We’ve been talking about homeschool planning this week. Yesterday we talked about setting goals for your child.
First, a few important points the we covered in the past few days:
- Subjects like reading and writing and math are all done at your child’s current level not necessarily their grade level.
- Subjects like History, Geography, Science and Art can, and should be, integrated together or into real life learning.
- One great way to integrate subjects is to find a great history program that follows the timeline of world history and includes literature, science and art. Examples of the kinds of programs can be found here and here.
- Integrating science with real life might mean instead of trying to tackle a complete Botany curriculum, you help your child to grow a garden, followed by reading library books on plants and perhaps making a few pages in a nature journal with things that your child has noticed or was interested in. This type of learning tends to be more memorable than working through a text anyway.
- When teaching kids with dyslexia – you can’t get it all done. Teaching reading, writing and spelling need to be a priority and can take a lot of your day. It’s just the way it is. It is a season for sure, but while you’re in it you’re going to have to let go of some expectations. A little Botany is better than no Botany, right?
Today we’re going to talk about prioritizing your goals to meet the needs of your child and creating a homeschool schedule that really works.
Choose Your Yearly Schedule
Every state has their own requirements for homeschooling including how many days of instruction they require each year. Check out the Homeschool Legal Defense website for the laws in your state. There are many different ways to structure your yearly schedule to most effectively get your minimum amount of school days scheduled:
- The Traditional Public School Calendar
- Labor Day to Memorial Day
- Year Round Schooling
- Six Weeks On, One Week Off – this is my favorite!
- Four Days a Week
- Something Completely Unique Just For Your Family
The Daily Homeschool Schedule
Once you have determined which yearly schedule works best for your family, take your lists that you made yesterday. Read what goes on the list here.
Make a master schedule on paper by writing the names of your family members across the top – even the baby and preschoolers – and the times of day along the left hand side. I use 15 minute and half hour increments. Begin plugging in each activity, subject and event where they need to be.
Basic scheduling tips:
- Begin with unchangeable events such as morning routines, Bible study, and any classes, tutors or lessons with a fixed schedule
- Give priority to reading and spelling – schedule these lessons early in the day
- Adding everyone to the schedule means that even preschoolers will have something to do or someone assigned to help them
- Schedule older kids periods of time to help with the preschoolers
- Schedule a few chores in between subjects or break times. Sometimes all that is needed is 5-10 minutes to wash a few windows or move and fold a load of laundry.
The Reality of Schedules
The first days and weeks using your new schedule are a trial period. You’ll discover that you scheduled two kids to be on the computer at the same time or that quiet time needs to be a bit earlier for the toddler. That is perfectly normal. All schedules will need to be tweaked and adjusted throughout the school year.
Balancing the Needs of Multiple Students
Things can start to get a bit crazy when scheduling for 3 or more kids.
- Find as many ‘do-together’ subjects as possible. Whether it be reading aloud for history, group science projects, family art lessons – they will save a lot of scheduling conflicts later.
- My days seem to go better when I start with my little guys. Giving them one-on-one attention early in the day both ensures that they are not slipping through the cracks and fils their tanks so they are better able to play more peacefully for the much of the morning.
- Try scheduling specific activities for scheduled play times with the younger kids ie. Monday – Play-Doh, Tuesday – puzzles, Wednesday – dry erase pens or crayons, etc…
- Schedule a ‘Quiet Time’ into your afternoon. All younger kids are in a designated ‘quiet’ area for a set amount of time. I use (and plan on) this time for working with my older kids on schoolwork that they are not working independently yet.
- Schedule an afternoon clean up time, allotting everyone an area to clean.
- Your day will never go just as you have planned. A schedule is just a guideline to help you aim for the goal of ‘getting it all done’.
Scheduling Outside the Box
Here are a few more scheduling ideas to help you create a routine that really works for your family.
1. Trying doing one subject after lunch each day.
- Monday and Wednesday – History
- Tuesday and Thursday – Science
- Friday – Art or Music
That seems doable doesn’t it?
2. Try spending a month exploring History and alternate with a month of Science.
Trying to do every subject everyday has always been overwhelming to me. Alternating subjects allows for diving much deeper into a topic and eliminates some of that rushed feeling of trying to get to the next subject and the guilty feeling when you don’t actually get there.
