10 Ways to Make Your Homeschool Day Run Smoothly

photo by jimmiehomeschoolmom

1.  Wake up before your children.  Getting a head start on your day works wonders.  You don’t necessarily have to get up at 5:00 AM, but arising at least one hour before your children do has many advantages.  This early morning time can be used for personal Bible study and prayer, personal grooming, laundry, exercise, computer time, cooking breakfast, planning your day, and gathering any necessary supplies for your school day.

2.  Have a supper plan each day.  Know what you will be serving for supper as soon as breakfast is over.  You may like to plan your menus one week, two weeks, or even a month at a time, but just make sure that you plan.  List your nightly meals.  Each morning check to see if there is something you need to thaw, chop, or prepare early in the day.  Having a supper plan prevents kitchen chaos at 5:00 PM.
3.  Create a routine.  Doing the same things in the same order each day gives both you and your children a sense of security.  The more tasks that are routine, the less you have to stress about.  In our home, our school day routine flows like this:
  • morning chores
  • breakfast
  • Bible lesson at kitchen table with all of the children
  • Mama takes turns working with each child independently, in the same order each day.
  • free time for children after they finish their daily schoolwork
  • Mama reads to two youngest children right before lunch
  • lunch
  • Mama reads Sonlight read alouds to middle children after lunch

Even if you don’t create specific time slots for each aspect of your day, you can create an orderly routine to follow.

4.  Tidy your school area each day.  When the day’s schoolwork is done, take some time to prepare for the next school day.  Have your children gather all of their schoolbooks and various supplies and store them in a specific spot.  Erase your whiteboard.  Tidy the work spaces (tables, floors, etc.).  Put away all games, puzzles, and other activities that your younger children played.  I also like to put the next day’s date on our whiteboard along with my 1st grader’s copywork for the next day.

5.  Tell your children the “Plan for the Day”.  As part of our morning routine, during breakfast I tell my children our plan for the day.  This simply means that I remind them of any routine appointments like piano lessons or cross country practice, and the time we will have to leave for these appointments.  I mention any visitors we may be expecting, any errands we need to run, and any extra chores or activities I may have for them that day.  When we know the plan for the day, we can make the necessary adjustments to our normal routine if needed.

6.  Avoid answering the telephone.  During school hours, I do not answer my phone unless it is my husband.  Phone calls usually take more time than you intend them to, and children usually get off task when Mama is on the phone.   I use my answering machine, and I return phone calls after our schoolwork is complete.

7.  Stay offline during school hours.  I check email, read blogs, and blog before school begins, and I avoid getting back online until all of our schoolwork is done.  Planning to spend just a minute to check email or quickly read a blog post, typically turns into five or ten minutes or more.  Then the children are all off task, and the toddler has flushed something down the toilet.  Discipline yourself to avoid your computer until after school

8.  Have your children’s schoolwork planned.  Spending time in the summer, once a month, once a week, or whatever works for you, to plan your child’s schoolwork has numerous benefits.  Trying to tell three or four children at once what page to do in their math book while the baby is crying and the toddler is dumping out the contents of the kitchen cabinets can make for a stressful day.  I make checklists for my children three or four weeks at a time.

I used to plan out an entire semester in one sitting, but then the plans would get all messed up when someone got sick, or we had an unexpected outing.  I usually spend a couple of hours on a Sunday afternoon about once a month to create plans for my children.  They have little boxes to check off when they complete each subject, and some of the boxes have specific assignments (like read chapter one, etc).

9.  Serve snacks daily.  Eating a mid-morning snack (and a mid-afternoon snack if you are still schooling at that time of day) makes everyone feel better.  My children eat at the schoolroom table while they are doing their schoolwork.

10.  Smile.  Hug your children and smile at them often.  A happy, loving attitude will make every school day flow more smoothly!

Roan is the homeschooling mother of five children whose ages range from 5 to 15.  She writes regularly about homeschooling, running, and her family life at her personal blog, Joyful Always.

This post is linked to Top Ten Tuesday.


  1. I love this post, it is super practical! I need to add a couple of these things to my list. Thanks for posting!

  2. Jennifer @ Schooling Three Sisters says:

    Very helpful…..thanks for the wonderful information!

  3. from a soon to hopefully be a new homeschooler .. thank you.

