Figure out your family's learning style. Will your family be educated primarily at home or will you be on the go? Is unschooling right for you? Montessori, classic, or eclectic? Will you be taking field trips a couple times per year or daily? We like to integrate field trips into lessons where possible. Decide what your family's main homeschool style will be as well as how and where it will be implemented. Use this information to establish your routine by working together. It's much easier to stay on track when you have an idea of the general direction you want to take things.
Consider your existing family schedule. Do the kids participate in dance, karate, basketball, piano, or other extracurricular activities? If so, then you'll need to remember to work that schedule into your homeschool schedule. Prioritize all of the existing activities, chores, and jobs. Is there anything in the existing schedule that can be rearranged or eliminated if necessary? I find it helpful to number each schedule item in order of importance. That way, if something needs to be changed, I can easily see what to start rotating or eliminating first.
Have a family meeting. This is an absolute must to get everyone on the same page. Establish the routine by discussing goals, expectations, scheduling, and more. Give everyone a chance to speak and ask questions so that nothing is left unsaid. It's easier to establish your homeschool routine when it's clear what everyone wants and needs. Take everyone's thoughts into consideration before finalizing anything. While you may not be able to give Johnny that wish of 169 recess days and one school day for the year, you can probably make sure he gets to ride his bike for recess a few times per week.
Make a schedule. It's important to do this during the family meeting so that everyone has input, as far as what's scheduled. It's also essential establishing a routine. If everyone knows how things will be from the beginning, the day to day process will run more smoothly. Be sure to allow time for getting to any destinations outside the home when creating the schedule. For instance, if one child needs to be at soccer practice at 2 p.m, be sure to allow time in between the previous class and getting to the soccer field. Remember that your schedule can be more flexible than in a traditional classroom. If necessary, schoolwork can resume after the soccer practice.
Be clear and consistent about what's expected. Talk about how the schedule will work, as well as what each person is expected to do. Every family member should know the overall learning style and methods being implemented. It should be clear that if you choose unschooling the eclectic way, everyone should stick to that. Unschooling is a bit more flexible, as far as establishing a routine. But rules do need to be laid out, such as the fact that even if the operational mood is relaxed, learning should still be taking place.
* I originally published this content via Yahoo Contributor Network: http://web.archive.org/web/20140806195145/http://shine.yahoo.com/back-homeschool-establishing-routine-190300503.html