Most home schooling families will tell you that one of the biggest benefits to home schooling is avoiding the everyday morning rush to get out the door. The more relaxed pace and ability to adjust your schedule as needed is a huge plus to schooling at home. Becoming overly flexible; however, may also put your children at a disadvantage.
Youngsters often thrive on routine. Even if breakfast doesn’t occur every morning at exactly 8 AM it does help if it occurs every morning. Consistent day-to-day activities provides children with a sense of security. Knowing what is expected and anticipating the next activity of the day can lead to greater independence and increased cooperation. For example, children who know that after breakfast they are expected to brush their teeth or get dressed are more apt to engage in those activities without prodding much sooner than those who don’t have a set routine.
Children can also benefit from routines that provide them with the chance to look forward to or anticipate something enjoyable. This may be as simple as Daddy coming home in time for dinner or special moments at bed time that are reserved for just them and Mommy to read a book. Many rituals such as grace at dinner or a walk after nap time can be an excellent tool for encouraging strong family dynamics and providing time for parents to connect with children.
In-home learning is also aided greatly through the utilization of routine. Consistency creates an atmosphere of comfort and familiarity. Exploring new concepts and ideas in such an environment leaves children free to focus and expend energy on understanding concepts or new ideas and having fun, rather than worrying about the unknown.
Establishing a routine in early childhood can be a wonderful tool that can ease the transition into home schooling. Small expectations such as children staying in their room until a certain time each morning can help children practice reaching small goals and experiencing accomplishment. In our house, we require children stay in their room until 8 AM unless they are getting up to use the bathroom. We have a handy dandy alarm clock that turns green when it is “OK to wake”. Until that alarm clock turns green, or it is “green o’clock” as my toddler says, they are to remain in their beds either sleeping or engaging in quiet activities such as reading, looking at picture books, or playing with a quiet toy. Our toddler knows that when the light turns green it is time to get up and that she has done what is expected of her by playing quietly until that time. She has succeeded!
Note that a routine is a set of expected events, not a schedule that relies with strict adherence to the clock. Relying to0 heavily on time restraints can quickly derail the advantages of routine. Instead of a 12:00 lunch, a 1:30 playtime, and a 2:00 nap, try for lunch, followed by playtime, and then allow for a nap after a good book and/or a trip to the bathroom. Some examples of routine that we routinely use in our home include:
- breakfast every morning at the table
- reading a book and going potty before nap time
- grace at dinner at the table
- dinner, then cleaning up the play area, then bath time
- reading a book and saying nighttime prayers after changing into pajamas at bedtime
How do you incorporate routine into your day?