The Homeschool Schedule
In my experience, and that of some of my friends, finding a comfortable schedule for your family is a lot easier said than done. It’s easy to copy someone else’s schedule and end up frustrated or worse, feeling like a failure. So how does one design a personalized homeschool schedule “perfect” for them?
There are several things to consider and we’ll discuss a lot of them today, but the first and most important thing is to consider God.
1. What are God’s goals for your homeschool and schedule?
Take a few minutes apart from the family bustle, maybe during nap time, or after the kids are tucked into bed, and ask the Lord to show you what is most important for your homeschool and your schedule. Be sure to also run them by your husband to make sure you are on the same page, and then keep those things in focus as you consider the other factors of schedule planning.
2. What curriculum goals do you have?
Are you required by your state to finish x number of lessons, pages, days, or hours of teaching in a school year? Do you really want to finish a certain book before summer break? Does your child need to master a certain skill this year whether you finish the book or not? Are you preparing for state testing or competitions? Break that down into months and weeks and figure out how much you have to accomplish each day to meet that goal.
3. What learning styles are you teaching to?
Every parent knows that all children are NOT created equal. Each has his own unique quirks, interests, and learning style. Knowing your child’s interests and learning style will help you choose curricula, activities, and times of day that are the most conducive to learning for that child. You may not always be able to accommodate it, but if you can, you should.
4. What family activities do you have on your schedule?
You will need to decide whether you will work appointments and activities around school or work school around the appointments and activities. Extra-curricular activities are great, but if math and reading get left out because we were too busy with dance, baseball, chess, volleyball, swim team, track meet, cooking class… that it didn’t get done, we are doing a disservice to our kids. Don’t get me wrong. Those things are important, both socially and developmentally, and if they happen to get scheduled in the morning, that’s fine. Just don’t sacrifice the basics for the fun stuff. Take schoolwork with you and do it while you wait, double up on another day to have that morning free, or buckle down and get it done when you get home.
Also think about family vacations, business trips, and other travel and holiday plans. If we know we will be gone for a week in October, we start school a week earlier in the fall. If we want to take the whole month of December off (and we do), then we don’t take such long breaks other times in the year. I have found it helpful to plan out our breaks for an entire school year at a time. It helps me keep my focus and keep to my schedule rather than to decide day to day whether or not we will do school that day. Give yourself some flexibility, but sticking to a preset school calendar will help you greatly in meeting your goals.
5. What kind of inner clock does your child have?
I have been guilty of planning our homeschool schedule to fit my clock and forcing my kids to go along. I’ve realized that it doesn’t always work well. When I stopped and evaluated when each of my children do their best work and reworked our schedule to suit them, things began to move much more smoothly. For instance, one of my children is a night owl (like her mother). She does not do anything well before 9 or 10am. She also does not fall asleep easily before 10 or 11pm. Forcing her to be up, dressed, and ready for math problems and new spelling words at 8am was just asking for trouble. Instead, I now get up with the younger “morning” children and we can easily get the majority of their school done by 10:30 or so. Then we enjoy read-alouds or activities all together and my night owl child has one-on-one school time with Mommy later when the little ones nap.
If your schedule isn’t working, change it. Try a new schedule for a few weeks, and keep tweaking it till you are comfortable with it. And remember that today’s “perfect” schedule may not work for you next school year. There is no one-size-fits-all schedule or curriculum, and that’s one of the greatest benefits of home education!
Katie has played teacher for as long as she can remember. With a master’s degree in education and experience teaching public school system, she now teaches her 4 children at home. She is also developing a curriculum for Spanish speaking home educating families. Katie promotes home education in her blogs Educando en el Hogar and Paradise Praises, and resides in Mexico, where her family serves as church planting missionaries.