What Does a Flexible Homeschooling Routine Look Like?
Many people who are starting home education wonder what a Christian homeschooling routine looks like in practice. Although we can’t definitively say every family who homeschools has a routine that looks like this, we can amalgamate the sample routines we find online and discover what many value in their day-to-day activities. Therefore, below is a look at a sample hourly homeschool routine which you can modify to suit your family.
Below I’ve put together a rough list of what a daily homeschool routine might look like by synthesizing different sources who shared their day-to-day activities with the public. But, given some parents get away without a routine, let’s start by seeing if you need a routine at all.
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Do I Need a Homeschooling Routine?
One of the most attractive things about home education is its flexibility. Parents who teach their children at home aren’t dictated by their routines and schedules. Instead, they can dictate their day, change, and even scrap the whole program if they want to go on an excursion or field trip for a day or two.
On the other hand, a rough routine is also highly comforting to many mothers, especially those who want to incorporate short and long-term goals into their children’s study. Because a routine keeps us accountable for our goals, it’s a great way to ensure we complete them.
On the Flexibility of a Routine
Homeschooling routines are supposed to help us, not stress us out. For this reason, it’s vital to perceive them as good guides that are malleable to our circumstances. Indeed, all articles on home education routines I’ve observed explicitly state their routine isn’t meant to be rigid but flexible. Homeschooling advocates, Dorothy and Raymond Moore said this about a routine:
We hesitate to set out a sample schedule for fear of being misunderstood as suggesting formality. We hope you will consider the following outline simply an example from which to make variations, adaptations and adjustments for different ages, needs and temperaments, depending on where you are on the vast scale from structure to free project learning. [The Successful Homeschool Family Handbook, p. 93.]
After all, haven’t many of us begun homeschooling in an attempt to escape the formality and uncompromising rigidity in schools?
Homeschooling Curriculum with Inbuilt Routine and Schedule
It’s useful to keep in mind that many homeschooling curriculum packages come with set schedules. This means you only need to figure out your routine (everything else that isn’t strictly in the curriculum). Some packages might incorporate a bit of routine and schedule as it’s part of the learning theory.
For example, people using a Charlotte Mason inspired curriculum will find that, because learning is a way of life, schedule and routine get mixed together a bit.
The following routine is my adaption of Ray and Dorothy Moore’s routine in the above-cited book; the Moore’s have been very influential in my thinking on Christian homeschooling.
Morning Homeschool Routine
6:00 – 6:30 AM
- Parents awake and make the bed.
- Then spend a few minutes praying and asking God for help through the day and for God to give you a good purpose. Ask Him for more time than you need to finish your goals for the day.
- Parents can then shower and dress. Usually, there’s plenty of time in the morning if mom awakes at 6:00 AM. If you sleep in, you may have to delay your shower and dressing time until later in the day. But, I find that when I get up at 6 AM, and spend a bit of time dressing nicely, I get a boost for the rest of the day.
6:30 – 7:00AM
- Parents do their devotion and spend personal time with God.
- Put a load of laundry in the washing machine. If kids are up, get them to help with the laundry or do it for you!
7:00 – 7:30 AM
- Make breakfast for the family.
- Family Bible time/Worship time/Prayer time.
- Breakfast cleanup – get kids to help or do it themselves.
7:30 – 8:30AM
- Dress kids or have them dress themselves if old enough.
- Morning chores are an important part of your homeschool routine as chores teach children discipline and responsibility. Here, you want to assign students to a different task and figure out how to make chores fun and motivating. Focus on the Family suggest:
- Hiding coins around the place and sending kids out to dust the house. They get a real thrill from it and associate dusting with fun times.
- Letting the child pick a song for five minutes which they like. They have to vacuum for the entire five minutes (this ensures they do a good job because they’re vacuuming for so long).
- Having a job jar where children pick age-appropriate jobs out of the jar (jobs should take only five minutes). When they’re finished they pick another job out of the jar and do that.
