A simple homeschool schedule for moms with kids ages 6 and under and what they need when going through a difficult season.
When you are going through a hard season, you need to homeschool simply.
Homeschooling when you are going through a hard season can be such a challenge. Morning sickness, postpartum depression, miscarriage, chronic health problems, children with health problems, lack of sleep (insomnia), and other issues can make the days feel like a constant uphill battle. All of this leads to guilt because you constantly feel like you aren’t “doing enough.” I know, I’ve been there. And it is completely ok to take a more gentle approach to schooling for a while when you are struggling.
I really think the most important thing is to keep your schedule as simple as possible. A quote I loved to remember during my difficult season was by Saint Francis of Assisi. He said, “Do few things but do them well.” When you’re sick or struggling, you can’t do all the things. But you can do a few things, so start there. Focus on the most important subjects and be faithful in that. Another quote I loved to dwell on was when Jesus said, “He who is faithful with little will be faithful with much.”
When you are going through a hard season, you need flexibility.
When I first started homeschooling I did a timed schedule. For example, at 7:30 do this, 8:30 do that, 9 that, etc. all through the day. Why? Because that’s what I saw the other homeschool moms doing. But those moms weren’t going through a difficult season like I was. After a while it got stressful because I always felt behind. If two of my children were fighting and I needed to intervene, I would get “off” schedule. Or if I needed to lay on the couch because I was sick, the schedule would go out the window. By the end of the day I felt like a failure for not getting to all the things and I wasn’t sure how to get back on track.
About a year ago I switched to a routine. I bought a timer and instead of subjects starting at a specific time (Phonics-9:30am), I just made subjects last for a certain amount of time (Phonics-20min). That way I can set the timer, do the subject and then take whatever time we need in between to address certain things, take a phone call, put food in the crockpot, lay on the couch cause I’m sick, etc. For my other kids, I stress not to disturb mommy and the other kid while we are in the classroom, but that I will be with them after the class. This has worked really well and I go check on them after the timer goes off to get them whatever they need. So whether you call it a simple homeschool schedule or routine, just make sure you are giving yourself flexibilty.
When you are going through a hard season, you need intentional resources
Because you don’t have the energy to cover all the subjects, make the whole atmosphere of your home one of learning. Get educational dvd’s, toys, books, games, art supplies, intentional music, workbooks, etc. and just sprinkle them throughout your routine and home. Every where they turn there will be an opportunity for learning and soaking in truth, beauty and goodness. Learning will be as natural as breathing and you won’t feel as stressed about “all that you aren’t doing.”
Being picky about the toys is especially important. Open ended toys that encourage creativity and allow the kids to spend tons of time building are not only good for them, but are also good for you. They will spend more time playing with them, which will give you more time. The same is true for other resources as well. Get books that are in their line of interest or that are just beautiful and interesting to look at. Doing all of that helped me a lot.
When you are going through a hard season, you need organization.
So when I say to sprinkle intentional resources throughout your home, I don’t mean to literally put them all over your house for the kids to get in to and destroy your home. I do think that you can do that when the kids are older (or when you aren’t going through such a hard time). But not during this difficult season. One of the best things I did during my hard season was to be picky about the resources in my home. I then organized them and then put them up away from the kids reach.
Once I organized them and put them up away from their reach, I would schedule certain times or days to use them. The toys, for example, would be train set on Monday, Duplo on Tuesday, Puzzles and wooden toys on Wednesday, etc. This kept the toy mess to a minimum, kept the kids interested in the toy because they hadn’t played with it in a while and made it to where the kids didn’t fight over who got to pick which toy to play with. All the rest of the toys went behind a cabinet they couldn’t get into.
Do the same thing with all the other resources. At our house, each kid gets a box of workbooks, coloring books, learn to draw books, etc and that comes out during my oldest child’s penmanship time. They all are occupied at the table at the same time and because they only use that box of stuff once a day, they stay occupied. Have someone help watch the kids while you spend some time organizing/decluttering (when you feel ok) and this will make the rest of your life moving forward easier. For some intentional resources look here.
A Simple Homeschool Schedule
Once you have done all of that, here is a very simple homeschool schedule (routine) to get your day a little more structured. Obviously you can tweak it to what works best for your family, but I just wanted to give you a routine to start with and you can work with it from there. We used this while the kids were younger and now that they are older we have added in some more subjects, but I am so glad I just focused on the basics during that time.
- Mom wake up and get dressed
- Breakfast (30 min)
- Chores (20 min)
- Everyone at table-oldest kids do penmanship while younger kids do their special box of coloring books, activity books, etc. while listening to classical music (20 min.)
- Phonics (20 min.)
- Math (20 min)
- Reading Practice (20 min)
- Math Practice (20 min)
- Read books (20 min)
- Preschool (20 min)
- Outside until lunch if time
- 12:30pm- Lunch (30 min)
- Afternoon Chores, listen to upbeat fun music (20 min)
- Outside Time
- 2:30- Rest Time
- 4:30-Clean up rest areas
- 5:00- DVD time if dark or bad weather (outside if nice weather). Use educational dvd’s.
Most importantly, when you are going through a hard season, you need lots of grace
This is said all the time, but it’s true: accept help. A few things I really wanted to do when the kids were little but that I just didn’t have the energy to do be myself was poetry tea time, cooking and nature study/hiking. Instead of doing it during the day we did it once a week in the evenings or on the weekend when my husband was home so I could have help. We also read our chapter book each evening as well as Family Worship. We still do this, actually. So don’t be afraid to extend your simple homeschool schedule into the evening or weekend.
And if you haven’t heard this recently, I just wanted to say that I am so sorry you are having a hard time. Please reach out to me if you need encouragement or need help implementing what I just shared. Simplify your life, give yourself loads of grace, surround yourself with people who will love you and be compassionate and make sure you take some time for self care.
6 Tips for Homeschooling during a Hard Season
1. Be intentional about the toys that are in your house, organize them and put them on a schedule. Use open ended toys that can be played with for long periods of time. Organize those toys into separate bins and put them where the kids can’t reach. Then put the toys on a weekly schedule.
2. Put the most important subjects at the beginning of the day when everyone is fresh. That way, if you don’t have enough steam to make it to the end, at least you did the subjects that really matter. The subjects I am thinking of are Phonics, Reading, Math and Penmanship. Get the basics at the top of the routine and the others near the end.
3. Get a timer and do timed subjects instead of doing subjects at specific times. Like I said earlier, this will allow you to not feel so behind if life gets in the way. For example, if someone stops by your house for two hours, you can just stop the routine and pick it back up where you left off once they leave. No worries.
4. Focus on the most important subjects, reading to them and getting outside. When I was really sick, I mostly focused on reading to them. If you are too sick to do that, try something like audible! Many years later, I am so impressed with their vocabulary and creativity. They express themselves very well and know so much. I owe that mostly to all the reading we did during those days.
5. Move some subjects to the evening or weekends when your husband can help (or a relative or friend). You can’t do this all by yourself, enlist some help!
6. Use music to help set an upbeat tone for the day! Write it down and put it into your simple homeschool schedule. Fore example, worship music in the morning, classical music at penmanship, upbeat music in the afternoon when doing chores. See my post here about using music intentionally in your day.