We absolutely love the freedom and flexibility of homeschooling. Each day brings forth new opportunities to learn, explore, and enjoy the time we have together. When it comes to a particular schedule, however, I do my best to establish our goals with plenty of “wiggle” room for the unexpected events that weave their way into our day. Sometimes this means a last-minute “field trip” to the grandparent’s house to check out the baby birds that have just hatched or a special meal we want to prepare for a friend in need. Sometimes our morning devotions take a bit longer than expected or our morning outdoor time just gets a little out of hand . . . in a good way. Because of this, we have a homeschool agenda with specific subjects or “goals” we plan to accomplish, but we do not adhere to a specific schedule all of the time.
If we did, and if every day looked alike, a “typical” or ideal schedule for my kindergartener and preschooler might look something like this:
6:45-7:30 Wake up and get dressed
7:30-9:00 Kids wake up, get dressed, eat breakfast, do morning devotions, unload dishwasher, clean kitchen, prep snacks
9:00-11:00 Homeschool/Snack time
11:00-12:00 Outdoor time/Sensory bin
2:00-2:30 Quiet time
2:30-3:15 Screen time (learning computer games or learning videos)
3:15-5:15 Free time
5:15-6:15 Dinner prep/chores
6:15-7:45 Dinner and time with daddy
7:45-8:15 Kids’ baths and teeth-brushing, nighttime story, prayers
8:15 Bedtime for kids
8:30-10:30 Time for adults to unwind
As you can see, there are still plenty of opportunities for flexibility within each of these blocks of time and a bit of “wiggle” room throughout. We may have more outdoor time but less free time in order to get all of our school work accomplished, or we might get through our schoolwork more quickly and have more time for playing. We enjoy our time at home, tending to the garden during outdoor time, or just heading out to the neighborhood pool or park. When we do head out in the morning for an errand or off to an extra-curricular class, we find that those days are just a bit more stressful. Because of this we try to limit our outings during the week to about one every other day or so in order keep a peaceful and more productive homeschool setting.
So, how do we schedule “school”?
I like to use one of my homeschooling planning sheets (Two-Week Overview) to get an overview of two weeks at a time. I use this sheet to take note of the subjects we will cover every single day, such as reading, math, and Bible study. I also take note of classes that happen every other day like writing or “brainbuilders” or those that take place only once per week like our co-op day. Once I have my overview set up, then I begin planning the lessons for each subject using my Homeschool Planner. Download My Homeschool Planner for FREE for a limited time by subscribing to my blog!
Once the lessons are planned for each day, I put up our magnetic Subject Cards for the subjects we will cover that day. (I just bought a roll of magnet tape, cut it up, and stuck it on the cards and checkmarks.) They are color-coded and have small icons to help my son know what we will be covering each day. I also try to color-code his materials to make them easy to identify.
In order to give him a bit more choice and control of his day, I allow him to pick which subject we will do first, second, and so on. Sometimes he wants to tackle a more difficult subject first; other days, he feels more comfortable starting with something easier like Circle Time. Once a subject is completed, he puts a checkmark beside the subject, so that we can see what we have accomplished and how much we still have to do. I like that this will train him to establish personal goals in the future so that he may be able to prioritize and keep track of his progress. Once my son begins reading, his schedule can then be put in his binder so that he can monitor his schoolwork more independently.
During each homeschool block of time, we try to get through about 2-4 subjects. Each subject varies from 15-45 minutes or so, so my son will mix it up to keep things interesting. If something is dragging, we set a timer to get us back on track. My daughter, who is two, joins us for some of the hands-on projects, Circle Time, and read alouds. She spends the rest of the time playing or working on her Montessori-inspired learning baskets. (Although we really enjoy our curriculum and the emphasis of our core subjects, I also love that a good portion of their education comes from everyday activities, like cooking, paying for groceries, etc.)
When it’s time for my son to work on a particular subject, he takes his subject boxes from the shelves and takes out his materials. I then go over his lessons with him.
When there isn’t a handout or worksheet, I, sometimes, use these Subject Sheets (below) to post his subject activities. I used sticky hook and loop squares to stick the Subject Squares onto the sheets. When we use these sheets, he takes off the squares and puts them in the subject box when he is finished. The “Brainbuilders” sheet is filled at the beginning of the week and is to be completed by the end of the week. He picks something to work on each day or whenever he is “bored.” It is a great way for me to get in all of the great ideas for brain development that just didn’t fit in the curriculum.
Some of the cards in the file have numbers on them. I planned on using those for activities that didn’t have an icon. I would then put a sticky note with the corresponding number on the activity. There are a few other options on the cards for flexibility, including smiley faces and time cards. (I also included some squares for Classical Conversations since we were part of a learning community last year.)
For little ones, the “My Agenda” Sheet with a few squares would be enough of an agenda for the day. Because I cover so many different skills and topics with my two-year-old, such as sorting, colors, shapes, etc. I used the general squares for her agenda instead of specific subjects. I put one square for her Folder Games, Learning Folder, Learning Basket, and Sensory Bin. I put a few choices and activities in each of these areas and let her pick one from each area. Once completed, she puts her smiling face on her agenda.
This system worked really well for us last year, and we are planning on using it again this year. My son absolutely loves putting his checkmarks on the agenda and gains a genuine sense of accomplishment when everything is completed. If you’re interested in giving this system a try, you can download my Homeschool Boxes HERE! Enjoy!
Check out how we organized our homeschool rooms here!