Scheduling – Where the Magic Happens

By Stephanie

Scheduling is one of the most creative and powerful jobs you have as a homeschool parent. I LOVE it! Scheduling is where you design your family's life and schedule. You plan and create the kind of life you want to live. You have the ability to create balance, beauty and joy. Your schedule will be so unique to you and your family situation that no other family will have one to match it. There are several things to consider as you go about the art of creating your family's schedule. I hope the following insights will help you along during this creative process. If you think of anything that helps you with your homeschool scheduling please, PLEASE leave a comment below to share with other homeschool families.

​“The Key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.” -Stephen Covey

​The very first task you have is to get clear on why you homeschool. If you have not yet downloaded our guide How to Thrive as a Homeschool Family, sign up for our email and you will get it! If you have gone through the guide, then you have written down why you homeschool and your goals. If you only wrote general goals for the entire family, it is time to get more specific. It is time to write down goals and desires you have for yourself and each member of your family. We have, of course, made a helpful guide that you can download to assist you as you go through your own magical homeschool scheduling process.

After you have your homeschool goals and priorities, talk to your spouse and then each family member about what their goals and priorities are. What do they want in their life? What do they want to learn more about? What activities do they want to be involved in? What friendships would they like to build and nurture? What social activities do they want to be involved in? (Scouts, sports, clubs, and homeschool groups are some great choices.) Have a family meeting where you talk about family goals, fun field trips and vacations, and even service projects you would like to do.​ Write it all down. Get everyone involved in brainstorming and creating yummy life experiences.

Now that you have all of those wonderful things written down it is time for a bit of a reality check. What is REALLY possible in your life right now? If you have a baby, toddlers, or a child with special needs your schedule will look VERY different from a family who has a house full of teenagers. If you have one child your schedule will look VERY different from a family of ten. That is great! We love having the power to create our own messy lives! And when I say messy- yes I think that schedules are powerful, but you need to accept the fact that life is messy. Kids are amazing, growing, changing humans who require flexibility and adaptation at times. Do your best to schedule the amount of structure and flexibility necessary to make your family thrive. 

You don't need to schedule a full school year, but it can be very helpful when you are wanting to get a big picture of what you want your family to learn and experience this year. It is also VERY helpful to plan out vacations and time off! You want to have a fantastic homeschool experience, so you need to make sure you are creating open space to just be with your family without goals or agendas. You also NEED to create breaks and fun things to nurture yourself and your marriage as well. If you do not plan it - it won't happen. That is a sure recipe for burnout.

We have homeschooled since 2008, so we have tried out several different schedules. We have found that having school four days a week has been the best. We usually take Fridays off.​ It has given us enough structure to get things done and enough open space to feel like we can just hang out. We often have a homeschool group or activity that day as well.

We have tried several different school calendars. For a year we did school for six weeks, Monday through Thursday, and then had a full week break. That helped shake things up for me that year, and I really liked the frequent breaks. We even did school during the summer, which seemed like a good idea living in the hot desert. This year we decided to go along with the local schools, because my boys love to play with a lot of their friends during their breaks. Public schools usually have 36 weeks of school, which leaves 16 free weeks of breaks to schedule all over your calendar. You could easily take a week off per month and an extra few in summer and Christmas time. 16 weeks is a lot of break time.  Fun right?

Now put it on your calendar or download ours. 🙂

Now that you have your calendar ready, you need to schedule the activities that your family will be involved with for the year. Sports, piano lessons, dance lessons, classes, clubs, play-dates, and such should be added to the schedule. These usually happen in the afternoon or early evening. Make sure you do not over schedule your family! Find a nice balance of time in and out of the home. Stay connected to the heart of your children. That is the most powerful part of homeschooling. Each family is unique in how many activities they participate in, but I think that as long as you stay connected to each other AND experience friendships and the world around you- you will find a nice balance.

Now that you have your schedule it is time for you to create a chart or task list for each child's education. You can create charts daily, weekly, monthly, or whatever works for you. I have found daily and weekly charts seem to keep everyone motivated and focused more at our house. We sometimes use project or subject check-off charts for trickier subjects (for an awesome prize of course!)  I am a very visual person, so I like to create a table with pictures of their subjects and boxes. Each week I evaluate where they are and I adjust the chart if it needs to be adjusted. The charts get longer as they get older. These charts can go in a notebook or on the wall.

Here is an example of what I create. Here is one chart I made for my kindergartner. You can do whatever you like. You can see that I added scriptures and exercise too. You can laminate yours to make it re-usable. I have found I like to just print mine each week, so I can adjust it as needed.​ Throughout the week I write myself notes on the schedule about anything I need to change, add, or look up to help them progress for the next week. As my boys get older, their charts get more descriptive. Also, I have all of the lessons and books in a drawer. They simply look at their chart, go to their drawer and get to work! (On the good days!) I then rotate working with them one-on-one and then teach some subjects as a group.

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Creating a life and schedule around YOUR priorities and goals is what homeschooling is all about. It truly is a very creative experience. What are some tips and experiences you have head with your homeschool schedule? Let us know!

Now that you have created a beautiful plan for your family life lets talk about choosing your teaching tools and curriculum in our next post.