Simple But Needed

A new homeschool morning routine. Simple but needed.

Homeschool Morning Routine

When we began homeschooling over 12 years ago, a morning routine was something we always had. Sure, it evolved from time to time, but it was always there. One constant in our morning routine was family Bible time, led by Daddy. We were fortunate to have Daddy home in the mornings at first due to our flexible missionary lifestyle {he worked mostly in the evenings} and then due to his schedule while he was in grad school for the past 3 years. He has always led us in reading the Bible together as a family, and although it was something that wasn’t always totally lovely, it was something I always cherished. 

Once his internships began and he was gone early in the mornings, I lost all sense of a morning routine. Honestly, I was a bit flustered. You see, I am NOT a morning person and I was in a {large} bit of denial that I needed to be. I managed to flounder around for over a year and as we approached this current schoolyear, I decided it was time for a simple but NEEDED change.

One thing I knew about myself is that I tend to overdo things and then the overly high expectation of myself causes me to just give up when I fail. Knowing this, I was determined to decide on a routine that I could stick with, one that I would actually enjoy, and not dread.

As I made my decisions, I factored in a few things that I wanted to changed and gave thought to how I could combine and conquer. I wanted to eat healthier and wanted my kids to have a heartier {healthier} breakfast. I wanted time to talk. I wanted time to read. But I didn’t want to read so much that I couldn’t eat too. How to combine these ideas became my goal. Keep it simple <—that was also my BIG goal.

Since our chickens began laying eggs, I have been eating eggs for breakfast every morning, along with an avocado, and some awesome chicken sausage {from Aldi – the Never Any brand – so wonderful}. If I was already cooking for myself, why not cook for them too. I know this sounds like a DUH moment to many mommas, but another thing you must know about me – I do NOT cook. The fact that I was cooking eggs for myself was a miracle itself.

So, all that thinking led to what we now have – a simple morning routine for our homeschool days, one that we needed desperately.

Homeschool Morning Routine (1 of 1)

I cook breakfast, making sure that the foods I am offering are ones I know my two picky eaters enjoy {keeping the conflict low – one of my other goals}. We have scrambled eggs, avocado, sausage, and fruit. With these two particular kids, keeping the menu relatively similar each day is helpful too. They are huge complainers when it comes to foods they dislike, and this causes me stress. So, I made my food choices wisely.

I had a few different ‘reading"’ ideas in mind and then one night it hit me – I already owned the perfect book. Indescribable by Louie Giglio was perfect for my goals. I wanted something that could work for both of my kids {ages 9 and 12 currently} and be simple enough to discuss over breakfast. This book has been great!

We are now on our third official week of homeschool and we have all grown to love this routine. I am so thankful for my time with my kids – even if it does mean more dishes to wash every morning.

Daily Work Grid ~ A Visual Schoolwork Plan for Homeschoolers

Daily Work Grid Schoolwork Plan for Homeschoolers VIDEO Tutorial included in post!


This idea has been brewing in my mind for years, I just never took the time to create it until now.  It is similar to methods we have used in the past and resembles methods other homeschoolers use.  It isn’t a totally new idea, just a new twist on methods I have both used and seen, adapted to suit our current needs.

Many of you saw my photo on Instagram several months ago when I created the cards and grid. There were tons of questions about it and I promised a blog post!

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It did take some time to set up and I explain how I did it in the video below…

Daily Work Grid

Many have asked about our Daily Work Grid that I am using with our 1st grader and I finally got a video together for you! See how we use it and a tutorial for how I made the grid and the subject cards in PowerPoint.Blog post coming soon!**See more VIDEOS on our YOUTUBE Channel ~**SUBSCRIBE to our blog posts ~

Posted by 1+1+1=1 on Sunday, August 30, 2015


I shared this photo the night before we began 1st grade, which shows our Lessontrek plan and our Daily Work Grid ready to go for her first day of school.

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We have now been using this method for over 3 week and it is working very well for us!  She loves the visual choices she has, and also seeing how much she has left each day.

