Why We Have a Homeschool Routine Instead of a Schedule

It can take trial and error to figure out some things about your homeschool style. You might feel like a pinball, bouncing from one method to another, until you finally find a fit for your family….for this semester, anyway. For instance, you may have to experiment to see if your family functions better with a homeschool schedule or a homeschool routine.


There was a season of time in our homeschool history that we used a strict, by-the-clock schedule. I spent many hours with little sticky notes and charts, coming up with a schedule that meshed everyone’s assignments and responsibilities. I actually called out when it was time to switch to the next activity, and who was in charge of little ones for the next time slot. It lasted about two weeks. Rather than relieving stress, a schedule created stress.

Years later, the results of several personality assessments revealed that I don’t play well with strict schedules. Too bad I spent so many years beating myself up because I compared myself to Schedule Moms. Now I’m like, “You go, girl!” but I’m happy being a Routine Mom.

For the vast majority of our 28 years of homeschooling, we’ve stuck with a routine rather than a schedule. My definition of a routine is “First this, then that.” We do things in a certain rhythm, a predictable order, but it’s not necessarily tied to the clock.

At one point I told myself that starting school very early was an indicator of spirituality and character, but for me it was actually an indicator of my insecurity about homeschooling and the need to have an impressive appearance. When health issues forced an evaluation of our family life while being faced with many more years of homeschooling, my husband and I decided that my health was more important than trying to impress other people. Probably should have figured that one out sooner.

So what does our routine look like? I almost always get up earlier than our children (like 6:00 or earlier) in order to have some quiet time to think, pray, and do self-care like exercise. I’m a slow start in the mornings, and if my health is in a season of needing it, I sleep later. For the students, it looks like this:

  • Get up, get dressed, eat breakfast….then hopefully brush teeth and hair.
  • Chores….so we start school in a reasonably tidy home.
  • Morning Time….mostly reading aloud together, for at least an hour, maybe longer.
  • Start schoolwork while Mom works with the youngest.
  • Eat lunch.
  • Finish schoolwork while Mom works on other things.

This loose schedule would drive some people crazy, but for us the concept of “routine” works well. We shoot for 9:00am on Morning Time and generally start then. One of my girls is more regimented with her personal schedule, and that suits her personality. You go, girl.

Every family should figure out what works best for them, and then cheerfully live it. Moms get in trouble when we look around and base our self-worth and Homeschool Status on what other families are doing. There’s something to be said for flexibility, and there are advantages to strict structure. Find your balance, wave at everyone else, and move through your homeschool days with confidence.

Which works best for YOUR family….a homeschool schedule or a homeschool routine?

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  1. Same here! I was so strict that our days were just miserable. Now, we have a routine, and it works great for us! I couldn’t imagine going back to watching the clock.

  2. We are just starting our homeschool journey, but we absolutely have a routine, NOT a schedule. Some things take longer or shorter than others. I’d much rather have a first, second, third kind of day than a from 9:00 to 9:30 kind of day. It has made things go pretty smoothly.

    1. We had so many years of babies and toddlers with unpredictable needs that a routine worked better for us. Glad you’ve found what works for you, too!

      1. I’m actually just now understanding that it’s better for us all to work on a routine basis verses a time schedule. The last few weeks with our children have been wonderful. They actually complete their assignments in a timely manner. The only thing is their not focusing all the time on looking at the clock. They are just doing their work. It uas been such a stress reliever. This is our second year homeschooling and we have a lot to learn as parents but we’re learning.💛

  3. This is speaking to me on so many levels right now. I just had an MRI and discovered a severe herniated disc at L5-S1. It has been a wake up call that I need to focus on taking care of me as well! I have a 6 year old who will be starting first grade and then an almost 4 year old, a 9 month old and just found out I’m expecting again! I am feeling panicked about what our homeschool will look like next year and how I’m going to do it all, including trying to rehabilitate myself with a newborn! It’s encouraging to see aore laid back approach. I’m going to look into t-tapp. Do you think it could help me? I need gentle core strengthening with no weights or twisting on my spine.

