Back to Homeschool Series – “The Daily Routine”

We’ve organized our books, set up our school supplies and prepared for our first day back to school. But there’s something else we must do in order to have our school year run smoothly. We need to create a daily routine.

I’m not a fan of the strict schedule. Every time I’ve created one, I’ve failed at implementing it. There is nothing more constricting than knowing down to the minute what I’ll be doing each day. What if we take 30 minutes to complete spelling instead of 15? What if a 20 minute assignment only takes 10? Now the whole day is thrown out of whack and the schedule is tossed out the window.

I have learned that the key to a smoothly running homeschool is flexibility. You have to give yourself wiggle room. Life is unpredictable and we have to give ourselves the space to breathe in order to have a successful homeschool.

I prefer to divide my day into chunks. We have a morning routine, and afternoon routine and an evening routine. I do not assign timeframes to any of our work, though, I have a pretty good idea of how long any particular subject or chore ought to take. I will step in, however, to reign in any dawdlers who are intentionally taking too long to complete their work.

Here is an example of how our day might flow:

Morning Routine:

  • Everyone wakes up, dresses and comes down ready to start our day
  • Breakfast
  • Morning chores
  • Meet with my oldest and go over her assignments for the day
  • Math and music (my twins alternate between math and music practice, while my oldest does her math on a different computer – we use Teaching Textbooks)
  • Preschool time with my youngest
  • Spelling and Grammar with my twins
  • Snack break and outdoor time (weather permitting)
  • History with the twins; Youngest plays with pattern blocks or draws at the table

Afternoon Routine

  • Lunch time – I usually do our read aloud at lunch, while everyone is sitting still and occupied
  • afternoon chores
  • Meeting with my oldest to see where she is in her school work, discuss any questions she has, etc.
  • Independent reading time while I check e-mail and fold laundry
  • Narration card or any other writing projects assigned
  • Science or Art
  • Go over memory work or Recite
  • Afternoon music practice
  • Outdoor time (weather permitting)

Evening Routine

  • Make dinner
  • Family dinner (This is where the kids tell their father about their day. He likes to have everyone tell him something they’ve learned that day.)
  • Evening chores
  • Band practice (my twins rehearse for about an hour every night unless they have music lessons)
  • Family time (we might play a board game, watch a movie, etc. Once a week the boys have their music lessons and the girls and I have “Girls Night” where we do our nails, have a special dessert, watch a movie, or whatever strikes our fancy.)
  • Kids in bed by 9pm
  • My husband and I spend time together in the evenings, usually watching a movie or TV show together.

Obviously, my days don’t look like this everyday. We might drop the whole thing and go on a field trip or if my twins have a show or performance coming up, we might drop some of their afternoon work for more music practice (They are serious musicians and we treat it as their occupation.) My youngest is 4, and while I am planning on giving her a “preschool time” in the mornings, I fully expect her to be right in the middle of everything all day long. That is probably going to slow things down. This is the first year that she doesn’t nap in the afternoons, so that will be a major adjustment. Also, my oldest wants to be a writer, so I try to make sure she has time somewhere in her day to focus on her writing. She plans to participate in National Novel Writing Month this year, so I expect November will be a heavy writing time for her and we’ll try to pare some of her other work down a bit to make space for that pursuit.

Life is full of interruptions – a sick child, blizzards and power outages, grand opportunities and family obligations. I need to have a plan so that should anything come up, we can work around it.

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Emily Cook is the author and creator of the secular homeschool curriculum Build Your Library, a literature-based K-10 program infused with the teachings of Charlotte Mason. She writes full year lesson plans as well as shorter topical unit studies. Emily has been homeschooling her four children in Southern NH for 14 years. She is passionate about reading aloud to children of all ages and loves to share her love of literature with others. She and her family also makes incredibly dorky videos about homeschooling, books and more on Youtube at ARRRGH! Schooling. You can follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.


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