Three Homeschool Scheduling Methods (Pick your Poison)

All right - Scheduling is a thing that we HAVE to do. Right? If it's not on the calendar, it doesn't happen. We all know that, because we have those AWESOME friends and we tell them something like this: "We should really hang out sometime."
And then we never do it, unless we pull out our calendars and choose a time and a place.

Homeschooling is exactly the same. There's enough life and love and cooking and eating and cleaning to take up the full day without ever having a single lesson. It does not automatically happen.

Enter, stage left: PICK YOUR POISON! (I say poison because it's a necessary evil - scheduling is something that most people would rather avoid. It feels bossy, tyrannical, and brings out our rebellious side. And let's face it. You're a rebel - you wouldn't be homeschooling if you weren't.)



FORMULA #1: TIME BASED SCHEDULE This is is typically where everyone starts, because it's what they know - An Hourly Schedule. You have the times going down the left side of the paper, and then you write in the events or subjects or classes. Each day typically begins and ends at the same time, and the weekly changes that are necessary are also all factored in all ready. The biggest mistake people make is not POSTING the schedule. It needs to be easily seen by ALL household members. Stick it somewhere on the wall!

  • Pros: it looks good on paper, clear, crisp, easy to understand. Traditional, distinct, and specific. "Normal"
  • Cons: doesn't allow for flexibility, choice, preferences, or the delays or quick pace that sometimes happens. Getting "ahead" or "behind" is inevitable and throws the hours off by a bit or a bunch one way or another. Adjusting is hard to do without a pencil scratching out.
  • In a perfect world, where does Spanish go? 30 minutes, somewhere before the noon hour, or at eating time. (High schoolers may prefer the afternoon)

 This the one we use. I have a checklist for each kid for each day. Some days are heavier than others, and we TYPICALLY start at the same time, but it's not written anywhere. Now that I think about it, we've been changing our start time quite a bit lately. The kids each have a list, but they can decide what to do when, and when they're done, they're done! One year, our fourth child (a BOY!) would regularly get up super early, do all his individual work for the day, and that way, when we completed our group lessons, he was all done, would go and play, and then take a nap. He LOVED it. The biggest issue: POST IT! You MUST post the checklist SOMEWHERE where you can see it!

  • Pros: it's a literal list that you can just check off as you get it done. Flexible, direct, specific. Allow for speed changes and different days of the week changes
  • Cons: No time constraints means that you sometimes run out of time, and there are unchecked items. Habit of leaving something undone, with the expectation of "doubling tomorrow" can creep in easily.
  • In a perfect world, where does Spanish go? If you are finding that you run out of time for Spanish, then I would put it ANYwhere before math. (No one ever skips math!) Set a timer for 20 minutes, and push GO when you have your flashcards or video or textbook found and laid out. Checking it off with a snack or meal is a great time to add it in.


 FORMULA #3: A RHYTHM This one is a little too loose for us now, but is GREAT for habit training and having flexibility within certain amounts of time. You have a general time frame for group sessions, individual sessions, and hands on lessons. This one doesn't usually have a list or a schedule, but rather a stack of books or "ingredients" for the day. Once the stack gets moved from the table to the counter - or however your family functions, then the day is typically complete. This one does not need to be posted, but needs to have just three or four main portions. Our three portions, when the five children were slowly moving into their school age years, were Morning Time, On your Own, and Circle up.

  • Pros: Great for habit training, moving different subjects around into different "portions" of the day, and teaches the children that learning is a lifestyle. Our children would often want "morning time" on the trampoline. Or "Let's do circle up at the library!" I could also add specific aps or games to someone's "On your own" time, and they were ok with it - it was just something added to that portion of their day.
  • Cons: Lacks rigidity or specific goals, so as the students become scholar level, they may need more guidance in using their time wisely. Doesn't allow for anything to be "completed" - hard to know when to stop a portion of the day and begin another, if we didn't "DO" all of a lesson. Units or lessons make drag on too long for absorption. Or, we may not dive deep enough without a checklist or a time table. 
  • In a perfect world, where does Spanish go? You'll want to add Spanish to any portion of your group lessons. This way, the family is speaking together, learning the language in the way they will use it. With others! We typically started the day with read alouds and grammar, and added language to "Circle Up" - we ended the day together as well to make sure everyone had accomplished what they needed, but the circle up time was begun with me speaking Spanish to them and having a snack ready. Ahhhh, I miss circle up time! It changed in name to Tea Time, and then our most patriotic son re-titled it "Johnny America Time." We still finish our school work with Johnny America time, though he graduated two years ago!

 So! Which Formula will work best for you? What's the best option of the medicine you may not want, nor know you need - but it's a GOOD thing and can help heal your homeschool days!

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  • Brenda González on

    Great post! Formula #2 has been working best for us these days! The boys like to check off what they get done from the list. That being said, I am having trouble getting my high schooler, who runs at a more “patient” pace 😉to get all his required work done. He has two music classes at the high school (he LOVES music) and runs cross country in the afternoon. He does not need anymore music credits, but I do not want to take away what he is thriving in. We also still do morning time, which is so important to me. I’m praying and asking the Lord for guidance, as I manage his high school years and tailor them to his unique personality. I should probably stop comparing my high schooler to the other faster-paced ones. I just feel like it’s so hard to fit it all in. Taking a deep breath and asking God for a greater measure of inspiration, understanding and knowledge on how to make it all work out. This is my first high-schooler and the time bomb seems to be ticking so fast and loud!🤪 Suzanne, thanks for your homeschool tips! They are SO encouraging! They give me hope and a real plan on how to manage some of the stuff I’m going through. It may sound like I’m on repeat, but you truly are a blessing to me!!!

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