3. Give each child a list of some sort to track their own progress throughout the day.
For our family, this is simply a spiral bound notebook for each child with each day’s assignments written inside, both independent and ones completed with mom. At the end of the day, notebooks are returned to mom, mom signs off on assignments and school for that child is finished for the day.
Keeping Your Eye on the Goal
One challenge that is common to all homeschoolers, is making the break from a traditional school mentality and embracing the unique learning style of your own family. When you feel bogged down in your schedule, step back and take some time to refocus on your goals.
Check back tomorrow for more help in both determining and sticking to your priorities.
What is your biggest challenge making a schedule for your homeschool? Let me know in the comments below!
Just curious, what do “Essentials” and “IEW” mean?
BTW, today’s post and yesterday’s have been SO helpful to me in scheduling our school year. We start Monday. Just hearing that it’s ok if some things get pushed aside for reading/spelling for a time is encouraging to me. I was wondering how my son and I were going to get EVERYTHING done. Now I’m relaxing our schedule some and will adjust it as we go along. Thank you!
Hi, I believe she is referring to the Classical Conversations program. They have a program for 4th-6th graders called Essentials and it uses Institute for Excellence in Writing. Our family is on our 3rd year in CC and we love it!
I’m so glad that you were helped Kate. Did you catch that Essentials and IEW were a part of Classical Conversations? I’ll go in and edit that post so that it is more clear. Here is a post (from my general homeschool blog) about our experience with CC. I’ll post an update here soon! http://www.mariannesunderland.com/2014/10/17/can-kids-dyslexia-classical-conversations/
I did catch that, thanks Marianne!
I found it very helpful to assign one of my older kids to play with the younger ones for half hour segments. They could play with them and take care of the little ones needs and enjoyed the break from school and still had time to finish school work but it really helped me get my teaching time in. They do grow up.
Mom of 8.
Yes! Older kids helping younger kids is a win-win. This year, I’m assigning our older kids to each read a book to our younger kids. I had been struggling to find time to read to the littles but my older kids have lots of time!
I think my biggest problem is over-scheduling. I tend to plan to cover way more than is possible. Loving your one subject after lunch tip – definitely going to try that. As a recovering perfectionist I find that if our week doesn’t go according to my written schedule I feel defeated.
Me too Kara, my biggest problem is over-scheduling, then feeling frustrated that we did not get it all done. I have a dyslexic 14yr old starting high school, this is a first for me, and he wants to go to college to study Paleontology. He is behind grade level so I struggle sometime not to panic. The hard part is figuring out how to proceed with high school.
Thank you Marianne for these posts they have been very helpful and your site is a real blessing and inspiration.
This year trying to maintain a schedule has been crazy–I had baby #5 in Sept., right about the time I really dug in and discovered that, no, reading won’t just click for my oldest. Shes dyslexic, like my om, so we need to change how we do things. It will get less crazy, but the rest of this year will be nuts.
Beccolina – I have been there many times myself! With 8 kids, it seemed like there was always a toddler or baby. Focus on priorities and let the rest go. Your kids are learning far more than you realize!
This is great! My schedule looks very similar, but we use the Love My Schedule system. It’s a magnetic wet erase schedule that I keep on the fridge. That way I don’t have to print out a new schedule when I want to change it. I also have the chore charts so I can check off their chores as they get done. Their website is LoveMySchedule.com if anyone wants to check it out
Hi! My biggest problem is that I make a schedule to get through a book in a year, but my child can not keep up. She either is failing the subject or keeps up for a time and then has to be re-taught what she learned in the beginning. I hate my school schedule because I can never stick to the typical curriculum schedule.
Thanks for sharing some wonderful ideas. You have made some really good points here. I am also trying to simplify my homeschool life. It’s really important to have a scheduled plan to stay organized. I would love to accommodate your ideas also.
I’m so thankful a friend told me about your website!! It has been so encouraging as we navigate homeschool with my 9 year old boy who has dyslexia.
I have a quick question about the spiral notebooks for each child….do you take time to write out the list for each child every day? I love the idea of them having a place to keep track but I sort of cringe at the thought of writing it out everyday!