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When we first started homeschooling, I wanted my homeschooling friends to let me come sit in on their homeschool day so I could see how they set up their homeschool schedule. They would all tell me, “Every homeschool is unique; you have to find your own rhythm with your homeschool schedule.”
I struggled as a new homeschool mom with planning a homeschool day. Some days I scheduled way too much. I made everything very rigid and structured, trying to keep everything controlled (anyone with me?). By 2 months in, it was clear that I needed to revamp my mindset on what a “typical” homeschool schedule should look like.
My friends were absolutely right: I had to find my own rhythm, and so do you. But instead of doing trial and error, I am going to give you some simple steps to plan your homeschool schedule like a pro.
Step 1: Decide What Kind of Homeschool Schedule You Want to Follow
Just like with anything else in homeschooling, there are multiple different ways to go about it. Let’s examine some types of homeschool schedules that you can choose from. (This list isn’t exhaustive. If none of these suit you, you can make your schedule unique to you.)
School at Home Schedule
A school-at-home schedule looks a lot like what a typical school day. Often the day is set out with each subject scheduled for an hour or so.
5 Days per Week Schedule
The benefit of planning your school around a 5-day week schedule. This means the same amount of work can be divided over that extra day over the 4 day per week schedule. If you must have 180 days for a year, this breaks down to 36 weeks per school year.
4 Day a Week Schedule
3 day weekend, every weekend? Sign me up!
If you want to do school over a 4 day week, you could choose to do school for longer each day to make up for the Friday. Another option is just doing school for 45 weeks if your state requires a 180 day school year. This does make your school year 9 weeks longer than a 5 day per week school year but with long weekends every weekend, you could take off less time around most holidays.
Homeschool Loop Schedule
While a loop schedule is less about how many days per week, it is more about how to schedule your days. Loop scheduling means subjects or certain subjects are on a loop. You just move on to the next thing in the loop.
For example, you could have science, history, art, and geography on a loop. Every afternoon, you schedule 2 hours to work in this loop.
On Monday, you finish a science project but still have 1.5 hours left in the block. Then you move on to the next subject in your loop, which would be history in this example. If you complete history before time is up you could move on to the next subject, art.
On Tuesday, during your scheduled loop time you pick back up with art and then move on to geography.
Basically, it’s the wash, rinse, and repeat of homeschooling.
One Subject a Day Schedule
There are two ways to do one subject a day schedule. For some, they stay true to one subject a day and each major subject is regulated to one day. Some homeschoolers following this method also do a couple essential subjects every day. Typically language arts and math are daily subjects for these families.
For very young elementary students, I highly suggest if you follow this, still do phonics and math every day.
Step 2: Consider Homeschool Schedule Wreckers
We all have things that will throw our schedule off. Those are schedule wreckers. While we cannot anticipate every schedule wrecker out there, we can take note of ones that occur regularly.
If your local homeschool group does regular park days on Friday afternoons, you have a child with speech therapy every Wednesday morning, and you also like taking your children to the library for STEM club on Mondays at 3 pm, then you need to block these off your schedule before you start.
Not only block off the time of the schedule wrecker but also the time it takes to get ready, the drive, plus returning home. Give yourself at least an extra 10-15 minutes cushion on top of this.
Step 3: Take an energy inventory
This is what my friends were talking about with rhythm. Every household and even every season can have different energy levels.
You can start writing times that people are just cranky, nap times, when everyone has some calm energy and when everyone seems wound up.
Once you notice these patterns you can block off time for naps. Use times you notice your little people have calm energy for focused work times.
The times where everyone seems wound up are the perfect times to go for a nature walk or get outside to do some learning outside.
You may find that the people in your house (including you) do not work well in the early morning. The beauty of homeschooling is you can set your own schedule. You can start school at lunchtime if you want. Or maybe you are a house of early birds and want to start school at sunrise.
Step 4: Look at Your Curriculum
Look over your curriculum and see what lessons look like. A lot of times we overload ourselves because we think we can get through a lesson faster than what we actually can.
Look through your curriculum and over estimate about how much time each lesson will take. Alternatively you may choose how long you are going to spend on each subject each day. Most kids’ attention spans are about their age times two to three in minutes. So a 5 year old can give you sustained attention for about 10-15 minutes before they start becoming distracted.
PRO TIP: Don’t try to get through every subject everyday. While Language Arts and math should be done every day, other subjects like history and science, art and music, or technology and a second language, can be alternated every other day or put on a loop.
Step 5: Make your Homeschool Schedule
Now that you have chosen what kind of homeschool schedule you want, taken in consideration schedule wreckers, paid attention to the natural energy flow of your family, and looked over your curriculum, it is time to make your actual homeschool schedule.
Instead of choosing a time-based schedule, make a routine.
What’s the difference between a homeschool routine and a homeschool schedule?
A homeschool routine is a list of subjects, activities and events that happen in a typical day. Instead of being time based, it is based on repeating the same pattern of activities daily.
A homeschool schedule is usually based strictly on time. It can make some homeschool parents feel rushed and constantly behind, while others will thrive on this.
A homeschool routine won’t tie your daily events to a time. If language arts takes longer one day, you can spend a little less time somewhere else, or have lunch a little later.
Example of a Homeschool Routine:
Breakfast and Morning Chores
Go for a walk
Morning School Work: Language Arts, Math, Read Aloud
Afternoon school: Science, History, Art, Second Language
Afternoon quiet time
Example of a Homeschool Schedule:
7 AM Wake Up
7:30 AM Breakfast and Morning Chores
8:30 AM Go for a Walk
9:30 AM Language Arts
10:00 AM Math
10:30 AM Read Aloud
11:00 AM Lunch
12:00 PM Science or History
12:45 PM Art or Spanish
1:30 PM Afternoon Quiet Time
Step 6: Don’t Get Too Attached
Just when you think you have the perfect homeschool daily schedule down, things will change. Don’t get too attached to your schedule.
A lot of homeschool parents and families, who are struggling with burnout are sticking to a homeschool schedule or routine that no longer serves them. Your schedule or routine is the framework for your day and it should serve you.
Homeschooling should be as unique as your family. Your daily homeschool schedule and weekly homeschool schedule should fit you and serve you.
Don’t get too stuck on making the perfect schedule. Instead see it as a growing, living thing that you will need to make adjustments. You should give a schedule a week or two to see if it fits, but if it doesn’t that does not mean you are a failure at homeschooling. It only means that you need to make adjustments to your schedule until it fits you and your family. Then let it grow with you as a family.
What are your best tips for creating the ultimate homeschool schedule? If I’ve left anything out, let me know in the comments below!
- 7 Easy Ways to Maximize Your Homeschool Day
- Effortlessly Create and Organize a Homeschool Portfolio
- How to Decide Which Homeschool Curriculum is Right For You
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