One of the most important steps to take after deciding to teach at home is to set up a schedule. This may seem like a simple decision, but there are many ways to accomplish this task. Deciding how many days of instruction in the school year, when to take time off and how to organize the daily lessons are all part of scheduling.
Learn what the state requires regarding how many days the student is to be taught. State guidelines will also determine how many hours each day the child needs to be working on schoolwork. Each state is different regarding these requirements and parents need to be in compliance to avoid trouble.
After the laws have been determined regarding a school schedule, the parent has the freedom to work within those guidelines to decide what works best for her family. Some parents prefer to spend longer than the time required to ensure the child receives a better education than what he would receive in public school. Other parents prefer quality of time over quantity, focusing more on what is being taught as opposed to how long the child works. These factors will determine how many days will be committed to the school year.
Decide how long the child will be learning and what breaks will be taken. Many parents stick to a public school schedule, taking off for summer, winter and spring breaks. This allows the child to interact with friends who may be in public school. However, other options are available. Some families conduct school for three months and take a month off, following this pattern throughout the year. Others will teach for three weeks and take the fourth week off. Whatever fits the family’s schedule is acceptable. Some students have problems retaining the information they have learned if they take too much time off during a break. Therefore, shorter, more frequent breaks are more suitable.
Days of instruction
Parents who home educate do not have to follow a traditional five-day-a-week school schedule. However, they may choose to follow it for various reasons. Some parents split the subjects up during the week. Monday and Thursday may see the child studying language arts and science while math and social studies are completed on Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday. Electives and physical education may be distributed throughout the week, as well. Some parents may choose to take a day or two off during the week and teach through the weekend. This may help a parent who has to work over the weekend.
Hours set aside for learning
This is where many families see the most flexibility. School can start at any time during the day and end whenever the work or required time limits are completed. This allows the family to work around other obligations or times where the child learns the best. A child who isn’t a morning person may understand and retain the information better when doing school in the afternoons or evenings.
Sometimes, the amount of time required by the state my seem unreasonable when instructing a child one on one. The average time required is usually four to six hours. This may be too long for a homeschooling family when considering actually working through a textbook. However, homeschooling allows the parent to include anything during the day that teaches the given concepts. This means that working on art or other hands-on projects, cooking or baking in the kitchen, helping to build a fort in the backyard or watching educational videos to cement the concepts being taught are all included in the instruction time. It doesn’t have to be just working in a book or completing written lessons.
Once a schedule has been determined regarding the school year, days and hours of instruction during each day, write it down. Record it in a journal or use an online homeschooling calendar. This is required by many states and it helps give the parent and student accountability. Setting a schedule and determining to stick to it provides a routine for the whole family that makes education as important as it should be. Otherwise, it’s easy to fall into a rut of skipping school all together.
Having a schedule does not mean it cannot be changed. School schedules may need to be modified as life changes. There are days where the child is ill and cannot concentrate enough to make the fight necessary. Take those days off from structured learning and lean more on hands-on activities, cooking, watching documentaries or simply giving the body the rest it needs. These missed days can always be made up during the scheduled breaks or on weekends. Enjoy the flexibility that comes with learning at home by doing what works for the entire family.