Our Regularly Scheduled Program

Today we returned to our “regularly scheduled program”; meaning school. Books were pulled out of the homeschool cupboard, pencils were sharpened, and lessons were learned.

For some, the first day of school can be a little bit overwhelming and sometimes even scary! Over the years, there are a couple of tips I have incorporated into our routine to make this first week run more smoothly.

I start the day a little earlier than our kids. Once my kids are up, it feels like the starting line at the Olympics, “And their off!” Getting up even a half an hour earlier than my kids, allows me time to take things easy and enjoy a cup of coffee before madness begins.

I pray, pray, pray. I want to make sure that the Lord is the center of our day. Starting the day off with prayer sets the right pace and tone for our home.

I make sure I read my Bible. Praying is important, talking to God always is, but I want to make sure I am hearing from him as well. Whether from a devotional or reading straight from the Word, I want to make sure I get in some good reading time.

I wake my babies with a cheerful “good morning” and a silly song. I try to wake the kids with something light and cheerful. This helps all of us look at the day in a good light. I usually walk in singing, “Rise and shine and give God the glory, glory!” They laugh, half asleep, and beg for five more minutes. This is usually met with a swift “nope” from me and a quick announcement. They are told they get one hour to get dressed, clean their room, eat, and  be ready to learn.

We start our learning with Bible time. Once the kids are finished with their morning routine, we gather at the kitchen table and tackle the most important subject together as a team. This sets the mood for the rest of their learning.

We start off nice and easy. The first week of school, I try to keep things nice and light. The work is mostly all review, with very few pages to be completed. This eases the kids back into a more formal routine and affords me the time and opportunity to readjust as needed.

We don’t cover all subjects on the first day. Jumping into more formal work can be a daunting task. Going from an easy summer load to a full fall load, all in one day, is like going from 0 to 60 in about 2.5 seconds; I prefer to ease them into it.

The first day of school, we cover just the basics; penmanship, spelling, language arts, oral reading, and “rotations”. Because of our curriculum layout, we won’t even start arithmetic until Thursday! Unit studies and Spanish will not begin until next week.

Starting off “light” gives me an opportunity to monitor how much time those first subjects are taking and adjust accordingly. It also means I have an opportunity to work around our chores and see if our routine is working for us.

We finish the day early. The first week back to school, I want to make sure they aren’t sitting at the table all day long. We try to take a few breaks in-between subjects and we try to finish up our learning time around 2p.m. With plenty of breaks and free time, the kids are less likely to complain about the return of a formal routine and they grow accustomed to longer periods of learning.

With all of these tips to help us out, our return to learning went fairly well. There were a few hiccups, but we will work those out. With much prayer and patience, we are getting back into our routine.

What tips help you make “back to school” more easy? I would love to learn how you “return to your regularly scheduled program”!

58 thoughts on “Our Regularly Scheduled Program

  1. I have a hard time making time for Bible. I’m not a morning person at all. So we don’t start school sometimes until 9am. I’m hoping to change this. But getting my Bible reading in has always been very difficult for me. I do devotions with my kids though and I count that as Bible time…but I know I need to set my heart right before dealing with them. So good for you for getting it in!

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    • It can be hard to get it in, but it is important. Perhaps you can do it the night before. Either way you are doing it before schooling the kids. I have had a hard time being consistent in the past, but I can feel it when I don’t do it (its like exercising). My soul is much more peaceful when I am filled with Him.

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      • I found it easiest to do at night. We just got a puppy and since then, its been hard to do much of anything. She’s worse than an infant! But, its not a real good excuse since I’m on my blog….lol. So I just need to prioritize it. I bought the ESV a few years ago and it came with an online app that I can access. They even have someone who can read the passages out loud. So I’m lazy for not listening or picking up my own Bible.

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      • That a good idea; having an audio version. I am sure you will make the time, you are just figuring things out. Give yourself a break and remember, tomorrow is a new day!

        What kind of puppy? Meaning breed….

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      • We have a black lab. She’s super cute, but super hyper. We can’t get her to stop biting and that is driving me a little insane. I ask the dog trainers and they give me one set of advice, the vet gives tells us that’s completely wrong. Apparently we have now trained her to associate her crate with being bad. Well, to be honest, when she is naughty, the only thing that stops her is the crate. So I guess I have trained to hate her crate. I just don’t care. She’s a dog. I love her, but at the end of the day — she’s a dog, not a kid. Anyway, its frustrating because vets act like animals should be people or something and I know they are apart of the family but honestly, she comes last in this scenario!

