Our Simple Homeschool Routine ~ A Rhythm of Truth, Beauty, Goodness, and So Much Grace!


 

This morning I sat down with a sweet friend who will be beginning her homeschool journey soon.  We had a lovely time chatting through what my homeschool days look like and why I chose to do things the way I do.  Later I decided to type it all up for her (because who could possibly remember all that, especially the way I rabbit trail 😏) and then I realized that I might as well go ahead and share it with all of you too!

 

It’s a Rhythm, Not a Schedule!

Please note:  This is our routine.  It is NOT a schedule.  Schedules give me hives.  I never end up sticking to a schedule.  I cannot.  It’s a disease or something.  The very fact that there is a schedule hanging on the fridge is enough to make me decide to do something else for the day.  This of course, results in lots of unnecessary, unhealthy mama-guilt.

I have found that simply having a “do the next thing” mentality with my homeschool ideals for each day really helps to keep me on track and not stressed.  I can keep my heart focused, and my own rebelliousness in check.  It also helps me to avoid despair when things go awry.  I just stop, pray, and start where I left off.

Our routine can absolutely be converted into a schedule.  If you are a mama who finds security in a more structured day, consider this your rough draft outline!

However, if you are a Type B mama like myself, let me tell you a little bit about how we make this work.

 

Our Typical School Day

I’d say that we are about 3/4 Charlotte Mason in focus.. with a few bits that might not be considered consistent with her method, but that work very well for our individual family.

So here we go!

 

Mama’s Morning Time

I try to make sure I’m up by 6:30 (ideally sooner) for my own personal morning time and workout.  I love this time and often stick to it, BUT I don’t always sleep well.  Sometimes I wake up with a headache, or whacked-out hormones.  On those days I sleep longer and spend just a bit of time in prayer before making breakfast.

From that time on, I simply – do the next thing. –  I move from breakfast prep, to breakfast, to chores, and so on, throughout the entire day.  Interruptions happen all the time.  I just – do the next thing. –  Some days we get to every single thing.  A lot of days we don’t.

My absolute first priority is to keep my stress (and mama guilt) level as low as possible so that I can:

#1 – love my kids well,

#2 – share with them the delight of learning,

#3 – and grow together in an affection for truth, goodness, and beauty.

If I do these things well in a day, I declare it a good day!  Regardless of how my plans may have been jostled about!
  • Bible Study – I begin with a Psalm and prayer, then my formal Bible Study.  I attend Bible Study Fellowship and have daily readings/questions to work on each week.  I finish this time with a chapter of whichever devotional/theological/inspiring book I may be reading at the time.  I am currently just finishing The Pursuit of God by A.W. Tozer (again) and will soon be starting With Christ in the School of Prayer by Andrew Murray.
  • Workout – I have recently decided to get some serious rehab for my weak core and SIJD (lower back/hip disfunction) which I have had for many years.  I am several weeks into the Restore Your Core at home workout program and I am feeling better than I have.. ever?  It has helped 150%!  My SIJD is completely gone and my posture has improved dramatically for the first time in my life!  Best part is, if I miss this in the morning, all I need is 30 minutes and a yoga mat to fit it in later.  LOVE it!
  • Meal Prep – I nearly always listen to a podcast or audio book while I’m puttering around the kitchen (Schole Sisters, The Mason Jar, At Home with Sally, Circe Institute are some of my favorites). I am just not ready to interact with real people yet.  The kids know this and (usually) play quietly in their rooms once they’re finished with their Bible Study Fellowship homework.  During this time, I’m getting breakfast on the table and making any necessary preparations for dinner, feeding my sourdough, etc…

 

Breakfast and Chores

  • Devotions – During Breakfast I read a couple pages from either Leading Little Ones to God by Marian Schoolland or The Wellspring Children’s Bible by Lowell Hagan (which I received personally from the author and is not in print or available anywhere.  So sorry!)  We finish up by praying for our day and any concerns we may have.
  • Kitchen Clean-up
  • Homestead Chores

 

School Time

Once everything is tidy, the big kids get started on the schoolwork they can do independently while I focus on my 2 youngest children.

