There are several different ways on how to schedule a homeschool day. Today I’m breaking down the process I personally use to schedule our homeschool day so that you can do it too.
Scheduling a homeschool day is actually easier than it sounds. Putting it all together is a pretty logical process.
But before we begin, let’s back up real quick to look at your homeschool week. If you followed my process on scheduling a year-round homeschool year, you will know what weeks you are homeschooling but what do those weeks look like?
Are you schooling your typical Monday to Friday? Remember, you have the freedom to think outside the box here. You could very well school only 4 days a week. But perhaps you work Mondays and Fridays; you might want to school Tuesday through Thursday and then on Saturday. Or maybe you have a co-op one day of the week; you might plan to school the other days during the week.
We personally school Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. Wednesdays are for the library and errands/appointments. This schedule could be likened to those who have co-ops one day a week. Whichever way you choose to work your week, you need a good weekly outlook so you know how to schedule your homeschool day.
Now that you have a good overview of your week, it’s time to schedule your homeschool day.
To start, all you need is a sheet of paper and a pencil. You are going to create an hourly view of your entire day so if you have a fancy day planner with one general day broken down into hours, you can use that too.
Let’s get started.
Step 0: examine a normal day
Wait, what? Step 0? Yep! If you have the chance, go about a normal day at home and pay attention to your family’s natural rhythm. When is everyone at their happiest, freshest, brightest? When does everyone get tired or cranky? When is everyone introspective? (My son often asks me deep questions about life and such, just before bed 😉
Pay attention to all these factors. Make some notes as it will help you to schedule your homeschool day and maximize everyone’s natural rhythm. Then, come back to step 1. This is not totally necessary. You can very well skip this step if you want, but I find it super helpful.
Step 1: Create your outline
On the left side of your sheet of paper, you are going to write the time you wake up on school days. Then below that, start writing a column of the hours of the day, all the way to bedtime. Leave a good amount of space between each hour as an invisible half hour mark. Or if you want to get super detailed, write out each half hour as well. These are all the hours you have to work with in your homeschool day.
* A note on schedules: Some people stress over time slots and this kind of structure. For those types of people, this creates anxiety in trying to stick to a specific schedule. For the purposes of scheduling your homeschool day, time slots are helpful as a guide. You could very well follow the order of events listed on your schedule but never look at a clock. If you are one to stress over schedules and times, use the framework but when it comes time to implement your schedule, just follow the order of events and forget the time slots.
Step 2: Fill in known time slots
Now that you have your day at a glance, you are going to start filling in time slots. First, start with the obvious things. When do the kids wake up and go to sleep? When do you typically sit down to breakfast, lunch and dinner? Do you have a naptime or quiet time in the afternoons? Don’t get too caught up on the exact time. If you know you usually eat in the 7am hour, then write ‘breakfast’ in that time slot.
Then, start filling in the little things you know about your day. After breakfast does everyone get ready for the day? Or is it before? Do you have any snack times that happen between meals? Fill those in on the schedule. Once you have gotten those general things out of the way, it’s time to start focusing on your schooling hours.
Step 3: Choose a start & end time
When do you want to start your homeschool day? I personally like the pressure of a specific start time. I used to begin our day willy nilly, whenever we were all ‘ready’ for the day. This just never suited me but if that is how you roll, choose a time you would like to have at least started your homeschool day. Is 10am way too late but 8am way too early? 9am it is!
Having a specific start time keeps me accountable to getting started on our day. Likewise, when will you end your day? I like to have a set time to look forward to. This also keeps me accountable to getting all the school things done. I know I don’t have to end at a specific time, but I personally like built in accountability systems. We stop schooling at 1:30pm.
Step 4: plan your subjects
Here is where it can get a little tricky, especially if you have multiple children. First, on the back of your schedule, make a list for each child of the subjects they are covering. An example would look something like this for child 1:
Do this for each child. Remember, there are only so many hours in the day. You can see them on your schedule. So don’t go trying to cram every subject under the sun into your day. You can’t do all the things, everyday. It’s just not realistic. So take some time to consider what is most important to you. Ask yourself, if we got nothing done today but these specific subjects, would I be happy? Then, star the subjects you need done every single day. Maybe reading, writing and math? Plus history if there’s time for it. These are the subjects you are going to schedule.
Go ahead and roughly place those daily subjects in a specific time slot. Wait, what about all the other subjects?? Save those for another day (and another post;). For now, just schedule in the subjects that matter most.
Tips for scheduling subjects
Usually, people like to get the most difficult subjects done first, when the brain is most fresh. Others like to ease into their school day with morning basket and family subjects. This is when that step 0 comes in handy. Take into consideration everyone’s disposition at various times in the day and plan accordingly.
If you have multiple children, subjects that can be done together as a family are always helpful. We do quite a few subjects in our morning basket as a family. Then during lunch we do geography and history as a family as well.
A good rule of thumb for planning when you will do each subject, is to go back and forth between active learning and “passive” learning subjects. For example, start with math, then move to a read aloud, then do writing followed by a history discussion. This way, you don’t overdo your child’s brain in one area but divide the load evenly.
Speaking of not overloading, be sure to make some time for brain breaks. Perhaps a ten minute breath of fresh air, or a 20 minute free play. Build some space into your day that’s totally free and unplanned. For an idea of how I personally do this, check out this post.
Step 5: implement and adjust as needed
Now it’s time to test out your schedule. As in step 0, go through a normal day. Only this time, practice the schedule you planned out. I don’t tell the kids that I’m practicing a school day. I just guide them through a normal day and see how things work out.
For example, we’re eating breakfast and doing chores. Can we finish by 8:30 for our school start time? I don’t hurry them along but gently guide to see if we can do it. If not, maybe I’ll push it back to the time we actually finish today’s chores. We’re not actually doing any school work on this practice day but my son is playing intently with some blocks right now. I scheduled him for his math lesson at this time, I’ll bet that time slot will work perfectly…
Doing a practice day is truly helpful to work out the kinks in the schedule, but again, it’s not necessary. You could just jump in on day 1 of school and see how it goes. I personally like to be prepared for the year in as much as I can be.
Sometimes it takes some trial and error, even after a practice day. We started this school year doing math right after morning basket, but after a few weeks my son struggled to get his head in to math during that time. I then re-evaluated and switched language arts first and moved math to after lunch (when he was fresh after eating). This has worked out great so far!
Remember, a schedule is just a tool, not the law you must follow to a T. Seasons change and what may have worked out one time or another may not continue to work later on. It’s important to be flexible.
So I hope I helped you figure out how to schedule a homeschool day. If you take it step by step as I outlined above, I’m sure you’ll find things come together pretty naturally.
Now you’re probably wondering about all the other subjects that weren’t considered “priority.” Go ahead and check out my post on morning basket if you haven’t already and in my next post, I’m breaking down different scheduling styles that help you fit in those subjects that don’t need to be done every single day.