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      • I hear you, when we first got our puppy it was hard to figure out how to train it. There were a couple of good tips from a book I read though.
        1. Keep the puppy in the crate all night. First thing in the morning, take him to do his business, making sure to pick the same spot all the time. If he goes, give him a treat and praise him. If he doesn’t, put him back in the crate. Try again every 20 minutes until he goes and then treat him.
        2. Once he has gone, keep him on his leash all the time and keep him with you. When you sit, make him sit. When you walk, he walks.
        3. Take him outside every couple of hours to do his business and praise him when he does. Keep an eye on him in between, if he whines or starts sniffing, take him outside.
        4. Train him to make eye contact, to sit, and laydown while he is on the leash. Do not take him off for at least two months. This will teach him to always be with you and will keep him within eye sight.
        5. Slowly start to put the leash down, with him attached to it. Once he gets used to staying next to you, test to see if he will wander. When we sit down to dinner, we used to put the leash under the leg of a chair. Now we just put the leash down and he stays put.
        6. While he is on the leash, only give me the toys that you want him to play with. He will become accustomed to which toys are his and which aren’t. When he grabs something that isn’t his, teach him to “drop it”. He will get the concept pretty quick.

        Well, you get the idea. We have used this method for quite a few months now and it is working very well. They learn very quickly and love to please.

        Keep us updated on her progress, we can’t wait to see how she does.

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  2. I love your gentle approach to starting off the new year as well as the spirituality you bring to your day and lives of your kids. I look forward to checking out more of your pages and watching what is too come! Thanks for stumbling onto my blog!

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  3. Those are some great tips! This is our first year of homeschooling, so I don’t have any tips to ease into a new year, but I will be using yours for sure. We did school all summer, just a small amount each day, so I’m hoping our ‘official start’ won’t be a big deal to them.

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    • We did summer school as well, it keep the kids occupied and helps them retain what they have learned better. 12 weeks off is too much time.

      I am glad that you are able to use some of the tips, I know they always help me! Thanks for stopping in!

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  4. Thanks for visiting my blog! I love your blog articles! I am going to use some of your tips for your first week for our boys, especially since they are only in preschool at this point. Getting into a routine isn’t something I’ve pushed before now, oddly enough. What a blessing for you and the children to have your husband there to add to the homeschool day! Such a unique perspective I think that the fathers bring, and his point on teaching logic is such a valid one. My husband and I feel the same way.
    Blessings on your new school year!

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    • I always enjoy looking at other people’s blogs! There is so much to learn and appreciate.

      It is wonderful to have my husband around as often as he is. He really adds a lot to our day.

      Being on a routine has really saved my peace of mind and helps my kids to get through the day. They know the routine and it helps them gauge how much is left, it also gives them peace of mind knowing when we have free time.

      Thanks for stopping by and visiting. It is always great to hear from others in the community! God Bless!

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  5. I just figured out that you are a real person liking my blog and not spam. I’m still so puter-illiterate at times.
    I like your “easing into”. I am so visionary I usually have a huge plan, but during/after day one, I realize how silly my plan is. My children are so smart; they keep me in line. School is a secondary thing; being together is number one. It’s especially cool when you can do both at the same time.
    As for Bible, a couple of years ago dh and I adopted a plan to read 3x/day. We read Prov and Psalms at breakfast, the Gospels at lunch, and from the Old Testament before bed. There is NOTHING so powerful. I have seen God teaching my children through His Word better than we ever could. It is a humbling experience. Well, and He teaches dh and I, too– we’re all learning together.

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    • I had to laugh over this one. I know what you mean, it can be hard to tell if someone is spam or not. The easiest way to tell is to look at their comment. If there is a wordpress site listed, hover your mouse over the address. It will show an actual picture of their blog. If the snapshot looks valid, I visit the site, and check it out; then I approve the comments.
      I think your plan to read three times a day is wonderful! I agree; we homeschool because we wanted to develop strong relationships with our children through learning. We are constantly growing and learning!

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  6. I have finally learned to get up early before the kids as well and start my day off with bible reading. I’ve never read the ENTIRE bible and that is my latest challenge…to complete in under a year. My son, when he heard of my goal, said “no way, you won’t do it”….well I am thankful because that just made me more determined to do so and I am way ahead of my goal.
    Thanks for sharing about your day.

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    • Don’t be discouraged! You can do it! I have to confess, I don’t think I have ever made it all the way through myself. That is one of my goals for this coming year; to finish before the end of the school year. Let’s keep it up together! What book are you starting in?
      Thanks for stopping in and for the encouragement! I know we can both do it!

