Wednesday 24 January 2018

How to Establish a Homeschool Routine + Free Printables!

Before I began to homeschool I had all these pre-conceived ideas about what homeschooling should look like. I had read books, watched videos and prepared in many other ways before I took the plunge. I had it all mapped out and I could imagine what homeschooling would be like for our family. Then, I deregistered my daughter from school and things were not so rosy. I struggled to distinguish between work time and play time and I also became overwhelmed with the sheer amount of meet ups, clubs and activities available for homeschooled children in our area. I had no idea where to start! Because of this, we did not get nearly as much done as I had envisaged. 

Does this sound familiar? If it does, do not panic. I have been there and I know how you feel. It is easy to think that you are doing something wrong when you see all those perfect pictures on Instagram. People make it look so easy but, let me tell you, it takes time to get to that level of productivity. You cannot expect your homeschool routine to fall into place as soon as you begin your homeshool journey. It takes time to carve a schedule out of the chaos that the sudden freedom of homeschooling can bring. Let me tell you the truth about establishing a homeschool routine.

The truth about establishing a homeschool routine

Establishing a routine takes time

At the start of our homeschool journey I spoke to a veteran homeschool mum who told me it took her around a year to establish a homeschool routine that worked for her family. I was shocked. Surely, this could not be the case. I had an optimistic vision of how our days and weeks would look. Rolling out of bed late, enjoying cosy mornings reading followed by project-work of the children's choosing. Playing half the day away outdoors while I did my knitting or read a book. However, when I began to homeschool, I soon realised that the reality was very different. It was not so easy to fall into a good homeschool routine straight away. There was not very much work getting done and I felt like I was living in chaos!

After a period of deschooling, we started to try out different routines to see what would work for us. I began to realise that my homeschool friend had been correct and it really would take time for us to find out feet. If it took other families months or a year to get into their routines, why should we be any different? Our routine has changed many time over the last year but now I feel like we have a routine that works for us.

Routines can evolve. Go with it.

Routines often change when you are homeschooling. This is because there are so many things that are outside of your control that will cause you to make changes to your homeschool schedule. There may be new classes or group meets set up or your child may decide they no longer want to take part in a particular activity, either way it will affect your routine.

Furthermore, I have found there to be many one-off workshops organised for homeschoolers and, although these are excellent, they will affect your routine. Be prepared for this to happen and develop your own strategies for coping with routine changes.

There is never enough time in the day

If you are anything like me, you will find the amount of resources available for homeschooling so exciting that you will want to do as much as you can. Sadly, you cannot do everything. You will really have to cut it down and work out the things that are necessary in your homeschool first, then add any extra activities you can think of.

Learning never ends

When you start to plan your homeschool routine, you may think you can nominate parts of the day for learning and that will be it. However, you will soon realise that most things can be turned into learning opportunities. Therefore, it is likely that learning may also occur outside of the hours you have scheduled it. It is not unheard of to suddenly begin a project half an hour before bedtime because that is when one of the children suddenly became inspired. If this happens, allow your child to start but make them aware that they may not be able to finish it right away and may have to wait until the following day. 

Tips to help you establish a homeschool routine

Which days work best for your family?

A great advantage of homeschooling is the flexibility. You do not have to work Monday to Friday from 9am to 3pm. You do not even have to work Monday to Friday at all. Maybe weekends work best for your family. If this is the case, take a few weekdays off. You will also notice that you do not need to spend the whole day doing "school". You will get just as much done in a couple of hours as a child would in a whole day at school. Stick to mornings or afternoons or a bit of both.

When does your child learn best?

Everyone has a preference for a time of day when they find it easiest to learn. You may be a morning person or a night owl, but is your child the same? Just as you should think about the kind of learner your child is, so should you think about the time of day in which they learn best. Does your child work best right after breakfast? Or are they more open to learning in the afternoon? There is no right or wrong answer here, just observe your child and you will be able to figure out when their best time for learning is.

Work around meet ups

Meet ups are often already established, so the timing of these cannot be changed. The best thing to do is to decide which homeschool groups your child is interested in attending, and work your home learning around these. Write down all the weekly groups your child will be attending and see where the gaps are. You will use these gaps to fill in your child's lessons by subject.

Decide on the workload

The next thing to do is to work out what your child will actually be studying. Will you be following a curriculum? If so, which ones? Next, work out how often your child willl be studying each subject throughout the week. How many days a week will they do math, science or art? Write down your weekly schedule.

Be flexible

Leave some space in your routine for extra activities that might come up, such as one-off workshops or play dates with friends. You need to allow for some flexibility in your routine to take these extra events into account.

Leave time for autonomous exploration

Finally, this may seem counterproductive but do not fill up your schedule. The advantage of homeschooling is free time for play and exploration, or at least it should be. If your schedule is so jam-packed there is not enough time for daily free play, I suggest you move some things around to make space for it. Your children will thank you for it!

Homeschool routine chart

It always helps to write your routine down so you have a visual reminder. Here are links to some free homeschool routine charts I found!

Printable homeschool schedules from Pros and Cons of Homeschooling

List of free planners, forms and more from Free Homeschool Deals

Additional articles of interest


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