07 August 2012

When We Homeschool: Scheduling

If you talk to 10 homeschooling moms, you will find 10 different ways of scheduling their school year and their school days. If you talk to them 3 months later, you will find 10 more ways of scheduling their school year and their school days. It seems like this is something that is constantly being tweeked and polished or changed due to the ever changing schedule of busy families and the needs of each child. 

For us, sticking to a basic, structured plan works the best. Some homeschooling families feel free to make appointments and run errands while finishing schoolwork late in the day, but I have found that this causes us to fall behind at our house, so we stick to a basic schedule.

Each of our days, year round, begins with family Bible study at 7:30. After that, our kids have a morning routine that includes things like breakfast, brushing their teeth, piano practice, exercise, and their personal quiet time. If they are able to get this done before 7:30, then they can have free time until school begins. I have one early riser and one sleepy head who gets dragged out of bed at exactly 7:30 (I'm usually about 5 minutes ahead of her).

Because I like to have my own quiet time after breakfast, we aim to start school at 9:30. We have changed the order in which we do our schooling so many times over the years, but we prefer to begin our day gently with a read-aloud. After the read aloud, both kids do their daily copy work and handwriting practice. Lukas does his math while Ava does her reading lesson, spelling practice, and math. Somewhere in there, Lukas gets a language arts lesson also, and sometimes he works on components that go with our history lessons as a part of his language arts (vocab, writing). After lunch, we begin with a picture book read-aloud and do some Five in a Row activities before hitting things like science, history, and art. Art sometimes is a part of science or history, and we often do projects as part of science and history as well. Science, history, and art are not daily lessons. History lessons take place 3-4 days, science 2-3 days, and art maybe once per week (or less, if I'm being honest). The kids have to do 45 minutes of independent reading also. I'm a little loose with this for Ava since she hasn't crossed the bridge to becoming and independent reader yet. We utilize a book basket that has books that coordinate with our science and history studies, and Ava's 45 minutes usually doubles as her book basket time.

I know that sounds like a lot, but keep in mind that some of these lessons are short. Language arts, for example, is never lengthy. I usually work with Lukas for 5 minutes, and then he has his assignment completed in 15. The same with Ava's math lesson. Now that my kids are getting older, I aim to have each school day completed by 3:00. We used to always be done by 12 or even 1 when they were little. I miss those days, but I love what we're doing now too.

As far as how we schedule our school calendar, that's a little easier to explain. We have a loose schedule. With a few exceptions due to things like moving and sickness, we school between Labor Day and Memorial Day. We do not take off all of the traditional school holidays like Veteran's Day, Martin Luther King Jr Day, President's Day, etc... We do take off birthdays. We don't necessarily take off snow days, but, sometimes, if the snow is just too tempting, we will skip part of a day for snow play. We take off days for my mom's chemotherapy and occasional other medical appointments. When the whole county is at the county fair, we have school (unless we're at the fair too). We are in charge of our schedule. If we need time off, we take it. We take 3 weeks off at Christmas (homeschool moms, this is the best decision we have ever made. The holiday season is busy. It makes things so much easier!), and a week off in the spring.

This year, we'll be trying something new. My husband is working a new job that requires him to work on Saturday while giving him Tuesday off instead (most weeks). We have decided that Tuesday is the new Saturday at our house, so we are going to try to school on Saturday instead of Tuesday as much as possible. This won't work during sports seasons, but I think it will work for most of the school year. We'll see how it goes!

To read more about homeschooling at our house, click on the tag below to see my previous posts about homeschooling.


  1. I have always started at 11am but then we run in to lunch and after that we have no motivation left. I'm going to, for the first time ever, try to start school by 9am. Also, I totally agree about the 3 week Christmas break. :)

    I really enjoyed reading about your schedule. I am burned out and I'm hoping a new schedule and different curriculum will help us do better this year.

    1. I'm bordering on burn-out, but I think it has more to do with the circumstances of life than with homeschooling right now. The routine of our daily homeschooling schedule helps me to stay focused on God's plan for my life. At the same time, I am nowhere NEAR ready to begin this school year. After this week, I'm going to have to sit down and do some hard-core planning!