Anyone else suffer from homeschool planning woes?
I started our homeschool year creating my ideal “get it done by noon” schedule and realized this so-called schedule was setting us up for failure because it wasn’t based on how our family naturally flows. First, I have late risers who need every ounce of their twelve-hour sleep. Second, mama needs to get things done in the morning, so I can only assign independent work. Third, my boys don’t do well with a bunch of disposable time and crave structure. That nine hours until bedtime is a long stretch, especially since organized sports and extracurricular activities are on pause where we live amid the pandemic.
Thankfully, we finally figured out a routine that works for us, and we’ve been at it for a few months now.
If you’re new here, hello! I’m Nike and I have two boys, ages seven and eleven who I’ve homeschooled for six years to date. This month, I’m talking all things schedules because I realize that most homeschoolers need inspiration and tips for planning out their days. In this post, I’ll be talking about my fifth grader’s routine. I hope it gives you ideas on how you can structure your learning time during this quarantine season.
As an added bonus, all templates I mention here are available for FREE download.
Things to Consider
Now, I will forewarn that my fifth-grader’s routine may seem intense and like we are very rigid around here. It may even seem like we do nothing but stay home all day. Keep this in mind:
- I’m using “ballpark” time: This illustrates approximately when an activity may take place. We don’t actually track time around here.
- This routine includes a lot of wiggle room: I use Charlotte Mason-inspired curriculum for the most part, which is known for keeping lessons short and effective so that children can spend more time exploring.
- My fifth-grader takes a lot of mental breaks. When he needs a mental break he likes to draw, play the keyboard, and jump on the trampoline. Lately, he’s been enjoying recording “movies” with his brother’s new camera.
- The total structured learning time is only 4.5 hours. Well, four hours and forty minutes to be exact. An hour of that time is dedicated to child-led learning. So if we were to ever need to get everything done early, we know exactly how much time to block off.
- We are in the middle of a pandemic. That means all the extracurricular classes, organized sports, and field trips you’re used to seeing us take part in have been greatly reduced or eliminated this year. We make up for socialization by visiting the park and arranging playdates with our friends.
9:00 am —Morning Checklist
I made a morning checklist for my fifth grader to help him get into the habit of a basic self-care routine. The checklist also minimizes morning power struggles, as it reduces the number of times I have to tell him what to do. Take a look at all it entails below.
9:30 am—First Breakfast (30 mins)
Who else has kids that eat more than one breakfast? First breakfast for my 5th grader is usually something quick, easy, and something he’s able to make himself. That’s usually waffles and some variation of eggs. He will also grab a piece of fresh fruit from the fruit bowl or eat a fruit cup from the pantry.
10:00 am—Math Curriculum (30 mins)
Our math curriculum pick this year is CTC Math. In reality, this curriculum takes my fifth grader no more than twenty minutes to do. He typically spends 5 minutes watching a video lesson and then the next ten minutes completing the daily assignment. Click here to read more about our thoughts on this math curriculum.
10:30 am—Fluency Practice (10 mins)
My fifth-grader uses the Xtra Math app to practice math fluency. The app has a timed feature and can be set to practice addition, subtraction, division, and more. It takes about five minutes and offers that healthy challenge all boys crave.
10:40 am—Foreign Language (20 mins)
We use Duolingo to practice foreign language. My son chose to study Japanese and this is totally a self-directed learning portion of our day where I let him take the lead and track his own progress. Sometimes, he spends an hour on this program because he enjoys it so much.
11:00 am—Typing Practice (10 mins)
We use Typing dot com to practice typing. If you notice, there is no handwriting practice in our curriculum. Since everything is digital these days, I felt tying was a more important skill. Although we did spend every year leading up to fifth grade practicing handwriting.
11:10 am—Second Breakfast (20 mins)
I typically eat my first breakfast around 11:00 am (intermittent fasting). Of course, my boys want a piece of this action, so I make extra food for them. I like this routine because it allows me to give my boys extra fuel that their bodies need, as my breakfast is packed with nutrious veggies. Visit this post to read what we eat in a day.
11:30 am—Independent Reading (30 mins)
My fifth grader is really into the Dog Man series, the Trapped in a Video Game series, and the Who Was series. he loves reading outside laying across the trampoline soaking up the sun. Thankfully we live in Middle Georgia where he can pretty much do this year-round. More on books we love, here.
12:00 noon—Outdoor Activity (1 hour)
Whether it’s jumping on the trampoline, riding bikes and scooters, or enjoying a nice day at the park, my little scholar knows the importance of daily physical activity and ensures he gets it in. Physical activity is linked to improved concentration, behavior and academic performance in children.
1:00 pm—Lunch (30 mins)
I wrote an entire post about what my children eat for the day, you can read it here.
1:30 pm—Family Learning Time (1.5 hours)
Below is a list of the subjects we cover during our family learning time. We use a family style curriculum for these subjects, some of which offer adaptations for different mastery levels. We pretty much learn history from Monday through Thursday and cover science on Fridays during the first semester. When we finish our science curriculum, we then cover an elective. This year that elective is finance because my fifth grader wants to learn more about how money works. For details on the curriculum we use for these subjects, read this post.
>>Family Devotional (15 mins)
>>Riddles & Brain Teasers (15 mins)
>>History | Science| Finance (30 mins)
>>Read Aloud (30 mins)
2:30 pm—Language Arts (30 mins)
My fifth-grader is pretty much independent with his language arts curriculum. This year, he is trying Language Lessons for a Living Education which is Charlotte Mason inspired. Click here to read more about this curriculum.
3:00 pm—Chores (1 hour)
For some reason, chores work best for our family after formal homeschool lessons rather than in the morning. It gets our family moving again and ensures we can spend the rest of the day relaxing. My fifth-grader is in charge of the dishes, vacuuming, sweeping, and taking out the trash. He must also walk around the house and put his things back into place, which is usually his ball cap, shoes, snack wrappers, and art supplies, among other things.
4:00 pm—Child-led Learning (1.5 hours)
This is the self-directed learning portion of our day. My kids lovingly refer to this hour as Project Time. That’s because it’s a time of day where they get to take charge of their learning and work on projects they love. Currently, my fifth grader is working on strengthening his graphic design skills by following Photoshop drawing tutorials. He then uses his clipart to code short animation clips.
5:30 pm—Dinner (30 mins)
You’re probably thinking, “Your fifth-grader just did all the dishes. Why not wait until after dinner to have him load the dishwasher?” The answer is because I cook most of our meals, so we accumulate quite a few pots, pans, and dishes during the day that I need to be clean and ready to use for cooking dinner. Since the dishwasher cycle has already run its course by dinner, I can unload and reload it after we eat. Sometimes, washing them by hand is faster if there aren’t enough dishes to fill an entire load.
6:00 pm—Down-time (2 hours)
During the hot Georgia months, this is the perfect time of day to go for family walks around the neighborhood. Sometimes, we may even visit our local trail, park, or homeschool friends. What my fifth-grader does during this time really does differ from day-to-day. You’ll notice, however, there’s no video game time. That’s because video games are only permitted on weekends.
8:00 pm—Night-time Routine (1 hour)
It’s time for my fifth-grader to settle down, take a shower, brush his teeth, and get ready for bed. Of course, it doesn’t take a full hour to do all these things, so he usually draws or reads until it’s time to turn the lights out.
9:00 pm—Bed-Time (12 hours)
My fifth-grader gets about eleven to twelve hours of sleep each night. He listens to a relaxing story on audio to fall asleep to. The program is called Visualization Success and encourages one to relax and imagine.