Going from “in bed” to “starting school” can be an epic task for any homeschool!
What does your morning routine look like? How have you found ways to keep things humming without the kids (and even mom) dissolving into a puddle of tears on the bathroom floor?
We turned to area homeschoolers for advice, who share their experiences and tips below:
1. Consider your own family’s unique situation.
Some children can leap from their beds at the crack of dawn, while others just don’t function well that early.
One mom wrote, “I learned the hard way that starting at 8 a.m. is not good for anyone in my house. I was so cranky and the kids were whiny. I feel like we have had a better year and accomplished more by staying on a late schedule.”
2. Use chores as a motivator.
Sometimes kids need a little incentive to get going early. One wise mother created a traditional “morning routine” checklist, and at the bottom she listed three daily chores for her three kids.
The first one ready got to have first pick, while the last one had to take whatever was left.
3. Try getting up ahead of your kids.
Many homeschool parents found their day improved dramatically if they got up and took care of their own needs – dressing, morning devotions, etc. – before the kids woke up.
As one mom wrote, “Not having to worry about MY stuff makes it much easier.”
4. If your kids wake up before you’re ready, see if you can’t persuade them to stay in bed longer!
One young lad was up too early for his mother, so she got a night light that turns orange whenever it’s time to wake up and leave the bedroom. He can be awake before then, but he can’t leave the room.
“We’ve had it since he was about 3,” she wrote, “and it has been a life saver.”
5. Rethink waking-up times.
One homeschooling grandma used to start at 8 a.m. with her students, but discovered that once she switched to 9 a.m., things went much more smoothly. Sometimes kids just need a little extra sleep…
6. Try a little playtime.
It may sound counterintuitive at first, but sometimes a break helps everyone function better. That’s what one mom advises, who tried at first to start by 8 but then moved it to 10.
“The kids are more focused if they have a little play time,” she wrote. “I realized I needed to relax a little, and school would get done. “
7. Use pajamas as your backup school uniform.
There’s a reason why this wonderful stereotype exists among homeschoolers! 🙂 As one mother put it, “On the days I’m over stressed and we have nothing to go out and do, honestly we stay in our pajamas until after lunch!”
(See how pajamas even get a special mention during Homeschool Spirit Week.)
8. If your kids can handle (and like) structure, let them set the morning routine.
One homeschool family has two boys, ages 10 and 12.
Each has a weekly list for the day, from eating breakfast right down to starting school (with two 15-minute breaks they can use whenever they want).
If they haven’t completed their list by the allotted time, they have to use their breaks to complete it before lunch.
7. Or, if it works best for you, use a schedule and NOT a routine!
“The advantage of being home (for me) is not having a rigorous routine,” one mom wrote. In her family, getting out of bed happens sometime between 8-10 a.m., the kids work on a craft while mom does her daily workout, and by 11:30 a.m. or so, they’re having brunch and a little schoolwork.
This kind of relaxed scheduling is less like a routine and more like a general pattern of events that can be changed and tweaked as needed.
8. Adapt to changes as your kids age.
Remember the good ol’ homeschool preschool days when school took only a few hours or minutes? As your kids mature, they’ll need more time to finish their subjects.
One mom wrote, “What’s really helped me this year is just accepting that with this many kids doing school, it’s just going to take all day. Last year I was a stress mess still trying to cram all our school in before lunch, like we could when everyone was little. Like it or not, they are all growing up and we do more school now.”
9. Don’t compare.
Hopefully this is a good summary of all the previous advice, but it bears repeating: Your family is unique, and so will be the morning routine that works best for you.
“Do whatever works for your family in the season you are currently in,” one mom wrote. “While it is nice to see other schedules, don’t forget that no two families are alike.”
This post was originally published in January 2015. We have updated it for timeliness and detail.
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