  • Reading Practice – Once the littlest begins to get tired, I send him off to play with legos, and invite my first grader over to practice his reading with me for about 10 minutes.  We use the book The Ordinary Parent’s Guide to Teaching Reading, which I chose to have spiral bound at the copy store so that it would survive many years of teaching phonics!

  • Math Lessons – Each week, my three oldests will need to begin a new math lesson.  I love Math-U-See for making this very easy for me (and catching me up on my sub-par math skills while we’re at it!) To begin a new lesson, we watch a short (5 minutes or less) DVD lesson together and then work through their first workbook page together to make sure they understand the concept.  (I may, or may not, be straining kefir or making a big batch of herbal tea while we do this. 😉)  Also, I try to make sure all 3 kids don’t need new math lessons on the same day, for obvious reasons.

  • Questions – During this time, I am also free to help/answer questions that my older two might have and to see that they stay on task.

 

Independent Work

 

4th Grader

  • Math Workbook – 2 pages (Math-U-See)
  • Math Facts – sometimes extra math facts practice on the Flash Master
  • Latin and Grammar – This Latin program (Prima Latina by Memoria Press) is very well done, but also very long, dry, and well.. kinda boring.  My super-Type-A first-born loves it, but I am expecting that when they are ready for Latin, I’ll need to find my youngers a more engaging Latin program.
  • Copy Work or Dictation – She chooses her own book to copy from (two sentences) Monday-Wednesday.  We use The McGuffey Eclectic Readers for her Dictation on Thursdays.
  • Spelling – (Spelling Power) This is technically not independent.  We start with a 5 minute quiz over new words (which requires my participation) and then she studies the words she has missed.  This is a wonderful spelling program!
  • Poetry Memorization – She chooses a new poem every week or so to memorize.  Once she has it memorized she will copy it into her poetry notebook and recite it to the family.  We have many poem books around the house, but most often she chooses from the book Favorite Poems Old and New by Helen Farris.
  • Independent History Reading – 20 minutes + written narration in her narration notebook.
  • Piano Practice – 15 minutes using the book Praise Notes Favorite Hymns for Kids.
  • Geography – She is using Draw the U.S.A. because we are studying American history this year.  She also practices her states and capitals on an old GeoSafari.

 

2nd Grader

Our 2nd grader (I use these labels for your sake, we don’t actually pay much attention to grade level) has all the same independent work as our 4th grader with just a few exceptions.

  • Math Workbook – 2 pages (Math-U-See)
  • Math Facts – sometimes extra math facts practice on the Flash Master
  • Phonics – 2 pages of her Explode the Code phonics workbook. These workbooks are so fantastic!  Aside from math, we choose not to use workbooks (and avoid all forms of busywork in general) but the Explode the Code series is remarkably well done.  All of my kids love them and it has been a very helpful supplement to reinforce the phonics they learn with me one-on-one.
  • Copy Work – She chooses her own book to copy from (2 sentences) Monday-Wednesday.
  • Spelling – (Spelling Power) This is technically not independent.  We start with a 5 minute quiz over new words (which requires my participation) and then she studies the words she has missed.  This is a wonderful spelling program!
  • Poetry Memorization – She chooses a new poem every week or so to memorize.  Once she has it memorized she will copy it into her poetry notebook and recite it to the family.  We have many poem books around the house, but most often she chooses from the book Favorite Poems Old and New by Helen Farris.
  • Independent History Reading – 20 minutes + an oral narration to me when she’s done.
  • Piano Practice – 15 minutes using the book Praise Notes Favorite Hymns for Kids.
  • Geography – She is using Draw the U.S.A. because we are studying American history this year.  She also practices her states and capitals on an old GeoSafari.

 

1st Grader

 

Snack and Break (Outside!)

 

Together Time

This is when we pile onto the couch to enjoy all the loveliest ideas.  Someday when I’m an old lady and my kids are grown and gone, I’ll be longing for these sweet, sweet times.  (Of course, by then I’m sure I’ll have forgotten all about the squabbling, interrupting, potty breaks, and other various disasters that currently cause me grief. 😉) ~ Worth it!

We are not able to do our Together Time every day.  We try for 3-4 days, never less than twice per week.

