Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Routines, Part 3: Our Homeschool Routine

I shared our daily routine and our chore routine, so now it's time to share our homeschool routine. Keep in mind that we are only a week or so into our new homeschool year, so we are still figuring out what works and what doesn't. In other words, this routine is definitely not set in stone!

Our homeschool hours are roughly 8:30 a.m - 2:30 p.m. Monday - Thursday, with Friday being a shorter day. With lunch and our noon chores, this works out to about 5 1/2 - 6 hours per day. Rose (7) does not do school the whole time and is frequently free to go off and play on her own, although she tends to stick around and listen in quite a bit. James (10) does not need 6 hours of school either, but he likes to take his time and poke along. As for my older two, they do tend to put in the full amount of time, though they take breaks to take care of the puppy and other animals as needed. It is never enough time to get everything done, but it's as much time as we can devote while still having time for extracurricular pursuits and time for them to just be

Okay, on to the routine, which is mostly for my younger three, who are 12, 10, and 7. Grace (14) works mostly independently and wanted to make up her own routine, which was just fine by me. I do have times on my routine, but please know that I do not look at the clock at 9:30 and say "Whoops, it's time to stop math and do language arts, kids!".  If it takes longer, it takes longer. If it took less time, we would just move on to the next thing early, but that hasn't happened yet! I made a timed routine mostly to force myself to be realistic about what we can fit in. In previous years, we did subjects at random times throughout the school day, but I wanted to try doing our subjects in pretty much the same order every day. So far I really like doing it this way, and I think we are developing a good routine...but in a few weeks...who knows?

Our Homeschool Routine

8:30-9:30: Math is up first, because my motto is let's get it done and out of the way so I don't have to nag you.   I have three kids using Teaching Textbooks and one computer to do it on, so they take turns. James goes first because he is usually up early.  I sit with Rose for her lesson because she isn't totally comfortable with either the computer or reading yet, but during the boys' lessons I can work on finishing up a few chores, or getting a head start on language arts with whoever is available.

9:30-10:30: Next up is language arts. I really like getting the basics done first! This block of time is for grammar, spelling, handwriting, and our writing program. I kind of bounce around between the kids, helping and overseeing. I very quickly discovered that an hour is not nearly enough time to do this with three kids, so now I try to have whoever is not doing math start their language arts work. The kids grab a snack somewhere in here and eat while we work. We usually leave one or two things unfinished - today, for example, I did not get to writing with Rose.

10:30-11:30:  Phonics with Rose, followed by her Sonlight readings. She also reads her reader to me during this time. If we have time, we do a little Five in a Row too.

11:30-noon: When Rose and I reach a good stopping point, I start prepping lunch and working on our noon chore list. As the kids reach a good stopping point, they are expected to come help me.

12:00-12:30: This is our usual lunch time. We keep lunch simple, and usually have leftovers from the night before, cheese, crackers and fruit, or something like boxed macaroni and cheese. One of my favorite lunches lately is rice and beans, because I can just throw the stuff in the rice cooker when I get a minute. I make a big batch, so we can eat it more than once.  While we eat we do a bit of Art of Argument together. Everyone helps clean up afterward, so it doesn't take long to move on.

12:30-1:15ish: Time to read aloud with the older two. They are currently in two different levels of BookShark, due to Grace moving more quickly through World History 1, but we are still working on the read-alouds from that level together. Afterwards, Grace and I discuss any readings she did earlier.

1:15-2:00:  I do James's BookShark readalouds and discuss his independent readings with him. If he is starting a new Latin chapter we use this time to watch the DVD together and go over the grammar for that week.

2:00-2:30: I go over Christopher's independent readings with him.  This time is also used to go over his Latin grammar and to watch the DVD together if he is starting a new chapter.

2:30: Wrap things up and stop for the day.

 During our lesson hours, any kids I am not working with do their independent work, or if they are done for the day they can read something of their choice, or do something else quietly - or I make them take a shower. We pretty much never finish everything I set out to do in a day. We work until our stopping time and get done what we can. If one kid didn't get to spelling the day before, I try to have them start with that during our next language arts block. It is rare day if we complete all of the Sonlight/BookShark readings that were scheduled; I do try to prioritize the read-alouds though, so we don't forget what's going on!

Last year I experimented with finishing all of our work each day, regardless of how long it took. Unfortunately, that usually meant working until 4 p.m. or so, and we usually have to leave for other activities before then. Even if we are staying home,  I just do not have the stamina to put in a 7-8 hour school day with the kids.... I really admire those who can! I also like the kids to have a decent amount of free time, so a 2:30 stopping time works well for us.

About Fridays

Our Fridays are different. We don't usually do language arts or math, but instead start our day with art. Art is always optional. The kids have a choice of doing more of their regular work if they don't feel like doing art....but surprise, surprise, that rarely happens! Art time is a nice break for me because my involvement is pretty minimal, which means I can get some other stuff done.  We also work on the boys' Latin history reader translations, and I try to go over Grace's science and vocab work for the week with her.  I also plan to do most of our science experiments on Fridays. We often have a homeschool group outing planned for the afternoon, so we wrap up at lunchtime.

And Weekends

We never do school on the weekends, even if we are terrifically behind. But this year, since Grace is studying astronomy, we will be using a couple of weekend nights a month to do some night sky observations. I also plan to use weekends to watch a documentary or two with the kids, since we have trouble fitting that in during the week.

So that's our current homeschool routine! I also have posts about each part of our day, if you'd like to read more:

Math Block
Language Arts Block
Working with My Second-Grader
Lunch & Logic
Read-Alouds & Discussion


  1. This series has been so helpful! I love getting a peek into other families' days. I know you have used SL/BKSK for quite some time, but I wondered if you've ever looked into Build Your Library? Just trying to figure out how they compare. Thanks for these wonderful posts!

    1. Thanks! I have never looked into BYL...seems like one of those things I heard of, then forgot about now I have it bookmarked to look into further,but no, I don't know anything about it. So far I have had them do the readers on their own when they were ready to do the 3rd grade BS/SL readers and that has worked well.

    2. I would love to hear your thoughts on BYL whenever you have a chance to look it over! Just wondering how similar/different it is from BKSK.

  2. Oh! And also, at what age are they supposed to do the readers on their own? (Versus reading aloud to a parent.)

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  4. Wheew, you are a busy lady! I guess this will be my schedule in about six years as I have four boys that I homeschool (their current ages range from 1.5 to 8). I'm tired already just thinking about it! I was also wondering, like the commenter above, whether or not you'd ever looked into Build Your Library Curriculum. We currently use Five in a Row and plan to move on to BYL in another year or so.

    1. It is definitely tiring! It was a bit difficult getting used to having to work past lunchtime, since we were always done by then when they were all younger. One nice thing now though is that if we are home for the afternoon, they are all inclined to leave me alone for an hour or two since they are anxious to run off and do their own thing.


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