As I’m writing this post, millions (billions?) of people around the world are facing having their children suddenly at home while schools are closed due to health concerns. So I’m writing this post with you in mind! My goal is for this article to be helpful for homeschooling families, families that have found themselves suddenly homeschooling because of circumstances, and really anyone who is facing extended time at home.
Background: Let me tell you a little about our homeschooling.
We have homeschooled from the beginning, and we are currently homeschooling five kids. This year, they are in 11th, 8th, 5th, 2nd, and kindergarten.
Our schedule varies from day to day because of activities outside the house, but I’ll share with you the routine that we follow on days that we are home all day.
Before I get started on our schedule, you should know that my 11th grader is doing precalculus online with Mr. D and physics at a local co-op. He also participates in a homeschool choir. He is completing a history/literature worldviews class at home, with extra help in writing from a tutor.
My 8th grader is doing Challenge A at a local Classical Conversations community.
So basically, I don’t do much planning or instruction with either of the oldest two boys, although I do check in with them and keep them on track. I plan all subjects for the younger three.
Big Picture Considerations (Before you plan your schedule!)
If you have not homeschooled before, you should know that school at home takes MUCH less time than school at school! There is no moving from class to class, and explaining things just takes less time with one student instead of 20. For elementary school, we spend 2-3 hours per day on schoolwork. In middle school, it’s more like 4. High school is 6+. Actual time spent depends on the student. I have some who are more efficient than others…
Also, learning encompasses more than just bookwork! Take into account the whole day and the life experiences that kids are getting. Chores, responsibilities, communication with extended family, audio books, conversations around the dinner table. These are valuable things! Don’t evaluate your productivity on worksheets alone.
One way that this mindset will help you is that you will be able to see necessary arrangements (for example, the kids unload the dishwasher so that you can check work emails) as a benefit to BOTH of you.
Finally, while homeschooling does not need to be rigorous, exhausting, or a re-creation of the public school, kids DO need structure and routine! And you do too! Knowing what to expect helps everyone function better and get more done.
Here is our daily rhythm.
7:00 or 7:30 – I get up. Start the day with Bible reading and often some blog work as well. Check emails, etc.
8:00 – I wake up the kids. If they wake up before this, they can read quietly. They eat breakfast, get dressed, brush teeth, take the dogs out, unload the dishwasher, and tidy up the kitchen. The kids are responsible for making their own breakfast while I take a shower and get organized for the day. Some days this goes well, other days they fight and leave messes… it’s a work in progress!
9:00 – Start school with Bible time. The older two boys do their youth group Bible reading on their own. The younger three do Bible time with me. We sing a few hymns (we own two copies of a hymnal) and then either read a passage of Scripture or work on memorizing a large chunk (little bits at a time). I highly recommend memorizing with kids!
9:20 – Read aloud history to the younger kids. We are reading through The Story of the World, and we are currently in volume 2. We typically read two chapters per week, and fill in with any other books that are applicable. For example, we just recently finished a book about castles. We do history 2-3 days per week.
9:40 – Ten minute break
9:50 – Start work at the table. I have weekly assignments scheduled for each child, so they can look at their chart and see their work for the day. During the morning, they work on Wordly Wise vocabulary books, Rod and Staff grammar, Reading Detective (a reading comprehension and critical thinking book from The Critical Thinking Co.), and various writing assignments.
10:30 – Snack and break
11:00 – Science with the kindergartner and 2nd grader. I read the lesson out loud, and then they work in their science journals. We use the Exploring Creation series from Apologia.
11:30 or so – Break until after lunch
12:30 – Lunch. We used to do a read aloud chapter book right before nap time, but since we don’t have nap time anymore, I read at the table as we are finishing lunch. The kids help clean up lunch. One clears the table, one loads the dishwasher, one puts away food and wipes the counters, one sweeps, and one takes the dogs out.
1:30 – Math, plus any work that has not been completed from their daily lists.
Doing some reading while waiting at the doctor. We’ve done school at the orthodontist, while waiting for siblings at music lessons, etc. Some people do school in the car, but we get too carsick for that! Ha!
2:00 – The younger three have quiet time in their rooms for an hour. If they still have schoolwork to complete, they take it with them.
*Note: Quiet hour is my biggest struggle right now, and it’s because of my own lack of enforcing it. I truly NEED this time to work on the blog or other necessary tasks. The kids like to ask me constant questions. It’s hard because when they were younger, it was very black and white. You’re out of your room? I said to play in your room. You may not come out. Now, the issues are more complex. Someone can’t get the computer to work, and he has to type an essay that is due tomorrow. Or I (mom) had to run errands during quiet hour one day, so now the kids think they don’t have to abide by it the next day either. This staying-at-home time has been helping, though.
3:00 – Free time until dinner
My 8th grader is usually working until 3:30 or so (although he could be done sooner if he buckled down and didn’t waste time!) and my 11th grader works until about 4:30 and then may do more in the evening. If he wanted to, he could get up earlier and start his day at 8:00 instead of 9:00 (or 9:30…) but so far he hasn’t wanted to do that.
Evening – Music practice, if that has not already been done. Dad grades math for the 5th and 8th grader. We discuss what the 11th grader accomplished that day.
Well, I hope that helps to take a look at our routine!
If you are in the “suddenly homeschooling” camp, I want to encourage you first and foremost not to stress! This situation is stressful enough. Don’t pressure yourself to do everything that your child’s teacher was doing, or even to imitate the people you know who were already homeschooling! Start with what the school is asking you to do, and go from there. A basic structure is necessary, but it’s so amazing what your kids can learn just from real life. Do lots of reading, projects around the house, learn how to cook from YouTube videos, etc.
As I close, I want to share with you these 12 Ideas for Learning at Home – these are easy ways to learn through simple activities at home!
Here’s a post that I wrote in 2016 about how to tell if you’re “doing enough” in homeschooling. It’s 4 years old, but I still agree with all of it!
If you have any specific questions, feel free to email me! I can’t always get to all my emails, but I will try my best!