How To Create a Realistic Routine for Homeschooling

Welcome to How To Homeschool—a series addressing all aspects of secular homeschooling. You can view all the posts in the series so far here.

Wondering how to create a realistic routine for homeschooling? Worrying your kids might not be doing enough academic work? Looking for reassurance that you will find your groove and it won’t always be this hard?

A previous post {Developing a Framework For Your Days} addressed overall plans such as determining a calendar for the year, daily work requirements, and the level of independence expected from your student{s}. 

This post will explore more specifically what you need to do day-to-day to create a realistic routine for homeschooling your children.

Open book with two pages wrapped into the shape of a heart. Text reads: How to homeschool, creating a realistic routine

Let Go of the School Day Mindset

Honestly, even with the best laid plans it will take you a while to feel comfortable with your approach to homeschooling. There is no “right way” to plan your days. Even when you feel like you have it all down, life happens and things go awry. We have been educating at home for nearly nine years now, and we still periodically change up the way we do things. 

However, I can assure you of this:
Homeschooling will take way less time than you think.

Seriously, do not worry that you need to account for 6-7 hours of academics each day. Structured learning might be 1-4 hours total depending on the ages of your kids. Maybe an hour or two a day for elementary, two or three hours for middle school, and perhaps a bit more if you have an older student doing significant independent work.

Remember, it will take much less time to finish everything once you lose the distractions of homeroom, lockers, dozens of other students, chatting, cafeteria drama, transitions between classes, etc. Teaching a few kids one-on-one is nothing at all like teaching a classroom full of students. 

I can assure you of this: Homeschooling will take way less time than you think. Click To Tweet

Your days will include a lot more free time, and this can be both a blessing and a curse. At first you may feel your students are “wasting” the day or “not doing enough”—especially if they are coming from a public school environment where most of their activities are planned out in detail.

If you feel that you must have a more specific schedule to function, consider dividing your day into blocks. Perhaps block out an hour for “every day” subjects like math and reading, then another block for rotating subjects like science and history. Have a certain time of day for independent reading or music practice or art. Put lunch and recess on the calendar as separate blocks as well. 

This is often a good compromise for first-time homeschoolers who feel they need to follow more of a set plan. In my experience, however, the longer one homeschools, the easier it is to let go of preconceived notions of scheduling and “shoulds.”

I am sure this is also why so many veteran homeschoolers recommend deschooling.

What Our Daily Routine Looks Like

Everyone’s ideal homeschooling day will look different. Keep in mind that being able to create a realistic routine for homeschooling will take some time and a bit of trial and error. If you struggle with what to do next, perhaps taking a look at our current routine will spark some ideas. 

Following is what we typically do on a weekday when we have no outside commitments. This is what our daily routine looks like right now with an 8th, 6th, and 3rd grader. Times are approximate, but very rarely change by more than 15 minutes either direction.

{On days we go out—whether that be to pick up library books, for appointments and errands, or simply meeting homeschool friends at the bookstore or park—we generally do so in the morning and follow an adjusted “afternoon school” schedule.}

Keep in mind that being able to create a realistic routine for homeschooling will take some time and a bit of trial and error. Click To Tweet

I should also note here that of course I am doing chores and blogging and cooking and keeping the household running throughout the day as well. But, for purposes of this post I am primarily focused on what the Agents do with their time.

{5:00+} Wake Up

On any given day I am likely downstairs making coffee and feeding the cat no later than 5:30. The Agents wake up whenever they are ready. All three are almost always awake by 8:00, often much earlier. We do not have a set wake time or use alarms.

Prior to our first meal of the day, everyone is pretty much doing their own thing {reading, phone/computer time, drawing, playing, etc.}.

{8:45} Breakfast and Getting Ready

After we eat, everyone brushes their teeth and gets dressed. Agent E often practice an instrument or works on a sewing project while the younger Agents play.

{10:15} Start School

We start our homeschool day with some brief stretching/yoga. Then we do “table work”—mostly math and language arts written work with some geography or science puzzles, experiments, or other workbooks thrown in. 

Everyone works together at the kitchen table and I am available to assist as needed. I don’t lecture or share “lessons” or “teach” them per se. I am just there to help guide as they work through most things themselves. 

