Planning a homeschool year can often feel like more fun than the actual homeschooling – the pretty calendars, checklists, and even color-coded spreadsheets.
However, when it comes down to getting the work done, those pretty planning pages won’t do any good if you don’t have a plan to actually complete the work.
A consistent daily routine or schedule is an important step in the planning process – yes, more important than those pretty planning pages.
Let’s look at a few ways you can find a daily homeschool schedule that works for your family.
Daily Homeschool Schedule Ideas
Balancing your homeschool plans and your daily homeschool schedule takes a bit of thought. It’s so easy to picture that perfect day when you’re in the planning stage.
However, when reality strikes, we often discover that we’ve planned to cover too much or that math book is too hard or something else seems to throw a roadblock into our carefully color-coded plans.
However, if you have a consistent daily routine or schedule, those obstacles don’t feel quite so impossible.
There are two basic ways to plan your homeschool day – let’s take a look at each of them.
Many homeschool families thrive with a scheduled homeschool day. Each hour (or half-hour) has a particular set of tasks or subjects to complete.
Many families even include chores and meal times on their schedule so their kids know exactly what’s coming up in their day.
This type of schedule works well for families that are very busy with lots of outside activities (so they can fit everything into their daily plan) or for larger families where mom needs to carefully plan her homeschool day so she has time to spend with each child.
It’s not a great option for those who prefer a bit more freedom in their day or for those who start to feel stressed when they can’t keep up with their schedule.
Daily Homeschool Routine
Another option for fitting in those daily assignments is a daily homeschool routine.
Your day follows a certain rhythm or pattern that doesn’t adhere to a clock as closely as a daily schedule would.
Instead, it usually follows those times that fit into our day naturally. Most people get up in the morning and have breakfast at basically the same time every day – a simple daily routine.
It’s easy to use this principle with homeschooling too. What if, during breakfast, you have your read-aloud time or your morning meeting with your kids?
Then after that, it may be time to clean up and complete a few chores before sitting down for some seatwork. That’s a daily routine.
One task naturally follows another without strict adherence to a clock.
This is a great option for families who prefer a more free-flowing day or who find a stricter schedule stressful.
It’s not a great option for people who need a strict schedule to keep them on-track or busy or large families who need a more carefully crafted daily plan.
A Scheduled Routine
This method combines the best of both ideas – your day follows a basic routine but it’s a bit more rigid because there is an overall schedule to your day where certain things happen at certain times every day.
The easiest way to create a scheduled-routine is by focusing on the basic touchstones of your day – breakfast & lunch.
If you select a time for those events to happen every day, then you can fit your routine into the times in between.
For example, your daily morning meeting could occur right after breakfast and math comes right after, creating a routine that’s on a schedule.
Which Daily Schedule works For You?
No matter whether you prefer a more strict schedule or a loose routine, you need to consider a few things when you’re working it all out:
When do your kids perform their best?
Are they early risers or late risers?
This will definitely affect your schedule.
There’s no point in planning math at 8am if your kids don’t drag themselves out of bed until 8:30am.
Which activities require more from you?
We all have those subjects that just aren’t as fun or interesting.
Would it be better for you to get it over with the first thing while you’re still fresh or pushed later in the day?
What scheduled activities can’t be adjusted?
Have a co-op day or afternoon at the park on the schedule each week?
Make sure you’ve taken time for those in your schedule.
Are you leaving a bit of a breather?
Math may take 30 minutes one day and 45 minutes the next.
Plan for that!
Make sure you’re allowing adequate time in your day for each subject and adding a few minutes as a buffer (because you will have to search for that lost pencil or have a kid that hides in the bathroom instead of working on that grammar lesson).
What About ‘Those Days…’
We all have days we can’t seem to get on-track (or sometimes it’s a week or even a month) – even when a daily routine seems far beyond our reach.
During those times it’s easy to toss homeschooling right out the window – and then feel guilty for not getting much accomplished.
During these busy seasons of life, it’s important to focus on the essentials (and those can change every homeschool year!).
I like to set a few overarching goals for the year and then when life feels impossibly busy, I know that if I only have an hour a day for seatwork, there’s already a plan in place.
Focus On Goals
If you’ve set goals for the year you know exactly what you need to focus on. Use those goals to set your daily standards.
I recommend setting goals for every subject during your homeschool planning but for this step, you want to focus on 2-3 things that are most important for you to accomplish that year.
If your goals for the year include learning additional facts and writing a narration – use that as your basic guideline for those truly busy periods of life.
When you have a wrench thrown at your day you know what to focus on — those math facts, a bit of writing, schedule 30 minutes of quiet reading time, and maybe even find time to watch a documentary.
School is done and you’ve worked towards those goals. I call that a successful homeschool day!
Include a Daily Morning Time
If you find that you can fit in the basics but you struggle with finding the time in your day for those extras you’d love to include (like art, music, or poetry), a daily morning time is a great addition to your homeschool day.
Better still, a morning schedule doesn’t necessarily have to be in the morning. One school year it just fit to have our daily meeting at lunchtime instead.
I used that daily meeting time to cover those things we wanted to include but never seemed to find time for.
We would read some poetry, look at the artwork, listen to some music, work on a logic puzzle, or a few other small activities.
Not sure how to include a morning meeting?
You need to take a look at Better Together by Pam Barnhill – it’s the best resource for creating your own homeschool morning meeting.