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Our Homeschooling Baselines and Routines

blog homeschool Sep 07, 2020

And how we've slooowly adjusted!



If you do a quick google or Pinterest search “How to homeschool,” you’ll get as many opinions are there are posts.


It can get mighty overwhelming, mighty fast.


Like I said in my previous COVID School Series post about why WE chose to homeschool, you don’t need to have all the expert know-how to make choices about how YOU are going to homeschool.


I have the tendency to do allllll the things; and I knew homeschooling could easily fall into that trap for me.


Luckily, with years of my own personal development and habit formation obsessions, I know that going full throttle with anything is not sustainable.


Our homeschooling baselines and routines


With every new habit/routine, you need a “baseline.” A baseline is something that you can do, even on the worst of days. 


It’s not a cop-out; it’s the way to consistency and true, lasting habit formation.


Homeschooling is no different. So, I first envisioned our ideal homeschooling day, from routines to curriculum. Then, I came up with baselines for those things.


Here’s what that will look like for us, even if that is “eventually:”


  1. 2 hours of “school” a day
  2. Hit on: reading, writing, and math


Anything extra (art, history, and science) are just cherries on the top of my homeschooling sundae. And even that “time” allotment can include a hike, cooking something together, or reading as “school.”


The research shows that the BEST thing you can do for your kids education is to provide plenty of time and space for creative play and lots of reading. Because we live in a real world though, I don’t think that’s “enough” for them to eventually be thriving adults functioning in society; but it’s our foundation.


I said “will look like” earlier because we are still working on even hitting those baselines.


Why? We are gradually adjusting to homeschooling life. (This goes back to all the habit-formation stuff I’m obsessed with. Again, if you want routines to last, you need to build them up gradually. And I want homeschooling to not feel like torture every day.)


Our current baselines...


For the first few days, we focused on just getting a 20-30 minute family “Circle Time” established. We then came up with our school name, motto, and school rules together. 


Our Circle Time includes chanting our school motto (“We create. We serve. We lead. We Soar.”), doing a mindfulness exercise, deep breathing, affirmations, and me reading to all of them. 


Once that wasn’t like the worst thing ever, then we added on a ~15-minute writing and typing club station afterward. Writing includes a short entry in their Loom Journals and answering that day’s prompt in a composition journal.


Most recently, we added on a math station. My oldest child does it online and the other uses Horizons books, until his math curriculum comes from the Good and the Beautiful.


Now, my older two have been working on doing those two stations largely independently while I teach my 5 year old one-on-one, with our little 2 year old sidekick. I am teaching him how to read with a phonics-central curriculum found in this book, + handwriting and a little Horizons math


More COVID-School resources linked at the bottom of this post.


Next, we’ll add on a required “read to your little brothers” + more independent reading for the big kids. I will alternate checking in on their work and helping the little ones be guided in their play. And for the little ones, I’ll be adding more of the day-to-day curriculum from Miss Kelsey’s monthly box


(My 2 year old just comes in and out of learning as he pleases, but he is curious and likes to be part of the party--so I know he’ll learn via osmosis:)


And later, we’ll do more history, art, and science-y things in the afternoon. This will likely be ½ hour to hour doses, including lots of field trips, nature walks, and hiking.


But the baselines? Always a little time: writing, reading, and math. If they even get a little bit of that and the rest goes to crap, then it’s OK for that day. Especially on days where one or all of my kids need to have me prioritize connection with them over getting their schooling done. (We had a day like that just this week, actually.) 


What do our days look outside of school time?


Here’s the schedule:


6-6:30 AM: I am up and and get in a cardio session, either outside hiking/runing/biking, or inside during winter.


~7:30 AM: Kids up and must be dressed and beds made in order to have breakfast. They eat breakfast while I read from our daily poetry book and Come Follow Me.


Kids must brush teeth and hair, and do a morning chore (we have these on popsicle sticks), and practice the piano with me (like 10 minutes:)  in order to have free time until school starts. 


~8:30 - 10 AM: Kids play (read, art, go outside, legos, etc.) while I finish strength training (usually with a kid or two at my feet), shower, get ready, and set up school. (My 7 year old gets paid a little each morning to monitor the 2 year old while I get ready).


10 AM - Noon: SCHOOL! (Circle time - stations for big kids while mom teaches little kids - check off work and alternate reading/art)


Noon: Lunch


1-4 PM: Free time + reading + EXTRA school (eventually we’ll do a little history/science/art time for ½ hour to hour, or go on a field trip)


It has been hard to balance.


As for working part-time, I work a little most afternoons while they do independent play as Brad and I keep an eye on them; but mostly, I’m back to working a ton at night and also the WORST with messages and email. 


Right now, Brad and I are trying to have him tap in with the kids in the afternoons so I can work for an hour or more. But, this doesn’t seem ideal, long-term. I think with time, I will likely hire a babysitter (if it’s safe) to watch the kids a few to most afternoons a week for 2-3 hours. It’s AMAZING what moms can do with a little time and lots of focus, am I right ladies??!


Just remember...


Let’s review so this is most helpful for you; instead of it being another overwhelming internet advice article.


  1. Come up with your ideal vision of what schooling could be like
  2. Break that ideal down into baselines (things you can do even on the worst of days)
  3. Gradually introduce even those baselines (one mini routine at a time, then build and build)


You got this!!!


Check out the other posts in the COVID School Series:
Your Complete Guide to HomeschoolWhy We Are Homeschooling This Year


Click the images for complete lists of resources!



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