Charlotte Mason once said, “Education is a life.” and “Education is an atmosphere.” It’s taken me some time to fully grasp the application of these statements, but it is this realization that has helped me let go of the stringent schedule I used to stress over and trade it in for a much looser routine.
For me, the schedule was empowering at first. There it was, line by line, everything I was supposed to do at the exact time I was supposed to do it. It was the perfect way to keep us on track. That is, until the baby pooped . . . everywhere. Or a child had a meltdown.
I then switched a bit to a looser routine with estimated times that ensured that all our school work was done by 1:00 or 2:00 PM. The goal was to have some “quiet/me time” during the baby’s nap, and on paper, it was a reasonable goal. It really was.
Except that in real life, it just didn’t work out. In real life, I found myself more focused on check boxes and the clock than my children and their learning. I was rushing through awesome lessons, setting timers, and cutting off what could have been some fruitful discussions.
I finally came to the realization that with an 8-year-old, 5-year-old, and 20-month-old, I just couldn’t stick to a schedule during our “at home” days, and that was okay. It was okay to be flexible in this season and just enjoy the children right where they were. I finally understood what it meant to just let education be a part of our lives, beyond ticking clocks and artificial time constraints.
And so, for us, in this season, a routine is what works best. We have a series of tasks for the day, and we work through them as best as we can. Some days we zoom, and some days we hover. Some days we skip a few things; and others, we skip it altogether and head out to the zoo.
The routine is made for us, and not the other way around. We have a few tentative goals, like starting school at 8:30, eating lunch by 1:00, getting the baby down for a nap by 2:00, and eating dinner at 6:30, and getting the kids to bed by 8:00 PM, but even then, we’re flexible. And when it comes to specific school subjects, we don’t set specific time frames–especially when the learning is so fruitful.
Here’s the general breakdown of our homeschool routine on a typical (ha!) homeschool day. I keep a handwritten copy on our refrigerator for easy reference. (We use a Wholehearted Approach and pick and choose our topics under each subject grouping. Read more about it here.)
- Morning Routines (morning prayer, make beds, get dressed, brush teeth, empty dishwasher)
- Breakfast & Discipleship Studies: Bible reading, Scripture memory, etc.
- Discussion Studies: History/Literature/Geography/Art & Music Appreciation (We usually do this at the breakfast table.)
- English Language Arts: 2nd grade-Handwriting/Spelling/Grammar and K-4-Handwriting/Rod & Staff Preschool Workbooks
- Recess/Exercise/Snack Break
- Phonics & Reading Practice
- Discovery Studies: Science/Art Crafts/Recorder
- Discretionary Studies: Athletics/Trail Life/Dance/FREE TIME
- Tidy Up Downstairs
- Bath and Quiet Activities: Bible Devotionals/Puzzles/Blocks/Quiet Games
- Time with my hubby. <3
Whew! That seems like a lot, but really, some of those tasks can be done fairly quickly–unless the weather is great, and then our exercise break may take two hours! All in all, it helps us stay on track while giving us some time throughout the day to create an atmosphere of learning and delight without the added stress.
What works best for you? Do you keep a homeschool schedule or a routine?
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