Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Improving the Morning Routine

Finding the proper schedule for your house can be one of the hardest aspects of home schooling.  Even though I've been teaching my children at home for eleven years, I still have a few kinks to work out.  The waking up and getting going portion of the day seemed to be creating the most confusion and testy moods.  I would be unhappy because the kids wouldn't get up and start their day.  The kids were grumpy with me, each other and the pets that would be happy to see them.
So I reached out and asked this question, "What do you do to make your mornings smoother?" on the Hammock Tracks Forum.  And Carlie of "So You Call Yourself a Homeschooler" gave me a wonderful tip.  If you haven't been to her blog, I recommend it.  She has become an online buddy of mine and her organizational skills are top notch.  
Here is how she handles the early morning routine...
1. Chores are always completed in the evenings so that we start the day with a "clean" slate and are able to pick up after ourselves all day long.

2. We always start with worship - we sing as many songs as we feel like singing to our Jesus. Then after this we snuggle on the sectional as I read the Word and pray over our day. This is always such a sweet time with the children. After this is "first" breakfast. Our "first" breakfast is something easy like toast, oatmeal, fruit, or cereal - just something to settle the stomach while we move on to bigger and better things...LOL. We are usually done eating at 8 or 8:30 so then schooling begins. BUT, we do eat a "second" breakfast that I actually cook a hot meal for them around 10am...and the children LOVE that.
3. Yes, my children wake themselves. Each one of my kiddos are early risers. We were super structured with their sleeping schedules as infants/babies/toddlers so it has developed very healthy sleep habits for them and we LOVE that.
4. Our days almost always progress very well. It is not too bad considering I am teaching a preschooler, kindergartner, and a 5th grader :) But of course you have those days where one, two, or all three of the children (or even the mama) is acting a bit foolish - so that can slow us down...LOL.
5. Oh, and no, I don't lay any clothes out the day before. The children love to pick out their clothing and this is a big part of their day - they really enjoy choosing their own outfits!
As is always the case when you are learning from another, I adopted this and modified it slightly to fit our needs.  My kids do not wake on their own.  They start rolling out of bed around 7:30 and I found that by adding a light "first" breakfast and moving our story reading time, they got up easier and regularly.  
So, here is my revised version of her schedule and it has made a vast improvement to our school day:
1.  I get up early and do my morning chores and have quiet time, around 5:00 A.M.
2. I wake the kids if they aren't up by 7:30 and they eat toast, oatmeal, or grits on the couch while I read our story for the day.  So far since we started this we've read through the first two Narnia books and have almost finished Anne of Green Gables.  This is followed by devotional time, reading out loud from either Time, Smithsonian or National Geographic Magazine, and then we finish with memory work.  This usually takes 1.5 hours to complete.

3.  At this point the kids make their beds, get dressed, and brush their teeth while I make their 2nd breakfast of the morning.  Pets are cared for and then they eat again before we dive into more school work.
This new schedule has not only improved how much we get done during the day, but has also set in place a more positive mood for the learning experience.  

So what about you?  What areas of your schedule have you tweaked and found great success?
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