One of the most frequent questions I get is about our daily routine. I've shared some about this before in my “Every Mom's Guide to Getting Organized” series, but as I continue to get questions about how we work My Father's World into our days, I thought I'd get a little more specific on creating a homeschool routine that works for you.
Each year that we've homeschooled has brought it's own unique challenges for my family, and I'd guess that's the same for most. So I put together some questions to (hopefully) help you put together your own routine. At least it would be something to try! If, like me, you sometimes feel like the inmates are running the asylum, ask yourself these questions:
1. What are your big “must do” items every morning, that are more difficult to do with the kids around? Mine are devotions, prayer time, and exercise – so I schedule those before the kids get up, along with starting the washing machine.
2. What school subjects are your LEAST favorite and least likely to get done? Which are the most time consuming? Mine are read-alouds and science at the moment, so I schedule those during breakfast and breakfast clean-up. That way they are done first and I don't have to worry about them the rest of the day.
3. What is something around the house that you'd love to finish, but feel like you can't? In my house, I have several rooms that need to be re-organized. I plan 30 minutes a day in one room then move on to the next room the next day, and alternate until they are done. This might drive some people nuts, but for me, breaking big jobs into small, manageable chunks ensures that I actually get them done.
4. What time of day do you feel most like you need a break? I always feel like I've hit a mental wall by lunch time, so we have mandatory quiet time as soon as lunch is cleaned up. It sounds wonderful, but I feel obligated to tell you that someone is always NOT quiet at quiet time and I have to separate kids, etc. but it is a great time to refresh before making dinner. Consider mandating an hour of quiet when you need a break – I have a friend who does this mid-morning and loves it.
5. Which kids can work on at least a few subjects independently? Which kids can't do anything independently? While I'm a firm believer in unstructured play time, I also know that during school time my kids all need to be working on something. If they have nothing to do, they distract the kids who are working hard and it's a big, frustrating mess. So while the older kids work independently, I'm teaching phonics to the younger ones while the toddlers color or get to play with a learning toy reserved only for school time. When one of the older kids needs more instruction, I have another older kid count the 100s chart or practice tying shoe laces with one of the littler ones.
Asking myself those questions, I came up with the following schedule and it's my favorite out of all the years that we've homeschooled. I love the schedule shared in the My Father's World Teacher's Manual, but here's my version (please keep in mind that these times are approximate. I would faint if we actually kept to a schedule with exact times like this! We do these things in this order, but it's more of a routine than anything). This is our routine for five kids, two of them doing Creation to the Greeks, one in Kindergarten, one in Pre-K, and one too young for any structured learning at all.
6:30am: Mom wakes up, does devotions, reads in bed.
7:00am: Mom starts laundry, then exercises.
7:40am: Mom starts breakfast and wakes up the kids.
7:40am: Kids wake up, make their beds, and get dressed.
7:50am: Kids eat breakfast while Mom does all Bible reading.
8:10am: Everyone practices Bible memory work while we clean up from breakfast, then Mom reads MFW assigned read aloud or poetry book.
8:20am: Mom showers and gets dressed while big kids help the littler ones get dressed.
8:40am: Big kids do language arts and mom listens to younger kids count the 100's chart.
9:00am: Mom does spelling with Kid #1, while Kid #2 does math drills, and little kids play with an alphabet toy.
9:20am: Mom does spelling with Kid #2, while Kid #1 does math drills, and little kids play with a counting toy.
9:40am: Kid #1 does math independently (Teaching Textbooks), Mom helps Kid #2 get started with Singapore Math, then helps littler kids with MFW Kindergarten.
10:15am: All kids listen to history reading, big kids do history assignments and little kids continue to work on MFW K.
11:00am: All kids work on vocabulary with Mom's help.
11:30am: All kids participate in Science – reading and experiments.
12:30pm: Everyone eats lunch while Mom does read alouds.
1:00pm: Nap/Quiet Time for Mom and little kids; independent work for bigger kids.
3:00pm: Free/Play time
5:00pm: Dinner Preparation / Straighten up
6:00pm: Dinner and clean up
6:30pm: Free time/family time
9:00pm: Bed time for kids