By Jill Reiner
In this article I am going to discuss what some may say is the dreaded “R” word in homeschooling circles: routine. The important role that a day-to-day routine, or lack thereof, plays in your homeschool can often mean the difference between success and distress in your homeschooling journey. Does the mere thought of a routine in your homeschool make you take a big deep sigh? There is no need to worry because even if you feel that you do not have a routine, I can almost guarantee that if you were to write down or film your week you would see there is a subtle routine in how your family carries out the day.
Homeschooling families in general tend to be out-of-the-box thinkers, so if you were to interview every homeschooling family in your city, county, or state, then you would find every family has its own rhythm and routine. To someone looking in through the magic looking glass at your family’s homeschooling day, your routine may look odd or mismatched. “Why?” you ask.
When we sign on the dotted line with ourselves and commit to homeschooling we are all striving to make a personalized learning environment for our children. In order to create that environment for your children, you have to learn what works not only for your children, but also for you as the home educator.
Many new homeschooling educators come into their journey with such an enthusiasm to slide on those brand new shiny glass slippers from their homeschooling fairy godmother that every part of their day seems to be scheduled (perhaps like a brick and mortar school schedule). I myself wore those glass slippers proudly over five years ago and in all honesty, because I am the over-the-top planner that I am, I am pretty sure that I had a different pair of glass slippers for each day of the week.
Was this healthy? No, probably not. Did my children excel in their schooling? Yes and no. My children did meet or exceed all of my state’s benchmarks and were excelling at an above-average rate, but it was at the cost of turning my family’s entire daily way of life somehow into the all-encompassing world of homeschooling. If there was a product out there for homeschooler’s cereal, you would have found it on my kitchen table every day too!
The trick that I had to find was a way to harness that drive and enthusiasm to create a routine, while still trying to find a balance. While balance can mean something different to everyone, if you were to ask what it means in homeschooling you would find that balance involves being able to juggle your time on school days to include lessons, enrichment activities, chores, and every other aspect of your daily life that is tugging on the heels of those glass slippers.
As we note in the Molly Green 12-Step Guide for how to start homeschooling, the key to accomplishing balance is to create a routine that works for your family dynamic. You need to allow enough flexibility to accommodate the everyday adventures that schooling at home may present you with—from the washing machine breaking, to neighbors ringing your door bell while you are in the middle of a lesson, to the postal person wanting to talk for an hour, and the list goes on. Whether your family thrives on scheduled routines or unschooling or if you have detailed lesson plans or had nothing scheduled for the day, you will find that there will always be days when flexibility seems to take on a new life form.
In the homeschooling community, homeschooling families stand side by side whether they have a routine or throw caution to the wind. It is also useful to remember that we are the living examples of what we teach our children on a daily basis. Since we homeschool, we also have more of an opportunity for our children to learn from our example.
If you stop and listen, you can learn a key element that you can take and use in your homeschool, whether that be that you need to let go of the reins a little bit more and roll with it (my current struggle and work-in-progress), or perhaps you need to button down the hatches a smidge more and cross some t’s and dot some i’s. No matter how you go about it, you need to remember that a day-to-day routine, whether you realize you have one or not, is a powerful tool in becoming and remaining a successful homeschooling family and enjoying your journey as well.
Jill Reiner is the homeschooling mother of two awesome children and a loving wife who brings readers along on her family’s homeschooling journey in their rural setting on her blog Enchanted Homeschooling Mom.org. Jill also takes the time to create printables, curricula, unit studies, and holiday related items for her homeschool classroom that she provides at her EHM Member’s Only Website.