How do you create a homeschool schedule that works? A schedule that fits your family’s needs and allows you to either accomplish everything or to at least touch base with important projects.
Here are 10 steps to creating a homeschool schedule that fits your family’s needs.
1. Write Everything Down
Start by writing down everything you’d like to do in a day. This includes sleeping, exercise, prayer, quiet times, meals, homeschooling, activities, hikes, nursing the baby, watching TV, reading books, chores, read aloud, etc.
Include everything you can possibly think of. It’s better to list too many items at this point than to suddenly realize after you’ve made up a beautiful new schedule that you forgot to include a daily shower or time to enjoy coffee with your husband.
2. Ensure You Can Do It All in 24 Hours
Now it’s time to condense, eliminate, and pare down your list to something manageable. Nothing’s worse than trying to fit 36 hours of activities into 24 hours.
Whittle down the plans until you have 24 hours or less of activities during the day. You can use labels such as outings. This time can be used for field trips, nature hikes, or time at the park. Do not whittle down necessities such as sleep, meals, and time to relax. Even homeschool moms can’t be go-go-go all the time.
3. Pull Out a Spread Sheet
My preference is to list the times on the side by the hour but to leave two slots per hour. The blank spot is for half-hours. Remember you’re not required to follow any schedule exactly. Schedules tend to turn into routines and peaceful flows to the day, not rigid taskmasters keeping you hopping.
4. Fill in Set Times
First, fill in set family times. For instance begin by plugging in your normal family mealtimes, the children’s bedtimes, and any other activities that already have a good time scheduled into your homeschool schedule.
My family hooks chores to meal times. It’s easier to send kids running off to do chores after dinner or to expect chores done when kids appear for breakfast. If your family has a similar routine, jot down 30 minutes for chores.
5. Fill in Regular Activities when You Create a Homeschool Schedule
Also, remember to fill in regular out-of-the-house activities. For instance, if one kid has a swim team every morning at 6 and another needs to be at the community college at 7, fill those times into your schedule.
Remember to include drive time, the time you need to leave, and time to prepare to leave.
6. Consider Specific Curriculum You’re Using
After considering outside obligations, sit down and look at the specific curriculum you’re using. How much time is needed for each subject? Does a child need one-on-one help, or are they able to learn independently?
What about online courses? Is there going to be a fight over the computer? Plan time for each child to be on the computer if needed.
7. Family Dynamics and Study Habits
Look at family dynamics and the children’s studying habits. Does a child need regular breaks during the day? Does another child prefer to sit down and work steadily until everything is done? Plan accordingly.
Also, look at young children in the house. If you need to be tutoring or working with another child, what are the toddlers and preschoolers going to be doing during this time? Can you assign an older child to play with them?
Would a few minutes of computer time, time playing educational apps on the tablet, or spending 30 minutes watching TV be best? I’ve traditionally chosen to have my older children rotate playing with the younger children.
When the oldest four children were young, I rotated their playtimes together until everyone had time playing with each sibling. During these playtimes, I had 30 minutes to tutor one child while another worked independently or played alone for 30 minutes.
8. Plan Extra Time when Creating a Homeschool Schedule
Don’t plan a day that keeps you hopping from one activity to another with no time to breathe. It’s exhausting for one thing. It also leaves you with no time to deal with crisis, dirty diapers, spilled milk, or teenage heartache.
The easiest way I’ve found to plan extra time during the day is to leave 30-minute slots blank, usually before we change focus. For instance, I have 30 minutes blank between breakfast and chores, and when we begin homeschooling for the day.
This means if we’re running late, we have give-time before the entire day is off-kilter or we begin skipping activities. I also have 30 minutes to deal with spilled milk, chat with my husband over coffee, or simply spend a few minutes relaxing before beginning our homeschool routine.
Remember to include give time into your schedule for the inevitable crisis.
9. When Should Official School Day Begin?
Decide when you’d like your school day to begin and keep your family’s rhythms in mind. My family rises early, so a 9 am start works perfectly for us. 8:30 is too tight of a beginning and 9:30 tends to be too late.
A friend’s family loved homeschooling in the evenings. Everyone was relaxed, and both parents enjoyed having time to work with the kids.
There is no perfect time to homeschool, merely a good time that fits into your family’s rhythm. Pick a time, try it, and see if it works. If not, try again!
10. Make Final Decisions
It’s time to make the final decisions. What can fit into your homeschool schedule, and what doesn’t. Do you want to spend afternoons doing nature hikes, read-aloud, projects, or a combination?
What time will you go to bed and get up? Work at the schedule until you have a workable system. Print it up and give it a whirl for a couple of weeks.
Remember, a good schedule gives the family a peaceful flow to the day. It’s not a rigid taskmaster.
How do you create a homeschool schedule for your family?