How to Create a Homeschool Schedule Perfect for Your Family
Do you have a homeschool schedule in place, or do you feel like your day is a whirlwind of activity from the moment you wake up until the last child says “goodnight”? Do you struggle to come up for air, hoping and praying that you’ll make it through to the end of the day? Though the homeschooling lifestyle is a major commitment and responsibility, it does not have to completely drain your energy until you have absolutely nothing left to give. By putting a homeschool schedule into place and allowing room for life to happen, you will be pleasantly surprised with the results.
What to Consider When Setting a Schedule
Take a look at the academic goals of your children. What do you hope for your child to master over the course of the next few months? Are you planning to teach your youngest to read? Does your tween need to master her multiplication tables? Maybe your teenager needs to work on his spelling. Make a physical list of goals for each child and then begin to take the steps needed to see these goals come to pass. Having a rough idea of what you want your children to learn can be motivating, rewarding, and encouraging to see.
You will then want to assess the learning needs of each child. Does one have a learning disability? Gather the tools, resources, and outside assistance needed to aid your child. Plan their therapy sessions into your homeschool day. Don’t place it on the sidelines for after hours. There are no after hours in homeschool. This is all part of it. If you need to schedule time into your week to focus on a child with special needs or a specific learning need, take it into account.
Take a look at the work schedules of you and your spouse. Then, work homeschooling around them. It is not necessary to mimic the traditional classroom school setting. It is simply set up the way it is because that is what works for that dynamic. As a homeschooler, you have the freedom to knock out all of your school before 11 a.m. or wait until the afternoon or evening to begin. Whatever works for your family is fine as long as it gets done!
You will also want to consider any commitments outside of the home. Even seemingly simple tasks such as grocery shopping or taking care of pets or farm animals need to be factored into your day. More involved activities such as sports, music lessons, and church activities should be planned into your schedule as well.
Which Schedule Type Works for You?
It is perfectly alright to ignore the schedule given to you in the curriculum you purchased. Usually, it will say “suggested schedule” and it often mimics a traditional school setting, but as the parent, you are free to create a schedule that fits you and your family.
Some families stick to a one-subject-per-day schedule. On Mondays, they will focus on history. On Tuesdays, science. Maybe the younger children will create lapbooks while the older ones work on research papers. Students that thrive on the mastery approach to learning do well with this type of schedule.
Others may stick to a five-day schedule because their kids thrive on structure and do well with checkoff lists. These children generally learn well through repetition.
A four-day schedule works well for families who like to have one day during the week where they can run errands or participate in other activities. Not all errands can be performed on the weekend so many find that having one day dedicated to going into town or participating in certain activities helps to break the week up. Other families enjoy having the extra day in the week to catch up on housework, allowing all of the children to learn basic homemaking skills.
Co-op schedules vary depending on the co-op you belong to. As you adjust your schedule to your co-op, take into consideration what your children are learning during this time and rest assured that it is beneficial, during certain seasons of life, to allow your child to learn certain subjects or participate in certain activities outside of the home in a safe environment.
Some parents use the block schedule approach—setting aside certain blocks of time for a specific subject. Every afternoon might be set aside for history for three months and then set aside for science for three months. This type of scheduling works well for high schoolers working on their high school credits. They will focus a certain amount of time on a specific course or elective until it is complete and then move onto the next one.
The loop schedule is a popular technique used by homeschoolers. Rather than having a list of subjects that have to be completed each day, each child has a list of subjects, and they simply work through the list. When they finish the list of subjects, then they loop through the list again. Maybe they have ten subjects on the list. Some days they will complete six. Others eight. Some days only two, and some days none. When it is time to do their work, they will get as much done as they can and simply pick up where they left off the next day. Dentist appointments, co-op, playdates, and such will not interrupt their schedule because there is no rush to complete a certain amount of work on a specific day. Other days, they may hit their schoolwork hard.
Create the Schedule to Fit Your Family
Feel free to use a mix of schedule types. If loop scheduling works for your family but you want to make sure that your child is getting the 3 R’s in each day, put reading, writing, and arithmetic on a block schedule for them and leave everything else on a loop.
Keep it flexible. Don’t become a slave to your schedule. You created the schedule to help you, not enslave you! Also, be sure to re-evaluate each year. Each child is unique, and your family’s situation could be different from year to year. Do you have a major move coming up? Do you have a long-term family missions trip planned? Take a step back each year and make sure that your schedule works for you, and if it doesn’t, try a new approach!