BUILDING DAILY ROUTINE + A SCHEDULE

With everyone out of school right now- I thought it would be a great time for me to share our general schedule of how/when we do things at home around here! With my teaching background, I understand how important routine truly is for the child. It provides predictability in the child’s day that may be their only time in their lives they experience predictability and stability. With predictability, routine also creates a safe environment where they know what is expected of them during that time and gives them a stable environment to focus, play, learn, and grow in.

Not only is routine important and helpful to the child, but to the adult running the show- it’s just as important! It keeps things running smoothly, and gives everyone a sense of peace throughout their day knowing what’s coming up next. When I was teaching, we always had our schedule posted clearly and plainly for the students to check out next to our class calendar. If this would help you and your family visually, I totally recommend posting your general schedule somewhere in your home. On a whiteboard, a chalkboard, even a piece of paper and slapping it on the fridge works. I typically have our schedule for school-related stuff in my personal planner, and check things off as we go. Whatever works for you! So, even though I’m not posting it on the wall in our home, our kids still know the general flow of our day and schedule, because we’ve been doing our routine for quite some time. Yes, we have things that come up that provide some change to our schedule, but on the days where we are solely at home, we love our routine! So- here’s the general flow of how a typical “at-home” day looks. I hope it provides you some helpful ways to arrange your schedule with your kiddos at home over the next several weeks… or longer depending on where you are at right now. I also hope it provides you with some ideas of ways to fill up your days at home, especially if you have school-age kiddos. Hang in there friends! What an amazing opportunity we have right now to practice surrendering the comfort of our norm into the hands of our great God and sacrificially giving up our norm to be more present and focused on our kiddos at this time. We can do it!

A TYPICAL MORNING LOOKS LIKE:

5:30-7:30 – on the days I wake up before kids (my preference although doesn’t always happen!) get up, read my Bible/work on my bible study, answer emails/get work done on the computer/phone before the kids wake up. If I have time I’ll workout, but lately workouts have been happening during nap time or I go to a class in the evening (but that of course isn’t happening right now, so nap time it is!)

7:30-8:30 – Wake up (typically between 7/7:30 for both kiddos), get dressed (at least I get Tommy dressed right when he wakes up typically!), eat breakfast, read our fighter verse of the month, read the morning message, and do our calendar. TONS of ways to incorporate school work into these two activities. If you don’t have a school calendar for at home, use your shutterfly one sitting out on your counter or pull out your phone and practice saying the date that way! You can also do things like talking about odd and even numbers just from simply using a calendar, counting by 2s, 3s, 4s, 5s, etc. and practice learning the 12 months in a year and 7 days in a week. Seriously – so much with a calendar you can do! There are also tons of ways you can use a morning message for what they’re working on in school. Lately, I’ve been trying to find ways to use our sight words we’ve been practicing have having her find and circle them in the morning message as we read it together! For bigger kids, you can have them find errors in the morning message and correct the message. We did these every day in our classroom when I was teaching! Tons and tons of ways you can even pose a question about something too that might have to do with math or reading, or anything you’ve been talking or learning about recently either in school or at home!

8:30-9:00 – Free play time for the kiddos while I finish up my own breakfast, finish reading my bible if I didn’t wake up before the kiddos that morning to do it prior to them getting up, or getting some work done around the house like vacuuming, cleaning bathrooms, dusting… things I can be doing in proximity to where they are. Otherwise the house cleaning typically happens during part of nap time or after the kids go to bed. I typically save folding laundry for at night! They know that this is a time where mommy is not available to help them unless they really need it or a time I am available to play with them. At this time they are typically on the main level of the house with me playing in the nook playing with our play kitchen or busy with all the books, puzzles, and cars on the book shelf. Otherwise, they move with me if I’m cleaning other parts of the house upstairs or downstairs. We have a lego table that acts as a coffee table when not playing with legos that they will be busy playing with if I’m cleaning bathrooms or vacuuming downstairs, and upstairs they’re busy in the playroom while I’m vacuuming or doing some organizing up there.

9:00-9:30 – Focused school work time at the table. This time varies slightly on the days we have school work at home, but typically we shoot for Monday, Wednesday, and some Fridays depending on the week and what our personal schedule looks like on these days, but M + W are typically at-home days, so we do our school work on those days. For the most part, Tommy will find things to do on his own on the main level while I work with C at the table, but lately he’s wanted to be up at the table with us, so that has posed some new challenges as I do not trust him to be up on the bench on his own, so I have to be right there. Typically I just give him some sort of school manipulative I have in our little school basket to explore with while she’s working and it works. Other times, I whip out the cheerios for him and call it good. 🙂 Both work like a charm and help us get our work done! One thing I wanted to mention, is not to worry so much on the AMOUNT of time it takes for you to work through a task compared to the amount of time they’re at school. You have a handful of kids at most at home, and a teacher has 20 or more. So, tasks SHOULD take longer at school versus at home. If you aren’t doing “school” for the same amount of hours that your kids are in school, I think you should expect that. It’s a lot faster to work through a task with a few kids versus 20+. Also, give yourself grace if right now, you aren’t doing “school” every day. Shoot for 3 days this first week, and work up from there. It’s going to be okay and they will be okay too! Okay, moving on. Typical things we will do in the morning during school work time include:

