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Planning Your Day

When I was deliberating my school choices, I had SO many questions. As intrigued as I was by homeschooling, there was something holding me back. I saw several strict schedules on exactly how to structure my day and none of them seemed possible. My children were 3, 2, and on the way. I had no idea what my life would look like once the baby arrived. I did not want to commit to a plan that I was destined to fail or feel stressed out all of the time for missing deadlines. I read as many books as I could. Finally, I read So You're Thinking About Homeschooling: Fifteen Families Show How You Can Do It by Lisa Whelchel and I finally felt like I could! This book helped me to realize that there was not one way to homeschool, no magic formula, bullet, or schedule. I felt empowered to create a schedule that worked for me and my family one year at a time. In turn, I empower families to find their path. Here are some tips to figure out how to structure your day.

Consider your top three scheduling goals, do you want to:

  • finish the book

  • get everyone organized

  • be less stressed

  • accomplish a daily task

  • school 4 days a week

  • finish in (fill in the month)

  • not ignore the youngest or middle child

  • focus on life skills

  • master a subject

As tempting as it would be to say yes to all of the above, rarely do they all happen simultaneously. Honestly, reflect on your current situation. How much support do you have or need? What is your budget? Can you afford to incorporate the activities you would like, or are you trying to make ends meet? Are you or your child(ren) overcoming a traumatic experience? Have you cultivated a love of learning? Are there any time constraints that will make it difficult to follow a set curriculum? Once you know those answers, figure out what is the most appealing to you from the above list. Fortunately, this can change annually or quarterly based on your current circumstances. If there is an impending move, adding to the family, or career change, you can adjust your goals accordingly, so you still feel accomplished whether or not you finished the book. If mastering the subject is your goal, it may mean repeating the same book once you complete it. With Math, the benefit of mastery is priceless! Now, you are ready to move to create the proper flow.

Consider these options when scheduling your day:

  • Be flexible (take time out for fun and rest)

  • Set weekly goals

  • Use Block or Loop scheduling

  • Select a few subjects to complete daily

  • Allow kids to help plan the day

  • Do hardest topics when ideal for child

  • Use travel time to review

  • Incorporate outdoor time in your day

  • Teach while the babies are napping

  • Rotate busy bags for toddlers

  • Incorporate games to master a concept

One approach is to work backward. You can create a personalized road map if you know where you are going. If you are working on a semester schedule, you have 16 weeks to finish the material. How much do you have to accomplish monthly, weekly, or daily to finish? This approach is great for middle and high schoolers to prepare them for the collegiate system. You can split the academic courses into two semesters, only addressing 1/2 at a time, allowing you to dive deeper into fewer topics. Again, this is only one approach- not the “best” approach. Every family and every year are different; as children grow and change, situations change.

A good rule of thumb is not to teach a subject when they are tired, hungry, or distracted. Help your child discover their rhythm. When are they the most focused? Empowering your child with this information can inoculate them from feeling incompetent.

For those with littles in the house, teaching while the younger kids napped or on Saturdays when my partner could occupy the baby helped me get through challenging times. Rotating a child playing with the baby while the others were receiving instruction was also valuable for me. If you have children close together, there are many subjects you can teach simultaneously. Math and Reading are the two that require the most individualized attention. If you're working too hard or not hard enough, you aren't learning. In most other subjects, you can combine and scale. Even if your kids are several grades apart, you can teach the same Science or History. Instructing one child in American History and the other in World History is unnecessary.

Once you decide your main objectives for the year, you can plan your day. It does not have to look like someone else's! Even if you have the same number of kids at similar ages as a friend, your schedules may not work for each other. Your learning styles, child's temperament, areas of strength, and attention span play a role in your schedule. Empower your children to participate in the planning process focusing on Life Skills. The sooner they learn to manage their time, the smoother your household will run.

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