  • Handwriting – We use our first few minutes to practice handwriting as a group.  Each child has his or her own notebook and I have a small whiteboard.  I show them how to write capital A (for instance) and then ask them to make 6 perfect As in their notebooks along with a word that begins with a capital A (Anne).  This is followed by the same for lowercase a.  My youngest participates, but is not required to write out words.  As my youngers put their notebooks away my olders follow the same process for cursive A.  This is very simple, takes only a few minutes and allows me to keep a close eye on poor pencil grip and letter formation habits.
  • Hymn Study – We use a Family Worship Hymnal to learn the verses of hymns that we love.  We go slowly through one verse at a time, discussing the meaning and then add it to the verses we have already learned.  In the past we have also used books such as Hymns for a Kid’s Heart by Bobbie Wolgemuth and Joni Eareckson Tada and Then Sings My Soul by Robert Morgan to learn more about the history and writers of many hymns.
  • Nursery Rhymes – We read a page or two from My Book House Volume 1, usually choosing one rhyme to repeat several times.

*By this point my youngest has usually wandered off in search of his legos, but often pops back in when he hears something interesting.*

For each of the following we read only a few pages per day and I require an oral narration from at least one child for each reading:

We rotate through the following topics, usually not adding more than one at a time in addition to what we have already done.

 

Kids go outside until lunch!

Lunch

My lunch is often a smoothie and I try to drink it while I’m putting food together for the kids.  This way, I can use up the last bit of their attention for our history study while their mouths are full at the table.

  • History – I generally choose one or more of the picture books we’ve collected for our current topic and/or a few chapters from our current history read aloud.  For instance, at the moment I have a giant stack of picture books about The Underground Railroad, The Civil War, and Abraham Lincoln.  Our current history read aloud is We Were There with Lincoln in the White House by Earl Schenk Miers.  I use Truth Quest History Book Lists to guide my history book choices.
  • History Notebooks – While I clean up our lunch mess, the older three kids make an entry in their history notebooks for each new person or topic we cover.  This doesn’t happen every day, just when we cover something new.  All the other days they help with the lunch mess!  🙂

 

 

Quiet Time

Each of my kids take an hour to free-read or play quietly by themselves.  The girls must finish any independent work that was not completed earlier in the day before they begin their free time.

The #1 rule for this time is that nobody in the house is allowed to talk to me.  (Introvert survival technique!)

 

Free Play

 

Evening Chores

 

Dinner Time

During dinner, we discuss all the interesting things we’ve read about and experienced throughout the day, which serves as another chance for narration and keeps Daddy in the loop with what we’re learning.

 

Bedtime

  • Family Read Aloud – Once everyone is cleaned up and ready for bed we snuggle up around the fire for our family read aloud.  Currently we are reading The Swiss Family Robinson (this is long, and tedious, and I’m kinda wishing I would have just gotten the audio!  But the kids LOVE it… so I persevere.)  A few of our past favorites have been Heidi, The Princess & The Goblin, The Little House Series, The Chronicles of Narnia, and The Hobbit.
  • Hymn – we choose a hymn to sing together.
  • Prayer – each family member has an opportunity to ask for prayer and suggest ways we can praise the Lord.  Then we take turns praying until everything is covered.  At this point we send the kids up to their beds and one of us will go up to tuck them in.
  • Scripture Memory – Each year or so, I choose several passages of scripture to tack up on the walls above the kids’ beds.  They are just right there in front of our faces, which helps to remind us to practice them together every evening.  They are also in a perfect place for the kids to see at night when they may need God’s Words to comfort them.  I usually choose passages that stand out to me from my own personal reading time.

Wednesdays at Grandma’s

homeschool kids with grandma

For the past nine years we have spent most Wednesdays at my Grandma’s house.  On these days we quickly get all our morning chores and independent schoolwork finished, lunches packed, dinner prepped, and hit the road.  (This is not actually quick, but we try.)

This can sometimes always be a challenge to pull off, but the effort is more than worth it.  The kids are a delight to my Grandma and she is – hands down – their favorite person on earth.  She loves to entertain them with little songs, poems, and stories from her childhood in the backwoods of Arkansas where she hauled water, picked cotton, played with paper dolls, and generally went about life barefoot.

