A Foolproof {Catholic} Homeschool Day

When we first moved to Pennsylvania, I had the opportunity to attend a local homeschool “Mom’s Day Out.” One of the speakers was Mrs. Mary Ellen Barrett, who blogs over at Tales from the Bonny Blue House, which gave us this lovely list of how to survive your homeschool day.  Since she shared it with us moms, I have called it the foolproof plan for our {Catholic} Homeschool day! Seriously, I’ve have had a chance to institute it with my lovely {but very headstrong} five little blessings and guess what?  IT WORKS!  And since it works {and I struggled so long to find something like this} I had to share it.  So here it goes; of course, some days this plan won’t work because illnesses happen, babies are born, etc., etc., but under somewhat normal conditions, this plan really does work:

1. ​Wake up before your children. Seriously, try this!  Wake up about an hour before them.  Get dressed and looked polished {you don’t want your children’s childhood memories be of mom in sweats and a dingy shirt}. Also, waking early makes it so that you are more tired at night and get a better night’s sleep.  This promotes going to bed earlier for those like me who are night owls. This also gives you time to drink your coffee or tea in silence, get some prayer time in, and also gives you time to plan the day ahead even possibly gathering school supplies.  This is also a great time to get some exercise in. Also, a good time to plan out your meals for the day, take meats out to thaw, etc.

2. All school work planned out ahead of time. Planning out your child’s school work ahead of time has numerous benefits.  Create a checklist or lesson plans for each child as far ahead as possible.  I like to do one quarter at a time.  So at the end of summer, I plan out the first Quarter.  Before the first quarter is over I plan out the second quarter, etc.  This has been a wonderful thing especially when I have some children needing me more because of illness or having to go to an appointment, etc., the work is ready to go without having them wait on me.  I also recommend, if you can purchase already made lesson plans, even if it is just a shell of what you want to do; this has really helped me! In addition, on a weekly basis, take some time out like on Sunday evenings to look ahead of what the children will be working on ahead of time.

3. Stay focused, curriculum-wise. Grrr….I was so unfocused when I first started and I made the mistake of asking too many people’s opinions and surfing too many blogs, my head was spinning!  First and foremost know what your teaching style is and what your children’s learning styles are ahead of looking for curriculum.  For the beginning years I am a firm believer that all moms should try to just buy a boxed program and work you way out of it {unless you just totally love it}. Then starts switching things out as you need.  Then find the curriculum that works best for your children and then STICK WITH IT!  Stay focused! This, of course, does not mean you should keep a book that you and your child hate, oh goodness, no.  But truly try to quickly find the right program and stay with it.  Keep it simple, do not overdo it! Pick something that keeps you and your children calm and focused.

4. Keep an orderly home. I know, it is not the easiest thing to do but here is my secret:  Simplify! Clutter overruns our homes anymore, society keeps telling us we need more and more but we do not.  Do not fall for this trap.  What we need is a clean orderly home that is inviting and warm.  Once you have simplified, make sure you have a system in place.  Clean a different room each day of the week.  Plan it all out and have the children involved in this it helps you and it teaches them to be orderly.  So remember, downsize on everything: books, TOYS!, and yes, even clothing!  “Less is better!” is my new motto!  {Lent is the perfect time to do this too!}

5. Enjoy your time with the children. This I have to have tattooed to my forehead as I am a worry wart and tend to not enjoy the moment.  So if you are like me: STOP! (and if you know me IRL, tell me to stop).  Instill discipline with firmness but with love.  Enjoy the time you have with your children being able to be home and all, not many mothers are able to do this so enjoy it! Remember to smile at them, encourage their hard work and hug them often.  After all, a happy and loving attitude towards them will make every school day flow more smoothly!

6. Avoid all electronic distractions. Yep, this means all phones, Facebook, Pinterest, blogs, television, Facebook {ha! ha! You know who you are, and we are probably friends on FB}.  I have a love-hate relationship with the darn thing {FB}…loving my Lenten break from it though.  It helped me realize that I had my tablet attached to an umbilical cord and felt the need to post everything going on at home, seriously: WHY?  After my initial shock that I actually allowed this to chain me to it, I deleted the app off my tablet and I am FREE!  I may or may not return but just the realization that the darn thing had such a grip on me scared me because I don’t get attached to things so easily.  Anyway, any electronic distraction is not good in your home or homeschool.  Ditch it! Or minimize it.  As a friend said to me, “it should be our tool, it should not use us as tools.”

