It can be scary allowing your homeschooled teens to make their own schedules. I mean, are they really responsible enough to get the work done? As frightening as turning over the reins can be, it’s important that teens learn time management and develop self-motivation.
Try these tips for allowing homeschooled teens to make their own schedules and make sure they actually get stuff done.
1. Set guidelines.
First, it’s important that you set guidelines with your teen. It’s okay to be flexible with them, though. Discuss potential guidelines with your teen until you hash out the schedule that is in the sweet spot of the Venn diagram labeled, “What my teen wants,” “What I want,” and “What we both can live with.”
For example, you may agree to your teen working during set times each day, giving him the freedom to choose what assignments to complete during that time. Or, you may be okay with him setting his own hours as long as he finishes all his schoolwork by Friday.
2. Discuss scheduling methods.
There are many effective scheduling methods. Talk about the different ways your teen might want to schedule her daily work. Block scheduling often works great for subjects like history and science, but it may not be so great for math and literature. Well, unless your teen is a bookworm like I was. In that case, block scheduling may be perfect for lit class.
Loop scheduling is another option for subjects that your teen may not need to do every day. Some people work with the Pomodoro method, while others like bullet journaling.Discuss potential guidelines with your teen until you hash out the schedule that is in the sweet spot of the Venn diagram labeled, “What my teen wants,” “What I want,” and “What we both can live with.”
It may take some experimenting to find the scheduling method – or combination of methods – that works best for your teen. It’s okay to go through a little trial and error. Just make sure that she’s not getting too far off-track while experimenting.
And, remember that the method that works best for her may be the one that would drive you batty. That’s okay, too, as long as it works for her.
3. Use a planner.
Get your teen a planner. I love my Big Happy Planner! I’ve used one for years. There are different styles, but I like the one with a two-page spread for each month and a two-page spread for each week. Your teen can write out his schedule for the week either on Monday morning before he gets started for the week or on Friday afternoon while thoughts from the current week are still fresh.
List any regularly-scheduled times for extracurricular activities or outside classes. If your teen has a part-time job, have her add her work schedule to the planner. Teach her to add appointments and commitments as she makes them.
Show your teen how to break down and plan out long-term assignments such as research papers or reading assignments, and add due dates to her planner.
Note: If you (and your teen) prefer, you can have her use a student planner with places for listing subjects, assignments, etc. I started using a planner when I was in high school, and I’ve always used a regular calendar/planner, though. I never found that I particularly needed a student planner. Or check out both regular and student planners to see which you think will work best. There are lots available!
4. Put accountability checks in place.
Put an accountability plan in place to ensure that teens are completing assignments. You want to give your teen some freedom to grow his personal sense of accountability and deal with the consequences of not following through. However, you also don’t want to let him get so far behind that it’s overwhelming.
Have a meeting once a week (or daily, depending on how responsible your teen is) either at the beginning of the week or the end to make sure your teen is staying on track and to answer questions or provide feedback.
Make sure your teen brings his planner to the daily or weekly meeting so you can go over it together and offer guidance for potential problem areas.
5. Enforce Deadlines.
Okay, I admit this is a problem area for me, but we’re not doing our teens any favors by not enforcing deadlines. Yes, there is a time for leniency. However, it’s not every week with every assignment.
Discuss the consequences of missed deadlines with your teen, and get his input. Teens can be surprisingly reasonable with suggesting consequences when you talk about them ahead of time. I mean, they probably aren’t going to recommend staying home on a Friday night to finish schoolwork when it’s Friday night and they’re behind. However, they may admit that’s a reasonable consequence when the threat isn’t imminent.
Agreeing on the results of missed deadlines ahead of time lets you avoid feeling like an ogre when enforcing them. Instead, your teen just deals with the repercussions of not meeting expectations as he will in college or on the job.
Does your teen set his or her own schedule? What tips would you add?
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Wendy is one of the owners of Hip Homeschool Moms, Only Passionate Curiosity, Homeschool Road Trips, Love These Recipes, and Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers. She married her high school sweetheart, Scott, 31 years ago, and they live in the South. They have three adult children. Hannah, age 27, has autism and was the first homeschool graduate in the family. Noah, age 25, was the second homeschool graduate and the first to leave the nest. Mary Grace, age 19, was the last homeschool graduate. Wendy loves working out and teaching Training for Warriors classes at her local gym. She also enjoys learning along with her family, educational travel, reading, and writing, and she attempts to grow a garden every summer with limited success. (But she's learning!)