Structure provides a framework for learning and productivity, develops self-discipline and nurtures feelings of security safety. That’s why daily routines are especially important right now – for us and our children. And let’s face it, if we didn’t create school schedules, our kids could transform into sloths or couch potatoes.
Implementing a schedule for schooling in the home is – and should be – different than a traditional classroom schedule. Homeschooling comes with unique perks and we want to capitalize on them.
There are as many family schedules as there are families. Every family is different, so our schedules and styles will be different too.
That said, here are general tips to finding the sweet spot for your family’s at-home school schedule:
- Start the day off right. Establish a normal wake up time and morning routine for the weekdays. Include energizing fuel for the body and brain (there’s a reason breakfast is considered the most important meal of the day).
- First up: An engaging subject that challenges the mind. The first topic sets the tone for the day, so pick something your children enjoy learning about – and make sure it’s challenging enough to jumpstart their brain. Save individual reading time for when children (and parents) need a break.
- Work in chunks, have a plan and communicate clear expectations. We’re all happier when we know what to expect. So, let your children know the order of the day, how long math time will last and exactly what they’re supposed to complete. Then do your best to stick with it (allowing for wiggle room, of course). Set a timer. Cheer your kids on when there’s five minutes left of a subject and give them a countdown when necessary. If a project/worksheet/assignment/online lesson/fun isn’t finished when the timer dings, it can always become "homework" or be saved for the next day.
- Include variety. When forming a schedule, switch things up so that children can alternate between computer screen, hands-on activities, restful reading, physical fitness and creative exploration time. You can also vary the location of learning – switch rooms for different subjects, head in the backyard for fresh air, or build a cozy fort out of blankets for reading time.
- Recess is vital! We all need breaks, fresh air and time to move our bodies. Schedule it in for greater success.
- Focus on learning to love learning. Regardless of the subject, remember that education isn’t about memorizing facts or formulas – it’s about learning to love learning. So, find out what your children want to discover more about and start there. Ask questions! Explore! Encourage! Have fun! And remember, our attitudes and enthusiasm levels significantly influence our children.
- Don’t start with a 7-hour school day. It will take time to find your family’s schooling groove. No worries. You can build up at-home school stamina and a customized schedule simultaneously.
- Have an after-school routine. When academic time ends, create a plan for what’s next. Encourage free play, enlist help with household chores, and limit screen time after school just like you normally would.
Though every family’s at-home schooling schedule will look different, one thing’s for sure: Every schedule will need to be switched up every now and then. We like structure, but we also like variety and have an innate desire to improve things. So, share what’s working and what’s not with others, and adjust your family’s schedule as you feel inspired. We can all learn from one another on this schooling-from-home journey!
Jessica Poe is a full-time homeschooler of three children and a part-time healthcare writer. She also authored the book, "Everyday MOMents."