  • Work in our notebook- This is just a general composition notebook we have been using since this past fall and we’ve been working through the alphabet practicing writing our letters, practicing writing our name (almost every time I make her trace her name!), and then I will include other little tasks at the bottom typically that have to do with math. Now that we have finished the alphabet, we are practicing writing uppercase letters and lowercase letters. This morning we did uppercase letters A-O and on Wednesday we will do the last part of the alphabet in capitals! For the extra activities I think about what things she should typically be learning about right now or things that I taught in the primary ages, and form those parts based on those things. For someone like a mom who now has their kids home from school and doesn’t have a teaching background- just look back at their school workbooks or previous work they have been doing and pull from that! If you have online school, another easy thing to pull from at this time for activities to have your kids work on while they are not at school. You can easily search my Pinterest page here for all sorts of resources for preschool and for grade school kids! I have been busy pinning tons and tons of FREE resources for you guys! For us our extra activities in our notebook looks like: lots of practicing counting, finding the correct shapes or number of shapes in a group, practicing tally marks, drawing shapes, circling the correct numerical amount for a given amount of things she has to find in a group, patterns… things like that! Here are a few examples of pages we’ve done in the past. I try to keep it fun and exciting too, so for example, around Halloween I drew a jack-o-lantern and one of the tasks was finding the correct number of triangles on the face, and around Thanksgiving I drew a turkey and she had to count and circle the correct number of feathers. Simple tasks that focus on what they should be learning about around her age! Nothing crazy 🙂 You can also find handwriting books online too that have everything in them for practicing writing letters if you don’t want to do your own like this!
  • Sight words/Word Work- we just started doing this about half way through our “school” year. It is amazing how she can find these words we’ve been practicing now!!! That’s the point with sight word practice, so it’s just crazy to see her picking up on them so quickly. We were in church yesterday, and she had a pew bible opened up and pointed out the word “be” to me (one of our sight words we have been practicing) . You can do this in hundreds of different ways, I have been pinning some different resources for sight words on my pinterest you can find! We’ve been doing a rainbow write lately to practice writing them, then we have them on sticky notes that we keep on the back of the paper, so we can just quickly zip through them too for reinforcement. If you go to pinterest in general and type sight word activities or word work activities, you’ll quickly be able to gather a ton of new ways to work on these things. My students loved using playdoh to practice spelling out words, magnetic letters, letter stamps (we have this set of lowercase and uppercase letters… and don’t forget ink pads!), and using whisper phones where they read the word and say it into a little phone that they can hear themselves in. You can find whisper phones here and find sight word cards here! This bug swat sight word game would be so fun for school-age kiddos!! This sight word book has tons of sight word activities inside of it too! For bigger kids- think about board games you already might have in your home for this type of work- scrabble, bananagrams, those sorts of word-based games are great things to pull out during this time. Great for bigger kids to do together too independently while you get work done!
  • Reading- reading books at the table together or independently as a Read to Self. During read to self, this is a great time for you to get 10-15 minutes of stuff done on your own too, or help with littler ones you may have at home. Big kids can be reading independently while you’re giving some 1 on 1 or 2 on 1 time with littles! During our reading time along with sight word practice we also have been working on letter sounds. I love “little baby bum” website and all of their little learning and nursery rhyme songs. We love to listen to the letter sound songs that they have and I let Collins do some letter sound songs on her kindle too when she gets to have some screentime on it! One thing I have loved having is a reading basket upstairs in our at-home library area that has all sorts of seasonal books. So, based on the season/month I will swap books in and out of it. Right now, we have tons of Easter-themed books, spring time books, sugaring/maple syrup making, and gardening books in there! We also have a bible reading time daily. Usually that’s before nap time and bed time, but we will read bible stories throughout the day too. This blog post has a full list of our most loved and used bible resources for kids! Along with bible reading, we’ve been loving listening to the kid’s podcast put out by The Village Church called “God’s Big Story” we had our storybook bibles open yesterday and listened to a couple of the podcast episodes! They’re about 15 minutes long and read the bible, teach the bible, have a short and fun q+a after each lesson for the kids to answer, and end with singing! C loves them!!! In the podcast app just look up “God’s Big Story” and you should find it.
