Homeschool Scheduling and Planning


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Scheduling. Planning. There are those homeschool moms who see those two words as a necessary evil, those who get giddy with excitement over the idea of a blank piece of paper ready to be filled with lesson plans, and those who fall somewhere in the middle.  I tend to fall in the middle with a slight leaning toward the giddy side.  I enjoy planning, for the most part.  It’s what keeps me sane during the school year, but I’m not a huge scheduler.

Homeschool Scheduling and Planning

It seems like a really big question among new homeschooling parents is:  How do you plan?  How you do schedule your day?

(Okay, okay, so that’s really two questions.)

While I’m big on lesson plans (because I’ll totally forget the little things — like, oh, say, reading — if I don’t have lesson plans written out), I’m not big on a hard and fast schedule.  It goes against my grain.  I tend to get very stressed with specific time frames.  Yet, somehow, we seem to make it to church on time each week, quite possibly because we love our new church, but I digress.  We have a homeschool routine. And, for those of you stressing about late start times, I’ll be honest and say that it is my goal to move our schedule up this year from a start time of 11:00 or 11:30 to an earlier start of 10:00 or 10:30.  We’ll see how that goes.  We’re not working on it this week.

Our daily routine looks something like:

8:30 — Mom drags her sleepy behind out of bed
8:30-9:30 — Mom’s Bible study and computer time
9:30-10:00 — Mom’s workout time
10:00-11:00 — Mom wakes kids, so they can start work on chore chart.  Mom showers and works on household chores
11:00-12:30 — Bible (everyone), then, Brianna works independently, while Mom works with Josh and Megan on grammar, spelling, journals, etc.  Josh and Megan begin independent work (math, Explode the Code, handwriting).
12:30-1:00 — Lunch prep, kids work independently.
1:00-2:00 — Lunch (includes TV and computer time)
2:00-2:30 — Silent reading time
2:30-?? — Science, history, reading (for instruction), hands-on activities, family projects, and any unfinished work from the morning

While I don’t have color-coded blocks in thirty minute increments, we typically stick fairly close to our routine times out of sheer habit.  Like I said, I’d like to work on getting school started by 10:00 or 10:30, but I won’t stress if it doesn’t happen.  None of us are morning people and I enjoy being able to work with our bodies’ natural rhythms as a benefit of homeschooling.

As far as actual lesson plans go, I’ve mentioned before that I use forms from DonnaYoung.org.  There are tons of forms to choose from on her site.  I’ve got one that I use for both my master planning and as assignment sheets for the kids.  I like to plan my lessons for three weeks at a time.  That three week planning was born, years ago, from a 28-day check-out time from the library and me wanting to leave the last week free to finish up books as needed.  The check-out times at the library have changed, but the three-weeks planning schedule has stuck.

I generally start by filling in any outside activities that we may have going on.  Then, I plug in the easy stuff:  math, Easy Grammar and Daily Grams workbooks — the subjects with specific lessons or pages each day.  Then, there is the stuff that never really changes — our Bible Study Guide/Keys for Kids rotation (Monday, Tuesday, Thursday for the former, Wednesday and Friday for the latter) and spelling and reading, which are just “pick up and do the next thing” books.

Honestly, math, Easy Grammar and Daily Grams are “pick up and do the next thing,” too, but this year I’m giving the younger two kids lesson/page numbers on their assignment sheets to a) encourage independence and b) make sure that I know what lesson they’re supposed to be doing in case it happens not to get done…not that anyone around here would try to get away with not doing their work from time to time.

Then, I tackle the more difficult stuff, like history, science, and our Friday projects.  Because these take more time and mental effort to plan, I save them for last, so that I at least have a sense of accomplishment in having the “skeleton” of the schedule in place with the easier-to-plan stuff.  These last subjects are the ones that I have to sit down and look at to determine what we’re going to do from the text, what comes from supplemental materials, and when and where we’ll want to do hands-on projects.

