One of the benefits of homeschooling can be the increased flexibility—something you probably need, especially if you are also attempting to do your regular job from home. Still, too much flexibility with no predictable schedule is likely to backfire big-time. In fact, one of the benefits of a traditional school program is the structure. Consistency helps kids stay focused and move seamlessly from one activity to another so they don’t get distracted and sabotage your life for sport. When it comes to crafting your daily schedule, you have options.
Option 1: Follow a Traditional School Schedule
This method basically requires you to model your homeschooling schedule after your child’s usual school schedule. Start your day in the very same way you ordinarily would (get dressed, have breakfast, grab backpacks), then settle into your school space (more on that later) to start the day however your kids would at “real” school. (Hi, morning meeting or first-period science.) Don’t beat yourself up if you end up starting things 20 minutes late, but do your best to stick to set times. Note: Definitely don’t let “morning meeting” take an hour, unless you are prepared to add six more hours to the school day than you planned.
If you’re going to follow your child’s regular school schedule, pull it up (your kid’s teacher would be happy to email it to you) and start making any necessary changes to suit your real life. So, if music is from 10 to 10:40, that might mean watching YouTube videos of African drummers or putting on Taylor Swift and dancing around. The idea behind following the school schedule is that it gives you a ready-made outline and condenses your teaching time. If you have two parents working from home at the moment, you can even trade off from “period” to “period.”
Option 2: Follow a Full-Day Learning Schedule
Some homeschooling parents opt to follow a looser schedule that incorporates blocks of learning time, punctuated by periods of normal home life, from morning ’til night. This method may be more challenging to implement when your child is used to attending regular school, but the gist is that learning happens all the time and you don’t need to explicitly block it out. For example, you might incorporate a science lesson into hands-on lunch prep, or turn bedtime stories into a targeted history lesson. (“Let’s talk about what was going on in the world at the time of Little House on the Prairie.”)
Bottom line: No matter which method you choose, you’re going to need to plan at least one night ahead and have a rough itinerary that meets the needs of you and your children. If you feel like you need some extra guidance setting up your homeschool routine, check out a variety of both traditional and creative samples schedules here.