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Having a visual daily grid like this for a young child helps us in many ways. The biggest help for us is the fact that expectations for the homeschool day are crystal clear.  There are many ways to do this, a simple list on the board or in a notebook works well for many families. 

For our 1st grader, this is a visual intro to following a daily homeschool plan. For us Kindergarten and below is much more play-based and child-led so the lesson plans are really only for me up until now.  With an end goal of more independence in homeschooling, this visual daily grid eases her into this.

By showing her clearly what is to be done that day, she knows what to expect.  The cards coming off give her a feeling of accomplishment and also help squash the “how much more do I have to do today” questions {and sometimes attitude problems}.

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Using a daily work grid like this may be beneficial for you if you…

  • have a child who likes to know what is expected each day.
  • have a child who needs a visual rather than written version.
  • have a child who whines or complains about how much is left to do.
  • have a young child who is easing into following a daily homeschool routine {usually beginning in K-2}.
  • like creating things on your own and have the time {this takes time to prepare}.

I would not recommend this method if you…

  • have an older child who can easily read a written list and doesn’t really need visuals. No need to go backwards.
  • have many children and would struggle to keep up with the consistent routine of this.
  • don’t have time to even put this together.
  • have a young tot or preschooler who is more play-based and child-led, they don’t necessarily need a grid like this.  I don’t recommend being this planned out in the early years.  Having freedom to go with the flow during those early years is more important that following the daily plan.  This is exactly why I never give lesson plans for any of my tot programs {Tot School Printables, Animal ABCs, etc.}  I believe in a more flexible plan during those years. Every child is different and the pressure of a daily plan doesn’t allow for this as much. I personally would not have used something like this until Kindergarten.  It would have been great last year I just didn’t have time to create it.

Here’s the video sharing how we use our daily grid and how I created the grids and subject cards in PowerPoint.  I am sorry fi you don’t have PP, this is just what I use mostly to create my printables and I can only share how I do it.  Many aspects will be similar in another program, hopefully you can get the general idea!

Summer Challenge & Routine 2013

Summer Challenge 2013

We have been doing Summer Challenge for several years now! You can see more details and explanations in these past posts if this is new to you!

    Each year I adapt the challenge for the current ages and needs of the kids.  This is the first year Ladybug {age 4} has participated and she is loving it!  One addition this year is the What To Do chart! The basic concept is that the kids follow a loose routine with me and a lot of free time is built into our summer days.  During this free time they are not allowed to plug in at all {no iPad, iPod, computer, video games, or TV}. With the goal of assisting them in their creative thinking, we created categories to choose from during the day. Reading, outside play, creative expression {art, play dough, drawing, etc.}, exercise, school work {summer options are listed later in this post}, or building {blocks or any creative building toy we have}.  The little clips are for them to move over as we complete an activity.  We aren’t tied to the clips, but they are there in case they somehow get “bored” and can’t remember things they haven’t done yet that day!

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{download here}

Our daily routine for now is one without strict time constraints, but with what I call “anchors” throughout the day.  These anchors are the same whenever we are at home during those times. I even have alarms set on my phone to go off at these times to remind us.


Contribute time is where we all stop for 15 minutes and contribute to the upkeep of our home together.  We pick up junk, vacuum, wipe chairs/tables, clean a bathroom, clean bedrooms, and do a quick clean of the schoolroom.  As you can see, we do this twice a day, as the main areas can get out of hand if we don’t.  Daddy comes home at 4, which is the main reason we have one at 3:15, so we can pick up the living room, kitchen and schoolroom before he arrives.

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Snack/Plug In time is 30 minutes each time for the kids to use a device or watch a 30 minute show while they have a snack.

Be Still and Alone is for the sanity of our home {and me}.  At 1:00 each day we all divide for an hour and a half.  One boy stays in the schoolroom, Ladybug goes to her bedroom and the other boy to their bedroom.  During this time they can do whatever they want that is unplugged and quiet!  Often Pac chooses to earn summer challenge points!  This is also a wind down time for me to get anything done online or in the house that I need to do.


