School will be underway in just a few weeks, which means this is the time to start all the heavy-duty planning. There are SO many ways to schedule a homeschool day. Scheduling methods are extremely personal and vary based on preferred homeschool philosophy, teaching style, personality, curriculum, etc. I’ve met people who create complicated, colour-coded spreadsheets. I’ve met people who don’t really follow a schedule at all. And then there’s everything in between. I absolutely love when people find something that works for them.
And in that vein, I must have something that works for me.
It took me a couple of years to figure out how to create a schedule that was rigid enough to keep us on track and yet flexible enough that I didn’t feel completely overwhelmed if we fell behind a bit.
We finally found it—the perfect scheduling system. I know that’s a bold claim. But for our family? It is pretty close to perfect. It’s quite simple too. There are two planners: one for me and one for each of the girls. And there are two steps: the annual part and the weekly part.
At the beginning of the school year, I take the number of pages/units in each book and divide by the number of weeks that we will be sitting down and doing school work (less a couple of weeks because it’s so important to give yourself a buffer!). The resulting number tells me how many pages or units per week that we need to get through. That sounds way more complicated than it actually is.
Let’s do an example:
If there are 180 math units and 36 weeks in the school year, I will take 180 and divide by 34 (36 weeks less my 2 week buffer). The result is 5.29, which means that we need to aim for at least 5 units per week to finish on time.
Okay, so that’s the complicated part. For each subject, I write that down the units per week in the front of the workbook so that I can refer to it when doing my weekly scheduling.
In the girls’ planners, each day is divided up by subjects. On a weekly or bi-weekly basis, I’ll fill in the daily assignments/pages for the next week (or two) for each subject. I use the numbers from my annual calculations to help me determine how much to assign. Here’s an excerpt:
By filling in assignments a week or two at a time, I am able to make allowances for field trips, illnesses, spontaneous days off, lessons that need extra reinforcement, and other unforeseen circumstances. Rather than doubling up on work if we miss a day, we simply roll with it the next day and pick up where we left off. The two-week buffer that I factor into my beginning-of-the-year calculation is usually enough to cover these times, but if not, we’ll school into the summer a little. That’s the beauty of home education. You can be flexible.
One other important thing to note? Curriculum is a tool. If my kids thoroughly understand a concept, I’m not going to make them do an entire unit on it. Or if there are 50 practice questions in an assignment, I am perfectly happy to cross some questions off. The whole point of education is to learn new things, not to do work simply for the sake of doing work. Wasting time on unnecessary work takes the joy out of learning and leaves everyone feeling frustrated. This is also where planning in one or two week chunks is helpful. It makes it easier to evaluate and omit the excess.
In the photo above, you’ll notice that some subjects aren’t filled in. That’s because we do certain things together: devotions, prayer, poetry, story time, history, science, gym class, French lessons, nature study, games and crafts. These things are all written in my own personal planner.
There are many things I love about this. I love that I can schedule in spontaneously chosen library books for Morning Time without worrying about a specific reading schedule. When we’re finished a read-aloud, we can choose any of the chapter books from our yearly list and begin it next. I can add in unit studies for science or history. There’s so much freedom.
My favourite planner by far is The Ultimate Homeschool Planner published by Apologia. The Bible verses and quotations scattered throughout always happen to be exactly what I need on any given day. There is a pocket in front for loose papers, a monthly planning section, a weekly planning section, places for records, and more.
The girls use the God’s Word in Time Scripture Planner: Elementary Student Edition. It’s a simple, weekly planner with sections for each school subject. There is a Bible verse at the top of the page and plenty of room to write assignments. There’s even a spot for weekly spelling lists.
My favourite thing about this system is that the girls are able to move from subject to subject without stopping to ask what they should do next. It’s all written for them. They simply check off each assignment when complete … and move on.
It’s easy. It’s flexible. It works.
What are some of your favourite scheduling resources? Feel free to share in the comment section below.
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