Having routines for homeschooling and housework helps our lives run more smoothly. Sure, there are weeks when the routine gets thrown completely out the window, but most of our weekdays follow a routine which is fairly predictable. Using a routine helps ensure that my kids have minimal resistance to doing housework, because they know what to expect and what is expected of them daily.
Our routine also makes our exploration of academics more effective: because my children know that I am only available for academic pursuits for a set time each day, they are motivated for us to do as much as we can while I am available before I start my work hours.
It's been several years since I blogged about our homeschool routine, so I thought I'd post an update about what our days are looking like now. My kids are now 6 and 9, and what currently works as a good balance is to incorporate learning and housework both throughout the day.
I let the kids sleep as late as they want to in the morning. They are usually up and out of bed by 7:30 or 8am, and then we start our morning routine. Our morning routine is an essential part of getting our day going in the right direction. On days when we have skipped our morning routine, we seem somewhat directionless and disoriented, with more-frequent sibling squabbles and making it less likely that we will have a beautiful homeschool day.
From start-to-finish, our morning routine takes about 60-90 minutes. I have a few different methods for ensuring that everyone stays on-task during our morning routine, but the method I use most often is putting on a music or Spanish CD after breakfast for us to listen to as we go about our routines.
Read-Aloud and Breakfast - We start with a read-aloud first thing in the morning, either while snuggling on the couch or while the kids are eating breakfast. (Lately, our morning read-aloud has typically been a picture book or Life of Fred). One of my children eats at a rather slow-and-steady pace, so there is usually plenty of time for me to read aloud after I have finished my own breakfast.
Kitchen Family Work - The kids and I work together to empty the dishwasher each morning. One child is assigned to empty the silverware basket, and the other puts away all of the children's dishes, which are stored in a low cabinet. I put away the remainder and empty the dish drainer.
Morning Chores - We each have our own chores to do every morning. The children alternate days on washing and loading the breakfast dishes into the dishwasher. On the alternate days when they are not washing breakfast dishes, the children each do another chore, such as vacuuming the living room, scrubbing a bathroom toilet or sink, or straightening up the craft/project table. The children also feed and water the dog daily. My own morning chores include starting a load of laundry, cleaning up dog poo outside, and filling the birdfeeder.
Bedroom and Self Care - We each make our beds, brush our teeth, and get dressed for the day.
2-3 days per week, after our morning routine we have school time. Our school time lasts for 1-2 hours, which may not sound like much time, but we usually accomplish quite a bit in that short time. Because we use the Leadership Education philosophy, I am focusing on nurturing my children's love of learning and I do not force the kids to participate in school activities. However, they enjoy this part of our days, and happily choose to participate.
Alternate Weeks - The children have alternating weeks where they get to choose what we will do during school time. They love this!
Physical Activity - Our school time often includes a short walk or bike ride, as we all feel better when we are getting plenty of physical activity. Sometimes the physical activity will segue into an extended nature study time.
Academic Resources - The children can choose from our many curriculum options. The academic resources that my children currently choose to use most often are:
Life of Fred math book
Bedtime Math book
Our current read-aloud chapter book
Lunch and Free Play/Work Time
After our morning school time 2-3 days per week, we have lunch and then free play/work time.
Lunch - I usually make a quick lunch for the three of us around 11:30AM. We eat together and then I clean up the dishes.
Free Play for Kids - The kids have 2-3 hours of free play time. They often have long imaginative play sessions during this time. My 9-year-old also often uses some of this time to work on crafts/projects. Knowing that they have this time scheduled for free play each day makes my kids more motivated to dig into school/academic topics in the morning before I go to work in the computer room.