During the free time in between these anchors they can do just about anything that isn’t plugged in. Mostly the choose to create, build, play outside, or earn points through summer learning. The BIG favorite right now is the Straws and Connectors shown below!

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Each child knows what school work s/he can do to earn points, and the little 2 have these boxes to remind them.  Each child has a notebook with sheet protectors filled with summer work, mostly from the summer learning packs from Royal Baloo and 3 Dinosaurs. They also have some other workbooks and things.

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When work is completed and needs to be assigned points, they use the blue bin which is right under our point charts. I grade it, write in the points and transfer it to the done box {red}.  I clean out the done box when I get to it.

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We do not use our regular curriculum {Calvert} in the summer, although near the end of the summer the boys will have the option to begin early and earn points while working ahead.  We use our supplemental stuff and each boy chose a delight-directed learning theme.  Krash chose cats and Pac chose gardening.

Although the kids have a lot of free choice and the ability to earn points with school work, I do have required school time with Mom too.  They DO get points for any summer school work, which they love, but I do have some required lessons planned. They wouldn’t always choose what I want them to do without this requirement.  The bonus is that any school work done before Labor Day earns summer challenge points!


Summer School Subjects

Krash {age 7, going into 2nd}

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PacMan {age 11, going into 6th}

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Ladybug {age 4, preschool}

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We use a similar format for prizes as we always have {you can see links to past posts in the beginning of the post} but this year the boys have decided to put in 75 points each to earn a gymnastics mushroom for our house {it is a pommel horse trainer for young gymnasts}. Usually the prizes are smaller but this was an opportunity for them to work together for something we want them to have anyway.  Ladybug will be earning something small for every 25 points, her first prize is a $1 set of bath capsules {turn into animals}.

Summer Challenge honestly has been a lifesaver for me.  Our new anchor routine has been a HUGE help this summer as well. We have a lot going on outside of our home {VBS &  Reading Rocks with our church, gymnastics 3x per week, and our seasonal campsite that we try to go to one night per week} but this plan really helps for the many hours we do spend at home!

Looking for the original Summer Challenge Printables

They are in this post…Summer Challenge

Daily Routine ~ Fall 2012

Homeschool Routine

Our routine is constantly evolving, and it takes me many weeks to decide on the actual routine.  I don’t have what I call a schedule, I have a routine with “cornerstones” ~ things that stay the same daily, while there is flexibility in the other hours.  What are our cornerstones for this year? I figured you might ask that!

Family Prayer & Bible Reading ~ with Daddy at 8:30am

Snack and Story Time ~ 10:15am

Lunch ~ 12:00

Although many other things are listed on the chart below, those are the main things that rarely fluctuate.  Everything else is free to be moved around if necessary, but I try to stick with the plan as much as possible. It took me almost all summer to decide on this plan, which we have been testing out for 2 weeks now.  So far, it is working well.

Homeschool Routine 2012

Code for small print…


Does Ladybug nap?

Sometimes.  She does have room time each day, and I try to encourage napping, but it’s hit or miss these days at age 40 months.  I read her a few books and we snuggle, spending about 30 minutes just together.  Then I shut her door and leave her in bed.  About 75% of the time she doesn’t sleep but will sing, play with her stuffed animals, read her books, and occasionally come out of her room.  Depending on her mood, I either send her back upstairs, or let her play the iPad quietly or watch a tv show while I need 1:1 time with the boys.

What are Contributions?

Chores.  We learned to call them contributions from my pal Amy.  It makes them feel more a part of the family team, and we really emphasize this now.  Each boy has a set of morning contributions and evening contributions.

Current Contributions for each boy, green is Pac, blue is Krash {ignore the point part, that was for summer challenge}Summer Challenge Krash

Summer Challenge Pac

What happens after 3pm?

Daddy comes home!  Our official school day ends at 3, but sometimes Pac has more independent work to finish up.  Daddy is home from 3-dinner and that is my personal/work time.  He leaves again most nights right after dinner for his night ministries.

