Creating a homeschool schedule that works for your family is not hard but it will take some trial & error. Create a system of how learning at-home will happen without over committing yourself (or you’ll get stressed & feel overwhelmed)!
This fall a lot of families are being thrown into homeschooling as a better alternative to their school districts Remote Learning offerings. If you are just coming into homeschooling (for any reason) know that homeschooling is not going to be easy but if you work at it, it will get easier and will work for you & it all starts with your homeschool schedule (or Rhythm- see below).
Custom Homeschool Schedule
Your homeschool schedule is not just plugging subjects in time slots. I mean it can be but I can almost guarantee you’ll be right back at the drawing board the next day. Your schedule should reflect who you are teaching how they learn best, their learning interests, etc. Take some time to answer several questions about your family for yourself.
- WHO are we homeschooling? (add this phrase to each bullet point)
- WHEN & WHERE (these are more planning detail if you have multiple children but important to know how you will get your 1:1 time in with each child).
My son is a SUPER active 6 year old. He cannot be slowed down during the day for reading, workbooks or worksheets and this is not a good use of who he is any how he learns best. It is also why I homeschool without a formal curriculum. Instead I know we do plenty of play-based pre writing activities (so when it’s time to write he can & will) and that at the end of the day he is going to be willing to do just about anything to stay up late. We start our bedtime routine an hour earlier to account for the extra reading time and basically do guided reading. He hasn’t been interested in reading (on his own) until spring of this year. We have been doing this routine since he was about 3 and worked our way up to about 45 minutes of reading 4 or 5 nights per week give or take.
Free planners are all fine and well but if you really want this to work for you, customize your schedule to fit your family!
Buy a template and work from there or Do-It-Yourself but the bottom line is set your schedule up to work specifically with your families needs in mind. Read below for more information on types of homeschool schedules, example schedules, how to modify your schedule & the importance of quality over quantity.
The first thing to understand about creating a homeschool schedule is there is no perfect cookie-cutter way to homeschool and that’s the trickiest part. You need to find out what works best for your family via trial & error and understand for some families this is a moving target. The second most important thing to consider is that the success of it is completely up to you and your family. You may need to try a few different styles in order to find a good fit.
What to consider when creating your schedule
A homeschool schedule is pretty self explanatory until you try to create one on your own. :o)… kidding, well sort of. There are other questions to take into consideration the following are a solid start:
- What do you want to focus on and when? (will you do things weekly, daily, all month, etc.)
- What is your life style like?
- What are the required subjects in your state?
- Skills & Interests
- Special circumstances or needs
- What type of schedule are you going to try first? Traditional lesson plans, Block scheduling, Looping, or simple Check List
Types of Homeschool Schedules:
There are 4 basic types of homeschool schedules: Lesson Plans, Block Scheduling, Looping, To-Do (checklist style).
In theory it is easier to design a homeschool schedule for one child than it is for 5. You only have one other personality to account for (including yourself if you are the one schooling your child at home). But that is not accounting for the children who do not work well with schedules, like my son. The homeschool schedule that works best for your family will come in time if you work on it. If you already know a schedule doesn’t work for you skip to Homeschool Rhythm. Read below for more detail about the 5 basic types of homeschool schedules.
Traditional lesson planning is what I used my first years as a teacher. You can buy the lesson plan book at any office supply store & block out your schedule. This method is easy to step into, and helpful for first time homeschoolers or people who like to plan to calm their nerves about something new by writing it out. You have your blank lesson plan book & plan out week by week what you will teach and when. You can even outline the sequence of how the lesson will take place (if you can read your handwriting). ;o)
Block scheduling is where you allot chunks of time (daily or weekly blocks) to a specific subject (often daily for Language Arts & Math or weekly for Science or Social Studies) in a pre-formatted sheet that you can “plug-in” what you will be learning. The template is usually a blank PDF, Google Doc or Word document & you fill in the blank blocks with what you will be learning and when.
Looping is where you have a list of subjects that you circulate in a loop. Manage this in a list or block format & track what you are doing and when in “loops” & chunks of time. Let’s say 45 minutes is how long you “do school” each day and you try to do 2 subjects per day (use a timer if you’d like). Example Weekly Loop Schedule; Language Arts, Science, Math, Social Studies, Art, History, Hobbies/ Enrichment.
Monday: Language arts, Science
Tuesday: Science (let’s say your dishwasher broke & you didn’t get to science on Monday so it will happen before you loop to the next subject), Math
Wednesday: Social Studies, Art
Thursday: History, Hobbies
Friday: Language Arts, Science (picking up right where you left off on Tuesday)
The following Monday you are going to pick up the loop with Math (right where you left off on Tuesday) and Social Studies (where you left off on Wednesday from the week before)
To-Do- checklist style
Dust off your white board and make a check list of the times you need to get done today (or you can always do pencil, paper). We used this style for spring remote learning. See Below:
- AM work (reading or math)
- Lunch & play time
- PM work (STEM projects, enrichment)
- PM Playtime
SAMPLE School at Home Schedule
If you are trying to recreate the familiarity of traditional school at home you can post a schedule as well.
