When I first started homeschooling I was as anti-schedule as anti-schedule gets. I hated schedules, lists, routines, or anything that felt ‘restrictive’. I wanted to be a free spirit with my kids! Well, after trying it, I realized that doesn’t actually work. Not if you have goals.
After I realized that some sort of schedule was needed, I still fought it! I would barely schedule, move around the schedule, and re-schedule or un-schedule. I was learning, but slowly.
I finally realized that a schedule doesn’t have to be restrictive, and a proper schedule gives you freedom. A schedule doesn’t have to be stressful, it’s a stress RELIEF. this past year I finally found a schedule that WORKS! Let me share with you what I do.
So I start out by looking at the suggested schedule of all my programs. This is usually in the beginning of the teacher’s book, or the teaching text (if you have solutions separately). Some curriculum will come with a plan already laid out by weeks, that works too.
Taking note of what is going to take the MOST time every day, I start with that.
For us math is the time consumer, it takes a whole hour usually. After that is History, which takes us 40 minutes a day. Science and Spanish are 25 minutes each, and each part of our 3-part language arts is 20 minutes. Altogether our school day is 4 hours. We break that up with lunch in the middle, and plenty of play time, it’s really underwhelming.
Our math program suggests we schedule 4 days a week for lessons, and one day for review (if needed). History is two chapters a week with lots of activities, we scheduled that as chapter-activities-chapter-activities, so it’s also only 4 days a week.
This year I incorporated the fact that my oldest two only needed to do science twice a week, and I have an infant in school. So I alternated the days the older ones did science and the one who has the day off watches the baby while I teach the younger kiddos! Nearly perfect plan. Only downside is that my science lessons have been so fun everyone wants to be a part. Again this lands us at just 4 days a week!
Spanish, I am making up as I go along, so it’s also only 4 days a week… because why not?
Language arts is the only thing scheduled for 5 days a week. Which means that our Friday is officially a half day, and we scheduled a trip to the library and a trip to the park every week for the kids! We get to see our homeschool friends, and refresh our history books, and run some errands if need be.
Now this is the glue that holds it all together… a timer. (We use our computer timers.) I learned last year that without a timer math alone would take at least 3 hours every day as we waited for everyone to finish. There was no hope of getting other subjects done reliably. We had tried doing subjects at set times, but we never started school at the exact same time. There also seemed to be no reward for getting work done quickly. Setting timers allowed us to start whenever we could, follow a set routine, and give extra free time when work was done early.
We started this year like this:
- Math: 55 min -cleanup 5 min
- Science: 25 minutes- cleanup 5 min
- Spanish: 25 minutes- cleanup 5 min
- Lunch, naps
- Language arts: 3 sets of 20 minutes each as they rotate through writing, reading, and spelling.
- History: 40 minutes- cleanup 10 minutes.
We realized that we didn’t need to clean up as often, but needed more time for math so we adjusted the first half of school to look like this:
- Math: 60 minutes
- Science: 25 minutes
- Cleanup 10 minutes
- Spanish 25 minutes
Because we didn’t have to adjust the actual times of when we do things, just the timer, it made this change easier to make.
Times may differ on your curriculum, so adjust these as needed.
Writing it out
Now I put it all together, using a few highlighters (different colors for each child) I add each week’s work to the schedule. I used a very simple free printable, but I can’t find it to link it. There are many out there, so find one that works for you! As you can see, there’s plenty of room to fit in more kids here, which is great because I have three more to add to the schedule in the coming years!
Side note, DON’T ADD DATES. Life is hectic, and you don’t always know when you may make a trip, attend an out-of-state function, or need to take a down week. Just number your weeks so you keep them in order and start and finish whole weeks as you go. Each week is essentially the same, but I wrote in numbers for the lessons and chapters so we could keep track. This took me a couple hours over several days just because I was busy.
Yearly outline? No problem. You now know how many weeks you will be schooling, and now you can figure in your holidays and vacations for a rough estimate of when you will be out of school. My favorite part? No half weeks, no long weekends, and everything is lined up perfectly.
This type of schedule is easy to follow because it’s not overloaded with a lot of details. It’s easy to remember because it’s not complicated. It’s easy to write because most of the work is already in the curriculum. And most of all it’s easy to do because it’s so simple.
With a schedule in place you have liberty to take your vacations without worrying about ‘catching up’ or ‘falling behind’. A schedule allows you to see when you have time for those extra activities you want to add, like field trips and unit studies. And a schedule also allows you to homeschool without the burden of stress from trying to figure out where you are in your programs, and how to get where you need to be all year long. If you have goals, a schedule will help you get there!