Wow! Recent events (I’m talking about you, COVID-19) have left over 400 million children out of school. From what I can tell, parents have either been directed to continue their education from home and have been provided a small “packet” of information and schoolwork, or have been given nothing. I have received countless requests for some kind of a “homeschool guide” to help first-time homeschoolers figure out how to make a daily homeschool schedule and generally just navigate homeschooling. And so, I spent the past day putting together this little guide: “Quick Tips for Homeschool Scheduling” (you can download the guide as a pdf if you click here).
Quick Tips for Homeschool Scheduling:
Managing Your Time
Spend a half hour after the kids go to bed in the
evening, or before they wake up in the morning, reviewing what they will be
learning in the coming day.
Set up a daily schedule that works with your family, while
embracing the leisure that this situation allows.
Take breaks when needed: play outside, color, watch an educational
If a child is extremely frustrated over a subject, feel
free to end the lesson early, or switch to another subject for a while. Just
make sure you’ve given the problem all of your patience and persistence first.
Do what is required of you from the school district, but
then allow children to pursue individual interests, outside play, etc.
Don’t feel pressured to spend an hour on every subject. By
nature, a traditional classroom setting will require a longer period of instruction
for each lesson. In homeschooling, you’re able to complete each subject in a much
shorter period of time.
Keeping Things Under Control
Set up a system so your child knows what you expect each
If you have multiple children, consider using table
dividers to keep them in their own space.
Break it up: snacks, dance parties, walk outside, board
game, whatever motivates them.
Make it fun! Sing, dance, incentivize.
Don’t be afraid to offer both negative and positive incentives.
Lose a privilege if they complete schoolwork, receive a reward if they do. Rewards/treats
should be small enough to use on a daily basis, and it’s nice if you vary them.
As with any discipline, you must stick to what you say,
or it won’t work! Be consistent and don’t give in; you’re the teacher and they
must learn to respect you!
Figuring Out What to Prioritize
Use tools and lesson plans provided by your school.
If you haven’t received anything from the school, focus
on math and language arts, long with plenty of family read aloud time. (Free curriculum
& resources are listed below!)
Don’t feel pressured to give a long lesson/lecture for
each subject. Children can learn well by receiving a short summary and then engaging
with the material through homework. If they encounter something they don’t
understand, go back and review in more detail.
Supplement with time spent outdoors, nature study,
Use this unstructured time to allow your students to pursue
individual interests: writing a book, a unit study on bears, science experiments,
Children thrive on extra responsibility. This doesn’t
mean extra chores. This means trusting them with things that go slightly beyond
the capabilities they have. For a six-year-old, try responsibilities like reading
to younger siblings, setting the table, making breakfast, or planting seeds.
Navigating Screen Time
If you allow screen time, try to make it profitable, and
limit daytime TV.
Our two favorite television shows for children are 1) The
Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That (available through Netflix): entertaining,
well-made episodes that teach about animals and habitats in a captivating way;
2) Stella and Sam (available through Amazon Prime): beautiful stories about a
big sister and her little brother with lovely animation and imaginative play.
If you have Amazon Fire TV, there are a bunch of great
phonics and early reading apps made by Dezol. “Sight Word Search” and “Learn
Beginning Sounds” are two that we’ve found very effective and nonsense free.
There are a plethora of gorgeous animal and nature
documentaries available through most streaming services.
Don’t feel guilty. If these days get super tough, don’t
feel bad about letting the kids watch an evening movie to calm them down and
give yourself a little time to recover.
Sample Daily Homeschool Schedule
6:00 – 8:00 –
Kids in bed, mom works
8:00 – Everyone
up, dressed, beds & rooms tidied
8:30 – Breakfast,
9:15 – Morning walk,
or exercise indoors
10:00 – Morning
school (no screen time)
11:30 – Outside
break, or indoor play
12:00 – Lunch,
1:00 – Chores
1:30 – Afternoon
school (educational screen time)
3:00 – Quiet/creative
time, mom works
4:30 – Outside time,
or indoor play
5:30 – Dinner
prep, dinner, cleanup
7:00 – Tidy
house/catch up/showers/free time
8:30 – Bedtime
9:00 – Mom works, prep for tomorrow
How To Use These Quick Tips for Homeschool Scheduling:
Joe and I have been officially homeschooling our children for two years now. I consider us “veteran” homeschoolers, though, because we have over 17 years of combined homeschool experience, as we were both homeschooled for most of our primary and secondary education. We’ve seen a lot and learned a lot from our parents’ (and our own) trials and triumphs.
Please take this little guide with a grain of salt. It’s not intended to be a homeschooling “Bible” but rather a starting point. It’s a lighthearted and practical guide for those who don’t know where to start. If you find yourself suddenly needing to provide home education for your children and come up with some sort of homeschool schedule, my hope is that you will be encouraged by this guide. That it will help you determine what your homeschool schedule will be. That you will walk away feeling positive and encouraged. And that you will know where to look for additional support and resources.
Here are some of our favorite homeschool supplies, resources, and groups.
Archive.org: A non-profit library with millions of free books, movies, software, music, websites, and more.
Please let me know if you have any questions about homeschooling or have other content you’d like to see; I’ll do my best to find the answer! And enjoy this wonderful new journey! Read more about our homeschool journey and philosophy.
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