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      • I’ve been reading through the Bible since last September (and I’m a little behind schedule because of skipping days here and there), but I highly recommend getting “For the Love of God” by D.A.Carson – it’s a companion for reading through the Bible. I find this really helpful because sometimes when I just read Scripture I don’t ALWAYS find that I ‘get’ something out of it – sometimes, depending on the book or passage, it can seem dry, but this book has a one-page meditation to go with each day’s reading for the year and I find that helps me ‘get something’ out of the reading, if that makes sense? Oh, and if you follow his schedule, you will have read the Old Testament once and the New Testament & Psalms TWICE in a year 🙂 Anyway, using this book has helped me stick (more or less) to reading all the way through the Bible, so just thought I’d share 🙂

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  7. I can’t imagine taking a whole 3 months (12 weeks) off! Our longest holidays in South Africa are about 3weeks, but then I don’t follow the normal school breaks and terms anyway. I remembered when I was still in school that I forgot so much… Now we follow an approach of 4/5 weeks school and 1 week off, 2 weeks if we go visit granny, or go away somewhere. I can appreciate slipping into the regular routine more gradually.

    I have been doing the “Hello Morning” challenge this year. I don’t have a problem getting up early and I always spent time reading my Bible, but it was a customary thing, rather than something I really wanted to do. Now I love my morning time with Him.
    http://inspiredtoaction.com/hellomornings/

    Thanks for sharing your daily routine, it gives great insite into how to make things run smooth. All the best with the Bible reading.

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    • Thanks, I really want to get through the whole Bible this year and every year after.
      I know that taking off twelve weeks for summer works for some people, but it just doesn’t work for us. We do things all summer long, in actuality only taking off five weeks total throughout the year. It never feels overwhelming or burdensome; we love learning!
      Thanks for sharing your inspiration with “Hello Morning”. It sounds like a neat idea!

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  8. As my eldest is only 5.5yrs now he doesn’t understand (or aren’t of that frame of mind) that you only learn/do school work during the week. When we visited my mil earlier this year (a short week-long break), he wanted to learn about the animals we saw in the nature reserve, etc. so I had to search her bookshelves for information and hurriedly think up activities to go with it. Same happened this past weekend when he wanted to learn about sharks, after seeing a short piece of a dvd on sharks. This time I could keep him busy with enough information, short videos on internet as well as some “worksheets and papers” to do, etc. as part of his learning experience.
    I love looking through new curricula, or working out what we are going to cover, etc. My husband said we chose home schooling because of my love for learning and big love for books!

    Good luck for the rest of the “term”.

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  9. Excellent tips for easing into the new homeschooling year. Prayer is key, and although I’m a single mom homeschooling an only child, I feel the same way when I don’t pray in the morning. Prayer is key, and I strive to become more consistent.

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      • As a single mom, my life, I believe, runs more smoothly than many married women. In 1 Cor. 7:34, explains the differences between the married and the unmarried woman and how the married must be concerned with pleasing a mate and the unmarried with pleasing God. I’m an unmarried (divorced) woman who experiences God in extremely powerful, miraculous ways on a regular basis. I have one child who is wise beyond his years–the fruit of my womb and a gift from the all knowing God.

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      • There has been an evolution in my thinking. I was divorced by my son’s father when my baby was one, so I’ve always been a “single mom.” God works out all things for the good of those who love Him.

        As much as I didn’t want it at the time, the divorce proved to be a way of escape for me and my child. God is so awesome, he has even provided a godly male role model for my son–in the form of a pastor–who my son relates to extremely well. God is truly all mighty!

        It’s a matter of perspective, which it took me a long time to learn. Is the glass half empty or is it half full. I choose to believe the latter, and I’ll keep believing, until, despite circumstances, I’ll see that the glass has always been overflowing.

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      • As much as some hate to admit it, a home where there is no father is out of order; I call it biblical, divine order. All children need a mother and a father, and those who are missing one or the other suffer from it. However, God in His mercy, can bring about healing and deliverance from that sense of lack or rejection. I hope you are experiencing healing from your childhood experiences.

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      • I’d like to think so. The Lord has been gracious and merciful.
        It is truly a blessing to see my husband be the father he is; to know that my children are well loved and have a balanced family life.

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  10. I wish I read this before our first day of school, but honestly we did end up starting light. It allowed me to see what adjustments needed to be made. Also realized that homeschooling is a marathon not a sprint so I need to plan/prepare yet be open to the promptings of the Holy Spirit and adjust accordingly. Thanks so much for these tips and encouragement!

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  11. Enjoyed seeing everyone’s challenges and triumphs regarding regular Bible reading. With 4 little boys in the house “quiet” time is nearly impossible to come by. The only time I have ever been able to read through the Bible has been when I had an infant to nurse and was stuck in a rocking chair for hours a day. Then and only then have I had success in reading through the Bible in a year which I did aloud each time. It made a rather cumbersome season of life that much more precious. Even though I’m currently out of the rocking chair phase and into the school desk one you’ve inspired me to try going though it aloud again, though I don’t think I’m ambitious enough to try finishing it in a year!