  • Math- counting, adding, subtracting using these 10-frames but you could use just about anything in your house for counting- q-tips,pom poms, uncooked noodles, beads… feel free to get creative over this time with math manipulatives for your kiddos! Another thing with most of these items that are different colors- you can do lots of other things for your littles with them like sorting them by color or size, color identification, number sense (how many in each, which one has the most, the least, etc, and fine motor skills with the sorting). We also love to use dice for math time. Rolling the dice, reading the number on the dice, and either playing some sort of board game that puts this counting into practice or even during something like our rainbow write incorporates some math use with the dice! Anything that has this overlap of both literacy and math is a perfect thing to do with your kiddos over the next few weeks to get more “bang for your buck!” as you work on school stuff with your kiddos. Another great resource to use for a math activity – CARDS! Get a deck of cards and teach them different games like War. So many of these cards game have to use things like number sense and adding or subtracting… I had a card game in almost all of my guided math stations for students to do with a partner! Very easy way to do some math everyday with your kiddos at home!
  • Writing- for us this looks like in the form of her notebook right now, but with big kids, have them practice some writing on anything. About what’s going on in the news right now and why they are at home, making a list of things they’d like to do at home during this time, write a made-up story. Write to self is a great independent activity you can have bigger kids doing while you are assisting little ones during this time. We also like to draw and “write” letters, so when there are upcoming birthdays or even right now with the coronavirus, we sent a “happy spring” letter to Dakota’s grandma since her assisted living home is on lockdown. Again, lots of ways to be creative and have them spend time writing right now at home with you! I have lots of easy writing prompts and handwriting tracing sheets pinned on my pinterest I found that are free or a few bucks on TpT (teachers pay teachers!)
  • Exploratory/Crafting- We typically save this for an extra thing in the mornings after the rest of our work is done if we have time or in the afternoon. Practicing using the scissors, painting a picture, drawing, coloring, practicing glueing things down with a glue stick… and doing holiday/monthly related crafts are all things we like to do during this time. For example, with St. Patrick’s Day tomorrow I will probably have her decorate a shamrock and incorporate some math in it! Counting how many leaves are on the shamrock, how many different ways she decorated the shamrock, etc! Today we did a “draw a love bug activity” that had to do with using a dice again to count and figure out what part of the love bug to draw!
  • Kindle time/Screentime- this time is totally random. I don’t ever want her to think that screentime is guaranteed after our other school work. Sometimes we let her, sometimes we don’t. Sometimes we will let her have some after she wakes up from her rest time. We make her do it up on the table, so Tommy isn’t getting that screentime, or do it when he isn’t awake from his nap yet. I always look at the app she wants to do before letting her try it, and she is only allowed to do apps we’ve done before otherwise. She also usually has to do some sort of educational app first that I give her instructions for first before having free time on it. I know it can be easy to just hand it to them to give yourself an immediate free moment too, but I think it’s important to give expectations and set boundaries for the device for these little ones, much like we need to set them for ourself or in our classrooms for those of us that are teachers! Otherwise, we all know personally what too much screentime and no boundaries for what we are allowing our eyes to look at can do to us. So- we also set a timer on our phones or on the stove and when she is done we immediately make her stop and say “okay, mommy” so she doesn’t get in the habit of doing just “one more minute” after the timer goes off… another thing we ourselves as adults can be guilty of doing too if we don’t create healthy limits and boundaries for our own screentime.

