Does making a school-at-home schedule intimidate you? Do you resist the idea of a schedule “tying you down?” Or maybe you love the idea but you just aren’t sure where to begin. A simple schedule can guide your day and help parents and kids focus on what’s most important. But before I share my top tips, remember that no schedule is set in stone … simplicity also means flexibility!
As a homeschool mom of twenty-six years (with a large family!), I’ve had numerous schedules over the years. Because our family dynamics have differed from year to year, our days and our seasons also fluctuate. One year we had a new baby, and the following year my grandma needed extra care in our home. A few years after that, I had three children to teach, and the next year, we added four more children through adoption. The important thing is to evaluate your current season and figure out what works well now. Things can and will change. If something doesn’t work, try a different way. Remember, you are in control.
1. A simple homeschool schedule helps kids know what to expect.
This is true for virtual or hybrid schools as well. When kids know what to expect … and what’s expected of them … there are less anxiety and less of a fight. By knowing what comes next, kids can naturally prepare and adjust.
2. A simple homeschool schedule helps you develop daily routines and turn chaos into calm.
If you’re struggling with feeling like your life is chaotic, a routine can transform the craziness into a much more calm existence. Best of all, by creating a simple school schedule, your home and life will be more orderly, but on top of that, you’ll also get more done.
3. A simple homeschool schedule will help you be more disciplined.
If you’re going to be successful as a school-at-home mom, you’ve got to be disciplined. No, you don’t need to run such a tight ship that every fifteen minutes is scheduled, but you do need to set up and follow a routine. Nothing good ever happens by accident. If you want something good to happen, put some structure around it.
4. To create a schedule that fits your needs, start by asking questions:
- What would a great school-at-home day look like?
- A year from now, what would I consider a “success”?
- What values do I want my children to have when they complete their schooling?
5. Next, start to “form up” your day:
With answers to these questions in mind, write down a list of everything you’d like to complete in a day. Put in even those little things that you always wished you had time for. (Maybe you have had a book you have wanted to read for a long time, put a few minutes of reading in your schedule!) Based on your family’s priorities, add in or take out what will make your days run more smoothly.
- What works in my schedule?
- What do I need to cut?
- What do I need to add?
6. Have a start time to shoot for.
In my house, we prioritize sleep, so I don’t have an early start time for my kids. But it helps many homeschool parents to have a start time to shoot for.
7. Don’t try to make your day look like a public school day.
Your kids aren’t going to do well if you try to make them sit at desks from 8 am to 3 pm. That’s not necessary! Instead, set “blocks” of time for Reading, Math, Science, History, Bible at art. For example. Monday, Wednesday, and Friday can be times to focus on Reading, History, and Bible. Tuesday and Thursday can be for Math, Science, and Art. Or, if you’d rather do each subject a day, ask your children what they’d like to do first.
8. Keep white space open for further learning.
Leave room to explore “rabbit trails” and other opportunities that may come up. During my homeschool day, I allow for additional learning opportunities as our children show interest in certain topics. I’ve discovered that when a child gets excited about a topic to run with it! Don’t forget breaks. Give your kids time to play outside or enjoy games with siblings.
9. Be strategic about when you tackle difficult and demanding subjects.
Some kids and parents are the freshest in the morning, while others aren’t morning people and work better in the afternoon or even the evening. This will become clear the longer you homeschool, but once you learn when your kids are the most focused and alert, use that time to tackle subjects that don’t come as easily to them.
10. Create general routines.
Don’t feel you have to set up specific time slots for subjects, instead consider the flow. For example, if you know that after lunch, you do read-aloud time, this creates order in your day.
Our general schedule looks like this:
Bible time, Missionary stories, read-aloud in History and Science, followed by individual work in writing, math, and spelling/grammar. Are there times we stray off of it? Absolutely. But, as a rule, the children know that this is the normal rhythm throughout our days.