The first year I homeschooled, I used Sonlight curriculum with it’s handy-dandy built in schedule. What I found is that I really loved the schedule, but I didn’t really love a boxed curriculum. Over the next few years I struggled to find a curriculum/schedule combination that worked.
What I came up with is a scheduling method that works for structured homeschool moms like me, but a method that doesn’t rely on boxed curriculum. If you like scheduling your year in advance like I do, perhaps my method will help you out!
Look at the Entire School Year
Since we homeschool through a charter school, and since my daughter takes band at our local high school, it’s important that I take the public school schedule into consideration when planning our school year. Even if you don’t associate with your public school, though, looking at the entire school year is important.
Are you taking any vacations? Taking holidays off? Do you like to take time off from schooling periodically?
I use Cozi to track my schedule. I created a person named “Homeschool” and added all of our holidays and public school days off to the calendar. That gave me an overall picture of the school year.
The next thing I did was figure out how many weeks of school I was going to do. After looking at the year, I decided to do 34 weeks of hard core schooling, with two weeks (Thanksgiving and the last week of school) as lighter catch-up weeks.
I went into Cozi and added the week numbers to my calendar on Mondays. When Cozi emails me my weekly schedule on Sundays, I know what week of school it is. This is important in the next step.
Schedule Your Curriculum
I created a spreadsheet, with our curriculum listed across the top of the page and the weeks of the school year listed down the side.
I began with the first subject (math), and divided it into 34 weeks. I recorded which lessons and tests we would do each week in the spreadsheet. I continued with every piece of curriculum we will be using this year.
Each child has a different page on the spreadsheet, so I can look at each child’s schedule separately. For our family this works, because my kids are so far apart in age. They don’t study any subjects together. If you do a lot of work as a family, it might be more beneficial to put everyone’s schedule on the same page.
The thing I love about making a schedule on a spreadsheet, as opposed to on paper, is that it’s easy to adjust if something goes wrong (illness, etc). I try not to veer off the schedule, but sometimes life gets in the way.
Meet With Each Child Weekly
When the school year starts, I will have a Monday meeting with each child. Stargirl, Bug, and I will all be using the Apologia planners I reviewed earlier this year.
At the weekly meeting, I will give them a list of work that needs to be completed by the end of the week. They can schedule the work however they want, which gives them some ownership over their schooling. The catch is that anything not finished by Friday afternoon is homework over the weekend.
This method keeps the kids from feeling micromanaged, but also gives me some assurance that we will stay on track. It also lets the kids know what is expected of them during the week, so they aren’t constantly bombarding me with the question “What do I do now?”
So that’s my scheduling method in a nutshell. I find that a good schedule keeps our homeschool running smoothly and gives this freelance homeschool mom a more streamlined day, freeing me up to fulfill my responsibilities to school, home, and work.