Creating a schedule can present unique challenges for a homeschool mom. We aren’t going to be able to merely schedule school hours. Those hours will have to work within the ebb and flow of our home-life hours as well — meals will need to be cooked, dishes will need to be cleaned, and laundry will need to be done.
Our task is also complicated if we have more than one child — particularly if each child is working at a different level.
Here are six tips for creating a workable schedule:
1. Know What Type of Scheduler You Are
- Like everything scheduled down to the minute?
- Prefer to work in blocks of time?
- Follow a general routine?
- Schedule…who needs it?
You’ll need to find a way of scheduling that matches your personality. If a chart with every hour blocked off drives you crazy, you’ll need to find a different way of scheduling your day.
Likewise, if running by the seat of your pants leaves you feeling like you are not accomplishing anything, grab a planner and get started!
2. Schedule in Pencil
There are so many reasons to be flexible when it comes to planning:
- Our first try in any given year will likely need to be tweaked.
- We don’t want to miss those serendipitous opportunities.
- Life will happen.
So think of that first schedule as a rough draft, subject to your needs and the needs of your family. Gradually make small changes until the final product serves you well.
3. Break It Down
Scheduling can be greatly simplified by breaking it down into smaller elements:
First, schedule those big things that will happen during the year. Start with the number of days you will need to fulfill requirements. Then determine a likely beginning and ending point. Mark out holidays, vacations, special time off for family events. Add up the days to make sure they meet your requirements. Adjust as necessary.
Then start taking a look at the monthly schedule:
- Will there be a special unit you’ll try during the holidays?
- Is someone involved in outside-the-home activities that will require scheduling around?
- Any special field trips planned?
Finally, work on the daily flow. Begin with allotting time for one-on-one tutoring. Then fill in with those other areas where your direct attention will be needed.
In our home we always began with a skeleton schedule, then gradually added in subjects, reading times, time for personal projects, etc.
4. Keep Interruptions to a Minimum
There is only one way to make a schedule work — keep to it! Obviously there will be some interruptions that are simply unavoidable. But daily chaos isn’t going to help us get things accomplished.
Part of this starts with us — avoiding the phone, social media, and other distractions. Then, secondly, encouraging our children to stay focused.
9 Tips for Moving from Chaos to Peace
Tips for avoiding daily chaos!
5. Value Productive Time
When our children are young, this “play time” can be a great learning time. As they get older, it morphs into project time — a chance to spend time working on their interests.
Children also need time to think…to just be. Time that isn’t scheduled for them.
Finding 10,000 Hours
Why it is important to provide time for our children (and students) to work on what interests them.
4 Ways to Provide Time for Productive Interests
The “whys” and “hows.”
Making Room for Time to Think
Sometimes, you gotta just be.
6. Get ‘Er Done
- We set the pace. If we laze through the days, so likely will our children.
- Our children need to have good attitudes — no dawdling allowed.
10 Ideas for Overcoming Lazy Habits
OK, so maybe you are not lazy, but these ideas may help you find the get-up-and-go to get ‘er done!
You’ll find more scheduling helps on our Smart Scheduling page. We also have dozens of articles covering everything from multitasking to finding balance to evaluating our busyness.
Managers of Their Homes by Steven and Teri Maxwell
This is one of those homeschool books that has withstood the test of time. No matter what type of scheduler you are, you’ll find tips that will help you create a schedule that will work for you. Filled with examples, and highly recommended. Read our full review.
“Intentional Homeschooling or Falling Through the Cracks?”
Great article on making sure we get it done.
Planning for a New Year
A few planning cautions.