8:00 AM Wake up, brush teeth, get dressed, make bed, AM Chores
9:00 Language Arts Block (about 20 minutes per subject)
- Word work
10:00 AM play-based learning time This could be skill building practice, family game time, outside play. Whatever you & your kids need.
11:00 AM Math Block (about 20 minutes per subject)
- mini lesson
- work sheet or written number practice
12:45 Outside Play time, Field Trip or Errands
3:00 Afternoon Block (other subjects if you are not integrating & enrichment)
rotate: Exercise, Science, Social Studies, History, Arts & Crafts, Nature, Poetry & Music (if you didn’t already integrate that) & any hobbies your kids want to take up, etc. I HIGHLY recommend passion projects coming out of a Covid Spring & Summer.
5:00 Afternoon Chores & Dinner Prep
7:00 Bedtime Routine
This is just an example schedule. Your block content and times will vary depending on your families needs. If you have morning quiet-time or bible study you will incorporate that however it fits best for your family. Schedules work well (for some kids) because they know what to expect and when to expect it. Some kids are task oriented and like to “cross off” their to-dos and other kids need more freedom and flexibility in their day and work better with a free-flowing rhythm.
Sample Homeschool Scheduling Issues:
- If you are trying block scheduling and you keep missing assignments & skipping days & it just isn’t working, try looping
- If Looping isn’t working try a homeschool rhythm.
- Are you a working parent? What does a homeschool schedule look like then?
- Struggling to get time in teaching multiple kids, how can you work that into your schedule so that you’re not exhausted before your day even begins?
What to do if you’ve tried several schedules and nothings working
- Modify the adopted schedule
- Try a Homeschool Rhythm
- Adopt a lifestyle of learning
Modifying your schedule
What do you when an issue comes up in your schedule? MODIFY! Your schedule is just a plan of what you think you can accomplish in a day. Set realistic expectations… When you are first starting out, you will not be able to get as much done as 3 months into the flow of your established schedule. In order to make sure you’re setting yourself up for success you need to make adjustments to your schedule and map out your days. I plan one quarter (3 months) at a time and tweak my lesson plans as needed (if we need to revisit a topic or if we . I factor in doctors appointments, family trips, holiday vacations & School Breaks, so I am “ready” for life events.
Ask for help if you get stuck– reach out to other homeschooling families or to online homeschool communities for help.
Know the limitations of scheduling
The only thing in life that is constant is change. When you add children to the mix it magnifies that scientific principal exponentially. Sometimes things just happen, and there’s nothing you can do but make the best adjustments you can. If you are a type-a scheduler (like I am) then make a commitment to yourself to scale it back a bit. Only plan one quarter at a time. If you must plan out further outline (in general) your year and then plan the day-to-details one quarter at a time. I am used to planning a years worth of lessons before school starts from my elementary teacher days. This is not a practice I recommend for everyone as it can be pretty overwhelming especially your first time around.
GET MY SCHEDULE TEMPLATES HERE
A Homeschool Rhythm works like a routine but is fluid & can change depending on the day, errands, appointments, life events & surprises, etc. It is similar to loop scheduling except there are no lists and you don’t necessarily loop back specifically in any order. Your Rhythm is centered around balance, and quality not quantity of time spent learning. (I am cautious not call it a routine because routines can get stale just like a schedule and it’s more important in your Rhythm to do what you/ your family needs for balance than to do what you always do or think you have to do. ) Quality learning time is always time well spent!
Here is a simple Homeschool Rhythm.
I modeled it just like the School at Home Homeschool schedule for a side by side comparison. You may not get to everything on the Rhythm but you can pick it up again another time.
“Do School” can be rotating out subjects daily, weekly or monthly as you may not be teaching science or social studies every day, whatever your family needs.
Quality Learning Time (QLT)
Whatever scheduling methods your family adopts PLEASE make space for quality learning time over the amount of minutes you teach or learn. This is a big misconception coming from public school. 10 minutes of focused intentional learning time makes far more of an impact on your child than following a schedule or keeping up with the curriculum QLT merits discussion on a homeschool schedule post because I know many are anxious about homeschooling this year. This will be something all of us need to start with in our homeschool.
MY ASK FROM YOU…The beginning of Fall 2020 (those first few weeks) carve out a heafty part of your schedule or rhythm for social emotional (restorative) work. Our kids have had a rough go at all of this COVID stuff and they may be acting out because they do not have any other way to process or deal with what has been going on.
Ways to make up time in your day
No matter what type of schedule you choose you are going to miss lessons or may have to go back and repeat some (in a different way). The best way to make up learning time in your day is to make it a lifestyle of learning. Make every (relevant) daily life activity part of your learning. Sorting and folding & putting away laundry is part of basic math and with support our younger kids can do it, they might not like it but…
Another big help (to clear space for grown ups trying to do it all) is chores. Kids should do chores age appropriate chores as part of their day. This helps free up grown up time so you can be sure you and your kids are getting what you need out of schooling at home.
Let me know if you have any questions or how it’s gong at home!