Sunday, November 13, 2016

Our Daily Homeschool and Housework Routine

Having routines for homeschooling and housework helps our lives run more smoothly.  Sure, there are weeks when the routine gets thrown completely out the window, but most of our weekdays follow a routine which is fairly predictable.  Using a routine helps ensure that my kids have minimal resistance to doing housework, because they know what to expect and what is expected of them daily.  Our routine also makes our exploration of academics more effective: because my children know that I am only available for academic pursuits for a set time each day, they are motivated for us to do as much as we can while I am available before I start my work hours.

It's been several years since I blogged about our homeschool routine, so I thought I'd post an update about what our days are looking like now. My kids are now 6 and 9, and what currently works as a good balance is to incorporate learning and housework both throughout the day.

Morning Routine

I let the kids sleep as late as they want to in the morning.  They are usually up and out of bed by 7:30 or 8am, and then we start our morning routine. Our morning routine is an essential part of getting our day going in the right direction. On days when we have skipped our morning routine, we seem somewhat directionless and disoriented, with more-frequent sibling squabbles and making it less likely that we will have a beautiful homeschool day.  

From start-to-finish, our morning routine takes about 60-90 minutes. I have a few different methods for ensuring that everyone stays on-task during our morning routine, but the method I use most often is putting on a music or Spanish CD after breakfast for us to listen to as we go about our routines.

  • Read-Aloud and Breakfast - We start with a read-aloud first thing in the morning, either while snuggling on the couch or while the kids are eating breakfast. (Lately, our morning read-aloud has typically been a picture book or Life of Fred). One of my children eats at a rather slow-and-steady pace, so there is usually plenty of time for me to read aloud after I have finished my own breakfast.
  • Kitchen Family Work - The kids and I work together to empty the dishwasher each morning.  One child is assigned to empty the silverware basket, and the other puts away all of the children's dishes, which are stored in a low cabinet.  I put away the remainder and empty the dish drainer. 
  • Morning Chores - We each have our own chores to do every morning.  The children alternate days on washing and loading the breakfast dishes into the dishwasher. On the alternate days when they are not washing breakfast dishes, the children each do another chore, such as vacuuming the living room, scrubbing a bathroom toilet or sink, or straightening up the craft/project table. The children also feed and water the dog daily. My own morning chores include starting a load of laundry, cleaning up dog poo outside, and filling the birdfeeder.
  • Bedroom and Self Care - We each make our beds, brush our teeth, and get dressed for the day.

School Time

2-3 days per week, after our morning routine we have school time. Our school time lasts for 1-2 hours, which may not sound like much time, but we usually accomplish quite a bit in that short time.  Because we use the Leadership Education philosophy, I am focusing on nurturing my children's love of learning and I do not force the kids to participate in school activities.  However, they enjoy this part of our days, and happily choose to participate.
  • Alternate Weeks - The children have alternating weeks where they get to choose what we will do during school time.  They love this!
  • Physical Activity - Our school time often includes a short walk or bike ride, as we all feel better when we are getting plenty of physical activity.  Sometimes the physical activity will segue into an extended nature study time. 
  • Academic Resources - The children can choose from our many curriculum options. The academic resources that my children choose to use most often are:


Lunch and Free Play/Work Time

After our morning school time 2-3 days per week, we have lunch and then free play/work time.
  • Lunch - I usually make a quick lunch for the three of us around 11:30AM.  We eat together and then I clean up the dishes.  
  • Free Play for Kids - The kids have 2-3 hours of free play time. They often have long imaginative play sessions during this time. My 9-year-old also often uses some of this time to work on crafts/projects. Knowing that they have this time scheduled for free play each day makes my kids more motivated to dig into school/academic topics in the morning before I go to work in the computer room.
  • Work Time for Mom - I work for 2-3 hours on homeopathic appointments/casework, blogging, writing for Real Food and Health Magazine, or homeschool planning.When the weather and my work allow it, we will all go to the park for this time so the kids can play there while I work on my portable computer.

