This is Part 3 of my series on “Putting the Pieces Back Together.” In this series, I explain how I began the process of rebuilding a normal routine after a season of crisis. Part 3 focuses on rebuilding our homeschool day.
In Part 1 of this series, I explained my overall approach: Start with the easy fixes, and then move on to the areas that were causing the most stress. In Part 2, I discussed my approach to handling the most out-of-control areas of our home life.
Just as our daily home life had gotten out of control after a long and challenging season, so had our homeschool day. Bubba is only in his first year of a two year Kindergarten program, so our school day is fairly relaxed, with lots of play built in, even at its best.
Over the last several months, my kids had gotten used to doing what they wanted while I rested, far more often than I’d like to admit. Following the same approach I took with the house—start with the easy before moving on to the biggest areas of stress—we started with turning screens off at breakfast. For a few days, we practiced just that change, and I kept us busy with physical or out of the house activities all morning.
I also began reminding the kids to clear the table after meals—perhaps unsurprisingly, starting with a clear table makes our school day go much more smoothly.
I was finding the most stress figuring out how to spend our days. I want our days to be rich and lively and active and full of good learning, and I had not done well at encouraging that this season. I revisited my own thoughts on Daily Rhythm, and thought through my ideal school day. I revisited my favorite homeschool philosophies and spent some time in For the Children’s Sake (aff link).
To get started, I jotted down the things I wanted to do every single day (Math, Skill Work, Literature, Bible, Poetry and Memory Work) and some subjects I want to be sure get looked at occasionally (Science, History, Nature Study, Art, and Music). Because I think we plan to use Ambleside Online as our primary curriculum next year, I took my lead from them in looking at about how much could/should be accomplished in a week. That big-picture view is important to me—but because I am rebuilding from a place of overwhelm, we aren’t doing all of these things quite yet.
So far, we have managed to work through one Math activity (Dreambox Online, games from RightStart or other sources, card games, etc, plus and occasional worksheet), Skill Work (Phonics—which comes easily to Bubba—or Writing—which is an epic challenge), Literature (Mom’s Choice of a picture book, or our Five in A Row co-op book), and usually Bible (the next story from one of several Children’s Bibles we have, or kids’ choice) on most days.
We will begin adding in one poem a day very soon (I just scattered my favorite poetry books around the house so it will be easy to grab one and just read the next poem), and eventually—once the other pieces are moving fairly smoothly and I have time to organize a memory system, we will work on reviewing and adding more poems and Bible verses to our memory work. I have some options added to our school box for Science, History, and Art, and I’ve added a Hymns playlist to Spotify.
Simplifying and prioritizing helps me know where to invest my energy. Having it written down saves me from making the same decisions daily—we still stray from our plan often, but on days when we are home, it is ever-so-helpful to have a plan to follow, and materials to grab-and-go!
Thanks for sticking with me as I rehash how I’m working on putting our days back together–what a humbling season this has been!