One of the most difficult, if not the most difficult, parts of homeschooling is figuring out a routine for our days and weeks. Between teaching two kids with a three year old underfoot, housekeeping, ballet practice three days a week, American Heritage Girls once a week, family time, and church involvement, finding a workable solution to juggling all of that is definitely a trial and error process. It took me about four attempts to come up with the routine I’m sharing in this post. Why? Because sometimes what works perfectly on paper doesn’t work that way in real life. My advice is for you to not give up. Keep tinkering and rearranging until you hit on the perfect routine for your family.
One thing that works very well for my family is not to have a schedule, but a routine. A schedule is where there are specific times slotted for different activities. For example, math with Chipette will be from 10:00 to 10:30 every day. A routine is more of a general flow of the day without specific times. I do better with routine because when things throw off my schedule with its nice, neat time slots, I get cranky and stressed.
I do have some touch points with our routine though. I like to get started with our Morning Meeting by 9 AM and start school with Chipette by 10 AM. My other touch point is lunch at 1 PM and finish school at 4 PM. Some days we make all of those; some days we don’t, but that’s my general time frame I like to work with. We are late starters and late finishers compared to most homeschools, but all of us like to be up later and sleep later so it works for us.
I’ve shared in detail how I plan out our week and our school day, so I won’t go into the specific process I use to make our homeschool routine. Here is what is working for us this year as far as day in, day out life combined with our fourth grade and first grade curriculum choices for this year.
Since Preacher Man is in ministry, Sunday is our game day. We are busy all day long in the work of the Lord. A good thing to be busy doing, but tiring as well. Because of this, Monday is our down day during the week. We don’t do as much book learning on that day. Everything is more project based and relaxed. This is also the day that I add in most of the extra stuff that I want Chipette to do in addition to Heart of Dakota’s Preparing Hearts for His Glory. Combine our Sunday Worship Hangover with the girls visiting the nursing home every Monday at 10 AM and Magpie’s ballet class at 4 PM, it makes Monday a shorter day naturally.
- Wake up. I try to get up somewhere between 7 and 7:30 AM depending on how many times I hit snooze. This is early for me and my night owl tendencies so don’t judge!
- Devotional time and shower. Yes, I have to plan my showers. Don’t you?
- Breakfast and chores. I get breakfast ready and the kids do about 15 minutes of chores (get dressed, make beds, empty dishwasher, feed pets).
- Morning Meeting. During this time I run our Morning Meeting time while the kids eat breakfast. Morning Meeting is just a time when I fit in some of the quick fun extras and memory work in our day. I will do a later post on how this works and what we do.
-------------- Everything above this line is done Monday through Friday------------------
- Break while the girls go to the nursing home with Preacher Man. Monkey and I stay home and pick up around the house. Monkey’s not quite ready to visit the nursing home. He’s still a little too energetic! They are usually back to the house by 11:00 AM.
- An hour with Chipette. During this time we cover two chapters of Life of Fred, writing (a writing clinic type approach focusing on whatever our focus of the year is via my writing scope and sequence), Spanish, and one chapter from Paddle to the Sea with the corresponding activities from the Beautiful Feet study guide.
- An hour with Magpie. During this time we cover phonics (either a lesson from Reading Made Easy or Logic of English Foundations), two chapters of Life of Fred, about four pages of Miquon math, one lesson in Language Lessons Through Literature.
- Lit for Lunch. This is our read aloud time where I read through the books on each girl’s read aloud list while they eat.
- Recess. I let everyone play in the backyard while I eat my lunch and prep for our content subjects.
- Content Subjects. Chipette works on her American history (Native Americans right now) and Sassafras Science (this is the extra science I add in to Heart of Dakota), while Magpie does science with me.
- Ballet Class for Magpie. While I’m taking Magpie to ballet, Chipette hangs out with Preacher Man at the office and reads from her independent reading list and reads from her science biography book (Tooth and Claw: Animal Adventures in the Wild is our current one). After that, she has free time to do what she wants, which usually means stop motion videos of her American Girl dolls.
Tuesday and Thursday
On Tuesday and Thursday our big commitments are Chipette’s ballet classes which lasts for two hours each day. I have started taking Magpie’s school work with us, and we work at the public library while Chipette has class. This helps me get in our content subjects with both girls before we leave home in the afternoon. The morning routine from above stays the same, and after Morning Meeting we jump into our school day.
- An hour and a half with Chipette. During this time we cover Heart of Dakota’s Bible Study, Math in Focus lesson or half a lesson depending on length, one lesson from Introductory Lessons in English Grammar (our vintage grammar book), half of a level in Apples and Pears Spelling, Heart of Dakota’s poetry study, read from our current mythology book (Tales of Ancient Egypt right now), and one lesson from K12’s Fourth Grade Literature program.
- Bible Study with Chipette and Magpie. This usually takes us about 30 minutes. We use Bible Study Guide for All Ages and currently are using a new Bible curriculum that I’ll be reviewing next month.
- An hour with Magpie. During this time we cover phonics (either a lesson from Reading Made Easy or Logic of English Foundations), one lesson from Math in Focus and one lesson from MEP Math (Math in Focus has very short lessons at this age so doing two full math programs has not been a problem), and one lesson in Language Lessons Through Literature.
