Routine versus Schedule

Homeschooling  works better when you have a plan, and most new homeschool moms feel more secure when they have a detailed schedule.  But in my first year of homeschooling, I was almost a slave to a very detailed schedule, and this approach produced a lot of stress and anxiety.  May I offer you another option?
First, let’s look at the difference between schedule  versus routine ~
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 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 schedule tells you what to do and when to do it.  It is usually filled with times, lists, blocks, and boxes to tick off.

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?

  1. 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 ___.
  2. 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!
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Daily themes 2015Offer 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.
  7. 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.

Blessings, Nadene

Rich Wide Education

Charlotte Mason advocated giving children a rich, wide curriculum.

Sewing and handicrafts in the afternoons

This generous curriculum can only realistically be covered by keeping lessons short.   I call it “short and sweet“, where these 10 to 20 minute lessons encourage a child to give her utmost attention, especially with subjects, such as maths, phonics, handwriting, spelling and grammar.

To keep the daily schedule enjoyable, alternate disciplinary lessons with Bible, poetry, history, fiction, art, folksong, outdoor nature study, chores and life skills like cooking.  This variety keeps a child’s minds bright and encourages enthusiastic and motivated participation.  Some children prefer to “get all the seat work done first” and then move onto the freedom of the rest of the subjects.  You may need to try each approach to find what works for your family.

It isn’t the number of subjects, but their duration that tires the mind.  What child wants to sit still and concentrate for long lessons?   Quick math drills every morning, practice spelling while jumping on a mini trampoline, or quick laminated chart handwriting practice, or play a quick round of the amazing arrow games, provides younger children the necessary stimulus and physical exercise, and a short review of the same facts before supper results in a better memory of facts and skills.

Memorizing Scripture (which is the living Word) or poetry (which opens the eyes of imagination) verse by verse takes just a few minutes every day. Scripture and poetry also provide deep and meaningful insights and enlarges the child’s heart and mind. They lessons are not dull, dry facts or tiresome workbooks, textbooks or worksheet lessons.

Daily themes 2015It is very easy to just “do the basics” and call it a day, but I found that the only way we could regularly cover all the diverse subjects was to use our “Theme of the Day“.  Allocate all these extra subjects across the weekly schedule, enabled us to maintain a full, rich, wide curriculum.

You don’t have to fear trying to “do it all”.  Just start with the basics, keep it short and sweet and do a little every day.  Ease into the rest of the schedule by adding one extra subject and you’ll be amazed how much your children will learn in a relatively easy, quick, daily schedule.  This way you will offer your children a banquet, but don’t rush them, while also avoiding “force feeding”.  A generous education is a homeschooler’s privilege and pleasure!

Blessings, Nadene

Theme for the Day

Most homeschool moms plan to do it all …

but most weeks, we fall short,

fall behind …

My secret to fitting in most of the extras in our curriculum is to

 do “One More Thing” after our basics …

We have a …

Theme for the Day

Our homeschool mornings start at about 9:30am after chores, farm rounds, milking and breakfast.

Every week,  I plan to cover all these areas in our school work ~

 Overview Year Planner ~ My version of the a Home Model by Clay & Sally Clarkson “The Wholehearted Child”

Our first lesson is Discipleship Studies with a short Bible Study, review our scripture memory, sing a hymn and end with prayer.

Everyone settles down to Disciplined Studies ~ short lessons (+ 10 minutes to 15 minutes each)

  • Maths
  • Spelling
  • Language Arts & Dictation (which is also Handwriting practice for the younger kids)
  • Afrikaans (our 2nd language)

We take a short tea break, some jumping/ skipping/ play with balls or a moment to play with the puppy …

Back to school and we do our core curriculum.  Although this is the major part of the Discussion Studies, it is much more relaxed because it mostly involves my reading aloud while the kids keep busy hands.  In winter we snuggle up in a sunny spot, in summers we sit under a shady tree.

