Getting Started in Homeschooling: Creating a Daily Schedule or Routine

Creating a daily schedule or routine can be a great thing to add structure and direction to your homeschool day. There are families who will be drawn to a minute-by-minute schedule, while others will lend themselves to a basic outline that can be tweaked on a day-to-day basis.

What you choose will should ultimately be determined by what works best for your family. And “what works best” will change with the seasons.

Yeah, you didn’t know that successful homeschooling was a moving target, did you?

However, if you don’t have a target, you’ll hit nothing. So, set a schedule for the beginning of the year, realizing that it will need some tweaking as the year progresses.

What do you mean by schedule?

By schedule/routine, I mean the basic guideline for how your school will go in the morning. Here’s an example:

Start time: 8 am

Pray, talk about the day

Math

Science

SNACK

Reading

History

LUNCH

Handwriting/Language Arts

Art/Music

Quitting Time: 3:00

You can certainly assign time frames to each of those, but I get a little twitchy about time frames. Here are some things to consider as you create your daily schedule or routine:

1. What time of day are you and your kids strongest?

Go with your strengths and set up your school day for when you, and especially, your kids are at your collective best. Homeschooling gives you lots of freedom to choose, particularly what time of day you start and when you call it quits.

2. What activities take the most energy?

If Math is a breeze, but Language Arts is a little slower going, be strategic in when you cover each subject. There are several options. Perhaps you start easy to get some traction on the day. Or maybe you tackle the tougher topic first so that the hard stuff is out of the way. Test out the different theories and see what works best for you. It may be that you just mix it up from day to day.

3. Are you including regular breaks and “fun school”?

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. Make sure that you are including snack breaks, “recess,” and some more “fun” educational activities throughout the day. Play a game like Bingo or Boggle. Watch a short video on the topic of history you’re currently studying. Mix up the medium that you use.

Get everyone outside several times a day. Consider taking a walk around the block to get the blood pumping and the lungs refreshed. Everyone will feel better for it and concentration will be improved.

4. Have you scheduled quitting time?

In my early years of homeschooling, I would decide on the things we needed to do in a day and keep at it, regardless of the time. If we started late, then we worked late. But, when the sun went down (albeit early on a Kansas winter night) and my kid was still doing his math, I realized that enough was enough.

Nowadays, we try to wrap up by 3:30 at the latest so that we can have an official quitting time. If someone’s been lagging throughout the day, then they do homework later in the evening.

5. Don’t forget happy hour.

Since we don’t school in a “traditional” manner, my kids aren’t coming home for an afterschool snack. That doesn’t mean we don’t need one. Hubs is usually home at 4, making a perfect time to reconnect as a family, switch gears from “working” and enjoy a healthy snack to hold folks over until dinnertime.

Now, of course, if you’re teaching more than one child at home, you’ll have more factors to think about and more personalities to mix into the fold. So, we’ll talk about that next time.

About this series - If you’re interested in getting started in homeschooling, this is a series recounting our experiences in teaching our children at home, the things that I’ve learned, and some resources I’ve discovered along the way. But this way isn’t the only way. Your mileage may vary. Coming up next time – How to Homeschool More than One Child.

How do YOU create a daily routine that works for you?

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Comments

  1. How long do you do preschool? How long do you do Kindergarten?

  2. Thanks for posting this. We are toying with the idea of homeschooling our son with high functioning autism. I have 4 others as well but will keep them in school. I like how you broke down alot of the areas I was concerned with. Thanks!

  3. Thanks for a great post. I am a veteran home schooler, but it is always good to be reminded of some basic principles that make the school day work. You hit it right on as far as I am concerned.

  4. I love the idea of “quitting time.” Last year was our first year homeschooling, and the homeschool day ended when the work was done. That drove one of my kids crazy.

    This year we’ll have a definite quitting time. Oh, and happy hour!

  5. I’m not a homeschooler but I wanted to share this anyway. :)

    Before I had kids I spent a few years working in a Waldorf School. While I’m not a big fan of many things they do what I always found interesting was their morning lesson. The first chunk of every day (2-3 hours, I think?) was the main unit the kids were working on that month. They ranged from things like fractions to units on India, Judism, Norse Myths, etc.. So they weren’t limited to one subject to spend that time on. During the rest of the day regular subjects like math, reading, languages, music, etc. would be scheduled in shorter time slots. If I homeschool when my kids are older, which I’m considering pending their school experiences, learning styles, etc. I would probably do something similar. A major factor in whether or not we homeschooled an older child would be if they had other interests they wanted to pursue but didn’t have the time during a regular school day. If that makes any sense. Of course, I am completely ignorant of what it’s actually like to live homeschooling and my oldest is only 5 so I could be way off base. :)

  6. For how many hours a day do you do PreSchool (PreK)? What types of subjects do you teach and for how long?

    • Jessica Fisher says:

      We do a lot of this kind of stuff for preschool: http://lifeasmom.com/2010/08/a-preschool-education-at-home.html My mom is an ECE Specialist, so I get lots of good ideas from her. Preschool, in my book, is instructive/constructive play.