- While I am working during this time with Magpie, Chipette is doing her independent work. This includes her history project, science, and independent history study from Heart of Dakota, reading from her current book from her independent reading list, a logic or geography worksheet, math worksheets that correspond with our Math in Focus lesson that day (if there are any), a page from Singapore Math Intensive Practice, and a page from Singapore Math Challenging Word Problems.
- Lit for Lunch and Recess.
- Content Subjects. I do Heart of Dakota’s History Reading and Rotation Box (only on Tuesday) with Chipette. The Rotation Box is semi-independent so once we talk about the assignment, Chipette goes off to finish it on her own. On Thursday, Chipette and I do a lesson in Sassafras Science instead of the Rotation Box. I cover history with Magpie and work on her term subjects for this trimester. Term subjects is something new I started this year because there were all of these extra subjects that I just couldn’t fit into our schedule, but I wanted to cover them. I divided the term subjects into three 12-week blocks. So for 12 weeks each girl is studying one subject during this time, then for the next 12 weeks a new subject, and for the last 12 weeks a different subject. Magpie’s current term subjects are logic and geography. Next 12 weeks will be character training and the final 12 weeks will be art.
- Down Time. I’m trying to be more purposeful about giving everyone some down time during the afternoons to be alone. One of the things about homeschooling is that everyone is always around each other! So I try to work in 30 minutes or an hour most days of the week where everyone goes to their own space in the house to play, craft, read, etc. for that time. But no screens! Even Monkey does a pretty good job staying in his room and playing.
- Ballet Class for Chipette. During ballet class, Magpie and I work on her math worksheet that goes with her Math in Focus lesson, a couple of pages from Rod and Staff’s GHI series of workbooks (these are actually below her level, but she LOVES workbooks and wanted to finish the series anyway), a couple of pages from her Explode the Code workbook, and she reads to me for 10 minutes from a book at the library. Magpie wanted “independent work” like her big sister has so this is her version of that.
Wednesday and Friday
On Wednesday evenings we have Bible study, and Friday is my errand day and/or American Heritage Girl meeting (every other week). On weeks when we don’t have an AHG meeting, we all head out to run errands around 4 PM. On weeks when there is an AHG meeting, we leave home at 2 PM, which usually means that the kids have a little bit of work to do over the weekend. The morning routine from above stays the same, and after Morning Meeting we jump into our school day.
- An hour and a half with Chipette. During this time we cover Heart of Dakota’s Bible Study, Math in Focus lesson or half a lesson depending on length, one writing lesson using either Writing and Rhetoric from Classical Academic Press or Igniting Your Writing (We do two weeks of W&R, and then one week of IYW since there are not enough lessons in Writing and Rhetoric to last a full school year), half of a level in Apples and Pears Spelling, Heart of Dakota’s poetry study, and Spanish (on Wednesday) or one lesson from K12’s Fourth Grade Literature program (on Friday).
- Bible Study with Chipette and Magpie.
- An hour with Magpie. During this time we cover phonics (either a lesson from Reading Made Easy or Logic of English Foundations), one lesson from Math in Focus and one lesson from MEP Math (Math in Focus has very short lessons at this age so doing two full math programs has not been a problem), literature (On Wednesday, I read poetry, and on Friday, I read fairy tales) and Spanish.
- While I am working during this time with Magpie, Chipette is doing her independent work. This includes her history project, science, and independent history study from Heart of Dakota, reading from her current book from her independent reading list, a logic or geography worksheet, math worksheets that correspond with our Math in Focus lesson that day (if there are any), a page from Singapore Math Intensive Practice, and a page from Singapore Math Challenging Word Problems. On Friday there is no history project in Heart of Dakota, so she does her science biography reading instead that day.
- Lit for Lunch and Recess.
- Content Subjects. I do Heart of Dakota’s History Reading and Rotation Box with Chipette and we also do her term subjects (explained above) on these days as well. Chipette’s current term subject is character training. Next 12 weeks will be art and the final 12 weeks will be Shakespeare. With Magpie we study science both days and cover geography on Wednesday (this ties in with our history) and history on Friday.
- Errands or American Heritage Girl meeting.
- Family Movie Night. So after we run our errands, we usually make it home around 9 PM or so. The kids know that the minute they hit the door they need to get ready for bed (except for brushing their teeth) because it’s family movie night. I buy one candy choice for each kid and, of course, we have popcorn. While the kids are getting ready, I make a big pile of pillows and blankets on the floor in the living room, and then we all settle in to watch a movie together and munch on snacks. I try to do some pre-planning on what will watch so that if I need to get a movie from Netflix, Redbox, or the library, then I will have it. Our favorite are doing movie series like Harry Potter, The Chronicles of Narnia, or Star Wars. Plus I love pulling in some movies that I loved when I was a kid like Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, The Swiss Family Robinson, and pretty much every Hayley Mills movie ever made!
Saturday and Sunday
No school on these days unless something didn’t get completed during the week. On Saturday we typically clean house and take a nature walk with a little bit of nature study added in. The kids don’t consider nature walks “school”, so it’s easy to get them on board with that. Sunday, as I mentioned above, is our busiest day of the week, so it’s basically survival mode!
The Reality of Life
The above routine is what everything would look like if it all worked out perfectly every day, but that’s obviously never the case! As Preacher Man likes to remind me, “Things won’t ever be perfect until we get to heaven.” This routine keeps me on track, though, with what I want to get accomplished. Usually I have to drop something here and there to make it all work, but having a routine to start with allows you to be more flexible with changing things up and staying on track.
Letting all of you take a peek inside a week at the tree house,