Are you thinking of teaching your kids at home? Possibly homeschooling is new to your family, or you just have kids in a new range of ages. I’ve been homeschooling my kids for 3 years, and I use several guidelines to make our school routine successful. The most important thing is to enforce a consistent schedule, so my kids know what to expect each day. Next, I chose a homeschool curriculum that works for our family. Finally, we do some hands-on activities to make school creative and fun!
The last few years, I’ve taught my 3 kids at home using a combination of workbooks and creative activities. This year (2020) my kids are in 3rd grade, 1st grade and preschool. Each of my kids are in quite different learning stages, so I need to plan ahead to make our days go smoothly.
Establish a Daily Schedule
A daily schedule is a very important element of homeschool for our family. It’s my job as the mom to plan our homeschool schedule. Ideally, our family gets up around 7:45 – 8:00, eats a simple breakfast, and we start school at 9:00. I clean up the night before so our house is organized for a new day. My kids are usually very happy to follow along when I am organized. Homeschooling is an opportunity for our whole family to be intentional! Our daily homeschool schedule usually looks like this:
9:00 am couch time
We read a story, pray together and start the day.
9:30 am workbooks
Math and language arts
The kids take a short break in between each subject.
10:45 am snack time
11:00 am workbooks
Reading comprehension, spelling and handwriting
12:30 pm lunch
1:00 pm reading
Independent book time and reading lessons with the younger kids
I have planners for each of my kids, which outline their subjects and worksheets for each day. My 3rd grader and 1st grader often work independently. I am available to introduce new lessons and answer any questions. I keep my preschooler busy with phonics worksheets, coloring pages and hands-on activities.
Start the Day the Same Each Day
I try to start our homeschool day the same each day. I typically begin the day by calling my kids to the couch and reading a Bible story or a storybook. Sometimes we sing a few songs. Occasionally the kids bring something for Show & Tell. Our “couch time” typically lasts about 30 minutes and then I send the kids to their individual desks.
Other homeschool moms start the day with “morning time” and sometimes offer their kids a selection of pre-approved activities in a “morning basket”. I keep our couch time fairly simple to start our day. We often do more creative activities later in the day.
Divide School Work into 30 Minute Sections
I’ve discovered that my kids work harder in shorter intervals of time. I try to give my kids a break after about 30 minutes of focused work. My girls Kiera and Sylvie can usually complete one school subject such as math in 30 minutes. Between subjects, I give my kids a 10 minute break which they can use to play or go outside. Consequently, breaks motivate my kids to work diligently and afterwards, feel ready to move on to the next subject.
Eat a Snack
Around 10:45 am, I often give my kids a snack. I typically offer relatively healthy snack options such as pretzels, fresh fruit or graham crackers. Sometimes I make a little snack tray with cheese and crackers, grapes, and apple slices. A snack break helps motivate my kids to work hard and stay focused!
Read for an Hour after Lunch
After lunch can be tricky time to fill. I often need to clean up the kitchen and my kids typically have finished their workbooks for the day. Because of this, the hour after lunch is a great time to read a book. My kids can grab a blanket and cozy up with a reader or an I-Spy picture book. My daughter Kiera (age 8) enjoys reading American Girl books. She can also read out loud to her siblings.
Homeschool Problem Solving
1. Problem: Feeling overwhelmed by all the school subjects
Solution: Start simply and add more over time.
Beginning your homeschool schedule is often the hardest part. I recommend starting with a simple routine and adding more over time. The first few weeks of school, my kids often start with 3 workbooks; math, language arts (phonics) and handwriting. Over the next few weeks I add in some science activities, social studies discussions, history highlights and art projects.
I use Abeka homeschool workbooks, which are filled with colorful illustrations and hands-on learning material, which advances throughout the year. The kindergarten through 3rd grade workbooks progress through number recognition, placeholder digits, addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, shapes, clocks, money, angles and more. The Abeka math workbooks are especially fun for elementary age kids. Sometimes my daughter has to solve a variety of math problems in order to complete a color-by-number activity. Abeka introduces math concepts using the spiral approach. My kids enjoy learning through continual reinforcement, while also tackling new things each week!
In my experience, the Abeka language arts workbooks are also comprehensive. They cover all the things starting with letter sounds, vowels, consonants, blends, sentence structure, parts of grammar, vocabulary and spelling. So far I’ve used these workbooks for kindergarten through 3rd grade. I also appreciate that Abeka workbooks introduce new concepts clearly and concisely. I typically don’t have to teach each of my kids a lesson on each new concept. However, I’m always happy to answer questions and clarify the instructions.
2. Problem: Kids don’t want to do their school work
Solution: Encourage kids to work diligently, wear a smile and have a flexible mindset.
It helps a lot to encourage kids to work diligently, and praise their success. This can be as simple as telling a child to slow down and write two perfect D’s during handwriting, instead of ten sloppy ones. Reward their success by letting them choose a sticker!
If something’s truly not working, try something else. One year, I ordered several workbooks from a new curriculum resource and they clearly did not work for our family. In October, I abandoned the books and ordered new books from a company I had used before. The change was definitely a good choice!
3. Problem: Teaching kids who are different ages
Solution: Plan schoolwork and activities for each child ahead of time.
The problem of teaching kids who are a range of ages has been the story of my life for several years. My oldest daughter is 8, and she’s doing 3rd grade school work. My youngest son is 4, and he gets into everything. To keep our range of kids organized and on task, I have a planner for each child. I write down their age-appropriate tasks at the beginning of each week. My 6 and 8-year-old girls can pace themselves and work independently with my simple guidance and occasional help. I give my preschool son activities, puzzles, sensory bins and playdough to use in 30 minute sessions. As long as each child knows what they are supposed to be doing, our school day usually goes well.
Fun Kids Learning Activities
We do a lot of activities to make learning fun!
Mix up a batch of homemade playdough in any color! Add glitter and a fragrance too! All you need to make playdough is water, vegetable oil, salt, cream of tarter and flour. My kids love playing with this soft salt dough.
Play a game of word family dominoes with your kids to reinforce phonics concepts. Learn how to make the game pieces using word family lists for your kids’ ages and grade levels.
Go on a nature scavenger hunt to look for feathers, shells, interesting rocks and moss. Kids will love discovering what kinds of treasures they can find in their own backyard. Exploring the outdoors is a great opportunity to view nature up close and prompt future unit studies! This fall my kids learned about how plants convert light into energy through photosynthesis. We also love watching nature shows to see how plants and animals interact with and contribute to their ecosystems.
Nature Hunt Printable
Download, save or print off this Nature Hunt printable for your own use. Click the image to open the printable a new window and print it off. To download, right click the image to “save as”.
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With a little planning and a few tips to stay organized, you can enjoy a lot of success with teaching your kids at home. The most important part is to cultivate a love for learning, and to make learning fun!
Hi, I’m Katie! I live with my husband and 3 kids in beautiful Coeur d’Alane, Idaho. I love Jesus, coffee, DIY projects, photography, homeschooling my kids, traveling, and serving people. I’ve previously worked as a graphic designer, web designer, journalist and barista. I started Create. Play. Travel. to share some of our creative projects and family adventures. I hope you enjoy the highlights of our creative family life!