Is Pac able to get all of his schoolwork done in that amount of time?

Yes, on most days.  Pac is in 5th grade and we use Calvert, which a pretty intense curriculum.  I still use a blog for his lessons, although I don’t list them daily anymore.  In order to help prepare him to manage his assignments more on his own, I post a week at a time, subject by subject. Here’s a screenshot of a small portion of his blog from last week.5th grade school blog

We use Calvert’s ATS assessment service also which gives thorough assessments every 20 lessons.  These take much prep/review time and actual test taking time.  I dread and love these assessments for obvious reasons. 

Pac is a daydreamer but he does enjoy school.  We have battled, but finally last year he really turned over a new leaf with school and his strong will.  I can’t lie ~ K-3rd was a battle with him, but we are definitely on the other side of that.  He is fun to teach now and for the most part we get along well and enjoy learning together. If he can stop daydreaming, he gets his work done quickly. 

I found that if I let him have breaks in the day {play with Ladybug for 30 minutes while I work with Krash, art, What’s in the Bible, snack and story time, etc.} he works harder and better during his independent school time.

Want to see more about what our days look like {looked like}…

Homeschool Life Button Before School Homeschool Life Button Morning School Homeschool Life Button Afternoon School 

Yes, I realize I totally slacked on the Part 4, but I have about half of it written, I just need to get it done!

Even older routine posts: Routine 2009, Routine 2011

One final note about schedules and routines…

Every family is different!  Because I believe in this fact so greatly, I hesitate to even write a post like this.  You can glean wisdom and ideas from looking at other homeschool routines, but know that yours can be dramatically different and still be OK!  Some of the homeschool moms I admire and respect the most have entirely different routines and different teaching methods and beliefs.  I know myself and have to do what works for not only my kids, but also me so I don’t go crazy!  A good example is homeschoolers who lean towards a Charlotte Mason method, I admire this greatly and honestly wish I could do homeschool that way, but I know myself.  I am more classroom oriented {probably because I was a classroom teacher for 5 years} and I need a different routine.  I believe you do what works for you and your own kids, your own home, your own lifestyle, and your own beliefs.  Do the best you can and that’s all you can do!

Also-please know that this glorious routine may change in a week!  I am constantly evolving and adapting to our seasons of life. 

Check out other homeschooling moms and their homeschool days! nbts-blog-hop-calendar-20124

Behind the Scenes ~ Daily Routine 2011

Daily Homeschool Routine

As our family has changed, our daily routine has changed also.  I must be honest, I struggle with routine and I struggle without it.  I love routine and I hate it…I am really mentally a mess when it comes to schedules and routines.  But, over the years, I have learned that without a basic routine, I will flop as a homeschooling mom.  We have horrible, chaotic days and I am the ring leader for a house full of stress.

Routines and schedules need to evolve so much when you have babies and young tots, and this always troubled me.  I don’t really like change so each time a routine didn’t work anymore I would get frustrated and then go without one for awhile—frustrating the home even worse.

With Ladybug at a different stage ~ a more predictable stage ~ and with no new baby plans at all, I think we are at a place where our current routine just might work out for more than 2 weeks!  Sure, we have disruptions and it isn’t always smooth, but it is working.

Here is our basic school day routine…



Each boy also has his own routine hanging by his desk for reference…

krash   Pacman routine

Here’s a bit more detail about what is going on during each time frame…


  • PacMan gets his daily school folder and heads upstairs to do any independent work he can do.  I allow him to choose the order, and he is really good at this now.  He is very familiar with which items can be done independently and knows to just hold off on anything he needs my help for.  He is NOT allowed to interrupt me for help during this time frame, he knows it is “Ladybug’s school time” and he respects that for the most part!  This took a lot of training but we are at a good point now.
  • Krash has 6 workboxes still, and in them I load the 1st 3 with items that don’t need much guidance from me, he finishes those while I work with Ladybug for Tot School and also go to him some.  My focus is Ladybug, but usually he can do some of his work during this time too.  He also gets to help Ladybug and be the Tot School assistant, which he loves.
  • Ladybug starts at the desk in her hook on high chair and we do some of her Tot School Printables work.  When she is “done” we get down and I follow her lead.  We read books, play with her learning toys, and just simply interact together.  Some days she wants to spend 30 minutes at the table, some only 5.  It’s up to her and I follow her lead.