      • Thank you but I just came from that page. Although I got a lot of good ideas from it but it said nothing about how many hours a day I needed to do this nor gave an approximate time for each activity.

        • Jessica Fisher says:

          That really depends on the kid. I have some whose interest is totally engaged and they’re happy to do an activity for 20 to 30 minutes or longer. Others not so much. With preschool, I think having a few different “subjects” or activities during the day, mixed up with reading time, outdoor play, and snack is a good thing to shoot for.

          When I worked in a preschool, we varied the activities between those that were directed, like a craft or a story stretcher, and those that were free form, like playing with blocks or building sand castles.

          Since I’ve almost always been working with older kids at some point in the day, my little people follow along with us if they’re interested. So, they pick up their colors, numbers, and letters without a lot of work.

          • Okay, thanks. I was looking more for required hours by government more than the other but thanks for your time and knowledge on this subject. Also, I thought PreK (K4) was different than what I would be doing with my 2 year old.

          • Jessica Fisher says:

            Compulsory age varies by state. So, you’d need to see what your state laws require. I have never lived anywhere preschool was required. Certainly what a 4yo is interested in and capable of will vary from the average 2yo. But, again, I think that it depends on the child.

  7. Our state the age is age 7!
    My boys, I find that I schedule bookwork from 8:30-12:30 and then after lunch we do school that is not bookwork. It works well with four active boys who do not learn well, sitting all day.

  8. Thanks for this post, it was a good reminder. I really need the next one! This will be my first year with 2 and I’m really unsure how to go about it. Hope you’ve got some good ideas for me! : )

  9. Robyn Drucker says:

    The great thing about homeschooling is that each family has a different schedule that works for them. In our family, since our oldest had been in private & public school, she was used to that routine, so we decided to make our schedule as much like public/private school as possible. Last year, we started at 8:30 and were supposed to be done by 3:00/3:30. That included 2 breaks & lunch. By being done by 3:30, we can go out & meet the neighborhood friends getting off the bus. This will be our 3rd year & we have chosen to use A Beka’s DVDs so that I don’t have to juggle teaching 2 kids, I just have to grade papers. This year, I’m going to try to have them do some exercise DVDs with me first before we start our day, so they get some PE. Found a bunch of kids exercise DVDs on Netflix, so we can try them out one at a time.

  10. Yes, we have a basic schedule, but I keep telling the (older) kids – remember, it’s our aid, not our master! I’m much more lax than they are!

    It’s so important to have fun every day as well as all the busy-ness… us mums *must* remember that :)

  11. Oh, I was going to say … I always began the day with my youngest child’s Math (he’s 8 now – my *baby* – I don’t know that happened!)
    Anyway – he loves Math, but Language and writing is much less enjoyable. So he asked if he could do that first to ‘get it over with’, so that’s what we do now.
    We begin our new term tomorrow, so I’ll give him the choice, but I’m guessing he’ll want to get the ‘writing stuff’ out of the way first again :)

  12. “So, set a schedule for the beginning of the year, realizing that it will need some tweaking as the year progresses.”
    I breathe a sigh of relief reading this! We’ve just started with more of a school time routine this year and it has changed OFTEN!!! I’m learning that it’s okay to adapt and change as long as we’re all happy and moving forward!

  13. Okay so I am new to the idea of Home Schooling, but seriously considering it. My major concern is the lack of social skills from the lack of kids they will be around. How often should I be bringing them out to a park (If there are any kids there if it is school hours) or how often should I be bring them to field trips, etc… Also, I do not want them to grow up solely dependent on me. I want them to be independent and I am concern that taking them from school to home that will stunt them a little. Any suggestions on what you do to keep them independent and interacting with other kids. I do not live in a neighborhood where there are kids locally they play with.

    • My kids don’t really have problems relating to other people, regardless of the age. In fact, I think that they are better socialized than some because they know how to talk to older, younger, without a problem. There are lots of homeschool support groups and activities available, so they get lots of opportunities plus sports. I’d suggest seeing what other homeschoolers are in your community. That will alleviate some of your fears.

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