How do I form routine out of chaos?

Help! We just completed our first week of home schooling EVER! It was complete chaos! I’m very overwhelmed and I’m not sure where to turn. We are home schooling under a public charter school, so I have to meet certain requirements. I have read here and on other blogs about decompressing from public school by taking time off. I don’t have this luxury. Our “teacher” has chosen several group curricula, as our 3 boys are in 4th and twins in 2nd grades. She suggested we work together to help ease them into things. I have never heard so much whining and complaining in my life! I have written our daily goals and posted them for everyone to see. I don’t have a times written on there, just what I want to accomplish. I know for now having time slots will only stress them out more. As it is, anxiety is running high with all of us, because this is new and unknown. My older son is very emotional about it all. One of the twins just wants everyone to quit complaining and get on with things. The other is my biggest battler! He doesn’t want to sit to listen, so I have been giving him manipulative to play with while reading. He is able to ask/answer questions, so I know he is listening, but when it comes to writing, he absolutely refuses to do it, which creates conflict if I tell him he can dictate to me. Ugh! I’m thinking about making work boxes like Erica uses/suggests, but I don’t think we’re ready for that yet. Any suggestions to help us transition from public school to home school are welcomed!

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I don’t use an outside program, so I can’t help you with that. But I can tell you that we follow a routine, not a schedule, and the key to our schedule are certain ‘anchors.’ First thing in the morning, my kids know they need to complete certain tasks before we do our morning read alouds, so I start giving them warning about 10 minutes before that they have 10 minutes, 5 minutes, etc. They enjoy read alouds and know that they will miss it/it will be shortened if they don’t finish their morning tasks.

The next anchor is lunch, and they knew they have to complete six items from their daily checklists before lunch. These six items are school subjects broken down (spelling, reading, history, etc.). They know we will not have lunch until everyone has six things check-marked on their daily agenda. And they get hungry, so they push each other to get done. Then afternoon snack/free time is the next anchor–I’m sure you get the gist.

We do not go by certain times on the clock-hence the term routine, not schedule. HTH!


Hi! I’m so sorry that this has been your experience so far. That definitely sounds like enough to rattle a mama! I would like to say, please don’t get discouraged - if it was your first week with all of your kiddos, of course there will be bugs to work out. You all have to adjust to you being the Mom Teacher, and they have to adjust to being at home and still having a school schedule. You can do it. It might just take a little bit to figure out what styles fit your children best, and what schedule fits your family the best.

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I know getting started can be overwhelming! I wrote a book called Homeschooling 101 that will help answer all of your questions on how to get started homeschooling, choosing curriculum, creating lesson plans, etc.

And I have a getting started series that I started in August 2014 that might help as well:

Also, there’s definitely a season of getting everyone used to homeschooling that we all go through. A lot of times kids think school is optional when their at home. They have to learn that unfortunately while they might not want to do something, we all have to do things we don’t want to.

I did find that the workboxes helped tremendously. It’s very helpful for them to see what they have to get done, and as they work through the drawers/boxes/files whatever, that they get a sense of accomplishment and can physically “see” that they are making progress. They’ll also learn quickly that once they’re done for the day they are free to play. no homework etc. I also like to put a snack about half way down, and a fun activity as well so they have something to look forward to. Otherwise it can just be all boring seat work.

Please know that what you’re experiencing is normal, especially since they’re adjusting to a brand new environment and schedule. But most of all be consistent. Explain what they have to do. Explain that they’re in charge of how their day goes. If they want to be doing school at 9pm, that’s fine! Or they can do work without complaining and be done with it.

I do have one of my kiddos who likes to procrastinate. It took about 2 times of doing school in the afternoon/evening while everyone else was doing work before they figured out it wasn’t worth it. My hours are 8-3, anything after that is homework, and they’re allowed to ask daddy. But trust me, daddy is NOT happy when they have to explain why they’re still doing school at night. It’s kind of like a double consequence in our house.

Here are a few more posts that I think might help as well:

Hope that helps!


I think what you’re going through is totally normal. Especially after the first week. I have heard that it can also be harder sometimes for kids who went to public school because to them school is not at home. It will definitely take an adjustment period.

A few things stick out in my head:

  • Do you have to go through a public charter? It sounds like it’s adding a lot of unneeded stress and extra requirements on you. Perhaps being able to pick the curriculum, schedule, and flow for your days would work much better for your family.

  • While I know this takes time, think ahead what your expectations are and then share them with your boys. Also share with them what will happen if they don’t comply with those. Whatever you and your husband feel that should be. I like the idea of having set hours. And after that it’s dad they have to explain to. Also let them know they can do what they want (within reason of course) when they finish. They can choose to finish quickly or make it take forever.

You will get into more of a routine. The first year is the hardest. It is a huge learning curve for all of you. You will go through several adaptations and rewrites before you find what works. That’s okay. It is an on going work in progress. Give yourself grace to figure it out. In the long run, it will pay off!!!


Thank you for weighing in on this. We are in week 3 and still struggling. No, we don’t have to go through a charter school, but I think this is the best route for us to start out with. I’m not sure how long we will continue with them. I think we will eventually do everything on our own. I have been assured by our EC and several other parents/teachers at our charter school that everything will be fine. The kids attended their first 2 days of enrichment classes last week and had a blast! That was encouraging to me, but the daily struggle continues in our classroom at home. I have a set curriculum, but we haven’t even done much with it. I’ve been letting their curiosity lead us, for the most part and I’m learning so much of what they don’t know and have never experienced. It’s been fun, but it’s time to get some book work done. I know it will come. I’m praying the boys will grasp the idea of just getting things done. In reality, if they focus, we could be done by noon every day. Thank you for the encouragement. That goes for everyone who replied! I’m grateful for every little bit of help and encouragement I can get! Bless you!

I can so relate! We have such crazy, whiney days sometimes…We also began our homeschool journey through a public charter school. One suggestion that works with us is how we BEGIN the day. We changed to a Charlotte Mason Approach Charlotte Masonand use a morning basket Morning Basket to start the day.

We either sit on the rug or cuddle on the couch and begin with Bible stories, Read Alouds, singing, memorizing scriptures and poems (which I also commit to) , globe geography, songs and art–not all of this every day, but some of them, which lasts between 30-45 minutes total. This puts my kiddos–and me!–in a great mood to begin with.

We then do 5 or 6 15-minute increments from our workboxes and alternate left brain (math, science, spelling, etc.) cross brain (physical activity) and right brain (art, nature study,science experiments,etc.) We are usually finished by 12 or 12:30.

Because I find that our kids who fight/whine the most are our creative kids, we have “Thinking Thursday” where they can choose any (within reason–wink) big project to work on anytime they have free time and “Fun Friday” in which we incorporate games, puzzles, field trips, cooking, etc.

This may seem like a lot, but trying one or two new ideas may help.

This may not work for you all, but we found that we can accomplish a lot more using gentle, short lessons.

Blessings and prayers your way…


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