HOW TO MAKE A fLeXiBle HOMESCHOOL SCHEDULE IN 4 SIMPLE STEPS
One thing you’ll learn about this blog is that it’s a pretty transparent window into what’s going on in my world. I know this may be a weird time of year for discussing homeschool schedules, but I am really struggling through my homeschool days right now, and I needed to revisit some of my previously-tread paths and find a bit order.
So, this means I have another free printable for you today, even though it’s not Friday. I was making one for myself, so I figured I would share it with you! Scroll to the bottom of this post to access it, or continue reading to find out how I use this in our homeschool.
Some of my readers are likely much better than I am at making and maintaining a schedule for their homes and homeschools. Honestly, scheduling has always been a real struggle for me. I tend to think of time more as a CONCEPT than as an actual commodity of which I only have a small supply. So I tend to swing on the pendulum that takes me from one extreme of thinking that I have time for everything all the time to the other extreme of wanting to just quit because I can’t find time for ANY of it.
For me, the key to my survival came in the form of LOOPING! If you struggle like I do, and you have not heard about looping, get ready for a breath of fresh air! I learned about looping from Sarah Mackenzie at Read Aloud Revival, and it has given me so much freedom in my teaching as well as other areas of my life. I thought I would discuss some of the ways I have adapted it for my family, and some of the strategies that I used to implement it.
Begin where you are in the homeschool year, with the curriculum you currently have. We’re not reinventing this year’s wheel. But if you’re
an overachiever on the ball for next year and already formulating curriculum ideas, have fun with this and see if looping might work for next year as well.
1. Chunk your time.
The more activities that you can combine to create a cohesive chunk of time, the more flexibility you can accommodate in your day. It helps to think in terms of RHYTHM rather than perfectly scheduled time slots. It also helps not to work against the grain of your family’s natural rhythm. Look at the shape of a normal day, and plot your chunks out from there. For example, most people have some sort of morning routine. It might be improved upon with some intentional planning, but you probably already have a set of activities that could be labeled “Morning Routine”.
2. List activities for each chunk.
List out all the activities you would like to accomplish in the course of a week and assign them to a particular chunk of your day. You will not necessarily do everything each day, but you should know what part of the day every task belongs in. For someone as easily distracted as I am, this is CRUCIAL. My natural tendency is to see something that needs doing and deciding to it right then (like writing this blog post—ahem!) For an ENFP like me, whatever is right in front of me is always the most important thing. However, armed with a ‘CHUNK’ schedule, I have some built in discipline that increases my productivity tremendously. So I can look at my schedule and know that the CORRECT time for writing is in the afternoon when everyone is busy with independent school or NAPS!
3. Schedule the daily/regular tasks
Anything that you want to do daily or at a regular time each week, put these on your weekly schedule at their particular times. These are the building blocks around which the remainder of your activities will fit. Think of these as the “Big Stones”. In order to fit in all the things you want, you first need to put in all those things that are most important to you or most integral to your schedule. Your non-negotiables. You want your jar to look like the jar on the right.
Notice how the jar on the left is overflowing because of poor planning. By starting with the most important things, somehow all the other bits get all comfy-cozy right along side the larger prioritites. But if we start with the inconsequential details, they will crowd out the things we really value more. It’s our over-arching values that give context to the details.
Here is where the fun begins. From this point, you can put anything into your day that you want. The only 2 rules are:
- Don’t get rid of your big stones;
- Put things in the correct chunk of time.
Here’s how it works. First, write down everything that you would like to even consider doing with your time you have allotted for your various chunks: homeschool, your home, your family, and yourself. If you want to do that Egyptian mummy thing (who wouldn’t? ;-)) that you just don’t see how you are going to have time for, write it down. If you want a semi-regular art or music study in your homeschool, write it down. If you know that you need to do science or history twice a week, write it down. If you want a spa night once in a while after the kids go down, write it down. If you want to get that fridge scrubbed clean, inside and out, write it down. If you want to work in the garden, get outside for a walk with the kids or husband, take a day to go to museum, whatever—Write. It. Down.
I hope I’m communicating well here. If you don’t write it down it won’t get done. Plus, there’s the added benefit of freeing up space your brain is using to remember, “Oh, I should get to that someday.” Nope, that won’t work anymore! Write. It. Down.
Next, assign those things to the time of day that makes the most sense. Placing those school subjects during the scheduled “school” chunk generally makes the most sense. Unless your husband wants to teach science or art whenever he gets home from work. Do what makes the most sense for your family and your “chunks” of time.
The next step is to decide how much relative time you want to spend on each item. In the realm of school, let’s say you wanted to cover geography twice a week, but music theory only once. Maybe history is three times a week and creative writing is once. You will want to divide your chunks into segments of time in which you will plug in your planned subjects. Your “looped” schedule might look something like this:
- Music theory
- Creative writing
Notice that no particular time is assigned to any of these subjects. They simply repeat at regular intervals. You may INTEND to hit 2 of these subjects per day. But maybe you failed to notice that the history video you had planned was 1 1/2 hours and the kids wailed when you said you had to stop it. So science will have to wait until tomorrow. (This is just a theoretical example. I really had to rack my brain to come up with this.)
This sort of loosey-goosey planning may stress out some of you more structured teachers, but trust me. After using this plan for the better part of this year, I am happy to report that all the kinks tend to work themselves out.
This is lots of fun to do with other areas of your life as well. I like to keep lots of irons in the fire. For example, in my personal devotion time, I am currently using 2 or 3 different resources.Some days I devote more time for meditation than on others. But if I didn’t get a good night’s sleep, quiet meditation is not going to be a great way to use my morning time. A more active Bible study or journaling might be a better plan.
Another example. For our afternoons, my kids know that Wednesdays and Thursdays are Jiu-jitsu nights, so our afternoon activities are limited. But the other three days (depending on how diligent they are with their work time) we might go to the library, the park, or the museum. Or they might get an extra bit of electronics time. The flexibility is good for them, as long as it happens within the right section of the day. They know not to come asking me for electronics in the morning before school and chores are done. (That doesn’t mean they don’t sometimes try it.)
Evenings can work this way, too. Fridays are movie night, and Wednesday and Thursday are Jiu-jitsu nights. But other nights we might have a game night, story night, remote control car night, evening outings or just a relaxing time around the fire (this last one is NOT the norm in this boisterous household—please don’t imagine that we are a Norman Rockwell family).
I would love to hear how you schedule your day, and if you need any help with “looping”, I have created a chunked schedule that I use for our family. This is an excel document which means that you can edit it to suit your family’s needs. I have also included a poster form that you can use to help keep your kiddos on track for the day. There are examples of both of these for you to look at, as well.
To get your editable copy of the Daily Schedule and Poster, you will need to sign up with your email address and go to the printables page to enter the password that is emailed to you.
Please let me know if you find these helpful. I make a lot of printables to use around the home and I’m happy to share them with you!