Have you ever considered whether you should use a schedule or routine in your homeschool? After all there are homeschoolers who advocate using a detailed scheduled for the homeschool. Everyone sits down for school at 9am sharp. At 9:45 the family moves from math to English, and at 10:15 the kids run outside to play.
Other families keep a relaxed routine in the homeschool. First the family enjoys breakfast before completing moving chores. Then from chores it’s on to math and English before the kids run outside to play. Math may begin at 8:30 one day or 10:00 the next. The routine matters rather than the time.
Schedule or Routine
With a routine, it doesn’t matter when you wake up, you simply walk through the day in a specific order. For instance, first you may have a personal quiet time, make your bed, shower, dress, make breakfast, wake up the children, walk them through their chores, before sitting down to begin homeschooling.
The advantage to a routine is not having firm start and stop times. You simply take as much time as you need to accomplish each task. Children quickly get into the habit of waking up, eating breakfast, and running off to do their chores.
Routines, in my experience, have a distinct disadvantage. Some days all the talks simply take longer than normal. This means instead of having dinner at the routine 6pm (or your family’s normal time) you have dinner at 9pm. Everyone is off to bed extremely late, and the next day is off to a rough start before you’ve even woken up.
Schedules have every activity slotted for a specific time period. You wake up at an exact time, go to bed at an exact time, and eat breakfast at an exact time. There are schedules so specific that everything is scheduled in 15 minute increments.
With a schedule you don’t need to worry about tasks taking longer one day than the next. You only spend the allotted time working on the task. If it’s not done, it’s not done, and you finish it during the next allotted time to work on the task.
The biggest disadvantage is schedules can become rigid straight-jackets. There is no room for a sudden desire to have a picnic at the lake. You stay on schedule regardless.
My Preference: Use Both
My answer to the question of schedule or routine is both and neither. We combine the two into a loose working schedule for the family.
See, a day that runs only off routines doesn’t work for me. I’ll get drawn into a good book, reading other blogs, or playing with the children and forget to start dinner.
A tightly scheduled day drives me to distraction. I need buffer time to drink coffee with my husband when he wanders over to chat. I need time to kiss skinned knees and enjoy long discussions with teenagers.
So I combine the two approaches rather than choose between a schedule or routine. We have linchpins to our day that are scheduled and set in stone. Otherwise the day’s tasks run off routine.
Planning my family’s day begins with a detailed, tightly planned scheduled. A detailed scheduled keeps me from planning 6 hours of work into 4 hours of the day. I tried that a few years ago. It was a colossal failure to say the least.
My detailed schedule begins with my consideration of the basics. When will we rise, go to bed, eat meals, and do chores? I’ve found these to be the linchpins of our day. Husbands and children are not friendly when they don’t sleep or eat. In fact, they become downright crabby.
Next I fill in who will keep an eye on the youngest kids at what time. The little ones are no longer trying to destroy the house, but they still enjoy taking apart the older boys’ Lego creations and drenching themselves with their big sister’s perfume if given the chance. Everyone is happier if the two are lightly supervised during the day.
Our homeschool one-on-one times, discussions times, and my office hours are planned into the schedule. The result is a fairly detailed schedule for my family.
Once a workable, detailed schedule is created, I choose linchpins for our days. Breakfast prep should begin at 6:30. School begins at 9:00. Lunch and group time is at 11:30. Dinner prep begins at 5 pm. These form the linchpins to our days.
I then turn everything else into a routine to be done between the linchpins. If we spend a few extra minutes at the dinner table having a detailed discussion, we simply move on to chores and clean-up afterwards. If math takes longer than planned, no biggie. We just move on.
Neither a schedule or routine works well for us, but the combination is perfect.
For more help planning your homeschool day and year check out Pam’s homeschool planning kit!