If this is the first post you have read, I am currently working on a series about homeschool planning. If you click “planning” on the menu bar, you can find all of the earlier posts. Last time I discussed scheduling your school year. Today I am going to talk about making a daily homeschool schedule. Next time I will give you some tips for ordering your curriculum. I have been trying to do these posts in a step by step manner, but this post and the next one are somewhat interchangeable. For some people it will make sense to create a schedule and then purchase curriculum for these classes. For others it will be better to purchase curriculum and then use it to create your schedule. You will need to decide which is better for you.
In my opinion one of the greatest benefits to homeschooling is being able to be flexible and meet your child’s needs. For some people that can be done without a true schedule. If that works for you, that is perfectly fine! In a minute I am going to show you the schedule I have developed for us for next year. I use my schedule as a guideline or a goal. It is not as rigid, nor as intense, as it may look. We generally finish earlier than it says on our schedule. If an activity finishes early, we just go on to the next thing and enjoy an early day. Occasionally something takes longer than anticipated. I don’t stop everything just to keep our schedule. When I first started homeschooling I wrote down lesson ideas but did not have a schedule. I find that by writing out a schedule we get so much more done, even though we rarely follow the schedule exactly. Your schedule is meant to be a helpful tool, not something that stresses you out. And if it isn’t working…CHANGE THE SCHEDULE!
There are several things I think about as I sit down to create my schedule:
- what time I want to start the day (be REALISTIC!)
- what time our day needs to end
- legal requirements
- outside responsibilities and appointments
- which classes I need to teach
I highly recommend teaching as many of your children together for as many classes as you can. Bible, History, Read-Aloud, Character, Lifeskills, Science, Poetry, and several more lend themselves to combining children. If you have several children and you try to teach each class individually to each child it is going to stretch you. Language and Math generally need to be taught individually unless you have two or more children who are very close in age. Once you have teenagers you may need to have them work independently. Also, little guys usually need their own time even for things like History and Science, but they also need very short lessons.
I have created some forms to help me think about all of the things that need to go into my schedule. Below I have examples of how to fill them out. (These are SAMPLES only, as you will be able to see when I show you my real schedule later on! )
Next, I write down all of the classes I need to teach. I figure out how many days and minutes I need/want to teach them. Then I divide the number of minutes by the number of days to get the number of minutes I need per class. Here is a form to make this easier for you and there is a sample below:
Next I fill in my schedule planner. I like to use the format in Educating the Wholehearted Child to plan my day. They divide classes into five different types of studies: Discipleship, Disciplined, Discussion, Discovery, and Discretionary. There are lots of different models for how to schedule a school day. If you and your children are morning people you will want to do your language and math classes in the morning. However, if you are more energetic in the afternoon, you may want to schedule those classes later in the day.
Use the schedule planner to begin plotting out your day. Begin by writing times in the left hand column. If you want to schedule by the half hour, one sheet will probably be all you need per child. If you are going to schedule in fifteen minute increments, you will need to print two sheets per child. You may want to print them for yourself as well. Next fill in your meal times and all regularly scheduled outside responsibilities and activities, such as coop classes, sports, and appointments.
Now look at your class list. Decide what order you want to have classes in. Also think about which classes you will need to conduct and which can be done independently by your child. You may want to offset a class for one child that you will need to be teaching with a class that can be done independently for another child. In our house we start the day with Bible together. When we get to language arts, however, I need to spend individual time with each child. I schedule handwriting, journaling, keyboarding, independent reading, and half of Boo’s reading for Boo while I am doing phonics, reading, writing, and spelling with Buddy. Then we flip and Buddy does his independent work while I do composition and grammar and some reading with his sister. Later in the day I scheduled computer time for one child while I worked with the other one.
Begin filling classes in on your lists, laying out the kids’ lists side by side so you can look at them together. I recommend using pencil for this step. Another suggestion is to write the classes on index cards so that you can move them around and once you are happy with the results you can record them on the sheet.
I like to use Excel for my final schedule. By typing it, and because I only have two children, I can make a sheet with the kids’ activities side by side. I also use color to code it and help me keep track of what where I am supposed to be. Pink is Boo, Blue is Buddy, Purple is all together (Blue+Pink), Green is Buddy with me (Blue+Yellow) and Orange is Boo with me (Pink+Yellow). Below is a copy of our schedule for next year:
Next time I will show you how I plan my curriculum purchases and keep track of my curriculum orders.