Our Schedule

1 Jul

We’ve been homeschooling for just over three wonderful months. One of the things I’ve been looking for, but haven’t been able to find much of, are people’s schedules. What do homeschoolers do day-to-day?

Especially at the beginning, I needed examples.
Here’s Our Schedule:

This is more or less what we do in a week. It’s not written in stone, but we try to stick to it. If we get a late start in the morning, we might work right up until lunchtime at 1:00pm, or we might even skip a class one day and do it on Saturday instead. But, we do have to accomplish everything on the schedule every week.

As you can see, we take Wednesdays off, but not entirely. We often use them for catching up or getting ahead. We might take the whole day off, or we might work for a couple of hours, especially if there were interruptions during our regular days. My son prefers having four longer school days and one day off in the middle of the week.

I’ve hired two extra teachers. One is a teen-aged friend who is good at sports and comes once a week to play soccer. The other is a woman who teaches Kakchikel – the local Mayan language of the town where we live. We are calling this Third Language in the schedule, even though my son has spoken it since he started talking. My husband is British, and I am Guatemalan, so my son is trilingual – English, Spanish and Kakchikel. He also gets one weekly private dance class with another homeschooled child, that I teach.

Catch-up or Get Ahead Time is exactly that. We use it especially for our text-book / work-book classes like Grammar and Science.

Main Projects are 1.5 month long processes that we do around one central theme. First we did Dinosaurs and now we´re on the Solar System. Each process includes research and note taking, art projects, watching videos and doing a presentation at the end. Our next one will be on the Human Body, a biggy, we might take a bit longer with that one.

I work a lot at my computer, and we mostly do classes in my office, so when he’s working on something he can do alone, I’m nearby in case he needs help – but can still manage to get some of my own work done.

I spend some time each night preparing. In Science, for example, I read through the chapter that we will read together the next day, and prepare questions for him in our Science notebook. I feel the text book doesn’t have enough review questions, so I make up my own. I also write up almost all of or our Math worksheets myself, so that I can tailor them to where he’s at. I use math sites to get ideas and make sure that we’re covering the 3rd grade math standards.

My son participates in a twice-a-week art program through the social project that I run. This is his main big-group socializing time with 30+ kids. In the program, he learns dance, theater, circus arts, arts&crafts, painting, singing and cooperation games.

Some people place a lot of emphasis on structure and regular schedules. We prefer a flexible schedule. Every day can be a bit different, depending on all the other things going on in our lives. We might have Math one day in the morning, and on another day have it in the afternoon. Flexibility in the homeschool schedule is especially important for working parents like us. We do make sure to cover all our classes each week and to do at least 180 recorded days of schooling.

Here’s a step-by-step schedule-making example for, say, a family where the Mom does most of the homeschooling and has irregular work hours, while Dad works full-time five days x week.

1. Figure our how many hours a week you – the parent – have to put in. Make sure to leave yourself enough free time, as well as enough family fun-time. A parent that works part-time might have something like this:

  • Monday: 7:00-7:45am and 5:00-7:00pm
  • Tuesday: 2:00pm – 7:00pm
  • Wednesday: All day
  • Thursday: 5:00-7:00pm
  • Friday: 7:00-7:45am and 2:00-7:00pm
  • Saturday: 2:00-5:00pm

So, Mom, the main homeschool teacher, works about 20 hrs x week and can put in at least 20 hours a week into structured homeschooling.

2. Figure out how many hours your child can either work by him/herself (in the office with Mom – while she works, at Granny’s house, with the babysitter…), or is involved in other activities. For example:

  • Monday: work alone from 8:00-11:00am
  • Tuesday: work alone from 8:00-11:00am
  • Wednesday: Karate class from 3:00-4:00pm
  • Thursday: work alone from 8:00-11:00am
  • Friday: work alone from 8:00-11:00am
  • Saturday: go to the park with Dad or with friends 10:00-11:30am

3. Decide what subjects you are going to teach, how many times a week you want to work on each one.

  • Language Arts – 4 x week
  • Math – 4 x week
  • Science – 2 x week
  • History – 2 x week
  • Reading – 4 x week
  • Independent Activities (drawing, making something, educational computer games) – in time left over after basics are covered

4. Now put it all together. Make sure you get the important things in. Here are some examples of what your days might look like.

Monday
6:30-7:00am Get Dressed and Have Breakfast
7:00-7:45am Read with Mom (maybe while finishing breakfast)
7:45-8:30am Work alone on Math Worksheets
8:30-9:15am Work alone on Grammar Worksheets (Language Arts)
9:15-11:00am Work alone on drawing or educational computer games
11:00am-5:00pm Lunch and Free Time
5:00-5:45pm Science with Mom
5:45-6:30pm History with Mom
6:30-7:00pm Writing/Composition with Mom (Language Arts)

Wednesday
8:00-9:30am Have a relaxed morning and breakfast
9:30am-12:30pm Math, Language Arts, Science and History with Mom (45 min. per subject) 
12:30-3:00pm Lunch and Free Time
3:00-4:00pm Karate Class
5:00-6:00pm Reading with Mom

Saturday
8:00am-2:00pm Sleep in. Have a late breakfast. Go to the park with Dad or friends. Have lunch. Relax
2:00pm-5:00pm Math, Language Arts, Science and History with Mom (45 min. per subject)

In this schedule we make the most of Mom’s available time to cover the subjects that we decided were basic: Math, Language Arts, History, Science and Reading. We used the time that Mom is busy working to do things that the child can do alone – like Math and Grammar review Worksheets, and creative projects like drawing or making something. We take advantage of Dad’s free time on Saturday mornings to go to the park while Mom is working.

What if both parents work all day?

If both parents work all day, the schedule could look like this:
Monday-Friday
During the Day – Child works alone on worksheets for one or two hours, and takes a nap (because he/she stays up later than most kids, to homeschool during the evening when parents are done with work)
During the Evening –
5:30-6:15pm Mom and Child work on Language Arts, while Dad takes a break or cooks dinner
6:15-7:00pm Dad and Child work on Math, while Mom takes a break or cooks dinner

Saturday
9:30-11:00am Once a week Science lesson with Mom
11:00am-12:30pm Once a week History lesson with Dad

In this schedule, the main subjects – Math, Language Arts, History and Science still get the same amount of time as in the other family’s schedule. History and Science are done in longer, 90 min. classes in one day, instead of two 45 min. classes on two different days.

Fewer but Longer Lessons
Longer periods might be difficult for some children. Remember that you can make a longer Science class more fun by having it outside, drawing diagrams, reading nature poetry, etc… It doesn’t have to be 90 minutes of sitting at a desk and looking at a book.

Using Free Days to Catch Up
With my son, we have some weeks where longer periods work really well, and other weeks where more and shorter lessons work better. If we missed anything, we use our Free Wednesdays and Saturdays to catch up.

Mix It Up
You can also try teaching several subjects at once. Choose a subject, say Medieval Times. Read a story from the times of castles, princes and peasants. Work your Geography by looking at a world globe or map to locate the setting of the story. Write a paragraph about how it would have been to live during that time in History. Work your Math skills by measuring/weighing/pricing different quantities of whatever (rice, beans, potatoes, flour, salt) and practice trading goods as you would have in a Medieval market.

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