schedule (noun) ~ a list of planned activities or things to be done showing the times or dates when they are intended to happen or be done or a timetable or list of the times when events are planned to happen.
routine (noun) ~ a sequence of actions regularly followed or a usual or fixed way of doing things.
A routine is a pattern by which you live. It gives structure and order to your day, but it doesn’t dictate exactly when things should be done. It allows you to find a flow that works for you on the day you happen to be living.
By now you have realized that it may be better to follow a routine rather than a schedule as Mary shared at Parnips & Paisley, but when one starts a new educational program or curriculum, a schedule is often necessary to ensure that the work is covered in the allotted time.
If the schedule has you constantly looking at the clock and rushing from one task to the next, and feeling stressed and overwhelmed, you could easily fall into striving and performance instead of enjoying the learning journey, especially if you suffer from perfectionist tendencies,
I tried to schedule everything. I often became discouraged and felt like a failure. When I decided to ignore the times listed on the schedule and follow the schedule as a suggestion or proposed outline, I immediately felt relieved and revived. I gained confidence as we gradually found our own basic routine, and I freed myself from the self-inflicted torture that each failed schedule brought.
So, how does one set up a routine?
- Decide what is really important such as – building faith, making and eating meals together, working together as a family in caring for home and animals, reading good books, and learning about ___.
- Find the time-flow for your family – who is an early riser or who needs more time to wake? When does your family get their best work done? When are their creative times? Homeschooling allows the freedom to set suggested starting times for the different elements of the day. With young children, it is often best to start early and work until tea-time, lunch and nap times. Teenagers often move into a very different time flow and this is when it is best to give them the liberty to sleep longer and work later in the day. Moms, remember to consider your own energy levels!
- Identify your important daily events which form pillars in your home such as mealtimes – where activities fit before and after breakfasts, lunches and dinners at more or less the same time each day. We are farmers, and so daily milking forms an important daily event. Create your routine around these times.
- Create habits – start with your important daily events and add the most important activities around those; such as morning chores before breakfast, school seat-work before lunch, creative hobbies after lunch, pack away before dinner, etc. Keep it simple and don’t throw everything in it at once. Once your family find their flow in those elements, you have space to add more things in. Stick to it to create habit.
- Be flexible. This may seem to be contradictory, but if your routine isn’t clicking and something feels off, adapt or change it. You are the ruler of the routine, it shouldn’t rule you. If one day you feel like straying completely from the norm, by all means, do it. Those days make life memorable. You are in charge. You don’t need to worry that you’ve blown it, the set routine will be back tomorrow.
- Offer options and extras such as different themes for each day. This was a wonderful way to fit in all the extra subjects in our homeschooling without feeling overwhelmed.
- Add freedom and create space for your children to explore their gifts, passions, interests and talents. Let them be bored. Offer them the materials and some inspiration and see what they create!
Here’s to you finding your rhythm and flow in your homeschool days! May you homeschool in grace. Feel free to share your family’s routines and schedules in the comments below.