Homeschooling: Schedule vs Routine

by Janny Jackson

So you’ve been homeschooling but you’re having a hard time getting into a rhythm. You have seen what others do and what works for them, but how do you know what works best for you and your homeschool?

Before we get into it, I want to start off by echoing what I have said many times- There is no one size fits all approach for how you homeschool. What works for me might not work for you and vice versa. What’s important is that you take into account your personality, the personality of your kids, and your home life.

The most important part of either is creating stability. You cannot have a successful and thriving homeschool if there is no stability.

You may thrive off of having tasks done at certain times throughout the day. Or you might not care when different tasks get done, just as long as they are accomplished by the end of day.

What does your home life look like?

Do you have weekly appointments? Are you expected to be at certain places throughout the week? Do you work certain hours throughout the day, or certain days throughout the week? Are you an early riser, or do you like to sleep in? What does your workload look like, and how many students do you have to accomplish that workload with? Do you outsource some subjects? Are your kids independent enough to work on their own, or are you in a season where homeschool is very teacher intensive? Do you have a baby or toddler, and are they on a predictable schedule?

What are your state regulations? Do you have to school for a certain number of hours every day, a certain number of days throughout the year?

All of these factors may play into whether your homeschool is structured by a schedule or a routine.

Let’s talk about what makes a schedule and routine different.

A schedule is a sequence of events that take place in specific order and are tied to a particular time.

A schedule can be very helpful if you have a busy household. Maybe you have to be at work, appointments, or co-ops throughout the week, and only have windows of time in which to complete homeschool. Time blocking and creating a schedule by planning out what each hour of the day looks like might be more useful for you and your family.

A routine is a pattern by which you live. It provides structure when completing a task, but does not dictate when the task should be completed.

A routine is great for a family that does not have a lot of outside commitments or interferences that would interrupt homeschool being completed.

This is how my household has always been run, and is my preferred method for homeschooling. I am a stay at home mom who likes to wake up slowly. I purposely do not run errands or make plans during the week, aside from planned playdates or regular doctor and dentist visits. Our extracurricular activities are in the evenings, when we have already finished school. When I have to work I do so in the evenings after dinner and bedtime. Household cleaning and yard work get done during the weekends as well.

Our days are very structured, but not overly planned. My kids know the flow of our school day, because it is the same every day, but sometimes we start at 9am and sometimes we don’t start until 11am. And sometimes we do our group subjects first, and sometimes we do them last. At the end of the school day it all gets done, regardless of the time.

During the week, homeschool is our priority. Once that is completed we have the rest of the day to play and complete other tasks.

This also applies to planning. I do not plan out what we do for each day. I DO look over what we will be working on for the week in case I have to gather materials for upcoming lessons, and so that I feel prepared and ready to teach for the week. Instead of filling my planner ahead of time, when we complete a lesson I write it in my planner. This is called reverse planning. This allows us the freedom to squeeze things in throughout the week that we may not have initially “scheduled’ into our week, like a playdate, or someone is sick one day, etc.

And this is the freedom of homeschooling that we all talk about. YOU get to create the rhythm and flow of your day. YOU get to structure it based off of how your household runs and how everyone will respond. YOU have the opportunity to create the type of atmosphere in which your kids will learn. YOU can do that!

But you must have structure!

What works best for you? Let me know below, and as always, thanks for being here!

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