Homeschooling Part 3: Schedules

In this three part series I am merely attempting to give a starting point for those who are beginning or just thinking about homeschooling. In Part 1 I listed a number of books that helped us as we prepared to homeschool as well as the books we used and are using for my oldest who is in Kindergarten. In Part 2 I listed resources that we have found helpful along the way. In this final post I want to share our daily schedule, which is a little staggered as I work until 2:30 and teach the math and reading side of things. I will not get into the addition of chores as there are many blogs that go into this in detail, from times to ages to duties, etc. Plus, our schedule is fairly simple as our children are 6, 3, and 8 months, but hopefully this will provide a general outline to build on. Refer to Part 1 as to which books we are using. We do our full schedule Monday through Thursday with Friday devoted to Arts and Crafts on an unscheduled basis.

MY WIFE
8:00 – 8:30    Breakfast
8:30 – 9:00    Chores appropriate for age and fresh air (a few minutes outside)
9:00 – 10:00    Handwriting and Spelling (6). Random pegs/puzzles/drawing, etc. (3)
10:00 – 10:30    Devotions (Shorter Catechism, songs, bible lesson, character building, etc). All kids involved.
10:30 – 11:00    Break/Fun
11:00 – 11:30    Some days reading aloud/reciting poetry and some days free time (6).
12:00 – 1:00   Lunch and clean up according to age
1:00 – 3:30   Free time

ME
3:30 – 4:30    Phonics/Reading and Math                                                                                               

We thought at first it may be strange for school to break  for a couple of hours after lunch just to pick back up at 3:30, but it actually works out well. I had started my daughter on phonics when she was 4 and my wife requested that I to continue the reading lessons as well as assume the math side of things, therefore that happens later in the day.

These time frames can vary from day to day but  if you leave yourself some extra room in your schedule it will not be an issue. Here are 5 simple tips in creating your schedule.

1. Remember that Christian Education is discipleship.

Your most important goal in parenting is bringing your children up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord and seeing them grow in the grace of Jesus Christ. Education must start with the Triune God and your children are to be discipled by parents who know Him and love Him. Make sure there is a Devotion time in the education of your family where your children can sing, learn, and grow in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. They are the world changers of the next generation, the ones who will proclaim and advance the Kingdom of God.

2. Create a schedule that works for YOUR family.

I’ve seen schedules that are very intense as well as those that are simple. Families differ in the number of kids, ages, strengths, vision, direction, etc. and you must take time to evaluate what works for your family. This may mean starting off with an easy and simple schedule and adding to it/altering it as time passes.

3. Be diligent in creating a day to day consistency.

It is important for kids to know what to expect and to be held to that expectation. It is easy for kids to start playing in the mornings and get carried away with other things, so they should consistently be in the same morning routine of breakfast, starting class, devotion, etc. Since we break after lunch my daughter knows she has free time until I get home from work. My wife is consistent in her morning routine and when I get home my daughter (6) knows its time for reading and math.

4. Leave room for flexibility and surprise.

While you should strive for consistency it is inevitable that things will come up. A kid will get sick, appointments, discipline, unexpected visitors, etc., and you must be ready to make adjustments. First, you should leave extra time in your schedule to catch up for lost time or to address other issues that come up. Our 9:00 to 10:00 handwriting and spelling time usually only takes 30 minutes at the most. Sometimes the baby is fussing or the two year old decides to fingerpaint on the walls or we happened to get a late start because we woke up a little late, and there is an extra 30 minutes there to address that and still keep on schedule. Secondly, you will sometimes just have to skip a subject or a whole morning. Kids do get sick. People do ask favors. Just leave room for unexpected surprises and in all of your diligent consistency, keep flexibility in your back pocket.

5. Popcicles!

Take some time in the day for rewards and fun. We try to have popsicles ready each day for the 10:30-11:00 time frame after devotion in order to put some extra laughter and excitement in our mornings. It seems our kids do not even care what kind we make, just the idea of popcicles make them anticipate this time each morning. Some days we just put milk in the popsicle trays and freeze them! You are not in boot camp and there should be fun involved.

Therefore, in the Christian discipleship of your children, create a schedule that caters to your family and be consistent in it, while giving room for flexibility when needed. Have fun.