The hardest part of planning seems to be the beginning of the school year when we’re out of our routine. Those first three weeks’ schedules took forever to plan.  Now that they’re done, though, I’ll typically spend a Saturday afternoon, once a month, planning for the rest of the year, three weeks at a time.

What kind of planner are you? If you have any specific questions about how we plan, our routine, or the forms I like, just let me know and I’ll be glad to try to answer them.

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26 Comments

  1. I love your schedule. Finally, someone who does not start schooling at 6 am! That was always a source that could produce guilt very quickly in me. But, we have just been informed that for my boys, I REALLY need to have structure. So the Lord is going to have to do some major work in me for that to happen. I really enjoyed reading how you schedule and such. Always great to hear how others do it.

  2. Kris,
    I love reading your blog. You have great information that is very helpful. Even though this is my 3rd year of homeschooling, it is the first year I have 2 kids to coordinate. I also love that I am not the only Mom who doesn't start school at 8am πŸ™‚

  3. I just LOVE your "late" start time- if my girls didn't have dance, and the boy have soccer, and if we didn't have Enrichment classes, I would SO love having your schedule!

  4. OH I LOVE seeing others homeschool schedules – I am very scheduled – here's last year's schedule:

    https://womenlivingwell-courtney.blogspot.com/2009/08/back-to-school-my-daily-schedule.html

    Im working on this years right now.

    I also have a structured cleaning schedule:

    Mondays: Menu and Market (Grocery shop)
    Tuesdays: Toilets, Tubs, Towels
    Wednesdays: Wash (laundry)
    Thursdays: Dust
    Fridays: Floors

    Of course I have to vaccuum and sweep and sometimes throw a load of laundry in on off days – but for the most part this is what I stick to weekly and it works for us!

    Courtney

  5. I am a planner, it is my idea of a good time, twisted though that may be, lol. I write out the entire overview for the year, then I pull all my resources, then I schedule the first semester, day by day on a weekly planner for each child and put it in a binder. I need that kind of structure.

  6. I love planning. I think spending time looking for crafts and activities is my favorite part. I also like getting a thorough look at what we are doing all year. It makes me feel more prepared. We don't follow a strict schedule for our days, but I try to get everything done. I also try to get the stuff that is harder done right away– math, reading, and writing. Then we can lay about reading about history, doing science experiments, and getting crafty.

  7. This will be our biggest obstacle this year … I am a super-planner liking lots of order. My son is not. We'll see.

    I do plan to do the "tough stuff" from 9-12 with more independent studies of Spanish, typing, reading, projects in the afternoons. That allows us to have an errand afternoon, an afternoon to volunteer at our elementary school together, without disrupting the "necessaries".

    I'm also planning Monday through Thursday on paper, leaving Fridays for "testing", reviews, organization and project completions. That will free me up on Fridays to substitute teach, if we need the extra money.

    Hopefully this "plan" will work!

  8. Oh, I love your schedule. I am not a morning person either, I am hoping my kids will follow suit as they get a little older! πŸ˜‰ This past year I have been planning on a weekly basis, every Sunday evening getting stuff for the week ready, but it makes so much more sense to plan the whole month in advance…um not too much with the brights here! πŸ™‚ Anyway, thanks for the great tips!

  9. Yes! This mom blogs or works on my websites until at least midnight, so I am usually not up until 8 or 8:30. I don't usually tell people that tho, since hard-core homeschoolers seem to get 1/2 their day done by the time I roll over! Thanks for the "sample" of your day.

    Robin

  10. Kris…since this year will be my first at homeschooling (we won't start until after Labor Day)…I have tons of questions…but I limit myself!

    1. What are the ages of your kids?
    I wonder because, mine are 10, 6 & almost 5…..my 10 year old will probably be able to work on his own at some point…my 6 year old will need lots of direction…as will my preschooler. So, this leads me to question #2…
    2. How do you teach different grades at the same time.
    3. Do you have a classroom or do your kids work at the table (or wherever?)

