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, doing a sort of time-blocking system has really proven effective for homeschooling while running my own online business from home. Since I am not a naturally organized person and let’s face it, life with kids usually requires some flexibility, I wanted to share with any other homeschool parents my strategies for time blocking our days.
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Building a solid homeschool foundation
If you are newer to homeschool or aren’t that new but are still struggling to find your fitting, I have a Homeschool Crash Course that is designed to help you set up a solid homeschool foundation while applying minimalist practices to your teaching so you don’t get overwhelmed and give up.
If you are hoping to find ways to simplify this whole learning at home process then I highly recommend checking out all that the Homeschool Crash Course has to offer! Ok, into block scheduling…
Why block scheduling?
When I first heard about block scheduling it seemed so simple and yet I had never thought of it before!
With block scheduling, rather than living a strict hour-by-hour schedule, you create blocks of time to get things done.
Homeschool Block Schedule Example:
- 5 – 8am: Meditation, reading, getting ready
- 8am – 11am: Getting kids ready, daily chores, exercise, walk the dogs
- 11am – 1pm: Lunch, read, start school
- 1pm – 3pm: Finish schooling for the day
- 3pm – 6pm: Clean up, dinner prep, dinner, and family time
- 6pm – 9pm: Spots, reading, family time, and bedtime routine
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. I was determined to make my blog profitable and felt frustrated or overwhelmed when I didn’t get to devote enough time to it.
Multi-tasking usually backfires
If you are a parent trying to work from home while homeschooling, you might do what I did and try to multi-task a little.
Maybe you give the kids a little reading assignment while you try to catch up on some emails.
I tried doing this myself and often found I would grow quickly frustrated when the kids would need my help. I don’t like having my workflow interrupted and it seemed that it was always happening.
This shouldn’t be much of a surprise considering that multiple studies have shown that multi-tasking is never really beneficial even if we trick ourselves into believing it will be. You know what they say, “It’s better to whole ass one thing instead of half-assing multiple things.”
What I have found to be the most beneficial is to at least allow a block of time where I am totally available to support my kids. This might look different for your family depending on the age levels of your kids since they are more likely able to manage their own workload without supervision as they get older.
Be willing to pivot
Keep in mind that as your children grow or your job shifts, you might need to be ready to get ahead of any potential changes in your schedule.
Here are some ideas for how to block your time based on what we have found works for us in the past.
5am – 9am: Morning hours
When planning your morning, the first thing I encourage people to do is ask themselves what they are more likely to be productive at in the early morning hours.
I realized early on that I am a much better mom and teacher (and worker) when I get up before my kids so that I can have some slow, intentional time to myself before the chaos kicks in.
This way I have the opportunity to ground myself before the day begins and am more likely to handle any setbacks with a calm demeanor.
I’m also more likely to actually get a workout in if I do it in the morning and have found that writing blog posts is best before the noise of the day has cluttered my brain.
Some ideas on morning hour routines:
- Work that requires your morning energy
- Prep breakfast
- Get dressed for the day
- Check the day’s schedule
The kid’s morning routine
For our homeschool, I allow my kids to wake up at their natural wake up times. This is why I usually prep breakfast ahead of time (these gluten-free oat waffles are my favorite go-to).
When they wake up the kids can eat breakfast at their leisure ad are allowed one learning show in the morning. Some of our favorites have been, Octonauts, Brain Games, The Who Was Show and Smart Learning for All on YouTube.
This is the time that they will get through their chores (feeding dogs, unloading the dishwasher and picking up any mess in their rooms form the day before.)
I encourage them to start getting dressed, teeth brushed and hair combed around 8 so that at 9 we can jump into homeschool.
9am – 12pm: Homeschool/Errands
Keep in mind, this is still an early time in the day where you might want to tackle more frustrating subjects that the kids are working on, or be sure to schedule errands that might be more hectic in the afternoon/evening.
This is the time of the day (for the most part) where everyone should be well awake, refreshed, and ready for the day.
Again, be aware of your routine as well as your children’s. Sometimes children often might prefer or be more prepared for schooling in the afternoon. If you are able to, it might be worth shifting your schedule a bit in order to allow them to thrive at their optimal times.
Some ideas for early morning routines:
- Difficult school subjects
- Doctor’s appointments
- Grocery shopping
- Mini field trips
- Reading together
Learning beyond a textbook
Keep in mind that learning can continue to happen throughout your day even if hands-on learning doesn’t happen.
Kids can learn so much by going with you to the grocery store or running other basic errands with you. Take these moments to be intentional so your kids are learning and you don’t have to be racked with guilt if you don’t actually get a chance to do sit-down school with them.
Some ways we have learned from running errands:
- Adding up our food totals at the grocery store
- Reading food labels
- Learning how much everything costs
- Counting chore money (we paid them in coins)
- Learning to converse with clerks, receptionists and other people (you know those social skills people think they won’t develop)
1pm – 4:30pm: Work/Free play
After lunch, I usually feel like I can shake off the schooling from the day and, take a quick minute to unwind, and then jump back in to finish up any work I didn’t get to during the morning hours.
This is also a great time to consider doing arts and crafts, free play or other learning activities that are simply fun.
Remember, you are not expected to post out some art teacher stuff here, ok? This could be as simple as taking out some paper and markers and letting them be creative.
In fact, I have found that the more unsupervised free time my kids get the more they can be creative and show me just how much they are really capable of!
Some ideas for after lunch:
- Outdoor play
- Get together’s with other homeschool families
- Learning shows
- Quiet reading time
- iPad learning games
- Quiet time/naps
4:30 – 6:30: Dinner
For most families, as it is for us, I am sure this is the time that dinner is beginning to be prepped for the night. This is also the time I will continue getting work done as Tom gets home around this time.
I try to prep meals or make enough so that we have leftovers often enough that all of my evenings aren’t spent in front of the stove.
If work is caught up for the day, I will use this as additional time to read, unwind or catch up with Tom after our days are finished.
Some ideas for pre-dinner time:
- Slow down/relaxing time
- Catch up phone calls with friends
- Finish up any work
- Clean up after the day
- Connect with spouse
- Order takeout
- Prep dinner
- Finish up any chores
6:30 – 9:30: Unwind to bedtime
This is again another time of the day that can easily be more leisure time or more time to get work done. Because a lot of my work now involves using my brain (LOL) I usually choose to wrap up any work before dinner. Back when I was a photographer, I would stay up until midnight editing photos since editing was more of a meditative experince rather than work.
So if you happen to have work that would actually allow you to feel more soothed before you drift off to dreamland, right now might be the ideal time to get going on it.
Some ideas for before bed:
- Read together as a family
- Clean up the house for the next day
- Prep any meals for the next day
- Get schoolwork out and ready for the morning
- Watch TV
- Take a walk
- Zone out
Keeping it simple
No matter what area of my life, I am all about working to keep things simple and beneficial. That’s why I created the Homeschool Crash Course to show others how to instill minimalist principles into their homeschool routines.
If you feel like you struggle with overwhelm or just need some more guidance on how to get through this homeschooling/work-from-home life, be sure to check out the course because it was probably made for you!
Create your own time block schedule
I took the liberty of whipping up a Time Blocking printout that you can 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 figuring out what is going to work the best for you and your family.