How to Create a Homeschool Schedule

The Sassafras tree growing in our yard is turning color. This is one of many trees we’ve identified for our plant project this year. I’ll write more about that at a later date.

I have written a post about our 3rd and 6th grade curriculum for the home/school/life blog, and I will let you know when it’s posted. Until then, you can see all my favorite curriculum choices on this page, which I keep updated.

Since I already wrote about our curriculum, I thought I would take the time to share how I schedule our week, though it’s not complicated. You probably use a similar way to schedule your homeschool.

First, I work around our weekly appointments, and then I try to keep to the routine that we established when the boys were very little, which is work in the morning and rest in the afternoon. (Although now that they are older, we also do some work in the early evenings too.)

Morning – academic lessons for eldest son/educational activities for both
Lunch – watch a documentary
After Lunch – piano practice for eldest and academic lessons for youngest
Late Afternoon – rest/T.V./play for boys
Dinner
After Dinner – instrument practice for both boys (piano and cello)
Showers and rest/T.V.
Books before bed

That is roughly how our daily routine goes, though three afternoons a week we have appointments, and on some evenings, we attend music recitals or concerts at a local university. I should also mention that this schedule is also my schedule and partly my husband’s too. He usually sits with my eldest son as he practices piano, and I sit with my youngest as he practices cello. This habit has benefitted us all, but it makes for a very full day for the parents. 🙂

Fitting in the Academic Subjects

How do I work in all the academic subjects? It’s impossible to do every subject everyday, so the first thing I do each year is make a big list of the subjects we’re going to study. Then I arrange them from the highest priority to the lowest. This year writing, grammar and math are my highest priorities, so we do those subjects first at least three days a week.

Each day is a little different. I usually work one-on-one with my eldest son in the mornings, but, for example, I will schedule a list of lessons that he can do without me on the morning that his brother is preparing for a cello lesson in the afternoon. On days that we have no appointments, I can spend more time on more challenging subjects, or I can spend more time reading history or doing science projects that both boys participate in. If I can’t fit the lower priority lessons into the week, I will just skip them or possibly rotate them in the following week.

For these past six years of homeschooling, I have mostly not worried about finishing a particular curriculum in one year. In general, when we want to take a break, I’ll close the book and then open it again when our break is over. As long as we are making progress and moving along, this strategy has worked, and it’s benefitted my boys to go at their pace.

However, now that my eldest is twelve, and he’s in “middle school,” I have changed my tactics this year, especially with math and grammar. I have a goal to finish our current resources by early spring, so to determine how much we need to do each week, I’ve counted the number of lessons or chapters, and I’ve divided by the number of weeks we have until my self-imposed deadline. We’re going to try to do that many lessons each week. But the deadline is flexible, of course, and I used a rather absurdly early deadline of April 30 to determine how many lessons to do. If we finish by June, that’ll be great too. There isn’t any REAL deadline when you’re homeschooling, but as I said, I like to see us making progress. Part of the reason I’m trying this is because this is a testing year, and I’m hoping we can take the test early. If we can’t, no big deal.

I’m also trying this new “goal setting” because as my son gets older and into high school, he will have to work more independently, and he’ll be working on more challenging assignments, so 1) I want to make sure he’s met the prerequisites for this higher level work, and 2) I want to teach him about setting goals and pacing himself. He’s learning a lot about this by playing the piano and preparing for competitions, but he can see how it will work for his school work too. Or maybe I’m the one that needs a trial run before we get into high school! (Yes, I think that’s it.)

This year I’m finding it helpful to plan our whole week at one time. I usually do this over the weekend. (Last year I planned each day the night before, and that worked okay too.) I made up a little planning chart for myself. I make photocopies of these, and then I discard them at the end of each week. (I have another chart that I use to record what we actually did, and I put these into the boys portfolios.)

Click here to upload my weekly planning chart. (PDF)

I’m happy to share this weekly planning chart with you, but you could easily make one up for yourself too. Each week I first pencil in our regular appointments and any other appointments that may arise. Then I work in our lessons around that. I always use pencil because it’s always bound to change.

I could go into much deeper detail about how I schedule our lessons, but that would make this post too long and confusing. Instead, I invite you to ask me any questions, and I’d be happy to answer in the comments section.

Even if you don’t have any questions, I hope you’re having a happy homeschooling year! I’d love to hear from you, if you have minute.

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