    1. Laura, you’re right that it’s time to care for yourself! T-Tapp is a rehabilitative wellness workout, with no weights or jumping. You could skip the twisting moves if needed, but the T-Tapp stance is designed to protect the spine. You can call the T-Tapp office to find out their recommendation for modifications for your physical issues. You need to last the long haul for your family, so definitely take time for self-care!

  4. I’m so glad I found this article in my newsfeed tonight! I’ve been homeschooling my dd 9 since she was 4. The last two years she has been very disrespectful to me and has given me such a hard time about doing school work, that it took her till last Nov. to complete 2nd grade. I have tried everything I can think of to get her to change her behavior, but nothing has worked. I try to give her 30 min for each subject, but she doesn’t do the work unless I’m on top her ALL the time. For example, today it took her from 9am-5pm to do English, Spelling, and Math and we never got to anything else. I’m seriously considering putting her in PS bc I don’t know what to do! Do you have any suggestions?

    1. Christine,

      I’m not in your home, I don’t know your daughter and I certainly don’t have any great answers for you. I wanted to throw something out there as a possibility, though. One of my children was like your daughter. It took him FOREVER to finish any schoolwork. Even with me on top of him all day, he still only managed a sloppy attempt at the minimum requirements. He was incredibly frustrated (so was I). He is a bright kid, but he HATED doing his schoolwork. It was causing problems for all of us. Then one day it dawned on me. What if he isn’t being lazy? What if he’s acting out because there is a problem and this really is hard for him? I began to do some research on learning disabilities (I have dealt with mild dyslexia my whole life, but I just developed ways of coping, so it wasn’t much of an issue.) It turned out that he had dysgraphia. His work really was harder for him. He resisted it so strongly because he found it so frustrating. Once I realized that it wasn’t so much a behavioral problem or a problem with me as a mom/teacher, I began to look for ways to teach him to work around/with the dysgraphia. It took time (about a year or so) of trying different methods, etc., but eventually we found his rhythm. He is so much happier with school now, caught up in all his subjects and although we still have occasional problems with schoolwork, we are able to sort them out so much better now. I don’t know if your daughter might be dealing with a learning difficulty, but if she is, it might not be so easy to spot. Often these are incredibly bright kids, so we tend to think they are acting up on purpose or being lazy with their schoolwork. Anyway, it’s just a thought. It could just be puberty. Blessings to you as you discover what is best for your family.

  5. Love his article. I am usually a very structured, regimented person, but also had come to the conclusion that it was not working for our homeschool. So now we have routine and the children know what is expected of them, but there is lots of flexibility during the day. Thanks for sharing!

  6. Thank you for this post. We are new to homeschooling and have been trying to find our groove. I believe that a routine will be much better for me and the kids (2,4,8,9). Regimented schedules just aren’t our thing.

  7. Such an encouraging article, thanks so much! I’ve tried the sticky note schedules, too, and have beat myself up because I don’t last long with them.

    It is also encouraging to hear that you allow yourself to sleep later when your health requires it. I’ve also learned that I can avoid a lot of illness by making sure I get enough sleep!

  8. Love this! A perfect explanation for a conclusion I came to years ago. Routine works wonderfully at our house. The brief foray I made into scheduling was a disaster.

  9. Wow, great words of wisdom here. It is so wonderful and freeing to read your ideas and thoughts on homeschool routine vs schedule. Yes, you are absolutely right in saying do what works for your family and not try to compare yourself to other homeschool families and what they might be doing. All I know is, that we are all unique and special and we need to focus on what works well with our unique family. It does not make sense to try to compare with other families because they will do what is unique for them. Lets save that energy and time for our families instead. We can learn from how other families homeschool but we must never compare as this would defeat any fruitful outcomes. Thank you again and I love your blog!

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