Grandma lives about an hour south, so the (many, many, many) drives back and forth have provided us with LOTS of opportunity to listen to audio books.  I can’t tell you how much this strengthens our shared family culture.  We have spent hours upon hours visiting exciting places, fighting battles, running from the enemy, admiring heroes (both fictional and historical), laughing, holding back tears and shouting for joy… together!  I’m telling you, we never run out of things to talk about!

Our all-time favorites have been: James Herriot Stories for Children, The Little House Series (read by Cherry Jones), A Child’s Garden of Verses, Flower Fairy Alphabet,  Johnny Tremain, Justin Morgan Had a Horse, Stories by Beatrix Potter (Read by Meryl Streep), Tales from Shakespeare, The Complete Tales and Poems of Winnie the Pooh, General Washington: Spy-Master, Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH, A Door in the WallThe Secret GardenBlack Beauty, and I’m just going to stop now, because clearly I’m getting carried away…

 

Friday Scholé Day!

Homeschool Resources

This year I’ve started something new.  I’ve set aside Fridays for all the “extras” that are lovely and important, but which also require my attention and are difficult to fit into our regular school days.  Scholé Day gives us a relaxing/refreshing end to our week.

Scholé is defined as the act of restful learning, or pursuing truth through leisure.  Read more about the idea here.

  • No independent work on Scholé Day!
  • Nature Walk – After chores, etc.. we head out for a nice long nature walk together, bringing back anything interesting we may find.
  • Nature Notebooks – Each child has his or her own notebook for drawing, labeling, describing, or even writing poems about the things they find in nature.  We use special watercolor pencils that are set aside specifically for this time.
  • Handiwork – During this time, each of the kids run off to work on whatever their current project might be.  I am available to answer questions, problem solve, or get someone started on something new.  So far for handiwork we are learning to crochet, sew, felt, and whittle.

  • Lunch – The girls choose a recipe (usually from The Nourishing Traditions Cookbook for Children) to make for lunch on Fridays.  They often help to put lunch on the table, but on Fridays I have the time and presence of mind to help them learn new things and follow a recipe.  During or after our meal on Fridays I read from our most beloved Old Mother West Wind Stories.  We’ve read these sweet stories over and over since the kids were tiny.  I don’t believe we’ll ever get tired of them.
  • Music Lessons – My first and second grader have a recorder lesson with me using The Nine-Note Recorder Method book.  My olders take extra time to practice the piano (on this keyboard), but have their weekly lesson with Daddy on Sundays.  I’m still learning and they’ve passed me already!
  • Composer StudyThe Classics for Kids Podcast is a great way to learn a bit about famous composers and the music they write.  We use this podcast and our good, old Spotify while the kids color and listen.  Someday once we’ve exhausted the podcast, I’ll likely purchase the Maestro Classics CDs.  I’ve heard that they are fantastic.
  • Chalk PastelsChalk pastels are so much fun!  Mostly because you can create really beautiful artwork without a lot of skill.  Mistakes are easily smeared away and the colors are so vibrant and beautiful.  The You Are an Artist website has lots of tutorials and ideas.

  • This is also a great day to fit in playdates with friends or special outings.

* We do not usually get to everything on our Scholé list every Friday, but we always make sure to start with Nature Study.

 

Homeschooling is Freedom

Take advantage of this freedom to serve YOUR unique family!

It has taken us quite some time to develop this routine that is so perfectly suited to our family.  It took me years to realize that I am just not ever going to be happy trying to squeeze myself into the preferences and schedules of other people!

With much prayer, trial, and error, I’ve finally found a rhythm that works well for my personality and in which I have the margin and presence of mind to consider the moment by moment needs of my children.  We don’t stick to anything perfectly.  We are continually growing in discipline and in grace, and are thankful for the freedom to be able to do that together as a family.

Tests, state standards, schedules, and boxes checked are not the proof that my children are learning and thriving.  The proof is in the fact that they LOVE to LEARN and love each other!  They are constantly reading, writing, noticing, discovering, and sharing their thoughts with others, not only when I require them to, but during their free time as well.

It is a joy to be around these little people and a privilege to learn alongside them.

