Updated: Nov 4
One of the biggest challenges all homeschool families run into is figuring out their daily schedule! We personally love using more of a rhythm to lead our day, but it can change with the seasons. Some families thrive on strict schedules, timing out every single aspect of their school day. That's perfect! Others fly by the seat of their pants, doing whatever comes to their minds. That's perfect, too!
If you feel like neither of those schedule options work best for your family, you're not alone!
We tried the strict schedule method. It stressed us out A LOT when we didn't get things done in time. There were some days when math took longer than thirty minutes, and there were days where science only took twenty! It wasn't helpful in being flexible either. If we had a doctor's appointment or a fun occasion popped up, I stressed over not getting school done in time. We were all a mess!
Then, I tried the complete rhythm schedule option. We woke up, had breakfast, and went from there. However, we were all too distracted with other daily activities... I would start getting out some books I thought they'd enjoy, but they were playing so sweetly... So, I would leave them to play. By the time I was ready to reel them in, it was lunch time. After lunch, the day was just over.
Now, we're in between!
Here's our daily homeschool schedule - our fall rhythm
We eat anywhere from 8AM to 10AM, depending on the day. Most days, everyone is up and ready to start the day by 9AM. Sometimes Sister's schedule is a bit slower than ours, but we just start without her when she's needing extra sleep. We eat breakfast on our own, which allows everyone to fully wake up without intruding on someone else's waking process. Sister can be quite a talker in the mornings, and Brother and I just don't have the capacity to listen right away. This is my coffee time.
Brother likes to eat his yogurt while reading in his bed, and Sister likes to eat her breakfast near me. Sometimes she can be chatty, but often, I can redirect her to enjoy her own self for a few moments. I love to read and take notes, since I'm a natural-born researcher. I'm currently reading astrology and parenting books. It's a great time for me to gain some ideas on things I may try throughout the day if trouble arises.
We start our daily school work with a nice stretch! I cheat and utilize Youtube videos for the kids to follow. I watch as they breathe, stretch, giggle, and imitate the screen. I start our days with this for several reasons:
It helps get them focused.
Yoga gets their blood pumping!
They have a chance to stare at someone else's face before staring at mine.
If I feel like the kids need a little extra exercise, then I'll kick them outside for an hour. Ballet YouTube videos and Taekwondo videos also work wonders! The ultimate goal is to get that blood pumping and their brains ready for the day.
Our novel changes often, but we start with our read-aloud. We're currently finishing up Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. I prefer reading outside if the weather allows! First, I read a chapter. Then, I ask some general comprehension questions along with some deeper thinking questions. Usually, we wrap up with a small worksheet or a project! We tend to get lost in these some days... Our favorite are ones based on the "I Survived" series. You can check out how I incorporate those into our day here!
After our read-aloud, each kid reads a story to me. We usually stick with storybooks from our collection, but if our schedule allows it, I'll pull another resource. They really love the student reader's from CoreKnowledge. This is just to check fluency and comprehension on their own reading, and I give ample amounts of guidance where needed.
We mix math up on a daily basis. It depends on how the kids are feeling and how I'm feeling. If the weather is pretty, we'll go do math outside with our hands! We use leaves, rocks, grass, flowers, etc. to show different math skills. Other days, we use Zearn. It's a free math curriculum that's aligned with most of the public school systems. I don't use it for that fact, but it was familiar to my son, so we took advantage of that!
Math is another subject we prefer doing projects on! I come up with some elaborate need for my kids' help in real-life to force them to use their math skills. When we went camping, I needed Sister to count inventory and Brother needed to create our budget. For Halloween, Sister was tasked with sorting candy into categories and Brother used division to decide how many pieces each person got. Real-life examples for the win! Preschool math was our favorite!
I'm a huge believer in child-led learning. Math and reading are my only non-negotiables. So, they choose a topic of interest and dive in! They watch videos, work on projects, read books, complete unit studies, or finish a lapbook they've started. There are no limits on the topics! My daughter is extremely interested in the moon right now, so she's finishing her lapbook on the phases of the moon. My son decided to work on a lapbook about the attack on Pearl Harbor, which stemmed off into him wanting to know more about WWII! They're learning valuable information, and I didn't have to force it.
When our homeschool schedule allows for it, they'll work on these for nearly the entire day! Sometimes, they overlap with several different subjects, so it's worth it for me.
They finish up their work on their topic of choice whenever they choose (sometimes it's an hour, others it's ten minutes) and play! This is when I do the bulk of my work. Sometimes, they even ask to help me! But I usually try kicking them outside! We only get MAYBE three weeks of good weather in the fall, so I don't allow them to stay inside too often.
Right now, Sister is BIG into art. She'll paint or color, cut and paste all day. Or she'll spend the entire day outside, picking blades of grass and failing at climbing our tree. Brother builds masterpieces with Legos or building pipes. Occasionally, I can convince him to venture into something else, but I often lose.
My spouse usually cooks dinner as I finish up work, and the kids join in to help from time to time. We eat altogether, and we talk about our day. This is when they fill my wife in on what they accomplished, what they learned, etc. If they finished a project, they'll present it to her.
We learned a long time ago that our kids needed their cups filled on a daily basis. Even though they spend all day with me, they still needed less structured time with us. We take the time to do as we please. Our biggest options are:
The kids love America's Funniest Home Videos and Hamilton! They're mastering UNO and Operation right now, too. Both kids have this odd fascination with pretending to be doctors and making us these deathly ill patients. I'm constantly hearing tidbits of what we've learned while homeschooling, though, so I don't mind listening!
About thirty minutes before bedtime, they start their nightly routine. Showers and books! They read in their beds, all cozy and heavy-eyed. When their bedtimes hit, they get tons of snuggles before lights out! Our favorite bedtime tradition is "Highs, Lows, What are You Gonna Dream About?" We go through our favorite part of the day, our least favorite of the day, and what we're going to try dreaming about.
Homeschool daily schedules aren't a one-size-fits-all! Everyone's is unique! Here's a few tips to help you make your own:
Have a general outline of what you'd like to accomplish: reading, project, math, social studies/science.
Ask your kids what they'd like to do first - chances are they won't agree, but try to accommodate what you can.
Don't fret if something doesn't get done. Pretend it's your high school cell phone minutes and let that baby roll over to the next day. Remember: you're never falling behind!
Try to jump in the fun with them as much as possible - if you're able.
Allow yourselves to skip something if moods change or there's a shift in your schedule.