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Schedule vs. Routine?

Schedule vs Routine? How to determine the ideal way to plan your homeschool days to ensure success!

When it comes to ensuring a productive homeschool day, having some type of plan in place allows you and your homeschooled students to know what to expect for the day. As well as help avoid any unnecessary power struggles when it comes to what activity to do next.

Knowing their homeschool plan for the day has helped my students avoid asking for electronics during the school day, and has helped me avoid caving into their requests, simply because I do not have our next lesson planned or prepped.  


What is the difference between a daily schedule and a daily routine?


While both help to provide structure and routine to your homeschool day, there are some differences between following a homeschool daily schedule and having daily homeschool routine. 


  • A daily schedule is a list of tasks, events, or activities that have a specific timeframe to be completed – often the schedule varies depending on the day of the week and is created around other responsibilities and commitments your family may have. 


  • A daily routine is also a list of tasks, events, or activities that your homeschooler needs to accomplish – however they are completed in a certain order that flows with our daily behavior-driven actions such as meal times, chores, and responsibilities.



A daily schedule can be compared to a typical day in any public school, students will complete certain classes or activities at a specific time every day for a set period of time. Before moving on to their next scheduled activity. 


An Example May look something like:


8 AM – Wake Up 

8:30 AM – Breakfast 

9 AM – Math

10 AM – Reading 

10:30 – Break 

11 – Language Arts


And so on, continuing to plan allotted times for specific activities or tasks throughout your homeschool day. 

This method of planning can be extremely useful for large homeschool families, those with an active extra-curricular schedule, or with neurodivergent kids who thrive in a highly structured environment.

Having a time-based schedule can also prevent lunch breaks from dragging on for hours, and act as a reminder to your students that English lessons are only an hour long and they will soon be moving on to another subject or activity. 




A daily routine is a group of actions that happen on a daily basis, often referred to as a “daily rhythm”. This way of planning is best described as a daily pattern you follow, regardless of the clock.


This could look something like…

Wake up



Reading / Language Lessons


Outdoor play 


A daily homeschool routine or “rhythm”, allows everyone to know what to expect next in their homeschool day, but also holds space for life’s daily surprises (especially when it comes to homeschooling young kids). 

Often families who use the daily routine method of planning, anchor the day’s lessons and activities to behavior-driven actions.

For example, every day after breakfast, you work on your math lessons – this could be for twenty-five minutes or an hour.

Regardless of how long the day’s lessons take to complete or other obligations, every day after breakfast your homeschooler would expect to work on their math lessons or before doing our afternoon chores, we do some independent reading. 

However, with a routine, there are no time restraints. If they would like to finish reading a chapter of their book, they can, before moving on to their next activity. The daily routine is still in place and everyone is happy and knows what to expect next moving through the day.


Which is the better option for homeschooling families?


The beauty of homeschooling is you get to choose what works best for your family and your personal preferences. As well you have the ability to change your mind and try a new way of arranging your day, at any given stage of your homeschool journey. 

You have the opportunity to decide whether your family will follow a daily homeschool schedule or if a simple daily routine works better for your homeschool dynamic. 

Another option to structure your daily activities is to use both methods in conjunction with each other. Allowing for both time-based portions of the day to ensure deadlines and commitments are met while allowing time to slow down and follow the natural rhythm of your day. 



When something is not working or has simply become a struggle among my kids. I often switch up the schedule to ensure we are accomplishing our education goals, as well as following their interests and preferred structure.

Having a plan in place to keep us on track is a great tool, but being adaptive to life’s curveballs and our student’s mental and emotional well-being will benefit the success of your homeschooler greatly.



As with anything related to homeschooling, or raising kids in general – consistency is the key to seeing positive results. While being flexible with your homeschool schedule at times is necessary, sticking with your daily schedule or routine is important in accomplishing all the tasks that need to be completed.

 And in providing a structure your students can rely on, they will in turn know how to move through their days without struggle. Which in turn will undoubtedly lead to calmer, more enjoyable homeschool lessons and cooperative children who are eager to learn. 




Regardless of what method or combination of methods you use to organize your homeschool schedule. There will be an adjustment period for both you and your children.

Lessons may be missed, activities may need to be rescheduled, and you may have to repeat “Check the schedule/ routine!” more times than you would like. 

But eventually, everything will seemingly come together, the days will run smoother, and the kids will be more engaged in their lessons than ever. And you will be grateful you took the time to overhaul your days with a consistent and reliable homeschool schedule or routine as you accomplish your homeschool education goals. 



*For more from Crystal, check out her other posts on her Author Homepage or check out her PODCAST.




  • Crystal Niehoff

    Crystal Niehoff is an Army chaplain’s wife, mother of five, and grandmother to five. In 2000, Crystal and her family began their homeschooling journey, which Crystal now continues with her oldest granddaughter, Lexi. Previously a child welfare worker and former owner and CEO of Army Wife Network, Crystal holds certifications as a birth and bereavement doula and chaplain, along with degrees in child development and business administration. She is host of the new Military Homeschool Podcast on the Ultimate Homeschool Podcast Network, created specifically for military homeschoolers. Join Crystal and her guests each week as they bring relevant information to equip you, stories to encourage you, and content to inspire you. An avid researcher, history buff, writer, teacher, and self-proclaimed coffee connoisseur, Crystal and her family are currently stationed at Rock Island Arsenal, Illinois.


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Supporting Our Military Children

Supporting Our Military Children

One thing that has been most important to me, as a military spouse, is figuring out how to best do this life while supporting our children with the changes and difficulties. When my children were very small, there were many times that my husband was away, and I had to parent my children alone.

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