when to toss a schedule or change it. After our sixth child was born a week before Christmas, I made a schedule for January similar to the one I just outlined. I felt it would get us back on track once the excitement of her birth and Christmas wore off.
After the first day, I knew I had revisions to make. So we tried the revised plan the next day. Within a week, I realized that I had some MAJOR changes to make. We were now onto schedule number 3, and it was drastically different than anything I’d done before.
My then-2-year-old (see photo of rapscallion above) was extremely busy and I was increasingly frustrated by her innocent interruptions; things like falling over and whacking her head on the coffee table. So I revamped our mornings to be more toddler-friendly, at least until we were over that hump. Our whole spring went something like this:
♥ Morning stuff (brush teeth, tidy room, make bed, get dressed, time in the Word/prayer)
♥ Circle Time
♥ Walk or play games, depending on the weather
♥ Read-aloud our current chapter book while children draw, play Legos, etc.
♥ Free time
♥ Girls down for nap
♥ Math, Copywork, Grammar, Latin, etc.
This worked for us because our children go to bed fairly late and rise after 8 and so they were not too wiped out to tackle school after lunch. And there were no specific time slots except for knowing I wanted us to eat lunch around noon and dinner at 7 when Daddy returned home.
The point I’m trying to make here is that you need to feel the freedom to make adjustments depending upon what is going on in your life at the time. This is the beauty of homeschooling, and knowing when to change your approach and then doing it will go a long way toward preventing homeschool burn-out.