It all feels so official sometimes: I’m homeschooling three children.
Surely I need a teacher’s lesson planning book, the kind I used to see in the classroom, right? They look so professional, after all.
Yet the longer I’m at this gig, the less I seem to plan and the more our days seem to flow. Maybe it’s because our daily rhythm has evolved until it’s simply a part of us, and we don’t have to think about the basics anymore. Maybe it’s because I’ve loosened up a little (Okay, a lot!).
But whatever the reason, this is how I plan our days now. Perhaps some of the principles will nudge you in the right direction as well if you’re in need of a bit more flow to your daily routine.
1. I understand what season I’m in.
I structured my life more when I had a five-, four-, and three-year-old than I do now.
That’s because our lives then were also chaotic, and for my own sanity I needed to feel some semblance of order–to know that my days counted and weren’t just being whisked away in a blur of toddler and preschool energy.
Understanding your season of life is key to deciding what kind of planning will work for you–and it’s also important to recognize that this will change over time.
When I made my first daily schedule as a mom several years ago, I modeled it after the rhythm of a mother of teens and older kids. This, of course, didn’t take into account the uniquenesses of my situation with little people–and in a way it set me up for failure.
We simply can’t compare our situation and needs with anyone else.
2. I understand my personality.
Some of us need and crave more structure, others less. Depending on whether we are introverts or extroverts, what we plan into our days will differ widely.
As an introvert, I make sure to plan in a regular quiet time–this used to be my kids’ rest time, but now that I have a ten-year-old and two nine-year-olds we call it “afternoon study time.” They work on whatever they’d like to in their rooms, and I can do the same.
My season of life forced me to have a detailed schedule when the kids were younger, and that worked then.
But I’ve been surprised to realize, as they’ve gotten older, that my personality craves more freedom and less boundaries into our schedule. Recognizing this has allowed me to adapt instead of trying to keep doing what I had done before.
3. I only plan what is essential and regular.
Take a look at your core priorities, the non-negotiables that you know must be a part of your homeschool days. Schedule and plan for these, but don’t feel the need to plan every little detail of your life.
Some of our current core priorities are family read-alouds, Bible time, my own writing and reading time, outside play for the kids, and time to prepare healthy, nourishing food.
These are our building blocks, so to speak, and they are rarely skipped. I center our days around these activities.
These sweet babes just keep growing!
4. I tie the essential and regular to foundational times in our days.
Several times a day we gather around our dining table to eat, so it only makes sense that many of our essentials take place around mealtimes too.
I read to the kids while they eat, we read the Bible at snack time and after dinner, and my afternoon writing time comes right after lunch (while the kids play outside).
By planning these priorities around meals and other key times (like morning wake up), it leaves plenty of other hours open in between (They don’t stay open, mind you, but they start out that way).
As I respond to the unique needs of each day, we fill those open hours with learning, baking, cleaning, field trips, and whatever duties or nudges I feel we need to follow.
For me it’s the perfect balance between structure and spontaneity, and that’s why I love planning our days this way.
If you could use some planning help, here are a few resources you might be interested in:
A Simple Homeschool Planner
Tsh’s planner contains weekly, daily, and monthly routines and calendars in a variety of formats so you can choose which works best for you. It also has templates for student goals, curriculum, books read, and transcripts.
I love her section of extras, which features lots of inspiring educational quotes as well as maps and more.
Steady Days: A Journey Toward Intentional, Professional Motherhood
My book talks about organization according to the principles I mentioned above, figuring out your strengths and how to apply your time accordingly–so you can be an intentional, professional mother.
I hope it’s a blessing to you!
Weekly Homeschool Planner
Jolanthe’s planner is unique in that is is an editable PDF, meaning you can type directly into it and then print out your personal plan!
What method have you found works for you to plan your days? Do you tend to veer toward more structure or more flexibility?
I, too, have noticed less need for structure as we’ve gotten further and further into our homeschooling journey. I love your idea of planning structure around meal times. We do our mother-lead homeschooling right after breakfast, as I have found that if I wait until later in the day, the kids will have gotten off into their own projects/activities and I have a hard time pulling them away. I hadn’t thought much about lunch time, but that would also be a great time to add in a bit of structure and routine in our days.
Thank you Jamie! I always find so much encouragement and wisdom in your posts.
Sarah Smith’s latest post: Why I Stopped Pushing in Our Homeschool
I purchased the bundle yesterday and Tsh’s planner and your ebook are at the top of my list of things I want to check out. (You know, right after I choose my eyeshadows! LOL) I love Jolanthe’s planner and have used it for a couple of years now. When you print out those plans (no matter how scheduled or not) they look so nice and neat.
Hope you and your family had a wonderful Easter, Jamie.
I’m so blessed by that, Sheila – thanks! I hope you enjoy it.
Wondering if the e-book bundle would load to a Kobo as well?
Yep, Sarah, it will! You can check out the specifics here in the FAQ’s: https://us154.infusionsoft.com/go/faq/a690/ Hope that helps!
These look wonderful — I’m wondering, though, about the difference in the e-reader vs. Kindle bundle. I have a Kindle, but I would also like to be able to get the planners and other editable things in an Adobe Acrobat format so I could work on them and print them from my computer. If I order the Kindle bundle, will I still be able to do that?
Yep! The Kindle bundle actually includes ALL the PDFs as well!!
How do you choose a flow to your day if you have say, four boys at different life stages?? My boys are 11,9,2 and 1 and I cannot seem to find the right flow to our days! They feel very helter-skelter and I am often overwhelmed and feel guilty at either not spending enough one on one time with each of them OR for feeling like I’m not doing enough in school with the older two. Any advice or help??
Sarah, I’d recommend you read Leadership Education by Oliver and Rachel DeMille. It talks about the principle of structuring time, not content, which seems like something that might be a help in your situation! You can find out more here: http://www.tjed.org/about-tjed/7-keys/
Katie | The Surly Housewife
All great reminders! I love the one about remembering what season you are in. One day I realized my kids aren’t toddlers anymore. I don’t have to have things locked away so I rearranged everything so they could have easy access to it. It works much better for my “unschooling” style. I, too, am an introvert and am trying to find the right balance with my personality and my extroverted daughter. It’s been a challenge but very rewarding 🙂
Katie | The Surly Housewife’s latest post: Happy Birthday Lilly Bear!!!
April @ A Simple Life
I have three girl – a pre-schooler, a first grader and a second grader. We have tried a few variations on schedules and curriculum, and this is what works for us (I call it super simple homeschooling).
We have daily devotionals in the morning, quiet time in the afternoon, and productivity time a couple of times a week (i.e. sewing, working in Etsy project, etc…)
We homeschool 4 days a week. One day is Music and Math. Day two is History and Art. Day three is Health, Science and Phonics/Reading/LA. The fourth day is mostly practical skills – housekeeping, but we do some writing also. We work for 3 – 4 hours a day.
We then have one day for outings, which frequently includes grocery shopping. We also volunteer at a nursing home on occasion and have the flexibility to stop schooling for a day for church events, to help others, etc…
I am thinking I should post this on my blog too:-)
April @ A Simple Life’s latest post: The Chocolate Secret
Jamie, I love your writing. You are so wise, and your words bring such peace and clarity to me. Your books are so good. I have read them multiple times! I have few questions about #4: when do you eat, or do you eat and read aloud aloud at the same time? I have tried combining the two and I’m not very good at it! Also, when your children were younger (mine are 17 months and 5 y.o.), what did your outdoor playtime look? Thanks so much!