7. Create a set routine. Not a minute by minute…that would drive you and me nuts, right? Well some of you like that, I don’t! But I do like to have a shell of my routine.  I would recommend you have things you do in the morning, afternoons, and night.  This way children know what is somewhat expected of them. Establish clean up times, and also quiet times on a daily basis. This will give your children meaningful work to do and an expectation of when it should be done.

8. Consult with your husband.  Even if he is not the asking type and trusts you in all you do, tell him the plans.  Get his input, get him involved in some of the aspects of the homeschool curriculum and routine.  You do want to keep the “principal” as we call my husband, happy. What are somethings that are important to him?  Make sure you involve him in the disciplining of the children, actually, he should be the lead in this if at all possible.  If it is not happening, pray and fast about it and talk to him about it. I have seen many homes were dad takes the backseat on this and the outcomes are not great.  He is the head of the home, you are the heart.  Men also see things from a different light and will help us in our homeschooling journey so involved dad as much as possible.  If you have boys, it is important that they help dad with physical work around the yard and house.

9. Be disciplined about your tasks. Do not stress yourself out but if you have a list of three important tasks you want accomplished for the day, stay focused on those.  This does not include what we said above these are others tasks that will help you get things done throughout the day.  This kinda goes back to #6 above but stay focused so check email, and read blogs before school begins.  Then avoid getting back online until all of your schoolwork is done.  Be disciplined about this and your day will be lovely.  For me, when we get to finish all or most of our school day BEFORE lunch it is a sweet victory and buys us a trip to the park, weather permitting!

10. Pray all the time.  Pray before the children wake.  Pray throughout the day with the children.  Do the Morning Offering with them, perhaps when you sit to have breakfast. At Noon, before or after lunch is a great time for the Angelus or to pray the Rosary…or other times in the liturgical year, to say the Stations of the Cross.  Whatever you do or do not do, make sure you always pray with your children on a daily basis.  Let them see you praying quietly alone, after or before Mass.  Go to daily Mass or/and Adoration.  A great priest once suggested that I start my day praying for each one of them by going child by child and asking their guardian angel for help and guidance through the day. Pray with them, for them, and ask them to pray for you.

So there you have it a little list of how to foolproof you {Catholic} Homeschool Day!

Fool Proof plan


7 Replies to “A Foolproof {Catholic} Homeschool Day”

  1. Well, I’m with you on everything but getting up before my kids. My 14yo son is a major morning person and gets up at 4:30am — yes, you read that right. 4:30am. Voluntarily. I’m a NOT a morning person, and there’s no way I’m going to beat that child out of bed and stay sane. Oh, and I did try to get up before them all for a while, but I swear those little toddlers could SMELL my absence from bed, and they pursued me within 5 or 10 minutes. Not pretty. So, I’ve had to adopt a slightly different morning routine that isn’t quite as relaxing, but works, and then I get my exercise and planning in at night. Same basic principle, but slightly different time-table. 🙂 It sounds so lovely, the idea of being up before anyone else in the quiet house, but in practice just doesn’t work around here!

  2. I really enjoyed this post and list! I do some of your Top Ten list better than others, but all areas in my life need to be tweaked and perfected for sure! With my youngest of 5 children being 7 months old right now, I not only long for a full night’s rest, but the guarantee that I will get in my exercise time each morning and prayer time. I’m doing the best I can and keep telling myself “this too shall pass!” Thank you for the encouragement! Oh and I pinned this post too! 🙂

  3. This may sound facetious, but I’m being totally serious. Would you say if someone wasn’t doing these things (like any of them), they should consider giving up homeschooling as it might not be for them? And posts like this just make them feel even worse about homeschooling? The reality is during this, my first year of homeschooling, I have not been able to do any one of these items with any consistency. The problem is public school is not an option and private school is too expensive. Prayers are appreciated.

