How do you get it all done? How long does homeschooling take? If you’ve been homeschooling for long, then I can guess you’ve been asked those questions. You might also be wondering if your experience is “normal”. When it comes to a secular homeschool daily routine, there isn’t really such a thing as normal. Every family and household will be different. However, I can share with you my top tips for a daily homeschool schedule.
Homeschool Daily Routine
I homeschool my four kids full time and I also work part-time from home so I’ve never been able to be too lackadaisical about our homeschool day. It’s honestly also just not in my nature (hello enneagram 3s!). Keep your own temperament in mind when planning your homeschool daily routine and play to your own strengths. It will set you up for a more enjoyable day!
How Do I Make a Daily Schedule for Homeschool?
- Write down the non-negotiables first. For example, I’ve worked at least part-time the entire time I’ve homeschooled. Although in theory these were “flexible” work hours, my mind is most functional during the day so I made it a priority to do them when I could still think straight.
- Consider your family’s normal routines. Do you have late sleepers or early risers? Do you have kids who like to stay in their pajamas all day or kids who like to get up and dressed and ready?
- Use chunks of time rather than a tied-to-the-clock schedule. Inevitably, distractions will arise. Following a rhythm will help you get through the items you have to do without feeling rushed or “behind”.
- Plan around anchors in your day. Anchors are the things that don’t really change. For example, my kids are generally up at the same time and eating breakfast together. This is a great opportunity for me to do their read aloud or practice poetry memorization. Another anchor in our day is tea time in the mid-afternoon. It’s another great opportunity to do some of the reading for school.
- Give the kids checklists for their own studies. I give my kids quite a bit of independence in school. They each get a daily or weekly checklist with everything they need to do. They are welcome to do as much of it on their own as they can. Some of my kids prefer to do each day and don’t work ahead. Others will get their whole week’s worth of work done in the first few days.
What Does a Sample Homeschool Schedule Look Like?
Our homeschool daily routine can look different depending on the day but here is a sample schedule for us. Sometimes just seeing someone else’s “day in the life” will help you visualize your own.
How Many Hours a Day Should I Homeschool?
When you’re planning your homeschool day, keep in mind the education is happening all day long. Attention spans are short and kids are like sponges – just ready to soak up all the information.
In the elementary years, 1-2 hours of structured schoolwork is really enough. Cover the core subjects: language arts, math, science and social studies. If you follow a Charlotte Mason homeschool philosophy then keep these subjects short – 15 minutes for the younger years. The middle schoolers should have 2-3 hours of structured work and high schoolers can plan for 4-5 hours.
Obviously these ranges will vary depending on your kids’ personalities and strengths but don’t overdo it. When your kid is getting nearly 1:1 attention they are able to focus on the school work more readily.
As a homeschool mom you might be tempted to cram in all types of subjects and electives but remember children learn best through play. Giving them the free time to explore and learn and discover is really the best education.
What Do You Do on the First Day of homeschooling?
If you have pulled your kids out of public school you might need to chat a bit about what homeschool will look like as it is very different from just doing school at home. Many homeschooling families, both religious and secular, will have special traditions on the first day.
Oftentimes this tradition involves going to the public swimming pool or a park and having a “Not Back to School Party”. (Hey, I didn’t say homeschoolers can’t be petty!) We like to revel in the use of public facilities without the general public there.
Our family doesn’t have a set tradition for the first day but over the years we have gone for a special hike, done science all day (our favorite!), and gone over math facts by following recipes. I loved the smell and feel of fresh school supplies as a kid. Even though we don’t have to have all the supplies at the beginning of the year I try to recreate that feeling for my kids. We take first day of school pictures – although some years these are in our pajamas!
What does a Homeschool Day Look Like?
Up above I showed you a sample homeschool schedule straight from my life, but what does a day really look like in reality? Especially when you are homeschooling multiple kids?
Our routine is to start with breakfast and I read a book or poetry to them while they are eating. Then they are supposed to get dressed and do just a few chores and meet me back at the dining room table at 9 a.m.
My oldest is pretty independent so I go over his list with him and he gets started. He likes to start with math. At the same time my oldest daughter gets started on her language arts assignments (she takes this class at a charter school). Another kid also prefers to start with math so I explain the directions to her and let her get started.
The youngest is probably still “getting ready” so there’s some reminding that it is now past 9 and she needs to get started on school. She assures me she will – very soon.
In the meantime I start lunch and supper. Answer questions from other kids who are working in the living room and kitchen and get them started on their next subjects.
Once the little one is “ready” we meet on the couch in the living room and do our Social Studies all together. This involves reading, watching short documentary clips and mapwork or timeline work.
I encourage my kids if they get stuck to move on to the next subject or next problem until I can get to them. We try really hard to be finished by noon so I can work my part-time job in the afternoons. I also try to have them do the things they are going to need help with first (math, grammar, etc). This way if they don’t quite get finished by noon they can finish later in the afternoon on their own.
At lunch, I read to them again or we review math problems or I quiz them on geography. We try to make it a fun, relaxed time but also keep covering the material from our curriculum.
After lunch they have chores to do and free time until their extracurriculars start.
Throughout the homeschool day, I tend to float between kids and assist them when needed. Teach your kids a special symbol or code to use when they need help so you can let them know you are aware of their need, but they also feel comfortable waiting. For us, the kids come and touch my arm and wait for me to nod at them. I will get to them as soon as I can.
What to do with Younger Siblings in the Homeschool Day?
I’ve been homeschooling from the very beginning so those of you with new babies, toddlers and young ones – I’ve been there. If you are in this stage – keep your expectations low. Relax. Breathe. And keep it fun. Oh, gosh, if I could go back in time and tell myself to take a giant chill pill when my kids were little, I definitely would.
When you have a newborn and toddlers and one you are trying to school – just keep your school schedule simple. Read all throughout the day (not necessarily during school hours). At this stage your little ones are just like sponges. They learn so fast and pick up so much. Focus your energy on being outside and playing.
If you have a particularly rambunctious toddler who makes it difficult to get things done with your school-age child, keep a bin of “special” toys for school time. These toys are something they don’t get to play with at any other time. And switch them out relatively frequently to keep the toddler’s interest. Sensory buckets, Legos, trains, marble towers, lacing cards, are all great options for these special toys. Oh, and glitter gel pens and smelly markers. My kids loved those.
Just remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day, and your homeschool routine won’t be either. Every year it takes a few days to get into your groove and feel the rhythm of your days. You learn to adjust to the unexpected disturbances that come up. And, mamas, make sure you take a little bit of time each day just for you. Even if it’s just 5 minutes doing shoulder rolls and deep breathing by yourself – you need some care time as well.
I hope seeing my daily routine and homeschool schedule has helped you with yours. If you have specific questions please ask! We’ve tried a variety of things over the years but this is my preferred daily schedule for homeschool.