Routine, Not Schedule

In The Brave Learner, Julie uses eating as an analogy to shine light on the reason why many of us find schedules to be challenging when it comes to homeschooling. She points out the absurdness of adhering to an "eating schedule" that requires each planned meal to be consumed in full or skipped meals at home to be "made up" if plans change.

The truth is that we don't eat by schedule. We eat by routine. We purchase foods that can be prepared for any of the three meals so that we'll be able to eat when we're hungry, If we get a better offer—someone invites us to lunch—of course we're going to scrap our tuna sandwiches. When we return home, we simply eat the next meal—we don't also stuff ourselves with leftover tuna sandwiches. In fact, sometimes we realize we had a better eating experience by not eating the planned meal. (The Brave Learner, page 168)

Yet how many of us do just this when it comes our kids' learning? Of course, we do this for good reason. We want to know that our kids are making progress and that we are getting things done. We also know that to build skills, regular practice is important. 

Letting go of the schedule without having something to take its place can definitely feel risky and that is where routines come in.  

A routine is a sequence of things that you do on a regular basis but don't necessarily have slotted into a specific time. Routine is sturdy. Routine is what you come back to after following the rabbit trails of inspiration. Routine allows you pick up where you left off and to feel as if you are continuing to make progress.

Establishing a Routine

Establishing a routine allows us to create a predictable but flexible pattern to our days, weeks, and months with our kids. We are looking to establish a habit of practice that allows our child to make measurable progress in subject areas and skill development at a comfortable-to-the-child pace.

By planning for a block of time, but leaving the item open, you have the flexibility to take into consideration your family's moods, weather, and inspiration as you determine what you do to fill it.

You want to start by getting a big picture overview. Begin by listing the following:

  • Workbook work
  • Reading: read alouds and to self
  • Subject areas per child: history, science, Latin, math, geography, phonics, writing
  • Brave Writer Lifestyle elements you want to include: poetry teatime, nature, movies, art, library visits, museums, freewriting
  • Extracurricular: sports, music, art, performance, robotics team, astronomy lectures
  • Weekly and monthly family habits: medical, dental, religious, neighborhood, extended family commitments 
  • Seasonal activities: celebrations like Thanksgiving or Winter Solstice, Select Soccer,ski vacation, 4-H fair, scouting
  • This-year commitments: surgery, pregnancy and birth, newborn, moving to a new home, foreign exchange student lives with you, nursing care of a relative, remodel

Then consider what the following routines might look like: 

Daily—These are the habits you will follow most days. Listen to the Morning Routines that Support Your Homeschool & Family podcast episode (audio included below) for ideas as to how this can look in your family. 

Weekly—Use the Interval Training model to help you structure your week. Set goals with your child to address how much practice your child your child gets each day. Focus on incremental pacing that builds over time with breaks. Keep an afternoon or two free to do a bigger activity (like poetry teatime or watching a movie or taking a hike or playing a board game).

Monthly—Identify longer-term projects you want to devote time to such as book clubs, museum visits, field trips, or completing an Arrow or Boomerang.

Quarterly—Take into consideration the effect Seasonal Schooling has on your homeschool. For instance, consider planning workbook activity for early fall, bigger projects for winter, and lots of outdoor activity in the spring.

Go Deeper

Discover more in Julie's Coaching Notebook:

Read more in The Brave Learner:

  • Interval Training—pages 170-171
  • Seasonal Schooling—pages 172-173

Put it together using the Intuitive Homeschool Planning tool:

  • Refer to the Intuitive Homeschool Planning Tool for additional guidance on how routines can be used in conjunction with other Brave Learner practices when creating a homeschool plan.

Get more inspiration from the Brave Writer blog:


Morning Routines that Support Your Homeschool & Family

Listen to the audio: ( link )

Posted November 30th, 2019
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