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Balancing the needs of school-aged kids and pre-K kids in your homeschooling schedule is challenging enough. Trying to fit your own work into the daily routine can feel like doing a puzzle with too many pieces, but it doesn't have to be. Here's a daily schedule that includes time for everyone.
Why we need a homeschooling schedule
Whenever I hear the phrase, "I don't know how you get so much done," I feel like a fraud. I look at the list of things that I would like to get done and think, if only you knew. I barely get anything done at all, but somehow I've given the impression that I'm relatively productive.
I worry sometimes that in giving this impression, I could cause others to feel like they are not doing enough, or that they have to work harder to produce more. The last thing I want is to be the reason why other people put more pressure on themselves!
There are, however, two habits I practice that lead to a consistent level of output, however insignificant that level may be. First, I say 'no' to almost everything. I know that sounds awful, but it is necessary. There are so many opportunities that come up during any given week, and if we said 'yes' to all of them, I would never get anything done. I've learned to recognize and accept my maximum capacity and stick within it.
Second, we stick to a very structured homeschooling schedule and daily routine. With six people in our family, each with a very different set of needs, the only way to ensure that everyone's needs are met is to put them on the schedule and stick to it. I find that when we deviate from our schedule too much, it leads to chaos because someone isn't getting what they need (i.e. a nap, or attention, or time to run around outside).
Obviously, every family is unique and will have its own set of needs to meet, but I'm going to share our daily routine and homeschooling schedule with you, in case you need some inspiration in figuring out a new schedule for your family. I benefited from looking at a great many routines before settling on this one, and I hope you find it useful as well.
Our daily routine
4:30—I wake up, make a cup of chai tea, and listen to the Bible on the YouVersion Bible app while doing some stretching.
5:00-8:00—This is my concentrated work time. I write for about three hours, with a short break to nurse my son around 5:30.
7:00-8:00—I try to get my kids to stay in bed until 7:00, though they’re usually awake earlier. From 7-8, they get dressed, do their chores, and start making breakfast.
8:00-8:30—We eat breakfast together.
8:30-9:00—Bible study time. We found that it difficult to get the little ones to play quietly during this time, so we started giving them a bath while we do our Bible study. The older girls sit on my bed, and I sit in the doorway between the bedroom and the bathroom so I can keep an eye on the kids.
9:00-10:00—The older girls work on their math. They’re almost able to do this independently now—a huge win. We switched to Beast Academy this year, which we all love, but it takes abstract thinking to a whole new level and this has been a bit challenging for all of us. I usually read through the lesson with them and make sure they know what they’re doing before leaving them to it.
Meanwhile, I do half an hour of sensory bins with the pre-K kids, followed by half an hour of outdoor play (weather permitting). I get my toddler and preschool sensory bin ideas here.
10:00-10:30—Break and snack, usually spent outside, if possible.
10:30-11:00—Preschool time. This period is set apart for my four-year-old, to make sure that she gets some one-on-one time with me. The older girls watch their little brother and develop different activities for him.
11:00-12:00—Morning time. We follow a morning time loop of music and art-based activities, as described in Sarah Mackenzie’s book, Teaching from Rest. I try to set up an art or music project for the little ones as well. Weather permitting, we do this outside too. (Noticing a trend?)
12:30-1:30—Naps and quiet time. The older girls do independent reading or writing of their own choosing while the rest of us rest.
2:00-3:00—Science or nature walk, depending on the day (and the weather). We’re currently using Apologia’s Exploring Creation with Human Anatomy and Physiology. Once a week, we do this as a co-op with a group of friends.
3:00-5:30—Free time. We might go for walks, go to the library, play in our yard, read, bake, watch a movie, visit with friends, or tidy the house.
6:30-7:30—We tidy up the kitchen and put the little ones to bed.
7:30-8:30—The older girls are allowed to stay up and read for an extra hour, and I usually do one last hour of work, or get caught up on household tasks.
9:00—I have to go to bed at 9 in order to maintain this schedule. I used to work late into the evening, but I can’t manage that anymore! It’s lights out early for me.
This is a new homeschooling schedule for us this year. We have to tweak our daily routine annually (sometimes more often) as everyone's needs shift and change. Different kids require different amounts and types of attention from me as they grow, and out daily homeschooling schedule has to reflect that. Whenever things start to feel like they aren't working anymore, I know it's time to update the routine.
How about you? What does your daily routine look like? Do you prefer more or less structure than this in your homeschooling day? Leave a comment below and let me know.