1. Start at the beginning.
Planning for a new year has several stages, and while you don’t need to overthink the process, it does help to tackle the phases in a certain order. Make it easy for yourself and check out our series on planning for a new homeschooling year.
- Review your successes and shortcomings from last year.
- Set SMART goals for your academic plans and yourself.
- Plan your yearly calendar.
Once you have this framework in place, it’s easy to have clarity on what you want to accomplish and which blocks of time are available each week.
2. Remember that a schedule is different from a routine.
Many people create a schedule, but stop there, assuming that a schedule will create order — until they hit a distraction that disrupts the schedule. Or they become completely immersed in a lesson that overrides the schedule.
A schedule is helpful and necessary, but it’s not the ultimate tool to use when you want to have momentum and significant progress. In order for a schedule to work, it has to align with your routines. Let’s be clear about the difference.
A schedule is a list of changing tasks and appointments that you set depending on a variety of factors. Doctor’s appointments, classes, playdates and due dates definitely need to managed in a schedule.
A routine is a kind of mini-schedule, but it’s more like a series of habits on automatic pilot. You move through these activities whether or not they’re on a schedule or to-do list.
Chances are, that no matter what time you wake up, you operate out of conscious or unconscious routines from moment you get out of bed. You head to the bathroom, brush your teeth, and then lurch to the kitchen for that absolutely essential cup of coffee.
If you want a daily schedule to stick, make it work with your default routines. In other words, don’t schedule a few minutes of quiet prep time when you know your spouse is hustling out the door for work. You’re sure to get interrupted with last-minute questions.
When it comes to creating your daily and weekly homeschooling schedules, think about your children’s routines. Do they blast through math and poke along at writing? Do they struggle with social studies? Are they devoted to science?
Resist the temptation to default to scheduling identical hour-long blocks of time for each subject. Instead, think about how your children respond to each subject matter, consider their strengths, and pay attention to areas that need more support. Then create routines around the transitions between subjects.
Creating a pattern for which subject follows the next is far more helpful than keeping an eye on the clock and worrying if you’re going to stay on schedule. When you create useful routines, you’ll still have the habit of moving from math to handwriting to science (or whatever progression you choose) even if you’re 30 minutes or an hour off your schedule, so the day won’t be completely lost.
3. Work with your children’s natural rhythms.
Are your children early risers or night owls? Do they have optimal focus and energy in the morning, or do they (or you!) need a couple of hours before their brains kick into high gear?
When you’re willing to take the high and low points of your day into consideration, it removes another level of tension from family life.
When my boys were young, I loved having easy mornings, so I let them have an hour or so of free time as I got breakfast ready and walked the dog.
Since they were more focused after breakfast than after lunch, we tackled the more difficult subjects first -- math for the oldest and reading for the youngest -- then transitioned to others. I reserved afternoons for free reading time, playdates and classes. I loved having the entire morning to tackle academic material, and then we all needed a break afterward.
There’s no right or wrong answer here, so please experiment and adapt your schedule to find the
4. Build in a feedback loop.
One item that should be in every successful homeschool schedule is a weekly review.
When Friday hits, it’s easy to close the books and rush off to freedom, but if you want to have a proactive year, take a few minutes each week to look at what went well and what areas need to be adjusted.
I found that Sunday afternoon or evening was the best time for my review. My focus and patience were at their peak after a couple of days off, and I could look at the accomplishments with more perspective. Sunday was also good day for me to plan for the week ahead and get the necessary supplies together.
I’m sure Friday afternoons would be perfect for other families, so please don’t get hung up on the idea that there’s a perfect day or time for this review. Just schedule a time slot that works for you.
It’s About You
I’ll close with one more big permission slip for you to choose the rhythm of the week that fits your family’s unique situation. When you and your children feel free to design your days, it makes learning an adventure, not a chore.
Homeschool Tracker makes helps you build your routine -- and rebuild it -- in a few minutes. One-time and repeating events can be scheduled with a few entries, and if you need to shift your schedule, just drag and drop.
Our software also has workflows that can be perfectly adapted to the curriculum and interests of your children.
We’re confident you’ll join the ranks of more than 150,000 homeschooling families with lesson planning and scheduling since 2002.
Click here to see exactly how Homeschool Tracker can shoulder the load of an entire year of planning!
If you're looking for a solid tool to help with your organization, record-keeping and lesson planning, why not give Homeschool Tracker a try? We've helped over 150,000 homeschooling families since 2002.
Latest posts by Cherilyn DeVries (see all)
- 4 Steps to Create Your Ideal Homeschool Routine - May 8, 2017
- Planning The Homeschool Year: Make Every Day Count - September 16, 2016
- Get SMART about Setting Goals for Your Homeschool Year - August 16, 2016