{12:00} Lunch and Break 

Sometimes we start lunch a little later if morning school time runs over. Usually all three kids head upstairs and entertain themselves for a bit afterward. 

{1:15} Reading Together

We follow a loop schedule, which simply means we have a shelf of books we’re in the middle of and we rotate through them. We choose whatever is next in the rotation, read aloud, and discuss as needed. Then we move it to the end, and start the next one. We cover a variety of subjects, including but not limited to science, American and world history, mythology, world religions, health, and art.

{2:30} Free Time

We usually go outside {weather permitting} for at least an hour, often longer. If it is too cold or raining, the Agents might read, message friends, complete an art project, or some other indoor activity.

Pink highlighter checking off boxes on a blank checklist. Text reads: How to create a realistic routine for homeschooling.

{4:45} Dinner 

Yes, we eat dinner very early. We don’t snack during the day, so everyone is super hungry by late afternoon.

{5:30} Free Time

This could be more outside time {depending on time of year and weather permitting}. If not, the younger two Agents will read or color or play together while the oldest reads, listens to music, or works on more sewing.

{6:15} Showers

Everyone likes to be bathed and in their pajamas early. Contrary to what you may have heard about homeschoolers, unless someone is ill, we do get dressed in real clothes every day. 

{7:00} Watch TV

Evening is the only time the television is on. We don’t have cable {so we are not checking local news or weather during the day} and we don’t like background noise. We thoroughly enjoy this time planted on the couch together. 

Although sometimes our viewing is educational—we love a good David Attenborough documentary—lately we’ve been binge watching Clone Wars and We Bare Bears. Snacks are frequently involved.

{8:45} Bed

Everyone {kids, adults, and cat} goes upstairs to get ready for bed somewhere between 8:30 and 8:45. Very early by some standards, I know. But we all wake up early and prefer our quiet, alone time to be in the morning.

But . . . It Can’t Be That Simple. Can It?

Actually, it can and it is. We all learn new things every day. But, we also spend a great deal of our time on individual pursuits and simply relaxing and enjoying life. We don’t feel that we need to fill our days being busy for the sake of busy-ness. 

Hopefully seeing the example of our daily plan will assist you with how to create a realistic routine for homeschooling that works for your family. 

Are you new to homeschooling? I would love to hear how things are going for you, so leave a comment. I encourage you to check out the other posts in the How To Homeschool series as well. 

Thanks so much for stopping by today. If you enjoyed this post, I would love to connect with you on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or Pinterest. You can also sign up to receive new posts via our monthly e-mail newsletter here.

This Post Has 10 Comments

  1. Avatar

    This has been so hard. I am a retired teacher age 69. I am homeschooling my grandson in K while my daughter is struggling to keep up with her job. He has always come to my house to play. He is not happy to come to my house to go to school. His teachers send work that must be completed. He’s mad at me. My relationship with him will be changed forever. I cry every night. I’m trying so hard. We aren’t working long hours but he doesn’t understand.

    1. Valerie

      Kindergarten {whether public school or home school} should be fun, not discouraging. So sorry you are going through this. ❤️

  2. Avatar

    Thank you for tempering homeschool through realistic eyes. I see so many people who are being way too hard on themself and their child, leading to frustration and very limited learning.

    1. Valerie

      Yes, I think a lot of folks have very distorted expectations right now. I am hoping to offer encouragement and insight to those who feel they are struggling. Thank you so much for stopping by, Kimberlie. ❤️

  3. Avatar

    This is so useful. I’m already worrying that I won’t be able to fit in as much as there should be. Thanks for sharing this.

    1. Valerie

      I am glad you found it helpful, Natalie. Thank you for visiting. ❤️

  4. Avatar

    I’m impressed. I don’t think I’ve gotten up before 6am for anything other than to catch a flight. Sounds like a realistic routine. Thanks for sharing

    1. Valerie

      That used to be me, too. I can’t actually remember when I “crossed over” into Morning Person territory, but now I can’t imagine anything else. Thank you for stopping by today. ❤

  5. Avatar
    Lisa Marie Alioto

    Thank you for making this all seem more realistic. 🙂 Breaking it down really helps!

    1. Valerie

      I’m glad you found it useful. Thanks for visiting. ❤

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