During the summer, I began the process of planning out my home classroom. I wanted it to be inviting, a place to learn, a place to inspire, and a place to have fun. My first year as a learning coach was a big bust. I was in survival mode. Sure I started off organized, but after a few weeks of balancing teaching and coaching, my balance scale was tipped and I crashed and burned.
At least I still had my coffee.
I knew I wanted this year to be different. I wanted to not only start off successful, but I wanted to end the year successful.
Plus, I was adding a new student to my plate, and not just any student – a kindergartner!
[Insert screams here]
To begin the planning process, I put on my teacher hat. Even if you have never been a teacher, you can learn the role of the teacher and those practices.
I knew I wanted to hang up the maps that were in my materials box. I wanted to set up a calendar system on the wall. (Pictured below)
My daughters’ desks had to be in close proximity to mine. Yes, you heard me. Mine.
The learning coach needs a place to work too.
I know what you are thinking. “What if I don’t have a place like this to work?” All I can say to you is to find one. This is very important. Your student(s) need a place to work every day.
You need a place to work every day.
I am lucky enough that I have a sunroom. It is small, but it works! Each child has their own desk with their own supplies. Their morning routine is to place their snack and bottle of water on their desk before start time.
ü Having the same start time every day supports the idea of a routine.
Their end of the day routine is to clean up their desk and push in their chair. They even place their schedule for tomorrow on their desks.
“Creating a schedule” blog to appear soon.
Each child has their semester one books stored on a shelf or crate near their desk. I have their student guides tabbed on the lesson for the day. The teacher guides are on a shelf by my desk and are also tabbed for the day.
The alphabet is written on notecards and is secured on the wall by sticky tack around the perimeter of the room. The words that hang on the wall are my kindergartner’s vocabulary words that I find in her language skills curriculum, and my fourth grader’s missed spelling words. They stay on the wall until the words are mastered.
I have found sticky tack to be my best friend this year. I stick everything on the wall. Once I let go of the fact that the sunroom was no longer going to be a cute and decorated sunroom, but an organized and efficient classroom, the number of items I tacked on the wall multiplied.
So with my word wall, calendar, maps, and other pieces of work and projects now boasting my walls, I was ready to prepare the daily routine.
My daughters travel out the front door every day and walk around the house to our classroom door (sunroom/back door). While making their morning journey, they check out the weather, the clouds, and the temperature so we can discuss it during our morning routine. Once in our classroom door, my daughters began the morning calendar questions. My fourth grader actually leads it and I just watch. She asks my youngest daughter:
“What day was it yesterday?”
“What day is it today?”
“What day is it tomorrow?”
“What month are we in?”
My daughter even sings those cute songs she remembers from her kindergarten year.
Next, we do the Pledge of Allegiance and our State Pledge.
Your morning routine can take on any form and can sound completely different. What is important is that you have one. Think about what values, lessons, and procedures you would like for your student to have every day. Once you have it planned out, model it and practice it. Pretty soon, your students will complete the routine without you even regulating. Before you question the value of my daily rituals, I have evidence that routines can be beneficial.
I began a morning routine with my daughters the week before school started. It looked like this.
1. Wake up at the same time every morning, which is 6:30AM.
2. Make your bed.
3. Put on your clothes which are laid out the night before.
4. Brush your hair.
5. Eat breakfast.
6. Brush teeth.
7. Shine sink and swish the toilet.
8. Pick out your 10AM morning snack and place it with your water bottle on your desk.
9. Head out the front door.
10. Enter the classroom and start school, which is at 8AM.
The first month of this routine was brutal. I can attest that reinforcing a new routine with children is harder on the adult than the kid.
So, after 28 days of practice with this routine, guess what happened?
Mom, slept in!
I was so angry with myself.
“How could I let this happen?”
“All of my work, my practice with this routine, will go down the drain!”
I walk into the kitchen and there they were. They were dressed in their school clothes, hair was brushed, beds were made, and breakfast was almost consumed. After the shock left my face, I ran over to my daughters and hugged them and thanked them. My oldest calmly said, “Mom, we are so used to our routine that we just woke up and did it.”
[Acceptance speech for best learning coach to go here]
That experience reaffirmed that routines in a homeschool environment not only benefit the child and the learning coach, but are crucial for success.
So, get to planning. It is never too late to instill a new routine. Stay strong and consistent and the new procedures will turn into expectations and responsibilities.
Your children will thrive and will love it.
If you have any routines that work well for your homeschool family, please leave a comment.