by Jenny Yahn
The newness of this situation is washing away. You are starting to feel a little more stable and accepting of this new normal. You know you need to start school in earnest, but really aren’t sure where to start. Me too. My plan: get back to the basics, and start simple. I would like to lead you through creating a routine for homeschooling, starting with the most important part of the day, morning.
Setting the tone of the day with a routine is so important for getting everything done in a day. I’ll be honest, this is not an area I am exceptional at, but I am always working toward. I recommend starting the day in whatever way works for you. All of you public school moms are actually probably killer at this morning routine thing, because your kids are used to being somewhere at a very specific time.
Homeschool kids sometimes struggle rushing around in the morning, because what’s the point? It honestly is a double edged sword. On one side, it’s great to have the freedom not to rush, on the other hand, laziness and lack of motivation can move in real quick. So, set a standard for what needs to be done before you start school.
In our house, kids must get up, eat breakfast, shower, get dressed, brush their teeth, wipe out the sink, toss dirty laundry in baskets and gather their morning time activity. More on what that means in a future post. I used to have morning chores in their morning routine, which worked well until I had two kids that needed a lot of one on one time with me for teaching. You do you. A good morning chore list is to make beds, tidy rooms, unload the dishwasher and feed pets.
I have found that my kids needed a physical reminder of what was expected of them for a long time. Make a checklist that has each activity on it, and have it printed out ready to go each morning. For non-readers, draw pictures. It is also important to go over expectations before implementing. There is a lot less arguing that way. I also have established the rule that tv is not allowed to be turned on in the morning on school days. Screen time is also locked down and put away.
Now for the hard part. What is expected of me in the morning? I try to set myself up for success by waking up early, like 5:30 early. Homeschooling can be emotionally draining, and even more so if you have absolutely no time to yourself. Many of you are used to having some alone time, either at work, the drive, or when your kids are at school. Quarantine has shut all of that down. You need to be able to take care of yourself. So try to wake up before anyone else and spend some time feeding you.
I am most successful when I turn to God first thing in the morning, sipping my coffee, praying, reading the Bible or doing a Bible study. When I check social media first, time slips by too quickly, and I generally waste my entire time block. Reality check: I have been doing this way too much lately.
After my quiet time and the first cup of coffee is gone, I go and take a shower and get ready before the kids wake up. If I miss this critical step, we never start school on time, or I don’t shower. This is not ideal. In all transparency, let me tell you that I wear actual clothes maybe half of the days. Usually I am in sweats, with my hair pulled back and no makeup. This happens because I can’t tear myself away from that glorious quiet time. No judgement here if you don’t put on makeup, jeans or shoes for the entire quarantine!
When I am dressed and ready, I wake up the kids and get breakfast started. While they are eating, I usually clean the kitchen and make any quick phone calls I needed to make for the day. They are usually downstairs ready for school before I am.
We have a dedicated school room. You obviously don’t. That is totally okay. A ton of homeschoolers gather around their dining room table each day. They may move about the house for different subjects. Find a place that feels comfortable to you, and also has some kind of area you can store all of the materials. Kids are really good at dragging their books all over the house, so having a place to store everything at the end of each day is important.
I hope that gives you a kind of morning in the life of a homeschooler so that you can think about your own kids and routines and get started strong. Notice that I never once said schedule, which implies exact time tables to have things finished by.
Exact schedules usually end up frustrating everyone and make you feel like a failure. I think it’s great to have hooks of time that are set throughout the day, but never a minute by minute schedule. Our normal hooks are a 7:30 wake time, goal for starting school by 8:30.
Next up I will talk about scheduling school time, starting with a phrase that almost all homeschoolers know and love: Morning Time.
Recommend Resources for Morning Routine:
Favorite Quiet Time Resources for Mom:
Classic Christianity by Bob George
She Reads Truth App, Studies & Bible
App available in app store, website for hard copies or free readings directly from website:
For Littles and a Routine: