When I first started homeschooling I just knew that we could homeschool, do the daily chores, let the children rotate through playtime together, and even get the daily baths done by noon. But it never quite worked out. I couldn’t figure out why until I sat down to create a daily schedule.
Create a Daily Schedule
Daily schedules provide the backbone to your well-run homeschool. It creates a daily routine the children know to follow from the time they wake up until bedtime.
You may be thinking, I like routines not schedules. But a well-thought out schedule gives you a working routine. Just remove the times along the side! And we begin with a schedule so you don’t fall into the trap I fell into, trying to shove 7 hours of work into 4 hours of time.
Write Down What Everyone Needs to Do
Just make a few notes about what you want to do and what your children need to do each day. Generally I find that I have 27 hours of tasks to complete each day. There’s no way I’m going to get everything done, so I have to cut.
The kids generally have a few hours of work but plenty of free time. Indeed you might say too much free time!
This is just to get a general idea of what needs to be on the daily schedule.
Look at the Weekly Schedule
The weekly schedule should give you a flow for what the various days look like. In my house there are no regular activities until after 2 in the afternoon. On the other hand you may find that you’re running a child over to the swimming pool for swim team practice every morning or dropping a teen off at the local college.
These activities should be planned into your daily schedule.
Ignore all irregular activities at this time. These are any once a week activities that appear sporadically in your weekly schedule. For instance on Monday there’s an activity at 1pm and on Tuesday another activity at 3pm. Don’t worry about planning these into your daily schedule. They’re exceptions to the rule.
If you have an activity such as a co-op which should up two or three times a week, you might consider creating a schedule A for co-op days and a schedule B for non co-op days.
Create a Spreadsheet
I create a simple spreadsheet with the times down the left-hand column in 30 minute increments. Basically 7, 7:30, 8, 8:30, etc. Well actually I’m lazy. I usually write the hours and skip a row in between. It works!
In the top row of the spreadsheet I label the columns Time, Mom, Child 1, Child 2, Child 3, etc.
You don’t need to use the entire 24 hours day, although you can. I prefer to start from my wake up to my bedtime. After all the children go to bed before I do and wake up after me.
Insert Obvious Times
Just as on the weekly schedule we began with the obvious times, do the same with the daily schedule. Start with rising and sleeping times and then move on to meal times. I also add quiet time at this point.
There are always parts of your routine which are working well for your family. Remember the adage
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
Add the working parts to your schedule. Only fix what needs to be fixed!
As you add the times for homeschooling, don’t just write down homeschool. Be specific. Write down when you plan on sitting down with each child, when will they be doing independent work, when will the kids do math, and when will you read aloud to them.
Don’t worry about getting it perfect. A well-run homeschool is never a perfect homeschool.
Remember that kids don’t have to be involved in homeschooling the entire time. You can have two children playing together while you work with a third. Children can enjoy free time, computer time, or hobby time during the homeschool hours.
Add Household Chores
A well-run homeschool is also a tidy homeschool. It may not pass a white glove inspection, but there’s room on the tables for science experiments and art projects. You can find the math books.
The living room is cozy for read-alouds and long discussions.
Add the time you need to run the house. This includes cleaning the house, an evening tidy, meal prep, and cleaning the kitchen after meals.
Add in Everything Else
Now that you’ve added times for homeschooling and caring for the household, it’s time to add the other daily activities into the schedule.
Do you have time to read and enjoy hobbies?
Plan time to exercise, enjoy time with your husband, an relaxing evening with the family, and time outside.
Add times for the children to play, explore, and create. Don’t worry about filling up every minute of the day. A bit of boredom can inspire children’s creativity.
Remember to Add Margin
I think we’ve all made the mistake of blocking off times too close together. We end up rushing through the day from teaching our first grader math to frantically trying to get dinner on the table.
Add margin to your day. Plan for a few extra minutes to deal with crisis. After all the baby’s diaper may explode in the middle of a read-aloud. The mechanic may call, a child may be in tears over a math problem they can’t solve, breakfast may burn.
As a mom of a large family, there’s countless minor crisis I need to deal with every single day. I can’t stress enough how important it is to add a few minutes throughout the day to deal with a crisis and still stay on schedule.
Remember the schedule is simply to give you a practical idea of how your day will flow. If you loathe schedules and hate routines, remove the time column after you’ve created the schedule. There’s no reason to be tied to a structured time schedule.
If you’d like more help creating your ideal schedule, check out Managers of Their Homes. There’s a lot of useful in-depth information on creating a schedule for your family.
Read more in the 31 Days to a Well-Run Homeschool Series!