9:30-10 – Free play time, typically upstairs in our playroom.

10-10:15 – Snack time and book time. Having a snack at the table and reading a book aloud them or them reading a book on their own at the table. If we don’t do this in the morning, I like to do this as a transitionary thing after they get up from nap time.

10:15-12:00 – Free play time either on the main level or upstairs or outside if it’s nice out!!! (can’t wait for more of those days!). This is typically the time we will do exploratory/craft type of stuff if I have something planned for us to do that day. A great time for us to do some body movement if we can’t play outside! This website called FLUENCY AND FITNESS is typically for classroom teachers, but they are expanding it to families and offering 21 days for FREE due to all the school closures of over 900+ videos that are basically brain break activities geared towards ages K-2, but the preschoolers could definitely do some of them and all of the movement/exercise parts of the videos at least! It expires after 21 days, so you don’t have to worry about being charged or anything. So cool to see so many resources stepping up to offer some relief for parents at home now with kiddos trying to figure out how to do this homeschool thing!

A TYPICAL AFTERNOON LOOKS LIKE…

12:00 – Lunchtime

12:15 or whenever they finish lunch-1:00 – Play time, clean up any toys on main/upstairs level that weren’t picked up earlier, pick out books.

1-1:15- Read books in at-home library upstairs

1:15ish-3:30ish – Nap time. This is very fluctuating for us at least with Collins now. Some days she does nap, some days she doesn’t… Tommy still regularly naps from 1:15 or whenever we finish up with books until anywhere from 3-4:00 typically. We have the hatch baby light in both of their rooms, and this is especially helpful for Collins now that she might not nap. She has to stay in her room until her light changes from the nap color we have set to the wake up color we have set. If you haven’t checked these out yet, you have to! They are awesome. There are sound machine options on them too, but we don’t use those for them.

3:30-4:00 (whenever they wake up from rest) – snack and play time. Sometimes I am in the middle of my workout when Collins wakes up from her rest, so she will get to have her snack down in the workout room while I finish up, and typically she’ll join me after she’s done with her snack. Sometimes I will let her have her kindle for free time on it if we haven’t done it earlier that day also if I’m trying to finish up my workout!

4:30-5:00 – Prep dinner and play on main level. I encourage playing with the cars and kitchen while I make dinner. We will also do “puzzle stations” during this time too or after dinner when I am cleaning up. All I do is take a few different puzzles, spread them out across the room, and dump them over and they will work on them sometimes together and independently. We will do that upstairs in the playroom with the puzzles I have up there too at times during our free play times throughout the mornings or after dinner! We also LOVE listening to music (I play worship music often times in the morning during breakfast and during free play time after breakfast), but music at this time or when I’m prepping dinner always seems to be a good distraction for them while I am trying to get dinner ready or clean up. We will listen to more upbeat music at that time, typically the Sing! movie soundtrack (she loves the “porcupine” song as we call it, or Daniel Tiger songs (Tommy loves DT now that we’ve let him watch it! So cute!).

A TYPICAL EVENING LOOKS LIKE…

5:30-7 – Play time (outside if it’s nice!!! again, can’t wait for more days like this to arrive!), bath time on bath nights, PJ’s, go downstairs and play with legos, and sometimes a “movie night”. This is about the only time during the week we will watch TV with them. Weekends we will typically let them watch a little more on Saturday mornings with daddy typically. 🙂 After baths if we finish up early enough we will (again, randomly like screen time on the kindle so she doesn’t always expect it) offer a movie night. We don’t typically watch a full movie, it’s more so an episode of a show… Daniel Tiger, Paw Patrol, Owlegories, Molly of Denali, Word World (PBS shows for the most part are what we allow them to watch). Those are the typical shows. She hasn’t watched a ton of Disney movies actually, and even then, we typically fast forward through more scary parts (personal choice for us). Anyways, that’s a typical evening for us before bedtime routine.

7-7:30 – Finish getting ready for bed (brush teeth and hair), pick out books, read bed time books, pray together, sing together, and bed time is usually between 7:30-8. When we pick out books, they each get to pick out one book of their own typically, then we read one story out of one of our storybook bibles. I shared our favorites on a previous blog post of what our favorite resources for children found here! After we read books, we recently started to sing songs together. Songs like “Jesus loves me” “The B-I-B-L-E” and “Go tell it on the mountain” are a few we will sing. We don’t do that every night, but the kiddos love doing it, so we’ve tried to start doing that together. After that, we all pray together and allow C to pray for someone or about something if she has anything she’d like to pray for. We like to offer it to her most times to encourage her to pray out loud for others and for things happening! At 3 1/2… this looks similar from night to night and different, too 🙂 It is sweet to see the people who come to mind regularly though for who she wants to pray for, and for others who she’ll randomly want to pray for or things she randomly will want to pray about! Tommy typically likes to rock for a little bit together, so Dakota or I will do that for a few minutes with him after we’ve tucked C in, and like I mentioned, both kiddos are typically in their beds between 7:30-8 every night. That doesn’t mean a certain someone will try to come downstairs and say goodnight one more time to us or have to go potty one last time… 🙂 but, for the most part, they’re in their rooms at that time! We love early bedtimes, because Dakota and I love getting to have that quality time together every night, and we think that’s important to have together.

That’s about it! A typical schedule for us when we’re hunkered down at home… which for many of us, could be our norm for a while here to best combat this virus. I think it’s wise to do our part all together to begin minimizing the spreading of this, so I hope that this schedule offers you some ways that you can make staying at home with your family for however long is recommended more enjoyable, peaceful, organized, and predictable for not only your kids, but for you too!

with love,

from courtney

Psalm 73:24-28

Nevertheless, I am continually with you;

you hold my right hand.

24 You guide me with your counsel,

and afterward you will receive me to glory.

25 Whom have I in heaven but you?

And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.

26 My flesh and my heart may fail,

but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

27 For behold, those who are far from you shall perish;

you put an end to everyone who is unfaithful to you.

28 But for me it is good to be NEAR God;

I have made the Lord GOD my refuge,

that I may tell of all your works.

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