Setting a homeschool schedule is one of the best benefits of homeschooling. You can choose the schedule to fit your family’s needs. Make it optimal from the start, and you will be guaranteed successful schooling. Most homeschoolers find that flexibility works best for them. Others will want to stick to a more structured schedule, especially for working parents or the type-A child. There are many considerations to finding the schedule that works best for you. Don’t be afraid to make changes until you find an ideal schedule.
First, consider the parent-educator’s schedule and how you need to supervise. Know your own child or children, and how to work with them. Some kids need constant supervision, and some prefer to work alone, and actually do better working on their own. The parent should know their own limits, and not schedule Math, for instance, at a time when other demands are being made in the home, such as dinnertime. Other parents might enjoy going over the times-tables while cooking dinner. If one parent is good at some subjects, and the other likes to teach another subject or two, make that time suit the parent’s work schedule, or preferred time of day. Figure out how you like to work.
Many of the decisions depend upon the age(s) of your child or children. Each age-group has their own bio-rhythms, and each individual has their own needs. If you are all early-birds, and high energy people, you may want to start your day with exercises and then the more demanding studies, like Math or Science. Find the quiet time you need, when you need it. For some, this will be the afternoon, as a wind-down time and an independent reading opportunity. For others, it will be art class as a reward after a long morning of required studies.
Then, we have the late-rising crowd. This gang may need to start the day easily with some yoga and a brunch-cooking class, then slide into the more-focused work, even going into the evening for research and quiet study, so as not to disturb the rest of the household.
Your curriculum choices have a lot to do with the schedule, as well. You may need to join others for group classes, or you may have online obligations to meet. Deadlines for some programs may dictate your schedule. Keep a calendar that includes all school activities and deadlines, test-dates and filing dates. Otherwise, you are free to work on school anytime, any days or nights.
Pacing yourselves is important, too. Those lunch breaks don’t always have to be teaching opportunities, and recess is a great institution in anybody’s day. Get everyone outdoors at least part of the day, and to break up the more tedious subjects. Or, take the class outdoors. This works great for sciences and social studies or history subjects. Exploring the world is part of the curriculum, so trips and active classes are always good to balance the day.
You will need to find some time for socializing and group activities. Many homeschool groups get together for field trips and recreational activities or sports. Find a group that fits your own kids and then enjoy, whether it involves mornings at a pool or evenings at a bowling alley for gym class. Remember that keeping that bowling score is part of Math, too. Arts and cultural events might depend upon performances or public museum hours, and you will want to be flexible for that sort of thing.
If you are active in a co-operative homeschool group, you will need to have a meeting with the other parent-educators and agree upon when you have the co-op classes. This sort of thing can work very well with parents who commit to taking turns teaching their specialties and areas of expertise. Making one or two days a week the “co-op days” will allow for more personal schedules and flexibility the rest of the week.
Whatever schedule you put together, remember the main goal is to teach your child to love learning. The best way to do that is to enjoy it, both the teacher and the student. Make your days pleasant, not overly scheduled, and you’ll be amazed what you accomplish.