- While children are doing their chores, parents can prepare lunch and dinner meals for the week. If parents prep early they won’t be left floundering at lunch or dinnertime for healthy meals. This means you’re not grabbing junk food on the go. Instead, you’re investing in giving nutritious food to your whole family which makes you and your family feel and think better.
8:30 – 9:00 AM
- Do exercise! You can stretch, march, sing, or run. Exercise burns excessive energy from hyperactive kids and gets their brains into gear. They are soon ready to start learning and can sit quietly in their chairs.
Late Morning Homeschool Routine
9:00 – 10:00 AM
- Subject 1 – about thirty minutes per subject should be allocated. Most homeschooling parents fit 4-5 subjects in a day. Every day has a different set of subjects – they alternate depending on various factors. I think maths is a good subject to start while your children’s brains are fresh.
- Subject 2 – you can do other subjects like English, Geography, History, Biology, Church History, Physical Education, Science, Design & Technolgy, Physics, Chemistry, Economics, Music, Drama, and Languages. When children become teenagers, they can do a lot more subjects than this also also. Keep in mind that not all subjects are done every day or even every week. Sometimes they might be monthly or weekly subjects.
10:00 – 10:30AM
- Take a morning tea break.
10:30 – 12:30 AM
- Subject 3
- Subject 4
- Subject 5
Variation: While some parents favor doing subjects in this time slot, the Moore’s suggest a project that is based on a ‘subject in religion, social studies or science, ideally incorporating many skills, other content areas, art, music, etc.’
Afternoon Homeschool Routine
12:30 – 2:00PM
- Do lunch and have rest or nap.
Alternatively, you could have half an hour for lunch at 12:30 and then squeeze in another two subjects and then have a rest after 2 PM, but I think the latter could lead to burnout.
2:00 – 5:30 PM
- Unscheduled time for kids to follow independent interest-based-learning.
- Exercise or nature walk time – this could be releasing your kids into the backyard or doing structured nature walks.
- Service to others – this is a great way Christians can exhibit their loving attitude and give up their free time to help people in need.
- Get children to help Mom or Dad fix the house and garden.
- Time for entrepreneurial ventures and other investigative ideas.
During this part of the homeschool routine, mom or dad might evaluate their children’s homework from the day and determine if the children should progress to the next lesson. Parents can also document their work for the day (i.e. records for the government inspectors annual visit).
Night Homeschool Routine
5:30 – 7:00 PM
- Dinner time.
- Clean up dinner. Again, you might assign children to do this if they’re old enough. (I recently heard of a mother with 10 children who had her house chores so well-assigned that she had to do very little and ‘lived like a queen!’).
- Children spend time with Dad as he gets home from work (maybe a half-hour breather for Dad is merciful).
7:00 – 8:00 PM
- Shower or bath time. If kids are younger, you’ll probably do this earlier.
- Bedtime routine (pyjama changing and teeth brushing).
8:00 – 9:00 PM
- Parents have time to spend together – this is the best time to work on having a loving marriage – just spending time together is important! Don’t neglect this part of the homeschool routine.
- A Christian homeschool friend once said to me that her Dad always used to say to her, ‘The best way I can love you kids is to love your mother first.’ Similarly, the best ways moms can love their kids is to love their husbands first.
- If you have energy, this is also a good time for homeschool planning where you might evaluate the goals in your homeschool and see if your routine, schedule, or curriculum is fulfilling those goals. As a Christian, one of our goals is to have a gospel-centred household. On occasion, it’s wise to review if we still have one.
- The end of the day is the ideal time to review life, family, marriages, and routines as both you and your spouse will be present.
A Note on Lesson Lengths
Some think lessons, where students sit and listen to people talk, such as lectures, should be only 20 minutes long (although interactive lessons can be longer).
Lessons should cease well before children are frustrated or bored to tears. If you stop before this time, you won’t be ‘giving up in defeat’. Instead, you’ll be ensuring you preserve their love of learning, instead of embittering them towards the process and making motivation harder next time they sit down to the subject.
Consequently, their desire to learn will increase as they won’t have so many negative associations with the subject due to frustration or abject boredom (as is so often the case in mainstream schools).