The Hardest Part Of Your Homeschool Day: Getting Started

I have a confession to make. Back when my kids were younger, and I was the newer homeschool mom, I used to live in fear that my mother was going to stop by my house in the morning. And I was going to be really ashamed at the fact that it was [11:00] AM, and I still hadn’t started my homeschool day.

My mom worked locally and she sometimes had a habit of just dropping by, which is not really a huge problem for me. We have that kind of relationship. Except for the fact that I didn’t get my day started very well when I was a new homeschooler. Even if we got up early things would get me off track.

Eventually I decided I did not like the way this made me feel — it was stressing me out quite a bit. So I took some steps to change it.

Why Is It So Hard To Get Started Homeschooling Each Day?

I want to start by saying, I’m not talking about how early you get started homeschooling. I’m really talking about getting started homeschooling well.

When my kids were young we had activities in the afternoon that happened at [1:30] or [2:00]. We would get to 11 o’clock, the day wouldn’t be started, I would look around and think, oh, we’re never going to get a whole lot done between lunch and having to walk out the door, so oh well, we’re just not going to homeschool today.

That was not good, because inconsistency in your homeschool can cause all kinds of other problems. 

In this case there was a need for us to begin our day by a certain time. You may not have anything that requires and early start (especially now with so many outside activities cancelled) but it is important to know what time you need to begin so you can finish when you need to.

Whatever time you can start your day, it still needs to start well. One of the biggest things that is an impediment to beginning the homeschool day well is distractions. So often we become distracted by good things and bad things.

When I say distractions, the first thing that probably comes to your mind is something like social media. This is a huge time suck for so many moms. I know it can be for me if I let it get away from me.

Social media is an easy to identify distraction but also household chores can be a distraction. It is so easy to fall into, “Well, I’m in here picking up the breakfast dishes. I might as well go ahead and start cleaning the kitchen” and “oh, they’re being so quiet and so good in there. Let me keep going. I’m just getting so much done.”

mom loading dishwasher

That’s another kind of distraction. Inherently there’s nothing wrong with it, you’re doing one of the jobs that you have to do, which is keeping your house clean, but it can cause you to push off the start of that homeschool day, maybe so late that you don’t get to it at all.

Another thing is the fact that it’s hard to learn, to be accountable to ourselves. So often in life, we are held accountable to a boss at a job or to teachers in our class. We didn’t want to get the tardy slip or get fired for being late. As homeschool moms we’re only accountable to ourselves. We only have to worry about answering to ourselves for our schedule. That is another thing that can make it really hard to get started with our day.

How Can We Set Ourselves Up For A Successful Homeschool Day?

I like to use a little term that I call friction to help everyone get started. You can set up good friction in your homeschool day, and then there can also be bad friction in your homeschool day.

What we want to do is decrease the bad kinds of friction that will cause us to stop and sputter in the morning and then build up the good kinds of friction that are going to allow us to kind of slide right into that homeschool day.

Much of this comes from being proactive.

So for the bad friction, if your phone is a hindrance for you and you get sucked into social media, then you can set up some rules for yourself.

Say, “I’m not going to check social media before school in the morning. Or, I’m not going to allow myself to check social media until lunchtime, or until we’re done with the done with the school day.”

The same thing could go for email as well. Even reading books — as worthy as that is — can cause problems.

I know homeschool moms who do not allow themselves to read fiction unless they are on a break from school, because they will get so sucked into the book that they do not want to stop reading.

You’re eliminating those distractions that are causing you to falter.

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On the flip side, what you can do to build up the good kind of friction is prepare things the day before.

One of the things that I like to do when my kids were little was every afternoon as the last one was finishing up school I was actually preparing for what we were going to do first the next morning. I never had to think about it in the morning when I was really tired and grumpy. I would prepare the day ahead of time, whatever we needed to first start school the next day and I would have that ready.

Another thing that I liked to do at the end of my day was take an index card and write out the three most important things I needed to do the next day. I also wrote what I was planning on having for dinner. I got that out to thaw in the refrigerator.

I decided on my plan for breakfast. I also decided what is the latest time that I could start school and still be finished and out the door for our first activity? I would actually write that time down on the index card.

I got this trick from my friend Mystie Winckler at That index card became my daily review, preparing me for the next day. All of the things I needed were in place to make it easy for me to slide right in to that school day.

Think about  — how can I remove those things that stop me with the bad friction and put in place those things that help me slide with the good friction right into the start of a school day. I am sure you can come up with a few ideas.

girl working at computer

Getting Started Doesn’t Have To Be The Hardest Part Of Your Homeschool Day

The last thing I would like you to encourage you to do is check out my very favorite way to start my school day. That is with all my kids together, doing this practice that we like to call a Morning Basket. A Morning Basket is a fabulous way to set the tone for the rest of your school day.

You gather all of your kids around you, and you spend the first few minutes of your day doing something delightful, enjoying your time together by reading aloud a favorite book, singing together, praying together, watching current events and having discussions. You build connection and community first, before you dive off into those independent subjects.

We have found through the years that it has been a wonderful way to set the tone for our school day.

I hope something in here spoke to you and you got a great tip to help you get started with your school day. if you want additional help building morning habits check out our Morning Momentum class from now until October 9.



  • Aleza Johnson says:

    Streamline the morning the night before. And gather my kids around me and do something delightful together! That is the most basic, most important reason for doing a “morning basket” and I just finally GOT IT!

  • Dani Heckman says:

    So we do a morning stack as I call it and it’s a lot of the things you have described. However I am having a hard time getting my oldest who is a teen into it or even to have ambition to get up with the rest of us in the morning im trying to give him a lot of grace while keeping him on task. The reasons I’m giving grace are a lot he has had a rough yr we have moved almost every two years since he was in kindergarten, and just moved again last year he was really bummed about that, the last year he went all year with the covid stuff that made him depressed too and this yr he had to endure loosing two friends and classmates to suicide we started homeschooling the other 3 kids first he didn’t really want to but then after his second friend passed he said school was so depressing and so qe pulled him home too. He says he doesn’t like it and wants to go back next yr. I’m trying to find the right balance for making sure he meets our states requirements but also give him space to Deschanel and work through all that he’s dealt with in the last two years. I would love any ideas and suggestions to get him more involved in all of the things I do with the younger ones and to not hate this.

    • Pamela K. Barnhill says:

      Dani – There is an early teen age where it is just harder to appeal to them. A couple of things — put something in the morning stack JUST for him that he will love to do. Also, I moved my Morning Time later in the morning (work individually with the little ones first) and then put something the teens like to get moving for at the beginning.

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