Never did I ever think I would be someone who thrived in a routine type setting. Although I suppose it seems natural since my brain tends to be all over the place. Having a schedule seems like a necessary thing that prevents my life from being total chaos. While I do not live on a super strict schedule (in my opinion), doing a sort-of time-blocking system has really proven effective for homeschooling while running my own online business from home.
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My days will look slightly different from day to day which is why I find a block schedule system works the best so that I can continue to have flexibility while also keeping a routine in place for me an my kids.
Having this schedule has been super helpful for me to accomplish more and stress less. When I first started my own blog from home I would get anxious when I couldn’t get to the blogging. (Yes, I love what I do that much.) Then I tried getting a little work done while the kids did school. This gave me even more anxiety when they would interrupt to ask a question.
The block schedule system allows me to devote my time to each area where I need to and allows me to focus on myself, my kids and my business.
Let me also be clear that my current homeschool block scheduling system looks a little different than it used to. My children are now 9 and 10 which has definitely given me more freedom and flexibility during my morning hours.
I will try to offer suggestions throughout on how you can make small shifts for those of you with younger children.
Yes, this time appears to be excessive, I’m well aware. Here is a quick breakdown of what I do in this time frame:
My kids usually wake up at different times and are able to make themselves either a simple breakfast or heat up a breakfast I already prepped.
They are allowed to watch one learning show in the morning that includes shows like Brain Games, Who Was, Octonauts and any National Discovery type documentary. These shows are all on Netflix.
When the kids were younger I would help them get their breakfasts and even take the time to teach them how to cook. They both now know how to make basic things like eggs and pancakes.
While I am at the gym (or doing yoga at home) the kids will get themselves ready for the day. It is their responsibility to be dressed, hair and teeth brushed by 9am so we can take our morning walk with the dogs.
My kiddos have been getting themselves ready independently for a while, however, we used to carve out some time in our day to go to a gym that had an area for them. Then one day a week we would take advantage of the pool area. Days like this would take the place of some of our school work for the day.
This year for homeschool we have started our day by taking the dogs on a walk. It has been so nice getting out and about, talking in nature and just getting some fresh air before we get to all of our work for the day.
After our walk, we all snuggle up together under a blanket and read for 20 minutes. This is a habit I started a few years ago after hearing about the major benefits of children simply being read to. I think a lot of times there is an emphasis on having kids read or teaching them the fundamentals of reading, but the book, The Read Aloud Family really dives into the developmental benefits of just reading together with your kids. (No matter who is doing the reading.)
This year we have started The Chronicles of Narnia Series. At first I was setting a timer, but I found that each chapter wound up being close to 20 minutes and I didn’t like stopping in the middle of a chapter. So, we’ve been committing to reading one chapter a day together.
After this we dive into schoolwork. We used to be good about doing this at the kitchen table, but as the weather gets colder, we have been just keeping all of work in my big bed. We stay under the covers, I sit between the two of them and we work through school work together.
For younger kids, I have a friend who has a system where she gives 1 hour to each child. (She has 3 in homeschool right now plus a toddler).
It’s important to know that learning through homeschool does not have to be as rigid or as structured as a regular school would be.
An amazing benefit of homeschooling is that not everything needs to be learned from a book. Children are given the opportunity to live real, hands-on life experiences which is a main reason we decided to homeschool in the first place. Here are some of the things my children have learned just be existing in the world without a textbook.
Kids are like a sponge and I am so thankful to have been able to see how much they are capable of learning. We also have had access to a homeschool store nearby that is run by a husband and wife team that homeschooled their 4 children. The wife was a previous teacher in the public school system and chose to homeschool her own.
Her professional guidance has been detrimental to my homeschool mom survival. One of the biggest things she encouraged me to do was just play, interact with and have fun with my kids when they were younger. We baked, played games (still do), took nature walks and got together with friends.
Like I said, we didn’t have much of a curriculum set up when the kids were younger, but now we have some great books that have worked well for both of them and their learning styles.
My son has always caught on quicker with numbers and spacing than my daughter has (which is common). This means (usually) that these children might struggle more with writing, spelling, and reading comprehension. After understanding this in my son, we opted for these books for his specific curriculum. (He is doing the same math book as his older sister — just another thing I love about homeschooling.)
We have also included some hands-on building kits for him since this is a major area of interest.