  4. Thanks for the list. I do most of those things already, but there are a few areas I need to work on improving.

  5. Chrissy says:

    Very simple but VERY WISE tips.

  6. Those are great tips, I will have to remember those great ideas. Karen

  7. Great list! Some I already do each day. My favorite is waking up before my kids. It gives me a chance to enjoy a cup of coffee and catch up on the local and world news!

  8. Snacks for kiddos — coffee for me! :-)
    I’m so lovin’ that MY daughter’s pic is up there. You know, ALL our homeschool days are SO smooth. (LOL)

  9. Oh, yes I *do* have to get up at 5:00 a.m. I have to have a lot of quiet time. Have you seen the internet? It is HUGE! A few minutes at a time just won’t cut it. ;-) Great tips. I really need to work on the tidying up thing. Really.

  10. LifeAtTheCircus says:

    These were such great and practical tips that I def plan to implement! Thank you!!!

  11. Great list! I printed this out! Thank you!

  12. #7 literally happened to me this week. That 2-year-old of mine is flush happy.

    Excellent list of reminders!


  13. I just love this! I came across this post from StumbledUpon and I am glad I did. I have a 7 year old that is about to go into 2nd grade next month. I have gone back and forth on whether to homeschool and I am so afraid that I am not disiplined enough to get it done right. Your list really makes me think if I have organization it can come together alot more smoothly.

  14. Some great tips for a newbie at homeschooling like me. Thanks!

    • I agree, I,m also new and need all the help I can get. I have to boys that are both in 5th grade and I have only one computer, for all of us!! So its been pretty hectake and I can use all the advice anyone whats to give, Thank you from newbee with twins, and one computer. Carol :)

  15. This is such great post! Really simple ideas that just get overlooked. :)

  16. Nice, practical steps, thanks!

  17. Thank you so very much for posting these homeschool tips! I am doing most of these, but it is nice to have a ‘reminder’ and also confirmation as to what you are doing, and/or need to keep doing. Thanks for encouraging us homeschoolers and sharing your heart and ideas with us. I always say, together we are stronger. Feel free to pop on over and see some of my homeschool posts and may they encourage and inspire you to maintain the homeschool race, with much love and grace! Blessings!

  18. I loved all the tips except the one where you get up an hour earlier than your kids. If I got up an hour earlier, I’d be up at 4:30….not your fault, I just got the world’s earliest riser for a child, which totally throws me off my game.

  19. Wonderful post! The first two are the hardest for me, but I always feel the benefit when they happen. This is a great list of where to start pulling reigning in life to fit school into it.

  20. Great stuff! We’re heading into full-time homeschooling next year (we’ve been participating in a tutorial) and I’m looking forward to planning a lot this summer. Thanks for the tips.

  21. I just came across this and am thankful that I have. Lots of great ideas. I shared a link with a few homeschool groups that I belong to and hope it will be helpful to them also.
    I will share a link later this week on my blog http://adoptivemomhomeschoolinganonlychild.

  22. Matrixmamma5 says:

    This is such a balanced view on running smoothly. Have been doing some of these. I need to plan my lessons more in advanced–I have a toddler that does scream and desire my attention. Thanks!

  23. Such practical advice. Thanks for writing it. I’ve been homeschooling a long time, and still need these sorts of reminders!

  24. Hi there, great post! I was curious, while you are working individually with your kiddos, what are the others doing? Mine are not really old enough to do independent work yet, maybe a little. Thanks.

  25. Stephanie says:

    Thank you for this! I often follow these ideas. Right now, I’m so off track! But just seeing all these essentials listed together is going to help me get back on track. I can do this! I have five kiddos, too. 15 months – 11 years. :)

  26. Wonderful advice. This is my third year homeschooling and every year I try to get better and better at it. I have a preschooler joining her sixth grade brother and her third and second grade sisters. Keep me in your prayers. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Phil.4:13

  27. Great tips!!! Its so true about the phone calls. I pick up the phone thinking its a new client and it usually turns out to be a telemarketer. I’m so bad about not getting rid of them, especially since I’m not interested.

  28. Hi, I am new to homeschooling, and I am trying to get into a routine and have a lesson plan.
    When you say you have a checklist for the children, what does that consist of? Thanks!


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