Updated: Sep 21, 2021
Since we started our homeschooling journey, our weekly timetables have changed every week to suit circumstances, so we've never really been in a regular 'routine'. It doesn't seem to affect my children, but I think that's because they have at least one or two aspects of their day which are regulated by routine.
Every morning, my children have to get up, make breakfast, get dressed and brush their teeth before they are allowed to do anything else. This remains our constant. Lunchtime is always at the same time, always for an hour and therefore gives them that one break in the day they look forward to.
I don't think routines are important for homeschooling as long as there is at least one or two constants that 'anchor' children down. After all, there's no point in spending a whole week making your kids get up at a certain time of the day, and then deciding they can sleep in a week later and homeschool whenever they choose. Just like regular school terms, children should be able to differentiate between homeschooling and taking a break. My children get to sleep in and go to bed later when we take time off from homeschooling, but not when we are during a homeschooling 'term'. If you don't create boundaries, days will just blur into one another and I think as a result children would become less productive.
Mainstream school focuses on routine to breed success, but children who are homeschooled already live in a place they value as their 'routine', which is their home. They adapt quickly to changes in their routine, such as having to change timetables each week and they do this so well because they are in their own homes.
When my children went to mainstream school, they would never quite be themselves the first few days following a half-term break. I always put this down to them getting back into their routine, and I still believe this to be true. Is this any different at home? I don't think it is. Today we started our new homeschooling week after a one week break over Christmas. We've had lack of concentration, boredom, frustration and tears. I've been as patient as possible because I realised right away, that my children needed time to adjust. So while routine may not be important during homeschooling, getting back into some sort of a routine after a break is still a wary process and one that deserves patience.
If you've just got back into the swing of things after a break, and have found that it hasn't gone well, just remember to give your children a few days to adjust and to get back into it. Make sure to keep one constant in their day to day lives and set boundaries that they can relate to when you're taking time off. I would love to hear your comments on how you find routines work for you so let me know!