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?