By Kendra Fletcher
We all strive to have a measure of peace in our homeschools, and those of us with preschoolers know that peace is at a premium. I’m a big believer that routines can bring us some of that much sought-after peace, and I’m pretty sure that as a homeschooling parent of little ones, you could use some, too. To that end, let’s get you started on a workable routine.
First, take a moment to figure out what your life is really like. Do you thrive on routine? Or do you need flexibility because of your spouse’s or your work schedule or other changing demands on your time? Avoid the temptation to compare your daily activities with those of other homeschooling moms; you are unique, your family is unique, and God’s call on each of our lives is unique.
- Pray and ask God for direction. Ask Him to show you specifically what He wants you to include or accomplish, and what He wants you to drop from your routine. This will differ greatly for each family, and there is no right or wrong.
- Next, ask someone you trust for input. If your spouse is not actively involved in your children’s schooling, ask him or her anyway. Speaking as a mom, we tend to be the ones who read the homeschooling magazines and books, we study the boards on the Internet, and we peruse and purchase the curriculum. It is easy to plan a whole school year without even considering our husband’s opinion. His insight might be a breath of fresh air.
- Now write down everything you need to fit into the day from laundry to paperwork. Then list each child’s name and do the same for each one. From there you can begin to plug things into your schedule. For example, while you’re running laundry, child A can be reading aloud to child B, child C can be building with blocks in another room, and child D can be right at your side.
- Determine for yourself what you can do in the presence of toddlers and what you’d rather not do with them there. Personally, there are subjects I don’t mind teaching or overseeing with little ones about me (such as grammar, math, and memory work) and subjects I prefer to tackle when the nappers are napping (science, history). It will be different for you, but once you realize which subjects need to happen during nap time, you’ll find some peace!
You can schedule everything out by time slots and try to keep the day running that way or you can create a flow chart that takes you from one activity to the next, in a particular, workable order. That’s what helps us in our home. Our day might look something like this:
- Breakfast and clean-up
- Circle Time (our group learning time)
- Exercise break
- Individual subjects
- Nap/rest/read quietly
- Finish up school subjects
- Read Aloud
- Free time
- Start dinner
I peek at the clock so I know where we should be in our day, but the clock does not run us. That’s just been way too stressful as babies need unexpected diaper changes, urgent phone calls must be made, and messes happen in the midst of life.
Charts are also a great way to get little ones to see what it is they need to do. My youngest little guy is a brain-injured six-year-old who needs visuals because he cannot yet read, so we’ve made a routine chart that’s posted at our kitchen desk. He looks at the chart and sees what’s next for him, and that, too, brings us a measure of peace.
Check the “Charts” resources at the end of this article and find a great graphic chore chart for non-readers that you can print out and be using in minutes!
If you find that the routine or schedule you’ve created adds to the lack of peace in your home, then by all means, chuck it! You need to feel the freedom to make adjustments depending upon what is going on in your life at the time. This is the beauty of homeschooling, and knowing when to change your approach—and then doing it—will go a long way toward preventing homeschool burnout. Run the schedule, don’t let it run you!
You can, of course, create your own printable charts and schedules, but I’ve got quite a few solid resources for you below. Why reinvent the wheel when so many fabulous homeschooling moms out there have created some great resources before us? It’s a great time to be homeschooling!
Homeschool Scheduling 101
Why a Flow Chart Works for Me
How to Organize Your New Year
Circle Time: Plan the Best Part of the Day
Preschoolers and Peace: Homeschooling Older Kids With Success While Loving the Little Ones at Your Feet
Make Your Own: Weekly Chore Chart for Kids
Kids Routine Chart and Printables
Printable Chore Chart
Kendra Fletcher is the mother of eight, speaker for groups and conferences around the country, blogger for Sally Clarkson’s I Take Joy site, author of two self-published E-Books, and podcaster on the Ultimate Homeschool Radio Network. Her articles have appeared in a variety of publications, including Crosswalk.com, Mary Jane’s Farm, and Washington Family Magazine. She blogs at www.kendrafletcher.com and www.preschoolersandpeace.com.
Copyright, 2014. Used with permission. All rights reserved by author. Originally appeared in The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, the family education magazine, September/October 2014.