 

I hope that this post is a blessing to you and a springboard toward finding your best rhythm.

 

Look for future posts with more details copywork/dictation, narration, and preschool at our house.

 

Pin it for Later

A glimpse inside our Charlotte Mason day. It's not a homeschool schedule, it's a homeschool routine! We go with the flow and get it all done in the end with a Classical, Charlotte Mason method.. #homeschoolroutine #CharlotteMason #classicalhomeschooling #homeschoolcurriculumideas #homeschoolschedule #homeschoolpreschool #schole #readaloud #truthbeautygoodness

 

More Helpful Resources:

One Simple Habit to transform your homeschool day - Thanks & Confessions

Homeschooling Resources

 

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23 comments on “Our Simple Homeschool Routine ~ A Rhythm of Truth, Beauty, Goodness, and So Much Grace!

  1. Trent Ruble on said:

    This is an extremely sophisticated routine! Your kids will be smarter than me by the time they’re… OK, they’re already smarter than me. You’re doing a fantastic job of being a mother and a teacher!

  2. Seriously, such a blessing to read this post. Thank you so much for sharing. Homeschooling is such a joyful and fulfilling gift.

  3. Sarah on said:

    I love this! I came upon it on pinterest..and I am a teacher with a unique job. I homeschool someone’s kid for a job! My husband and I are toying with the idea of homeschooling our Kindergartner and preschool age kids. Not sure if that’s where the Lord is leading, but this gave me some much needed inspiration.

    • Ashley on said:

      I’m so glad Sarah! Homeschooling is definitely hard (like sanctification hard) but it has been a thousand times worth it for our family. May the Lord lead you in His wisdom!

  4. Rebecca on said:

    This was such a sweet article and read add a great time when I’m very anxious about homeschooling with my young family. I love how you have Friday’s open for the extras; how do you do school days on your Bible study Fellowship days? I am attending that study right now and love it

    • Ashley on said:

      BSF is so great, isn’t it? This year my husband takes the three school-aged kids to the men’s evening class. I take my littlest to Grandma’s house while I go to the women’s evening class.
      When they were all kindergarten and younger I packed them all up and took them to the women’s day class. Those were sweet crazy times! The BSF preschool program is truly the most precious (and powerful) thing ever! ❤ Last year a friend and I worked it out so that she took my preschooler along with hers to the day class while I watched her 2nd grader, who just joined in our school morning.
      It’s a little tricky with multiple ages, but so worth it if you can make it work! And if you need to count it as school hours I ABSOLUTELY wouldn’t hesitate! Lots of higher-level thinking and memory work at all the age levels!

  5. I am just starting my second week of homeschooling. I am so thankful for blogging homeschooling mothers who share their plans and days, it helps, inspires, and encourages so much! Thank you!

    • Ashley on said:

      Thanks so much for reading Sarah! Praying for grace, wisdom, and lots of encouragement as you get started!

  6. Alicia on said:

    Thank you for sharing your routine I found it helpful in trying to create my own routine for my youngest.
    As a fellow chicken momma, mother of 4, and an Arkansas native I enjoyed your photos and post.

  7. Angelita on said:

    I love your scheadule (rythym) ! Could i just ask do you let your children watch TV? Do you include that in your day? I feel so guilty i think i let my girls watch too much TV.

    • Ashley on said:

      We don’t have tv as a regular part of our day. We save it for rainy/sick/grouchy type days, especially if I’m trying to get dinner made or something and they can’t go outside. It is so helpful in a pinch, but I find that the more tv time they get, the fussier and more unruly they become overall.
      We don’t actually have tv, just a collection of dvds. One trick that has worked is that we only have several preschool dvds (Boz, Curious George, Little Bear) + the BBC Planet Earth. That’s it. They all love Planet Earth, but as the kids get older they get tired of Curious George, etc.. and usually when it’s on they find something more interesting to do!
      Cutting back will be hard at first, but should get easier over time. Anytime I’ve felt the need to cut back I’ve usually found it easier to cut it out completely for a week (or several). That way they eventually quit asking and learn how to occupy themselves. Once they seem to be able to handle themselves, I’ll add it back in only where it’s helpful.
      The exception to this is at Christmas time. We watch lots of Christmas movies together during the month of December.
      Remember this is just how we do it. Not necessarily a prescription for you!

