How Sharolyn Creates Routines
I was really excited for my oldest daughter to turn five so she could start kindergarten. I had two other young children and and I was looking forward to a little break. Then she started first grade and my second started kindergarten.
By that time I had another new baby. Our mornings were frantic. There was always a diaper explosion or missing shoe right as we were trying to get out the door. I'd find myself yelling at them all morning, and then drop them off at school and say "I love you!" Which message were they really getting?
Then the bus wouldn't bring them home until 4:45 (it wasn't much faster if I picked them up), and by the time we did homework and ate dinner it was time for bed.
By the time my oldest two were starting third and second grade, I needed a change. I really missed my kids! I was tired of sending them away for the happiest part of the day.
I talked to a friend of mine who homeschools her children and she encouraged me to just give it a try. This is something I had never considered. I went to public school, and I even wrote a research paper in college that argued against homeschooling. But I knew we needed a change. I didn't want to miss out on these precious years with my kids.
So I did it.
Now our morning routine looks much different. I wake up at 5:00, and that's my time. I go running take a shower, and do whatever else I want to do before the kids get up.
I wake the kids up at 6:30, and that's when we get all the chores done. I have three chore lists, which I rotate among the three oldest (now 12, 11, and 9) each week. They take care of the dogs, cats, and chickens, keep their own bedrooms clean, and help with other household chores like dishes and vacuuming. They also practice piano and voice during this time.
At 9:00 we start school. We first meet together and pray, read and memorize scriptures, and write in our journals. That's one of the great things about homeschooling—it allows us to set our own priorities.
Then we start on subjects like math, language arts, and science. I have found some great curriculum that allows the kids to be mostly self-directed. Then I can rotate through and help whoever is having trouble. They just circle anything they need help with.
Once a week, the kids go to a full-day enrichment program with other home-schooled kids from 9-3, where they do language arts, science, art, and P.E. And they all take piano lessons once a week as well. We live out in the country, so we have a 20-minute drive to these activities, so that's when we listen to our history curriculum (The Story of the World) and the kids follow along in their binders, which help each child interpret the lessons in an age-appropriate way. We often pause the lessons to discuss people or events during our drive.
Our structured school time ends at noon every day, and after lunch we do an hour of quiet, quality reading (usually historical fiction corresponding with what we're learning). We can prioritize our day based on what is most important to us. The kids can work ahead if they want to, or we can spend extra time on a subject that interests us or is difficult.
At 2:00, we do active learning time—crafts, experiments, or other projects. We go outside as much as possible. At 4:00, I usually put on a Netflix documentary for the kids to watch while I make dinner.
After dinner, we just relax and do whatever we want. This is the time the kids get to spend time with Dad and play outside. Bedtime is at 8:00. After the kids shower and get ready for bed, we snuggle up on my bed and read aloud together. Then we tuck the little ones in, and the older ones stay up and read until 9:00.
One of the best things about our homeschool schedule is how flexible it is. We can hit the museum and the zoo for field trips when the crowds are low. We love to go hiking and exploring together and learn along the way. We can also travel on the off-season, and there are endless educational opportunities when you’re learning about and exploring a new place.
The best part of our switch to homeschooling is that we are out of the rat race and we can enjoy each other. We’re not sure yet if our homeschooling will continue into high school, but my kids and I are discussing it and weighing the pros and cons as that decision approaches. We’ll continue to adjust our educational strategy and our daily routines to what works best for our family in every stage.
About the Author
Sharolyn Lindsay was born and raised in Utah. She met her husband on a blind date and they got married seven months later. Since then, they have lived in San Francisco, Florida, and for the last nine years in Colorado—a place they truly love to call home. Her passions (in addition to educating her children) include: running, photography, travel, and learning to ride her horse.