Homeschool Schedules and Routines

Are you a mom who needs a set schedule to keep you on track? Or will a general routine suffice? Or maybe you’re a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants type. I’m solidly in the middle and that’s the angle I’m coming from for today’s article in the homeschool planning mini-series. But there’s so much more to it than just schedule or no schedule!

Today is Day 2 of my planning series. Here are the topics for the other days:

Day 1: Planning Your Homeschool Year

Day 2: Homeschool Schedules and Routines

Day 3: The Relaxed Homeschooler’s Guide to Picking Curriculum

Day 4: Non-Book Learning for Your Homeschool

Day 5: What Should I Put in My Child’s Portfolio?

This is also part of a blog hop with the Homeschool Review Crew! Please use the Linky at the bottom of this post to hop on over and check out some of the other great info these ladies have to offer!

This article originally appeared on my old blog, Townsley Times. If you came here looking for this particular article but thought you were going to a different site, never fear, you’re actually in the right place. 🙂

Constitutional Literacy by Michael Farris

So we are going to start in a similar fashion to yesterday. What do you want your day to look like? What is your ideal day, if you had no restrictions at all? This will change, but we want to try to stay as close to your ideal as possible. For now, don’t consider any other activities aside from school and meals.

Things to think about:

  • What times are your kids most alert?
  • When are they generally hungry?
  • Do they get hangry prior to that, causing their work to suffer?
  • Do your kids need outside time before it gets too hot?
  • Does anyone need a daily nap? Consider scheduling in quiet time for everyone each day.
  • What items would you like to add in on school days, such as morning baskets and tea times?
  • Do you want to do a real alouds each day?
  • Are any of your kids in need of time to do independent work or do they all need your help still?

Add your restrictions in now. How does this change things?

  • Are certain days completely free from schedule restrictions?
  • Will you have co-ops and extracurriculars like sports, music, dance, or martial arts? Take a look at upcoming schedules for the classes you think your kids will take.
  • Are these events sporadic or regular?
  • How can you schedule around these events, especially if you have multiple kids? What will this mean for meal times (e.g., someone has a class that ends right before dinner time so you’ll need a crock pot meal for that night)?
  • Does Dad have a funky work schedule that you need to plan around?
  • Do you have babies or toddlers who need naps, frequent meals, or a lot of supervision?
  • Does a family member have special needs to consider?

You’ll have to determine what your absolutes are and what you can fudge on or exclude altogether if need be. If your family is particularly active or if you have a lot of kids, something might have to give. After all, there is only one of you!

Now. You have your ideal schedule for the day and a more practical schedule to compare with. We need to make some compromises between them. But first we need to consider what your whole week will look like.

Use a weekly planner to lay out what each week might look like. This is going to change depending on the week! You aren’t writing down what lessons you’ll cover; in fact you won’t do that at all until you’re closer to school time (or maybe even just the week beforehand) after you have your curriculum and activities decided upon. Right now, all you need to do is have a loose idea of how your weeks will look for school and extracurriculars. For example, you want to do math and reading every day, “electives” once or twice a week each, and you have a kid in community sports with practice once a week and games on Saturdays.

PIN IT FOR LATER! Continued below….

Homeschool Schedules and Routines - Design the day that works best for your family! Here is a method for determining how you can get to your ideal day. #homeschool #allthehomeschoolthings

Alright. You have three items: your ideal day, a practical day that is probably a bit chaotic and jumbled, and a loose idea of what your week will look like. Let’s get those all organized a bit better. Stick with me. Do this step by step with me so you don’t get lost.

You can plan your day in a few ways to help you fit everything in.

Set Schedule

It’s probably the most specific and hardest to plan, but writing down a set schedule according to the clock is exactly what some families need.

7am: breakfast

7:30am: Bible

8am: reading and writing

You get the gist. If this is for you, go for it. Far be it from me to advise you on this type of schedule as it’s something I can never stick with and it leads to feelings of failure. But some thrive on it and if that’s you, get to it!

Block Scheduling

Mark out a block of time to work on certain activities. You might block off 9am to 11am for school. Then another block in the afternoon. Or you could get more specific and have it down to a 15 minute period for math, a 30 minute period for language arts, and so on.

Loop Scheduling

This is what we will be doing. We will have our skeleton of reading and math that we do every day, and then the other activities will be on a list. When we have free time, we will start at the top of the list and just do the next thing (DTNT) that fits into however much time we have available at that juncture. When the list is done (and it could take a few days or the whole week to do the entire list), start at the beginning again or make a new list. This is a very relaxed yet organized way of accomplishing your homeschooling objectives. Each time you make a new list, it gives you a chance to evaluate what needs attention the most, what you’re keeping up with, or what you might need to add more of.

Loose Routine

Similar to “do the next thing,” you might prefer to just have an idea of how you want your day to flow. We do this right now and it works great. We start out with breakfast, the girls do their Reading Kingdom program on the computer, they all have free time while I work on writing and blog stuff, we have a snack, do some school, have lunch, etc. It is not based on a clock or on doing a certain amount of time on a subject. It’s just how our day flows.

Tips for Making It All Work

Here are a few tips for making these strategies work for you:

  • Each week, your planning could be as simple as “begin lesson 5” on Monday and you let your child work until he feels done each day. If your kids are motivated, this works great. It’s what we do for math. My daughter might do 5 lessons from her Rod and Staff workbook in a day, or she may only do one (or skip a day). It became too much crossing out and drawing of arrows, so I stopped planning out daily lessons.
  • Think about field trips, co-op meetings, and special activities ahead of time and put them on a monthly calendar. Pencil those in first when you do your weekly plans. Also don’t forget the breaks and days off you planned in the Day 1 homework!
  • Consider using an egg timer on subjects your child hates doing. They only have to work until the timer goes off. It gives a finite stopping point and helps keep them motivated as they race against the clock. They might come to like that topic after all….
  • Be sure to stop for snacks or lunch or time to get their wiggles out. This is especially important for elementary age kids.
  • You, Mom, need to be sure you’re leaving time to get your household responsibilities done. I suggest working in the “spaces in between” to help you stay on top of things. After lunch, knock out any dishes in the sink. After you get your kids set up with independent work, get that bathroom cleaned. Have set times in your routine for cleaning up for 10 minutes – your kids pick up the living room while you switch the laundry and run the vacuum. Whatever it takes to keep your house more or less clean so you aren’t overwhelmed at the end of the day.

Okay. Now you’ve decided on a scheduling strategy that will work for you. Fill in your unofficially official weekly plan. This is JUST A GUIDE to help you through your week.

You will use this weekly guide as a reference when you do your planning during the school year. You can make sure your curriculum aligns well with your schedule and overall school year. You can decide how many lessons you need to cover each week to get things done.

Of course, since we homeschoolers are free to go at our child’s pace, please do not be strict with yourself if you need to slow down or change things up during the school year. You do NOT have to finish a textbook just because the publisher’s scope and sequence says you can or should!

Today’s planning handout includes a daily schedule worksheet, a scheduling cheat sheet, and a weekly planning guide. These are now available (along with each post and ALL the handouts for each day of the series) in my shop – the Plan Your Homeschool in 5 Days e-book!

After today, you’ll have a rough idea of what your weeks and days will look like. Combine that with yesterday’s article and you will also have a pretty firm idea of what your overall year will look like. Pat yourself on the back, you’re well on your way to a successful school year!

Be sure to check out the other posts in the Homeschool Review Crew blog hop! You can find them in the Linky below.