Are you new to homeschooling or looking to shake up your routine? Here is our 2020 homeschool routine and tips on how to create your own successful routine!
As we get ready to start our new homeschool year, I like to sit down and evaluate what did and didn’t work well over the last school year. You see, your home and family life is constantly changing, so it just makes sense that there will need to be little tweaks and changes to your routine over time. To change your homeschool routine up does not indicate that you failed, or that you are inconsistent. Rather, it means that you are in tune with how things are running in your home!
To see how we ran our homeschool last year, check out this post.
Routine vs. Schedule
If you are new to homeschooling this year, I have written all about the key things to consider when you are setting up your own homeschool routine! We have found that we work best on a routine rather than a schedule. The difference between the two is that a schedule involves completing certain tasks by or at certain times of the day. We found that working on a routine allowed the flexibility that we needed as a family with so many young kids. It gives us the freedom to spend longer on things that need more attention, and sail through, or skip the things that don’t need as much time altogether.
The best way for us to create a well-run homeschool routine is to have clear expectations for every member of the family. We have done this by creating a checklist of all the things that are expected to be completed each and every day. I hang this checklist in a sheet protector on the fridge, and kids come and check off their chart as they accomplish tasks. They are excited to see their progress and will often come and report to me throughout the day about how many items they have crossed off, or how many they have left to do before their tasks are completed for the day. Hanging the list in a central location also helps me stay on top of checking to make sure that everything is completed before a child heads out to play, or asks for extra privileges.
Our Homeschool Routine
Morning devotional, scripture study, people call it different things, but basically, we start our morning with God. The kids wake up in the morning and complete their morning chart on their own. The morning chart has various items such as get dressed, make bed, tidy room, fix hair, put away laundry, etc. Their morning chart also includes doing a personal scripture study and prayer. Each member of our family is reading out of the same book of scripture, and the same scripture block so that when we come together for family scripture study, we can have more of a discussion instead of just trying to get through the chapter.
This year for our scripture study we are using the Book of Mormon Come Follow Me manual from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. We tried a few other curriculum ideas at the beginning of the year to help supplement this for the kids, but found that the simplicity of Come Follow Me was just what our family needed. Some mornings we are just reading through the scripture block for that week with added commentary and questions from the family or the manual. Some weeks we will just study one of the smaller blocks along with the paragraphs from the manual. Most Sundays we will watch the Book of Mormon video that correlates with that week’s scripture block.
We open and close each scripture study with a prayer inviting the spirit to be in our home and help us with our school work and other tasks that we have throughout the day. I feel like starting the day with God helps us get off on the right foot. Since my children do their own personal scripture study beforehand, they have very valuable insights! I have honestly learned so much from them this year and hope that they are gaining not only a life long habit of scripture study, but a deep love of scripture and the gospel.
Breakfast and Snack
The kids and I eat breakfast all together. This is a time where we will discuss the general overview of the day (if there is anything out of the ordinary). We generally have a hot breakfast of oatmeal, but we also regularly have eggs, pancakes, or fruit and yogurt parfaits. During breakfast is where we will work on memorizations too. It might be rude to recite with a mouth full of food, but we are all gathered together at that time, so it works for us! We had been memorizing poetry, and while there is an abundance of good poetry out there, we decided to focus as a family on memorizing scripture.
In addition to our breakfast time, the kids never let me forget 10:30 snack. This is the point in our morning where we all take a break from what we are engaged in and gather around for a healthy snack. If we are unusually restless, we will also take advantage of the break to get our energy out. We will go on a walk, or do an exercise video on YouTube depending on the weather. Our favorite YouTube exercise channels right now are Cosmic Kids Yoga and Coach Wood.
To make the most use of our time, I rotate through working with kids individually. While I am working with a child, the other kids are involved in completing the tasks on their checklist. The items on their checklist include things such as music practice, chore, service, computer time, independent reading, handwriting, and free time.
I will usually meet one-on-one with a younger kid first to go over their Language Arts and Math lessons for the day. There will be various points throughout their lesson time where they work independently with me sitting right next to them. While that child is completing a math worksheet, filling out a journal entry, or something else that doesn’t require my full attention, I will review the school work of one of the older kids from the previous day and fill out their school assignment checklist for the day.
After working with one child, they are set free to work on completing the rest of their checklist and another child comes to work with me one-on-one. I generally spend 30 minutes to an hour with the younger kids, and around 15-30 minutes with the bigger kids. This simple rotation with keeping everyone on task usually takes the entire morning right up to lunch time, but that’s it! When lunchtime comes, my teacher time is over!
Lunch and Read aloud Time
Lunch is very much a part of our school day. This is where we do the bulk of our “family style” learning. We will rotate between our Science and History Lessons. While the kids are eating their lunch, we will read over the Science or History lesson. If there is an experiment or extra writing assignment that goes along with that lesson, we will either do it later that day, or save it for the next day.
If things have been a little bit crazy during the day and a science or history lesson just isn’t going to work, I will pull out a fun book for a read aloud. We try very hard to do a read aloud every night before bed, but let’s be honest: bedtime is crazy time. We use it as an incentive to get everyone to hurry into bed to hear the next chapter of the story and make sure to read until their is a really good cliff hanger!
Every day between 1-3 is my own personal time. The little kids will nap or read books quietly in their room. The bigger kids are free to do independent play or finish up any school work that doesn’t require my help. I have a whole post I have written on why quiet time is so crucial to moms. During my quiet time I can do anything from taking a nap to blogging, to working on developing my own personal interests and talents.
Teaching Independent Learning
I think the key to the success of our homeschool, and me not having major burnout homeschooling 5 different grades is our major focus on independent learning. By the time the kids are in 4th grade, we are leaning more toward doing all of their schoolwork independently. By 5th grade, they are generally all on their own. Having the older kids learn on their own doesn’t necessarily mean that they are left to fend for themselves. It means that I write out their lesson plan for the day, they work on it independently, and then I will meet with them after I rotate through all the younger kids. At that point they report to me their math scores, and we review any questions they have. I will also read through or listen to them read any poems or essays that they wrote.
By teaching my kids to learn on their own, I feel like it has completely heightened their level of retention. They are not being spoon fed their lessons, and they can’t tune out while mom drones on and on. They have learned to take responsibility for their own education! Skills such as going back in a text book to review what they didn’t quite understand, having to clearly express what they didn’t understand about a concept instead of just saying “I don’t get it”, and learning to manage their own time have all been learned by working independently.
How to Gauge Success
I figure if I can teach my kids how to learn, and to love learning, that is success! By that gauge, I would say that we are totally succeeding in our homeschool! Your homeschool may have a completely different focus though. As you plan out your homeschool routine, you may find that your day looks completely different from mine, and that’s okay! Each stage of life is going to require different things in your routine. Your routine will vary in time and structure as your family and life situation evolves over time. Hopefully by looking at our homeschool routine a little, you have some ideas on how to set up your own homeschool!