  • Each child has a very small snack and I sometimes will turn on an educational show for Ladybug and if the boys want to watch with her I allow them to all sit together.  Shows I usually choose: Word World, Super Why, Team UmiZoomi, Leapfrog Letter Factory.  The key is that I choose the show and it is not free tv time, it is a relaxing snack time and also a time where I get a bit of a break from the chaos {I need this or I will go NUTS}.  I usually do some cleaning during this time.
  • After the show or snack, the kids are free until lunch.  So am I!!!  This is my mid day break which gives me a bit of time to do what I need to do.  Sometimes it’s laundry, sometimes cleaning, sometimes computer stuff, sometimes playing with the kids! If it is nice the boys go outside {I have to be with them if Ladybug goes}, if not-they choose where in the house they want to play.


  • Lunch-the kids all eat together, but Ladybug usually is done first so I take her upstairs and leave the boys to finish.  I lay Lbug down for her nap and while I am with her the boys finish their lunch and then go straight to reading time.  They know they can read together or alone, but the rule is they have to be reading!  This took much training, as they would find ways to play with the books and not read them ;-).  Usually their reading looks something like this when I come back downstairs.  99% of the time they are in the bean bag chairs! IMG_0589


  • This is our group time {just the boys}.  We do calendar, watch a PowerPoint {usually USA Geography, sometimes Solar System}, read a book, or play a game.  I leave the details open, but “require” myself to spend this 30 minutes with both of them together.


  • Krash is with me for his Kindergarten time.  This is when we do his last 3 workboxes and spend the time together he needs 1 on 1 for school.
  • PacMan goes upstairs for 30 more minutes of independent school time. If he completes all of his independent school work he is allowed to choose one of his card activities {the school one is the choice to get ahead on the next day’s work}Slide2


  • PacMan is with me for his 1 hour of with Mom school time.  This is when I do any 1 on 1 teaching with him for the day.
  • Krash is still in the training process for this time period but he is doing better.  I made him these cards that show his choices.Slide1It helps eliminate what he cannot do during this time period and helps with the sighs and groans a bit.  He still gives me trouble sometimes but he is learning the routine.  The goal is for him to be basically independent during this hour so I can focus on Pac.


  • PacMan uses this hour to finish up any remaining schoolwork, and then completes a daily afternoon chore {rotates between swiffering the floors, dusting, & emptying trash}.  After he completes this he is free for the day!
  • Krash is still playing independently although I switch things up at 2 and allow him to play his DS or non learning games on my iPod.  Most of the time he chooses just to play.


  • This is our end of school time goal time, also when Daddy comes home for the afternoon.  Daddy works most nights too in ministry, so he spends from 3-5 with the kids each day.  This 2 hours is when I walk on the treadmill, shower, and do some of my computer time.  Some days I have to run errands during this time though.  It’s such a blessing to have him home fairly consistently during this time period.
  • The boys are allowed to watch a tv show, play Wii, play their DS, play outside, or anywhere in the house-mostly choosing to hang out with Daddy.  Ladybug is usually awake by this time so the “shhhhhing” is done.

I want to mention also, that there are MANY days when the schedule is thrown out the window because someone is sick, or something else is a major disruption.  I do not try to follow the routine on those days-we just kick into survival mode.

I am thankful for the routine, and even more thankful that I have found a routine that is really working for this season of life.  We had a few other routines that lasted for a little while.  Here is one routine we had, and here is another one.

I admire those of you who can make a detailed school schedule and stick to it day after day, I am hoping I am at least going to stick to my loose routine for awhile!!!

See more Behind the Scenes posts!