Monday, January 14, 2013

Creating a Homeschooler's Schedule- Include Your Child(ren)

Sandy Toes Creations: Creating a Homeschooler's ScheduleWill I ever have a schedule that works that I can stick to?
Probably not, as things are always changing; the kids needs, my needs, our goals, etc. But I can keep trying, right?! Since the over scheduling and then freaking out episodes of the fall... we've had no schedule at all! a very relaxed schedule as far as "school" type stuff. We have our classes and outings on the calendar, but when we're home (which was suddenly in abundance over the holiday season) I have found that we've been getting nothing done! Okay, I know there's lots of learning going on just through play, and educational toys and materials abound in our house, but...

By the time I drink my coffee, check my email, get us some breakfast, run around picking up this and that, oh, it's time for lunch already?, before I know it "Daddy is home!!", i.e. time to play with him and no more (if there was any) focused work. And not nearly enough reading, math, science, etc., went on during the day. Not to mention accomplishing anything myself; cleaning, writing, art... Needless to say, it's time for a little more structure. Not a ton, but enough for me to be motivated to get up earlier and have a plan of some things to accomplish each day or at least each week.

Do you use a curriculum? So far, we do not. We have a mix of materials, much of which we borrow from the library and the DLC (our local homeschool resource center), usually we do unit studies (pick a topic to focus on and fit each subject into that area of interest). I try to fit a little of each subject, reading, math, science, etc., in each week. Some weeks are more focused on history, some on science, and so forth.

I started writing down my goals for Monkey that I'd like him to learn by summer (aka: the end of Kindergarten) and what I want us to do more of and less of. Both kids were bouncing around me being so loud I was not having an easy time thinking! Then I realized, why am I doing this alone?! It's his (Monkey's) schedule! So I sat down with him and he was happy to be part of the planning process! He told me what he would like to learn and with a few suggestions from me, how he would like to go about learning some of these things. Such as reading; we decided together that because he enjoys playing Reading Eggs (an online game) he will play it a few hours each week, of course we'll practice in many other ways as well.

He made a list of things he'd like to learn about (unit studies):
Sandy Toes Creations: Creating a Homeschooler's ScheduleInsects
Arctic Animals
Nocturnal Animals
African Animals (can you tell he loves animals?)
African People (culture)

We will use this as a guideline of what subject we'll study next. We usually stick to one for about two weeks. Sometimes longer if he's really into it, otherwise, we switch when the library books are due. 

We wrote out what we both want more of:
Science experiments
Board games (math games *wink*)
Reading practice
Writing practice (he would like a pen pal from Africa. He has a sudden interest in Africa, not sure where that came from, but great!)
Story time at the library
Start our day with God (reading out of our kids devotional, a Bible verse, & a prayer; really starts us all off in a better mood each day. We need to get back to what's really important!)
Earning stars (star (reward) chart)
Learning to read music...
(the list goes on)

and less of:
TV (Ok, this is what I want less of, it's been on every morning longer and longer, and needs to stop! But he was on board once I told him we'd have time for other things without TV. I asked what show he couldn't live without, so we agreed, no TV in the morning and he could watch Wild Kratts in the afternoons.)
I find he's a lot like me; if I say "No", there's automatic resistance. If we talk about why and he understands my reasons, even if he still disagrees, there's respect there and he will consent. 
Take-out dinners (my idea again, we're spending way too much and not eating enough healthy food all because I can't seem to think about dinner until we're all too tired and hungry to think! I just need a meal plan and Monkey is going to help me plan what to make for dinners and maybe even try some new foods, we used to do this and it worked great!)

I wrote down things I need to do (the dreaded New Years resolutions; I'm a bit late getting to this, but never too late to start, right?):
Do not turn on TV in the morning (there goes my quiet coffee/email hour)
Use the Star Chart again (reward chart)
Create a dinner menu (again)
Write down list of what kids are learning/activities they're doing as they happen throughout the day (This really helps me feel accomplished since I can hardly remember what we did yesterday, let alone all month, and keeps me from feeling like we didn't learn enough!)
Get Monkey a Pen Pal
Label music notes on Monkey's keyboard
(Hardest of all:) Keep the table clear so we can eat meals there! (It's my office, studio, craft, and school table, and catcher of mail, newspapers, who knows what all, till I have time to go through it! Very hard to keep clear!)

