It’s November—fall has arrived! And with it cooler weather, changing leaves, and the realization that the lazy days of summer are truly behind us. If you’re like me, fall ushers in a desire to get outside; to enjoy a good hike; ride my bike; play some sports or just take a walk. I love the crisp, cool air and the changing season. Not quite ready for the upcoming Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons, I tend to instead live in the moment at this time of year.

And sometimes that can lead to a bit of restlessness. My work, the kids’ school work, the demands of keeping the house in order can feel a bit oppressive when I just want to set it all aside, get outside, and forget about our homeschooling routine!

But I have a learned a few tricks that help me stay focused and ensure that what we deem important gets done, while also allowing for a bit of freedom during this amazing season. Here are just a few ways that you can implement these strategies in your homeschool routine.

Let me begin by saying that I am not a super organized individual. And I would assume that if you are reading this post, you, like me, do not have color-coded bookshelves, perfectly organized pantries and a rigid homeschool schedule to keep you on track. Instead, you are looking for some simple-to-follow tips that keep things moving without feeling restricted.

My first recommendation is to make sure to set a flexible homeschool routine. Not a perfectly scheduled day, but a routine that becomes a habit and therefore leads to a level of consistency that is easy to follow.  Once you have that, here are some other strategies sure to help your school year.

Set a Start Time

For us, that routine doesn’t mean a hard and fast start time to our day, but it DOES include a hard and fast LAST start time to the day.

I have an early riser and remember many days when she would be up at 6 a.m. working on all of those subjects that she could do independently. As a result by 9 a.m.—our latest acceptable start time—she was finished with most of her subjects, had grabbed breakfast and was ready to tackle those courses that we worked through together.

Schedule Courses that You Work Together at a Time that is Consistent

Because my girls are so close in age, we were able to complete Social Studies, Science, Writing and Bible as a group. And because Hannah was up early working through her independent work, we had no choice but to schedule those courses in the morning. I didn’t always teach them in the same order, and when they were smaller, I didn’t always teach all of those subjects every day. But, we did get into the routine of starting our day together.

Schedule time for Chores

Let’s face it. When we are homeschooling, our home tends to get a little… well… quite messy. Our priority tends to be on academics rather than that pile of socks that don

‘t match or the fact that our floor hasn’t been mopped in a few weeks.
But sometimes, that messiness can affect our ability to stay focused and the atmosphere in the home, especially if you have a family member who NEEDS order.

Early in our homeschool journey, I discovered that despite the fact that I am not naturally organized, an ounce of planning really is quite powerful. So I created a daily chore chart that included all of the major elements of keeping the house clean and made chores part of our homeschool routine.
In our home, our first break was a chore break. I know, it sounds oppressive but it really wasn’t. You see, by breaking things up over the week, no one had to spend more than about 10 minutes on a specific chore. So we would call “Break Time” and everyone knew that it was time to check the chore chart and knock out their chores so that our next break would be a true recess.

One day Abby might be assigned to vacuum the living room; Hannah to clean a bathroom; and Amanda to dust the first floor. On another day, Hannah would vacuum the kitchen floor; Amanda would empty all the trash cans; and Abby would clear off and spray the kitchen counters with cleaner. I usually took the larger tasks like mopping, laundry, etc.
The best part of this plan was that by planning ahead, we touched every room in the house at least once a week (some more than once) and we never had to set aside hours for cleaning.

Build in Time for Exercise!

Having time to burn off some endorphins clears the brain and keeps you not only physically, but emotionally and mentally healthy as well. So be sure to make exercise part of your daily homeschool routine. Whether that is a quick walk, a game of soccer, aerobics, weights or some other activity that gets everyone moving doesn’t matter. What matters is that you make it part of every day. I remember many winters of going outside, building snow men, snow forts and having snow ball battles. But I also remember many winter days inside, clearing things out of the way and creating fitness challenges for each other that kept us moving

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For some of you, this will need to be scheduled for a set time each day; for others, winging it will work more effectively. But I do encourage you to make it a priority. And often the best time for exercise is right before tackling one of those tough subjects. You will be amazed at what your kids can accomplish academically after time spent physically.

A homeschool routine can make a huge difference for everyone. Not only does it provide a bit of consistency to your day, but it prepares the brain for learning and eliminates the need to make so many different decisions throughout the day.