  4. Mary, these things are suggestions for making your life easier, not a yardstick by which to measure your success or failure as a homeschooler. Everyone’s homeschool looks different, and you have to, ultimately, find what works for you. The first year is SO hard — not that any other years are easy, but once you get your feet under you, and gain a little confidence, it will be easier. We spend so much time comparing ourselves to the achievements of others, and it’s not healthy. Take what you can use from this post, and leave the rest. I’ll never get up before my kids — just not happening. (3:30am, anyone?) Can I manage daily Mass or Adoration without wanting to scream and throw things out of frustration with my uber-wiggly kids? Nope. But praying regularly, being satisfied with curriculum that isn’t “perfect”, involving my husband in the process, and keeping the house from spiraling out of control — those things make sense to me. Hang in there — the best thing you can do for yourself is to find what works for YOU and your individual children, and accept that that won’t look like my homeschool, or anyone else’s.

  5. Mary, the first year is so very difficult, if you had children in school, you are deprogramming, or even deprogramming yourself since home educating is a totally different creature than the traditional brick and mortar school. You are getting to know your children from an educational perspective as well, it may also be that everyone is just adjusting to all being in the house together at once, all day, all the time. To add to this you are juggling chores, cleaning, and possibly outside activities. My suggestion for anyone home educating is to give yourself at the very least three to four years before changing your mind, so please do not give up!!!

    This list is what has worked for us, like Jenine said, take from it as you can and use what works for you…and give yourself time. Some of the most experienced home schooling mothers have always told me to not try to copy what others do but to see what may be a good shell of a plan to implement and always, just relax!!! I also highly recommend beginning mothers to join Catholic Homeschool Co-Ops, the one I belonged to in NC was amazing and so much support from like minded friends! So hang in there, Mary!

    If you want to chat more on this feel free to email me: RaisingLittleSaints (at) gmail.com

  6. Erika- Thanks for always giving all us homeschooling mommies encouragement and help by sharing your personal ups and downs. That, amongst many others, has been one of the greatest struggles of giving up FB for lent. That being said, my number one struggle on your list is avoiding the electronic distractions (even without FB at the moment). On the days when it’s quiet in the house, the work does seem to go smoother; so as hard as it is to admit it… that’s a biggie. I hope you come back to FB. I plan to limit my time and attachment to it as well when lent is over. I miss getting ideas from other mom’s in the homeschooling groups, getting support (especially the prayers) when something is weighing on me, and asking questions that I have struggled to find an answer to.

    Mary- this is our first year homeschooling too. My four oldest children were in public school (obviously some longer than others) and transitioning to homeschooling for all of us has been a struggle (more than I thought it would). There are some days that I feel like quitting, but I think if you try to tackle one thing at a time, it does get better. To be a little clearer, we started off the year well; but midway I had baby number 7 and that threw us off a little. Getting back on routine with a newborn has been a challenge, but I have to remind myself that THIS is the better choice for educating our children. I was a school teacher myself (in public school) so deprogramming my own expectations and routine classroom approaches has been trying. One thing (in coming from the ps classroom) that I’m pretty adamant about is organization. Unfortunately, organization of materials and of a routine schedule has gotten the better of me this semester. Great thing about homeschooling though is learning from the experiences you do have… Now I know what I’d like to change for next year and what approach to take. Work on what you think is a priority and work from there even if it’s just baby steps and find some sort of support system somewhere (I found mine on FB in Catholic moms and homeschooling groups- which is why it’s been hard to be away from them). I sometimes find myself contemplating where the kids aren’t, that I forget where they are (academically). I mean seriously, I was frustrated that my 5 year old son wasn’t doing an assignment to my expectations and had to STOP and remind myself, he is 5 years old and can read pretty well and write a whole paragraph!

    Most importantly (wherever my kids lie on the academic spectrum- advanced, average, or a little behind) they have never learned so much about the faith (by complete immersion), and greater still, we can still learn a whole bunch more and become more immersed in the faith by adding daily mass. THAT is something we are going to work on… hopefully that gets ironed out. Prayers for you.

    Here are some links of some online podcast (of sermons) that I find inspiring and helpful directly related to homeschooling:


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