My daughter has always been a strong reader, speller and writer. Math is a major area of struggle for her. This year in particular she was really struggling when her math book got into multiplication facts. I thought it was going to be the death of me until a friend recommended Times Tales DVDs! They use cartoons and storytelling to teach children math facts. After 30 minutes she learned MORE than I could get her to memorize in 3 weeks!
She also loves to be hands-on in the kitchen, so we try to get her more baking materials and pans so that she can whip up some desserts during her down time. One year we even did the FoodStirs Baking Kit Subscription which I highly recommend
My final recommendation for a book is 8 Great Smarts. This book dives into the 8 different learning styles of all people. It was really eye-opening to realize how different learning styles can really be and can help you get a better idea of the ways your child might learn differently than you think.
WOO! Ok, I feel like that was a lot of info (but I can only assume it will be beneficial).
After we’ve gotten through all of our school stuff, we’ll eat lunch together, I try to give myself a little 30-minute break, and then I’ll dive into whatever work needs to be done. For me this time could be taken up with a lot of different things:
I used to over-complicate my work and sometimes I still do, but there are a few things I have done to make running my own bussiness work a lot smoother.
Delegate tasks (I have hired people to help with time-consuming tasks and/or areas out of my “zone of genius“.)
Batch work – I will get multiple things done in one area (example 3 blog posts, 10 TikTok videos, 3 YouTube videos etc)
Social media timers – I set timers in my phone to get on social media during the most active times for my followers. This way I am not tempted to get distracted as often throughout the day
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For the kids, this time of day is a free-for-all. They can do things that interest them, play together, and really get creative. I love that they have this time available to them.
They do not get screen time until 4 pm which is usually a little after friends get home from school. Friends usually end up in our house and they will all pile together and play Roblox games.
Screens and games were something I fought for a long time, however, by monitoring and being involved with that they play I have found that how they use this time often adds to their creativity. Here are some of the things they tend to do during free play:
It’s about this time that Tom is getting home and I am getting dinner ready (or Tom is maybe). Full disclosure: more often than I care to admit we are both so burnt out from our days that we do dinner in front of the TV together as a family.
We used to be really good about family time around the table and game nights but those are things that have slipped a little more.
Didn’t want to give the impression that I have it all together.
The kids usually make us all dessert (gluten-free microwaveable brownies in a mug).
Now is the time that Tom and I will catch up with one another, take our showers, and just unwind.
The kids still have a bedtime of 8pm. They can stay awake and read or color in their rooms, but mom is officially out-of-business.
We read with the kids again before bed by letting them take turns reading from whatever book they are currently reading. Kaida prefers Diary of a Wimpy Kid right now and Madden is really liking Dog Man.
Because Tom wakes up at 3:30 in the morning and I wake up at 5, we both try to get to sleep around 9 – 10. (Him 9, me 10)
We used to do a few TV shows before bed, however, these days we usually read for a few minutes before we crash into a big pile of sheer exhaustion.
So what happens when something comes up and totally disrupts my flow? U just keep going as best I can. Some days this means less work gets done, other days it might mean school is improvised more.
We do have appointments throughout the week for the kids (music and speech) that cuts into my work time. I try to be as efficient as I can getting whatever work done that I can.
Of course, I have to get the grocery shopping done during the week and Costco doesn’t open until 10 which usually throws off school here and there. During these days, I will give the kids work to do at home while I am gone, (little research assignments). When I get home, I will usually do some budgeting stuff with them based on how much I spent at the store.
When they were little I always brought them to the store with me. One of them would add up our groceries on a calculator so we were able to stay on budget while we shopped. The other kid would count out the money before we gave it to the cashier (or count the change we received).
Taking the time to make actual life part of their learning is one of the best ways to help them truly learn.
Being smack dab in the middle of Covid our traditional field trips of the Science Museum, Minnesota Historical Society sites, The Children’s Museum and other art museums have kind of been put on hold.
We have however continuously enjoyed nature walks, time with friends, sledding and even kick-started our homeschool by taking a 2 week, cross-country road trip! Screen-Free Road Trip Ideas.
I took the liberty of whipping up a Time Blocking printout that you fan fill in to fit your own times!
Keep in mind that if this is something that is new for you, it might take some getting used to to figure out what is going to work the best for you and your family.