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  12. Thanks for stopping by my blog! I also homeschool and I have a 2 year old who is in constant need of attention any suggestions on how to keep him at bay while I try to teach his brother and to keep him from distracting him?

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    • I would suggest rotating the toys that he has available and finding “work” for him to do. Color pages, cutting exercises, and things of that nature. They will make him feel included, but won’t distract from your working with your other children.
      Thanks for stopping in!

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  13. Good for you having a routine! Children NEED routine! They thrive on it and feel best when it is totally the same every day. Of course, that is not possible, but we EVEN had a routine for the days that did not fit the routine. As they aged and had more lateral about what they did and when, I would tell them to skip social studies and science if we had to go to the park or to our P.E. rendevous. I would remind them when they awoke, that today was “Park Day” or whatever, and they automatically knew to switch routines. Helped so much! 🙂

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  14. Such a great post! This is a great layout and I loved reading it because I’m new to HS. Best part for me was when you talk sbout the most important subject of the day. Thanks.

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  15. For our family it is quite simple: we never put the books away! I don’t want Aurelia to feel as though her “learning” is scheduled. Our shelves are Aurelia sized and she has unlimited access to sensory activities and workbooks/old school textbooks. We learn by sitting down (sometimes) but mostly we learn by doing (sometimes we stop our cooking for a quick math lesson) — I especially love when the lesson happens out in public — we explain it and then have something new to discuss on the way home.

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    • I agree, this method works very well. We use it quite a bit, especially with our younger children. As our children got older though and their studies became more in-depth, “sitting down time” needed to happen more regularly and with greater length.

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  16. Love your enthusiasm!! This is our second year homeschooling and it was absolutely rough at the beginning of last year…utter chaos. The kids complained and wanted to go back to regular school, where they could see people their own ages and I was just about to give up because of their lack of motivation. We’ve restructured the schoolroom several times (until now, I feel like it’s really workable and colorful, and they get excited about being in here) and getting organized seemed nearly impossible with 4 homeschool kids, a toddler and a preschooler. Like I said before, it was total chaos!!!

    We finally got a workable routine going, where the kids were getting things done…and learning, but I was sooooooo exhausted by the end of the day and housework continually suffered. I then implemented the “rewards system” that worked for a while but then my husband and I changed roles as I was going to put my hard-earned real estate license to use. Eventually, God clearly showed us that that was not our path to take, and we began to make peace with what God has called us both to…he, the bread-winner and I, the homemaker and help meet. How humbling!
    God’s given us so much peace and has grown us so much closer to Him in all of this moving and shaking, and I just thank Him for that rest and clarity. I know beyond the shadow of a doubt that He has called me to educate my children and I pray daily that He would fill me with the grace to do it joyfully!

    I, too, am not really a morning person and so I like to read from a 1 minute devotional, but at random moments throughout each day I just sit and talk to them about life and incorporate biblical truth. They hear me talking to one of two of the other kids and run to grab their bibles asking, ” Are we having bible study?” I love that! God’s working in them hearts that desire to know Him! I do applaud you, homeschooling mom for waking early (in the steps of Proverbs 31) and feeding God’s word first and then endeavoring to nourish your children. I pray that God will give me the consistency in doing the same!!!

    I am starting the workbox system next week for my 9 and 10 year olds, as they are the least prone to work on their on, so I have to completely schedule out their days. I’m a bit excited about it! I will write and let you all know how that goes!

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    • I would love to hear how your routine is working out with the workbox system! I enjoy learning new ways to approach education. Definitely keep me posted, please!
      Establishing a routine is a lot of trial and error, finding out not only what works, but what works best for YOUR family. Not all families are the same. What a blessing that the Lord is showing you the path that your family is to take and that you are being faithful to follow it!
      Again, keep us posted! I would love to hear more!

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  17. I just love the smell of my kids when they wake up in the morning hahaha!

    For our eldest son, I let him stay in bed for a while. He wont sit at the dinner table for breakfast yet. So I give him enough time to “rest” after a restful night 🙂 It takes a while for him to get fired up. I try not to force him to sit and eat at a specific time because this would only cause stress on him and on me. But once he’s up and about, he would check his schedule for the day and would do his lessons independently.

    For our princess, she is an early riser and would sit at the table as soon as she is up. She would take her breakfast and play “for a while” before we start school. I would start school with her while her older brother prepares himself for the day.

    We are about to complete the first quarter in our part of the world but when Monday comes, it’s like the first day of school all over again. 😉 Thanks for sharing your tips! Happy homeschooling!

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