A few years ago, I wrote a blog series about managing a large, multi-grade family with preschoolers. It gave details on household management tips for ideas I had found worked well to simplifying life as a homeschool mom.
Today, I’m doing a much shorter post to give the basics on how one might simplify a weekday routine/schedule for home education.
(My previous homeschool schedule series begins at this link, for those of you who want to read more about it.) Today’s example plan (bottom of page) shows a similar “schedule” to the one I shared a few years ago but is from a different year (in case anyone notices there are similarities).
Here are 5 tips for how to simplify a homeschool schedule:
Divide Subjects Into Time Blocks
Aim for family values and priorities to schedule larger amounts of time on those and less time of your week on lower priorities. Figure out how much time each week YOU feel you should allot for each subject or skill area such as science, history, spelling, journal writing, music, etc.. Don’t let the curriculum (or community programs) pull you into a direction that you don’t want to spend that amount of time for. If you think you need to “prune” out some things in order to have a simpler homeschool, check my blog post here for some tips to do that.
Colour code – either do that for school subjects (e.g. every time you write “math” it’s in blue, “science” is in green) or for days of the week (e.g. Wed.= pink).
Fewer Subjects for More Time
Instead of all subjects everyday or a long list of them like a school classroom, consider 4 per day – thinking of 2 subjects in the morning and 2 in the afternoon. Rather than changing the subject frequently to do one page each or very short/quick lessons, keep at a subject for 20 minutes to an hour (or up to 2 hours for older kids/teens). Deepen learning, focus on one thing for a time, and give that time to think about it. Consider doing a few lessons at a time if they are each short. (When I worked at camp, ages 7-11 year-olds typically changed activities every 20-30 minutes since that was also what worked for teachers in a classroom. Changing every 5 minutes would have been a zoo! Early finishers for hand-work simply had to learn patience and to occupy time wisely while they waited for the next part of the day. That didn’t usually mean playing either (unless they were ages 4-6). They could help others or add something further to their craft, etc.)
Skip Details on Schedule
Skip the details – Write down “Reading”, for example, rather than “read a book together, do spelling, then phonics, then letter blocks, then comprehension, then…). This is something that has taken me a while to learn to do. Fewer words mean easier to know what to do next and gives greater flexibility without concern too. Maybe a particular week, you want to read a few more stories, are ahead in phonics so will skip over that for this week, and want to go outdoors on the grass for lesson time (so no letter blocks). If you write detail in a general weekly schedule, you’re likely having to chug through mentally if it’s still ok to skip which parts of reading or even to rearrange the order to say, “spelling first” today. But if you instead understand that these littler sub-sections of reading are in the “Reading” section of “school-time”, then you just arrange things as you think best for that day. You’ve built-in freedom to your planner! (If you want, write the details elsewhere, such as in a set of “table of contents” lists or a chart such as this poster.)
Write in thick, large print to read at a glance. (Your hands could be occupied at the time to turn pages in a daybook.) Your kids also will be motivated to read it, compared to small print ones.
A Whole Family Plan
Try to make a schedule that reflects the family as a whole, rather than little, separated ones for each individual child or children versus parents. Try to put all pertinent info in just one location.
Think of a homeschool schedule like a written set of general goals for what to do, a reminder for mom, a guide for the family MORE than thinking of it as a checklist.
It is totally OK to switch around the order, rearrange, double-up, skip occasionally, etc. – I often do because I live “real life” as a wife and mom! ?
Make your “schedules” flexible and easy-to-read!
(Notes: 1. Left block means morning, right block means afternoon but somedays we’d simply reverse them! 2. Right corner cloud means options if we have extra time in the kitchen that day. 3. If you’re wondering about the left corner section, this is further mentioned on this blog. It’s one of my ongoing multi-level options/ back-up plans over the years if we’re not already going through a daily series of another kind or if I want to just pop in something different there. A schedule like this allows me a lot of freedom for unpredictability and yet gives a guideline for what we’re aiming to do.)