    Thanks so much!

  11. Nancy,

    Congrats on your first homeschooling year! How exciting! My kids are 15, 10, and 8. I'll answer the multi-level teaching question more in-depth in an upcoming post, but for now I'll say, by the time my younger two were old enough for formal teaching, my oldest was working fairly independently.

    Because my younger two are only 21 months apart I've always basically taught them together. My 10 yr old has pulled ahead in math over the years, but I'm still pretty much able to teach them together. We do hands-on projects together and I try to make sure that they're at least studying the same general topics in history and science for ease in planning field trips and hands-on activities.

    My older daughter does most of her work in her room or in the basement living area. I mainly work with my younger two at the dining room table, but they do their independent work in their rooms and we often read in the living room or a bedroom.

    HTH!

  12. I think there is as ashamed silent majority of us out there who do not start school at 8:30 a.m and work until 3 p.m. with regular breaks… We start whenever they are ready (done w/ breakfast and chorse)- usually by 10, and eat lunch when we are done with school for the day (hopefully by 1 or 2 but some days when they aren't being diligent we work longer)

  13. We don't start school until later either. My children get up at 10 Am as well because we keep my husband's schedule and he works nights. Sleeping children are easier to keep quiet than awake ones! lol

    I don't require a lesson to be done until after noontime. Then they are required to finish their independent work before 6 PM to earn tv time.

    What I struggle with is the together work like history and science that need to be done. I like the 3 week idea. THen we could catch up if we needed to and not always be behind. Kind of like a built in cushion. Thanks for the great idea.

  14. I am sooo glad to read that we aren't the only ones on a different schedule. My son is a 3rd shifter – nothing has helped, including drugs. πŸ™ Not something I want to keep going (the drugs) . Anyway, we think it is because of brain damage caused from stroke, etc. SOoooo, that means we are homeschooling @ 1 am! LOL!

    The only good part about that is that there are fewer distractions – nothing good on T.V., no phone calls, etc. πŸ™‚

    Steph

  15. I'm the same way. Love the lesson planning, not so good with a scheduled routine. In the past I've always made one and never even followed it one day. LOL This year I'm not even trying.

    We used to start school by 9 and finish by 11-12 but since our little "surprise" arrived two years ago that has gone out the window. Now our routine is start by 9ish and hope to finish sometime the same day. Breaks are whenever the wee one demands. That's what happens when you have kids 7 years apart. LOL

  16. I love hearing about other "not morning person" homeschoolers! lol!!! I'm shooting for getting up by 8:30 but after a summer of getting up at 10:00, it's going to be hard.lol!!! You have a good article and a good plan. I hope it works for you. πŸ™‚

    ~Lynn

  17. I love lesson planning…scheduling etc..however, it always seems that no matter what i have scheduled we always change it mid-stream…I wish my schedule looked like yours…my kids are up before the sun comes up…they do better (younger kids) in the a.m. vs the p.m. hours. Someday I will be able to sleep past 5:30 am 8)

  18. Thank you for sharing that you don't wake up and start school early! I feel a kinship to you just reading that. πŸ™‚ We are late starters here, too. But we also burn the midnight oil. I love that about homeschooling.

  19. A homeschooling mother after my own heart!! Thank you for your post. I’m going to start homeschooling my daughter next year (first grade) and I’ve been so stressed out about doing it right. You have made me see that I shouldn’t be stressing my self out!! I love your blog, it’s been very helpful.Thank you, thank you, thank you!!

  20. I am not yet homeschooling, but I am afraid that I will be too tight to a schedule. I will have to try hard not to stress and be flexible. I’m going to have to be conscious of it continually. I like structure. I hope that I end up being more relaxed as time goes on.

    1. I like structure, too, but I’ve learned, over the years, that structure doesn’t have to mean inflexibility. I wish I’d learned that sooner, though! I really was rather inflexible at first.

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