By then it is nearly time for lunch.  We usually fit in “1 More Thing” on the Discovery Studies and my wall chart works  so well ~

  • Monday ~ Main Core = More research on the topic, read additional books, get going with a project or a lapbook, sometimes just catch up on reading.
  • Tuesday ~ Timeline & Science = add details to timeline chart/ Book of Centuries and a lesson from our Exploring Creation Zoology books with a quick notebook page/ minibook element
  • Wednesday ~ Wonderful World = Geography study/map work/ and our regular Nature Study activity
  • Thursday ~ Tea & Poetry & Shakespeare = we simply read and listen and enjoy
  • Friday ~Fine Arts = Famous Composer and Famous Artist of the month. Simply appreciate his music or an artwork.  We sometimes do an art activity or Sketch Tuesday while we listen to the musician.

Now for our reality – we live on a farm very far from any town or shop, so we always take a whole day off to go to town.  That means we always miss one day of the week.  Seldom, if ever, do we stick to every theme on every day, but it is there to remind us what we need to cover each week. I always have to catch up!

I simply join 2 themes and “Do 1 More Thing After Lunch” on another day and catch up.  Some themes work so easily together ~ core & timeline/ Nature Study & Science/ Shakespeare & Fine Arts.

In a nutshell ~ 3 days we do “1 thing after core” and on the 4th or one other day we add “1 more thing after lunch“.  It works for me!

Here is my free Theme of the Day chart for you to download ~

Theme for the Day 2012

For more online inspiration ~

Hope this inspires and encourages you.  If you have some more ideas that work, please share in the comments below. Any questions? Please just ask – other readers may also be wondering …


Stresses and Struggles

This is an honest heart-felt post.  I tremble as I push the publish button …

I am battling ~

  • All 3 children started 3 different curriculums this year
  • Our high school curriculum only arrived on the 16th February!  A whole month wasted waiting …
  • Our new family business is b.u.s.y.  I’m compelled to answer phone calls when I just want to teach and try catch up (you can see the stress here, right?)
  • My middle-schooler-come-junior-high-schooler is in transition.

Of course, it should be evident ~

her growth spurts, mood swings, withdrawal

And with these influences there has been a definite change in innocence and enthusiasm in her homeschooling.

Somethings just do not “gel”.

I have those awful moments of resistance, reluctance, even – shocking – rolling eyes!

And we still haven’t found our rhythm.

She hasn’t found her groove.

When my eldest was this age, she told me she didn’t want to do Sketch Tuesday, sing Hymns, or do nature study with us.

And I had to let it go.

I was dismayed.

I even took it personally.

Now my 2nd daughter seems to be feeling the same way about some subjects and my approach.

I have to learn all over again to give up my controls and pick my battles wisely.

You see, I wanted that cozy picture of my girls all singing hymns, sketching birds and butterflies and sweetly reciting poems.  I hoped they would all know at least 31 scriptures and could recite quotes from living books.  Charlotte Mason is so much deeper and wider than subjects and principles, so why is it such a struggle in my home?

I am searching … seeking to know what is wrong?  I so desperately want to keep our Charlotte Mason subjects going, but it is just not all working.

  • is my curriculum and approach not age-appropriate?
  • am I being a “teacher” and not a loving mom traveling on a life journey with my children?
  • am I holding on to the perfect Christian homeschool “model” instead of trusting the Lord for His perfect will for our family.
  • Do I want to be in control of everything?
  • Do I have warped expectations of my children?
  • Am I pushy?
  • or worse – a perfectionist?
  • Am I performance driven?
  • Do I get in the way?
  • Do I expect what worked with one child to work with them all?

As I prayerfully and tearfully wait on the Lord, I realized that my family is not going to ever look and behave or learn like the “model” picture.  I have to let go of principles and ideals.

It may even seem that I am failing.

Fear of failing … a terrifying anxiety that looks for ways to control …

Faith … a hope amidst the uncertainty that waits expectantly …

I pray for faith to ~

  • be filled with grace to say yes to the unique and special in each child
  • be relevant
  • be understanding
  • build into my child’s inner heart-world
  • keep boundaries without controlling and manipulating
  • create an atmosphere of love and life and learning
  • breathe and let go of the “model” and find the Maker

What stresses and struggles do you face and how do you work through them?  Please share in the comments.