Creating a homeschool schedule can feel like picking out a new bra.
You love the way it looks, and you’re sure it’s the best you’ve ever found, but you have to try it on and wear it around for a few days to make sure it’s really the one.
So let’s dig into some ideas to help you find that perfect fit.
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When I taught, coming up with my class schedule was one of my very favorite things to do. I love a good puzzle.
Honestly, though, trying to come up with a workable homeschool schedule (or routine, in our case) has been so much harder! There are so many options! I want us to do all the things!
When I taught, I didn’t have much say about what curriculum we used or when my students went to lunch or specials. I knew that from 8:00ish-3:00ish, I was going to be in my classroom teaching certain subjects from certain books. I just got to tinker with the order.
As a homeschooler, I’m suddenly met with so many more options than I had as an elementary teacher. I choose the curriculum. I decide when we eat and where we go. Then you throw in toddler twins and a household to run, things can get a little hairy in the scheduling department.
I’ve spent the better part of this first year trying on routines and schedules to see what fits for our family. And wouldn’t you know, I’ve had some that I thought were foolproof, but life happens, and kids enter new phases, and we had to change things up again.
But I’ve finally come to the realization that, for us, I need to keep things as simple as possible when setting up our homeschool schedule.
Create a Master List of Activities
Not long ago, I sat down with a blank sheet of paper and wrote down all of the subjects and activities I wanted to cover with Little Miss. Things that I knew that she’d love, as well as the things I knew we needed to cover.
If you’re a new homeschooler because you’re quarantined, your child’s school may have provided materials or resources for you. Use those resources as a jumping-off point. Is there something that you’d love to teach your children while they’re home? Or a subject that you know would be a huge hit? Add them to your list.
Or maybe they just said, “Good luck!” and you’re on your own. It might be helpful to look up your state’s academic standards and glance through your child’s grade level for ideas to get you started. Then you can think about what you’d really love for your child to learn during this time at home. And guess what? It doesn’t have to be tied to a state standard! Life skills count too!
Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Bible study
- connect with family (write letters or chat on FaceTime)
- play outside
- play inside
- read aloud/independent reading/audiobooks
- practice math skills
- write a story
- screen time
- bake cookies
- science experiments
- sensory play
Choose a Few to Focus on Each Day
Once you have your master list in place, choose a few items to focus on each day. We’re talking 5-8 activities per day.
You’re probably thinking that if your child were in a traditional school, they’d spend a minimum of six hours each day doing school work. And, yes, kids are in school for that long each day, but I can also guarantee you that not all of that time is spent on academics!
When you’ve got a class size of just a couple of children, compared to 25-30 kids, you’re going to get through material and activities a lot faster. You’ll also get the bonus of being able to give your children a lot of individualized attention, which is so very hard to do in a typical classroom.
As I look at our homeschool schedule, I do try to make sure that we are doing some kind of Bible study, reading, and math each day. These are our “must-do’s.” As Little Miss gets older, writing (in some form) will also be added to that list.
Then I sprinkle in a few other activities that I know she’ll enjoy. By the end of the week, we’ve usually covered most everything on the master list, and probably more in-depth than I originally planned.
In our homeschool, I make the routine, but I am open to input from Little Miss. If there’s something she really wants to do one day, I typically try to make sure we fit it in.
I also give her some freedom to choose the order in which we do things. While I still have the final say, as long as our must-do’s get done, I don’t really care in what order we complete our tasks.
If you have multiple children, let them take turns choosing the next activity.
Don’t Forget Yourself
One of the most natural things to do when creating your homeschool schedule is to forget yourself. I’ve done it more times than I can count. But listen, mama. You are a vital part of this homeschool equation, and your needs matter. And the laundry and dishes and feeding everyone probably matter a little bit too.
Are you an introvert and need some time by yourself to stare at the wall or read a book for a few minutes? (Raises hand.) Then you need to build in some quiet time during your day. Send the kids off to another part of the house to read, play quietly, or (gasp) even watch a little TV and refill your own tank. No chores allowed!
Is Laundry Mountain taunting you from the other room? Get the kids busy on an activity or game and go take care of it for a few minutes! It can be hard to focus on giving your best to your kids when you know there are other responsibilities you need to take care of.
Maybe you’re trying to work from home while homeschooling. Then you need to schedule your work hours into your day and find things your kids can do on their own while you work. That may be incredibly hard with small kids, but I believe in you and your creativity!
Write It All Down
It’s helpful for me to have a list handy of what I’d like to get done each day. It’s taken me some time to be ok with not finishing it all, but I’ve learned to give myself some grace and move the unfinished tasks to the next day.
I like to write our homeschool schedule down in my planner each day. My list includes activities for me and the girls to complete both individually and together. I really get a lot of satisfaction from checking off items on a to-do list, so this method helps keep me motivated.
I’ve also created a few homeschool planning templates just for you! You can download them here.
Please remember that this method of creating your homeschool schedule doesn’t have to be complicated, and it doesn’t have to be perfect.
Back to the bra analogy, there will be days where you feel like this is the one, and other days, the underwire will start poking you, and you’ll have to adjust something.
Give it time, exchange it for something new if you need to, but remember to give yourself grace. Homeschooling is not for the faint of heart, and this may have been thrust upon you quite unexpectedly. You’re doing a great job, mama, and your kids are going to look back on this time as one of adventure and memories.
So did I miss anything? How do you create your homeschool schedule? Let me know in the comments below!