  8. maria on said:

    Hello we love your homeschool routine. Do you put in tv time with your children?

    • Ashley on said:

      Hi Maria, here is my response to a similar question about tv in the comments above. Hope it’s helpful!

      We don’t have tv as a regular part of our day. We save it for rainy/sick/grouchy type days, especially if I’m trying to get dinner made or something and they can’t go outside. It is so helpful in a pinch, but I find that the more tv time they get, the fussier and more unruly they become overall.
      We don’t actually have tv, just a collection of dvds. One trick that has worked is that we only have several preschool dvds (Boz, Curious George, Little Bear) + the BBC Planet Earth. That’s it. They all love Planet Earth, but as the kids get older they get tired of Curious George, etc.. and usually when it’s on they find something more interesting to do!
      Cutting back will be hard at first, but should get easier over time. Anytime I’ve felt the need to cut back I’ve usually found it easier to cut it out completely for a week (or several). That way they eventually quit asking and learn how to occupy themselves. Once they seem to be able to handle themselves, I’ll add it back in only where it’s helpful.
      The exception to this is at Christmas time. We watch lots of Christmas movies together during the month of December.
      Remember this is just how we do it. Not necessarily a prescription for you!

  9. Kristen on said:

    I have never commented on a blog before, but I just have to say how much of a blessing this post has been to me (and hopefully my son once implemented), he is very bright and at 2 is very wellspoken and already requesting me to read from his Winnie the Pooh Chapter book! I knew I needed to add more structure and start challenging him in a healthy way but I had no idea where to start! This post has helped so much, I can’t wait to start implementing some of these things with my boy and our foster son for the time that we have him. Thanks for taking the time to lay everything out with all the links and everything, this is exactly what I was hoping to find!

    • Ashley on said:

      Oh Kristen I’m so glad! This makes my heart so happy! Praying your new learning time with the boys is a forever blessing! ❤

  10. Laura on said:

    Ok, I’d love to require no talking to mom time…how do you do that!? My children are 5,3 and 1…when did you start introducing this? (We would do it during nap time, cuz the babe won’t understand;)

    • Ashley on said:

      Laura, we do it very imperfectly! “No talking to mom time” is what was once nap time, but now my kids have all outgrown their naps. It’s just an hour or so in the afternoon when the kids each go to a separate part of the house to play or read quietly and aren’t allowed to come out and talk to me. They do sometimes, but I remind them that I need a break from talking to kids. It’s just something we’ve grown into over time and which requires constant problem-solving (like everything else about parenting). Sometimes when people’s kids outgrow nap time they don’t force a quiet time during the day, but I need it to survive!!

  11. Julie Leon on said:

    This is great! Just curious, when do you have your kids get dressed, make their beds, etc? Before breakfast or after your breakfast clean-up? And with the younger ones who need assistance with those morning routines, how do you work that in (or how did you before you had older ones to help the littlest if that’s what you did for a season or do now)?

    Thanks!

    • Ashley on said:

      We usually eat breakfast in pajamas and then as they get up from the table I ask them to get dressed and start their chores, though sometimes I’m running slow with breakfast and we swap it: dressed and chores first, then breakfast. These days they can all handle this b/c my youngest is five. When he was littler I’d usually ask one of the older girls to help him pick out clothes and bring them down to me so I could get him dressed. He would just play with toys while the other kids went about their chores.
      When they were all younger we had a lot less going on, no homestead for example, and a lot less school work to accomplish in the day. In the very early years when I had 4 kids under 5 (!!!) my day was pretty much focused on diapers, dishes, toys, naps, etc.. and in the midst of those things I made sure to work on phonics with my 5 year old, letters and #s with my 4 year old, and read as many, many, many beautiful picture books as I could fit into our day.
      As far as staying tidy, I usually use meal times as points in the day to stop and tidy. “Tidy up and then come sit down at the table.”

      • Julie Leon on said:

        Thank you, Ashley!! I so appreciate you writing this out. This is very helpful for me now! I have a just turned five-year-old, three and a half-year-old, and 8 day old! 😉