Then I made a list of what we generally do each day of the week, because I must just like lists:
Mon- cleaning day (we all work together on the larger cleaning projects, like the kitchen and bathrooms), karate
Tues- park/hike, History Class
Wed- Home, unless planned Field Trip or Farm Class Day. Awanas (kids club) in the evening
Thurs- Kindergarten class, karate
Fri- Home, unless planned Field Trip

And Monkey and I together made a general outline of what we would like a day at home to look like:
Breakfast/ devotional
Reading time: choose one: workbook, play Reading Eggs, or flashcards (sight words)
Project on current unit study subject
Play outside
Lunch while mom reads a story
Math/science project or game
Reading Eggs

I tried to keep it all simple and manageable so I will actually do it! We officially got started earlier this month, and so far, so good! Of course, I'm still very flexible, the schedule is just a suggestion, so I don't stress over it. The hardest part is making myself get up earlier so I can get a little work done before the kids are up.

The best, main stress reliever for me, has been writing down what we're doing (mainly what Monkey is doing and learning as he's the school aged one) in a notebook throughout the day as it happens. Just a quick note: he rode his bike, he drew a pic, built with Legos, read this book... By the end of each week, even just one day, there's so much learning that I would never remember we did! Some days I didn't write anything, as I was too busy to worry about it, other days are a few lines long, and some days are a whole page full! Now I won't have to wrack my brain for what we did the last month come time to talk to his teacher, but even just for myself, I love being able to see that we really do and learn so much all the time!


  1. This is good information. We've been focusing on doing school related things first in the morning, and letting everything else slide until we have less structured time in the afternoon. Learning definitely doesn't stop in the afternoon, but trying to tick learning things off a list does.

    1. First thing in the morning seems to work best for us, too, for sit down focused work. After that they're too wiggly; have to get energy out! Thanks for your comments!

  2. What a great post. This is something I have wanted to do. My son attends preschool, but it's play-based and I've wanted to incorporate learning into the home environment. I think it is a great idea to involve him in the scheduling to excite him about what we do. Thanks for the info! Saw your post on Good Acorn's FB page. Keep posting there! :). Jenny

    1. Thanks for letting me know where you found me! And so glad it was useful info to someone! My kids are much more on board when it's their decision on how/when/what to do. As long as they're learning, I love that they can do it in a way they enjoy!

  3. This sounds like us on a regular basis. I've found that my daughter (8) works better and is more focused when I give her a checklist for the day. Not only does it have the subjects she needs to do, but it includes break times and lunch, and naptime! I think she feels more accomplished as she checks off each one. Plus, she doesn't feel like she's going to be "in school" ALL DAY because she knows exactly how much more she has to do.

    I think your idea of sitting down with your kid to create a learning plan is awesome. And it sounds like he's mature enough to benefit from a daily checklist too. :)

    1. I'm a big fan of the check list, too. Just started one with my 7 year old and he is so motivated to check things off. Also, he sat down with me and planned out all the activities. Thanks for posting this, Leah. I love how honest and open you are about your homeschooling journey.

    2. He did love being involved making the list, but I never even thought of having him check off his own list! Well, not for school activities. I do have a picture list for him of chores to earn a star for each day. What a great idea! Thanks! I can already see that this will be especially helpful when he's a bit older and working more on his own. You guys are awesome!

  4. Hi! Thanks for sharing. I just wanted to mention a book series that I loved when my kids were younger: Games for Math by Peggy Kaye (also Games for Reading, Games for Writing, etc). It helped me feel like we were "accomplishing" something constructive but also felt like we were keeping a relaxed, playful atmosphere. Sounds like y'all are doing great. Good luck!

    1. I'll have to check those out! Thank you so much!

  5. Glad that this worked out for you! My family (well, my parent's family) has tried different methods of getting things done, and it seem that a check-off list works really, really well. Mom just wrote down various tasks/school subjects we need to have done by the time Dad gets home, but it doesn't restrict us to finishing everything within a certain period of time.

    For example, my list has: Tidy room, fix hair, dishes, Biblical worldview, math, piano, French, vocab, science, and help w/ lunch.

    If you think using check-off lists would help, I suggest you try them out. :)

    1. It's great to hear feed back from a homeschool student! Thank you! When he can read better, I'm definitely going to try the checkoff list. We do use a picture one for chores for now.


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