Creating a Homeschool Schedule That Really Works

 

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.

For example:

  • 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!