Happy New Year!
So, how did last year go for you?
Did you accomplish everything you wanted to?
How about your last semester?
A new year is a good time to stop and reflect.
It is recommended to reevaluate
a few times through the year, some say 3 times a year, which is what I do, some say quarterly.
What did you love about last year?
What would you like to do better?
Take a moment to jot down some things that come to mind. This could be what you want to accomplish in homeschooling or in yourself, academically, spiritually, physically, even financially. To me homeschooling covers all of these areas.
Many life coaches recommend having a goal to focus on, this works well in homeschooling too. Think about what you would like to accomplish and write down the goals you want to focus on for this next semester and for the next year.
Now let’s talk about a schedule to work towards accomplishing your goal.
Schedules will be as different as homeschooling. It will depend on the ages of your children, size of your family, availability to resources such as computers or other media. Your personality will also determine what works best for you and your children.
That is a lot of variables and I haven’t even listed them all. But there is no right or wrong, only what works best for you, so instead of telling you the best method to schedule your homeschool day I will give you a few basic ideas and you can see what works best for your family.
I have used all of these methods at one time or another. I have learned to change and adapt as my children or I need. Be flexible. Life happens and children grow, things change and that is OK.
What works this year may not work next year, don’t worry about it, just change as needed. That is one reason we are always reevaluating, that and to stay focused.
Think of your goal as a target you are aiming for, you may not hit the target straight away but with consistent work you will continue to get closer.
There is also a difference between a schedule and a routine but for the sake of this article I will cover them both as a type of schedule.
Now let’s get to it.
This is a typical schedule where you plan everything by hours or even half hours.
8am have breakfast
10am language arts etc.…
You can find many printable forms or planners for this method. This schedule requires a strict adherence.
Problems can arise if unforeseen or unexpected events come up and alter the schedule, then tasks either get skipped or backed up.
This is a good type of schedule if your days tend to be predictable.
High schoolers or more mature students can do well with a block schedule if a set amount of time is given for school or if there is a consistent work schedule to fit into the plan.
It is also good if you have resources that children need to share such as a computer or a certain book or educational media that they can’t use together, you can block off time designated for each child to use the resource.
Relaxed Block Schedule
This is much like the block schedule but with more flexibility.
Larger blocks of time are set to accomplish a group of related tasks.
Such as: setting the time between 9am-Noon for a group of subjects or time on the computer
Noon-2pm for lunch and chores
2pm-5pm creative, or outdoor activities
5pm-9pm for free time, dinner and bedtime.
You may set certain days or times for errands or on the go activities.
Since this schedule type gives larger blocks of more flexible groups of tasks, if a task gets missed or another takes longer or unexpected events arise it doesn’t back up the schedule as much as the typical block schedule does.
This schedule does well for all age groups and multiple children. More independent children can be working on their lessons while you work with younger children.
This is the method I have used the most through the years, but not the one I’m using right now.
Priority List and Routine
A priority list and routine work well together as a scheduling method.
A routine is just the order things are to be done each day with no time limit attached to them.
Such as: in the morning get cleaned and dressed,
do book work or “table time,”
watch TV/ play games,
story time ,
A priority list is simply a list of what you need to get done each day in order of priority. I use this for our school subjects.
Reading/ Language Arts
This list may have more subjects and books listed but for the sake of this example I’m keeping it basic.
A priority list like this guarantees you get to what is most important each day. But it could also lend to never getting to the lesser important subjects, so I like to take one day a week to start at the bottom, or just pick what we want to do at random.
The children love this because it means a day of art, music or creative play and breaks up the monotony of the week.
A routine and priority lists do especially well with the younger ages. Since life can be so unpredictable and you want to leave plenty of room for discovery.
Typically you will get a lot done on good days and not so much on less productive days, and that is OK, in the end it evens out and you will be amazed at all that got done.
Younger ones tend to thrive on this "structured freedom."
Themes/ Unit Study Planning
This is another good schedule type for younger ones and also mixed ages.
All or many subjects are based around one theme for a week or even month.
You could also base a theme around the children/child’s interest such as a child who loves dinosaurs or getting ready for a vacation to the beach, where you focus all subject around that interest.
English, Science, History, Art and Music fit easily into this method.
Math can get tricky but is easier in the younger years. i.e. One dinosaur plus one dinosaur equals two dinosaurs.
But this method can be tailored to many ages.
It may require more creative thinking from you and could be considered a teaching style rather than schedule but if you teach this way the two seem to blend as your days just flows around the theme, not so much the subjects.
This can be done at least in part with high school but because of required credits in high school could be a little more difficult.
I have done this with all ages and my high schoolers would do some subjects together with my younger ones but at their own level, and would then have their own independent work while I worked on more “childish” things with my younger ones.
This is a very fun and relaxed style, if you like this style you may be an unschooler or relaxed homeschooler.
This type of schedule fits well if your days are unpredictable or if you homeschool on the go a lot.
I also enjoy this method so much with younger ones who thrive working around themes.
Picking A Planner
Whichever method you pick you will need some kind of planner to help you keep track of your schedule and it also doubles as a portfolio and attendance tracker.
You can get one from places like Staples which is where the selection in the picture is from or you can find more specialized planners on the internet with room to plan more of what you want.
Heidi Cooper of Torah family Living has a beautiful, specialized planner for those who keep Sabbath on the 7th day and follow the Torah schedule. She is a homeschool mom and member of AliYah Academy.
With a 3-ring binder and free printables from the internet you can create your own planner choosing exactly what you would like to have in it.
We have pinned plenty of good free planning resources on our " Free Schedule Printables and Calendars " Pinterest board the whole board is dedicated to this on our Pinterest page.
Check it out but keep in mind the cost of ink.
This is a good choice if you want very specialized pages, if not, it may be more economical to buy one pre-made.
We may also offer our very own AliYah Academy school planner next school year so keep an eye out for that.
Making your Schedule
How far you plan ahead is up to you. But I suggest you only do a month at a time at first and do it in pencil until you get a feel for what works best for you.
Pencil in all of your set appointments or work schedules first
then main subjects depending on what method you are using,
then fill in the rest.
Remember to make time for creativity and physical activity.
I like to schedule in the chores, errands and meals along with schooling since it is part of our lives.
Remember to focus on the goal, write it where you can review it often;
you can use any means that works to get there.
Pick a schedule that fits with your family's style and personalities.
Don’t hesitate to change if you’ve given one a good go and find that it’s not a good fit.
Your schedule should bring joy to you and your family (after an initial adjustment, of course) if it doesn’t, try another one that does.
The idea is that it makes your life better; it’s important to keep that in mind.
Now you’ve got a schedule that fits your family.
You can do this!