We’re entering a new season in our homeschooling life: early elementary! We’ve had many different routines for our days in the last 7 years of homeschooling, and each one brought benefits to the needs we had at the time. Currently, our routine needs to work around nap time, constant (literally constant) cleanup from little hands exploring (and destroying) the house, and short attention spans.
Now that my oldest daughter is basically just a visiting face between school, work, and time with her dad, what do our days look like with a 5, 3, and 1.5 year old at home?
Our Homeschool Kindergarten Routine
As soon as the kids get up, we are making breakfast. As much as I want to get up and stay up before they do, that just doesn’t happen. Maybe someday I’ll grow up and be able to get out of bed before it’s absolutely necessary. Aamina (5 years old) can make some simple breakfasts herself, like yogurt with honey and granola, or reheating oatmeal that Dad might have made earlier, so this task is starting to move off my hands, but generally the littles require me to be up and cooking breakfast.
Over the summer we have started building the habit of putting away clean dishes after breakfast and cleaning up the table as soon as we are done. I’m working on making sure this gets engrained as a habit with the kids so it becomes natural and needs less prompting on my part. As this chore becomes easier, I’ve been adding in other small chores in the morning, like wiping down bathroom counters, or picking up a room in the house.
Chores right away in the morning sounds great, but I imagine this could eat up days when the kids aren’t motivated. We’ll see where this ends up. I’m sure it’ll move 100 times before the kids are adults.
One thing that motivates the kids to finish their chores in a timely manner is we can dig into our morning basket as soon as they’re done. The morning basket is fairly new to our routine, but has been a big hit so far. Here’s what you can find in our morning basket lately:
- One book of each child’s choosing that I will read aloud
- One book of my choosing, normally an educational book
- Our Arabic flashcards, currently covering colors and numbers
- The du’a we are currently working on memorizing
- Easy reader books that I offer for Aamina to read aloud, and if she declines, I will read it aloud instead
In total, our morning basket usually takes about 15 minutes, which is about all I can hope for in terms of attention span with Amatullah and Salihah (3.5 and 1.5 years).
Open morning time
If we have errands to run, I like to get them done in the morning, otherwise it’s too hard to squeeze them in after naptime and before dinner. If we don’t have any errands, or activities that we are heading out to, this is time for me to get some cleaning done and the kids to have some free play. Some activities I try to cycle through in our morning time are:
- Local play groups
- Library visits
- Visiting parks on our own
- Nature center classes
- Museum visits
I really try to have lunch at home because packing up food for four people is just an added chore, so most days I try to only have an out-of-home activity either in the morning or the afternoon, but not both. As the kids get older and packing lunches can be delegated a bit more, I hope to allow for more full day outings.
Open afternoon time
A couple days a week we go out after lunch for meet ups with other homeschoolers, but generally we stay home and let Salihah take a nap. While Salihah is napping, we break out any books for more formal school work like math, handwriting, art projects or phonics. We have not yet formed a routine in how we choose which subjects we do. For now I’ve just been letting the kids choose what they want to work on and we’ll assess the how effective that is as time goes on.
Afternoon wrap up
Around 3pm I hit a lull every day and usually find ways for us to each have some alone time. Aamina and Amatullah might take turns playing Reading Eggs, or have free play time, sometimes I’ll insist they spend some time in separate rooms so they can have a break from each other. Dinner prep usually starts around this time, which means all school efforts end. I learned in our first year of homeschooling that I just don’t have it in me to continue with school stuff after dinner. Even as I consider a more unschooling model, the most I can do after dinner time is a read aloud.
Kindergarten is intentionally very casual, and the aim right now is to build routines that will be the foundation for future success in our homeschool, in sha Allah.
Want to see more? Check out snapshots of our days on Instagram!