Away-From-Home Days

2 to 3 days per week, we have outside-the-home activities such as homeschoolers park day and book discussion group, field trips, errands, or hiking with grandma. On those days, once our morning routine is finished we head out into the world.  We usually return home in the early afternoon by around 1:30-2:30pm, just in time for our afternoon routine.

Afternoon Routine

Our afternoon routine is an essential part of our days. Without our afternoon routine, I am more likely to be grumpy and burned out in the evening, and the kids are more likely to be bickering and discontented. Because my kids and I each have some amount of introversion in our personalities, the afternoons give us time to recharge on our own. Our afternoon routine usually lasts from about 2:30-4:30pm.
  • Clean Up - Because the house is often quite messy by the time the kids are done playing for 2-3 hours, we work together to quickly get things back in order.  
  • Team Laundry - The kids and I work together to fold and put away a load of laundry. 
  • Quiet Time - We each go to a separate room for 1-2 hours.  During this time, the children play quietly, listen to audio books, read, color, or work on projects. They often meet up partway through quiet time, and are free to play together so long as they don't get too rambunctious.  My own Quiet Time includes my daily nap for 10-15 minutes and some combination of yoga, reading, studying, and internet/email usage.


Late Afternoon and Evening

Our evening routine includes dinner, free time and our bedtime routine, which ensures that we have fairly consistent bedtimes.

  • Clean Up and Chicken Chores -  The kids clean up their Quiet Time messes (minus anything they are still using). My daughter generally does her daily chicken care chores after Quiet Time, too.
  • Dinner Prep - I get to work on preparing dinner, and meanwhile the kids either play or join me in the kitchen.  I usually spend 45-90 minutes making dinner.  The kids set the table with napkins, silverware, and drinks for dinner.
  • Family Dinner - My husband returns home from work at 5:45pm and we have a family dinner together at 6pm. Afterwards, my husband usually washes the dinner dishes. 
  • Evening Free Time - Then there is free time for all, including playing, discussing, reading, creating, going for walks, etc.
  • Bedtime Routine - Around 7:45pm, we start our bedtime routine. We do a quick full-house tidying up, which ensures that the following day we will start with a fresh, reasonably tidy house. The children can have a small snack, and then brush their teeth and get their jammies on. I often practice piano or read on my own while the kids are doing their bedtime routines. If the kids finish their bedtime routines before 8:15pm, they may have a few minutes of "quiet energy burst", during which they run and jump around for the last time of the day.
  • Nightly Read-Aloud -The kids and I meet up on the couch around 8:30pm.  I give my 6-year-old son the opportunity to do some reading practice, which he chooses to do about twice a week. My 9-year-old daughter often enjoys reading aloud to us from a nature book during this time, too. Then the kids settle in to trace their penpal letters, color, sew, or draw while I read aloud. I often start with a chapter from a history or geography book, and then move onto our current chapter book.
  • Bedtime Reading - The kids and I move into their shared bedroom around 9pm. They settle under the covers and I finish reading from our current chapter book. Lights are out around 9:15pm.

Do you like having routines, or are you more of a spontaneous person?What routines that help your days run more smoothly?

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Unknown said...

Wow I really like this routine - I struggle with our routine and I like that it is only 2-3 days a week.

Sarah Smith said...

Glad this is helpful for you, Erika! 2-3 days a week makes it so much more do-able, and still gives us plenty of time for away-from-home activities and explorations. It also keeps my kids very enthusiastic about our school time, since we don't do it every day. :)

Melissa said...

This is so very helpful. Thank you for sharing in such detail

Unknown said...

This really is helpful. I like to see that other families don't school everyday. I also like the housecleaning ideas, I often feel most of the burden for these chores, so this seems to spread out the work. Thanks for sharing!

Sarah Smith said...

Glad you find this helpful! I used to do pretty much all of the housecleaning, too, but I would end up feeling resentful and overworked sometimes. If it helps, I wrote another article about teaching kids to do family work/chores here: