Friday, July 26, 2013

A Flexible but Organized Schedule for Our Homeschool Day

{On Fridays, I post about the highlights of our homeschooling week, usually with lots of photos. This week I’m joining with Classic Housewife and discussing our school day.}


Today, I admit a huge failing as a homeschooling mom…thankful that it turned into a huge success! J

A few years ago, I read about scheduling every half hour or forty-five minute increment of the day, from the moment the baby’s peepers struggled opened in the morning to the last good-night kiss.

Surely, I thought, that would make me get more done before nine o’clock in the morning than most people do all day {remember that Army commercial? J} and ratchet my children to the top of the scholarship handout line at Harvard.

For the first two weeks of the school year, I drove us mad with clock-watching and guilt for our inadequacies. If a child went ten minutes over on math because they needed extra time to understand a new concept, I would totally stress. There wasn’t time to laugh or play a game or have another cup of coffee. {Gasp!}

Add to that my husband’s varied schedule, not just from semester to semester but from day to day. And have I mentioned what a free spirit my husband is? J Trying to keep on a schedule with the principal coming and going was just too much.

So, for the rest of the year, I had no schedule at all. That only changed my stress to a frenzied state of functioning panic.

But last year, with one blog post by Connie at Smockity Frocks, the heavens opened and the angels sang. I’ve tweaked that original idea so that now, the brain of our homeschool looks like this ~



What’s working/not working for us…

We now follow a “schedule” that doesn’t have any times attached. For me, that’s stress-relieving. Before, if I had my wake-up time set at 6:30 but I didn’t make it up until 6:40, I felt like I had already failed before I was even out of bed.

We do have a fairly regular time to get up, but it’s not written down. The three Bigs that are reading well begin their days by reading their Bibles in their beds as soon as they awake.


My day also begins like this ~


As everyone arises, they know that the next few tasks involve getting ready for the day. These are to be accomplished in the order they choose, but all should be done without lollygagging or distraction. You’ll see those written across the top of the chart. Breakfast is enjoyed together.


The three Bigs have chosen the order in which they want to complete their subjects as well as piano and chores. These are written on the top half of sticky notes. If the order isn’t working for whatever reason, they can easily be rearranged.


The horizontal space in the middle is lunch. I don’t really have a reason for why I haven’t written that in. J


The last couple of subjects are typically completed after lunch but before the Littles go down for naps.


Finally, we use sticky flags to mark where each child is in their day. As they move from subject to subject, the flag moves as well. That allows me to see, at a glance, where everyone is in the schedule.

It’s simple but effective for us. Hallellujah!


Homeschooling advice to share...

If you like this idea, customize it! We'll be adding children as they get to homeschooling age, so the poster board will turn to the landscape format. Write in times, if that works for you. Have fun with it. Don't let it add stress to your home school.


On the blog this week…



The Incredible Yumminess of Peanut Butter Bars {I’m a contributor at Blessed at Home!} This post was really just a tease, an opportunity to tell y’all that I’ll be contributing to Hope in Every Season’s regular Wednesday feature “Blessed at Home” while still providing original content here.







Do you have a schedule for your homeschool? How structured or flexible is it? How was your week?






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54 comments:

  1. I think it is so neat that you and your kids begin the day by reading the scriptures. Love this.

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    1. Start 'em young, Deb! Then, when they're older, they won't stop. (Hmm, seems I've heard that before somewhere.... :) )

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  2. Hi there Meghan
    This post came along at a timely place in our life! We have moved house in the last month and have spent the week trying to put together a new routine, currently I have times against our slots of activity which can start to stress us if left that way, but I find that after the 21 day habit kicks in I let go of the times and it does flow more smoothly.
    Blessings from Australia x

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    1. I'm glad it was helpful, Michelle. Many blessings to you as you chart your new schedule!

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  3. Great Idea! I have been looking for scheduling ideas for my three.

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    1. Hope it works for you, Laura! Tweak it as much as you need. :)

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  4. I have to ask what school subject involves chin-ups on a piano. :D

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    1. Rachel, that's...uh...Creative Music Appreciation. Y'all have that, right? :)

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    2. I have to say no. We have no piano and my kids, while they love music, can't seem to stick with an instrument long enough to learn much of anything. I miss hearing the violin.

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    3. Learning an instrument is long and hard. I've been struggling for years to get the children interested in piano, and it seems, just now, to have kicked in. I'm not sure how long it will last, though....

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  5. I will be attempting something similar. I use beginning times for a list of things, but no endings so as to make it flexible. For school I also have an amount of time in mind to finish a certain subject but will not be dogmatic about it.

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    1. Great point, Cheryl. I think that was a lot of my difficulty in the beginning -- feeling like we HAD to finish in the allotted time. Hope you find a terrific schedule!

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  6. I love this flexible scheduling idea! I'm definitely going to use your ideas to help us put together a routine. I'm going crazy with flying-by-the-seat-of-my-pants every day. I've tried a strict time-schedule, but that just didn't work with a house full of littles. I like the idea of routine much better :-). Thanks for sharing; this was really helpful for me!

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    1. I'm so glad you found something helpful and encouraging here, Jenna. I'd love to know what you come up with. :)

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  7. Well, you've seen our insane one. This one is nice. We used to do this type of schedule before we started the daycare in our home. It was very relaxed, yet we got everything done. Very nice!

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    1. I would never use that word -- insane -- but "crazy" might have popped into my head, Val. :) But you have so many more children around than I do, so I totally understand why you have something so specific. You're amazing to keep all that together! What's that old saying? Different strokes for different folks (meant in a positive-encouraging-I'm-glad-you're-my-friend tone!).

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  8. Holy smokes, why didn't I think of this before?! My son is in first grade and always looking for ways that he can have more control over his day and the order in which he completes his studies. This is perfect! Thank you so much!

    I found my way over here through Fellowship Fridays and I'm so grateful that I did. This is fabulous.

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    1. Wow, Anne, you made my day with such a kind and generous comment! I'm glad this idea was helpful to you. Many blessings to you in your homeschool!

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  9. I also struggled scheduling our day out in thirty minute increments. Happy you have found a routine that is working for you.

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  10. I've found that this type of schedule is what works best for us too. Only a few specific times (like what time school starts in the morning, and what time we break for lunch) but knowing in what order we'll work on our subjects. My kids are all older now so they need to learn to manage their own time too. I'm a lot older than they are, and I still need to work on that! LOL Love the picture at the piano - adorable!

    Visiting from HMJ - have a great week, no matter what your schedule! 8-)

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    1. Life continually changes, even in small increments, that it seems I'm always working on my time management. Great point, Kym, and thanks for commenting! :)

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  11. I like that it's flexible, yet structured.
    I follow something similar yet it's not on the wall.
    Perhaps I'll do that this year.

    Stopping by from HMJ.

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    1. It helps all of us to stay on track by having it written down at first, but within a few weeks, the children all have their parts memorized. The writing on the wall is mostly for me. :) Thanks so much for stopping in, Leslie.

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  12. Oh, Meghan, reading this post was truly an answer to prayer! I, like you, have been completely stressed out at both ends of the spectrum-- either scheduled to the minute or no schedule at all and I know that stress unfortunately gets passed to our children. I am going to use this system with my kids this year! I can't wait to let you know how it works out! :-) As for your Scripture study, do you guide the children with suggested passages and discuss them or do you have them just do some quiet reading on their own (or both?) Hope you are having a great weekend, friend! :-) Many blessings, Lisa

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    1. I'm so glad you found something useful here, Lisa! When the youngest reader begins a regular Bible reading time, we start them in the gospels. As they progress, they read whatever they want, and we're here for guidance. I check in with them from time to time but our more structured study is in the evenings with the entire family.

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  13. I love sticky-note scheduling too. I am much less organised than you (with only 2 kids I can get away with it!). I have an academic diary and I just stick in little notes. So easy to move around! I hope you're having a wonderful weekend :- ) Lucinda

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    1. My husband says we should have bought stock in the Post-It company. :) Thanks for reading, Lucinda, and have a great week!

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  14. Thank you, thank you, thank you! We are starting homeschool this fall with our five year old (Kindergarten) and I was wondering how I could schedule our day without scheduling our day. I really really like this idea - you get done what you need to without any hard time frames to stress over. This satisfies my need for a bit of structure but leaves the flexibility our little family craves.

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    1. Love the way you say that, Deanna -- scheduling our day without scheduling our day. Thanks for commenting, and you're welcome, you're welcome, you're welcome! (Although I really got the original idea from that other blogger who I can't remember now. So, pass it on.) :)

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  15. Brilliant! A God-send. What is so wonderful about this besides what everyone else has mentioned is its simplicity. I have been struggling for years trying to come up with a good way to make a list for the day, because this is the only way we are able to stay on track and be accountable. Tried and failed...chalkboard/dry erase- too messy, list in folder behind plastic or on computer too time consuming to constantly open, list on wall- things change, list gets outdated too often, doesn't get used, takes up lots of room. I love that this system is more child directed, flexible, easy to change, doesn't require pens, lots of paper or detailed planning, endlessly writing or printing schedules and it doesn't take up much room. Thank you so much for sharing. This gives me hope and motivation for this year!!!

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    1. I hadn't even thought of all those benefits. Thanks for such a great list! I'm glad you found it encouraging. Enjoy your school year! :)

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  16. What a great idea!! I love having a schedule, but like you, I feel like if I don't know it at the designated times, everything is wrong all day! Visiting from the blog hop. I love how you have all the little boxes for your link ups at the bottom. I'd love to know how you did that!

    Lindsey

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    1. Thank you for commiserating with my obsessiveness, Lindsey! :)

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  17. This is great, Meghan! A few years ago I made my family crazy trying to stick to 15 minute time slots. Setting up more general routines has really helped for us. I like how you've given the children the freedom to do some things in the order of their choice, but still have the accountability to accomplish tasks assigned by you.
    You've inspired me today :)

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    1. Fifteen minute time slots? Did it make you crazy as well, Linda? I'm so glad you've found encouragement here! :)

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  18. Meghan, I've been homeschooling for 28 years, and I totally agree with you on this! The routine works very well, whereas a "time based" schedule can actually make everyone stressed. Great idea, and great post! I'd love for you to share this at my Tuesday blog hop/link up party: http://thecharactercorner.com/?p=5563

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    1. Thank you, Kathie! Your years of experience speak volumes. Thanks for the link-up also; I've added your button. :)

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  19. I like the visual this provides! I've also found that life is easier when we have a routine to our day rather than a schedule.

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    1. It does help children when they can really see something, doesn't it? I'm a list-maker anyway, so it helps me as well. :) Thanks, Holli!

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  20. Over-scheduling and over-planning nearly drove me insane when I first started homeschooling! Now I'm sure people would think me TOO relaxed, but this is MY HOME and OUR HOMESCHOOL, not Army basic training. When I'm not stressed then the kids aren't stressed and we can all learn together so much more easily and naturally.

    Oh, and I heartily agree! No matter what time the clock says, the day HAS to start with some time in the Word or my day's bound to go south quickly!

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    1. Love it, Tanya -- it's not Army basic training! :) You're so right. Do what works for you and your family. Thanks for commenting, and many blessings to you!

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  21. I LOVE this idea! I also have a husband whose schedule changes day-to-day! I have been beating myself up over not having a more structured school day! Thank you so much for this! I am implementing this NOW!!!

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    1. It's so discouraging how much stress we put on ourselves, but when we find what works it's sweet, sweet relief. I'm so glad you found this helpful, Michelle. Thank you for commenting!

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  22. This is really wonderful and may be just what we need! Thanks for the tips and the freedom :)

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    1. Excellent thought, Tauna. It's freeing not to have specific time slots. Thank you!

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  23. We do this too! I love the flexibility of the post it notes, easy to switch up. ~Kelly @ Eyes on the Source
    http://eyesonthesource.com/a-schedule-for-those-who-cant-stick-to-a-schedule/

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    1. You are so much more organized than I am, Kelly, and your rows are a lot neater. Yours looks wonderful! Thank you for sharing your link. :)

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  24. I've been trying to figure out how to do that exact thing for this year. Yours just cemented the best way. I will probably use cardstock to make the curriculum list and add magnets to the back for rearranging the list and changing as needed. I think I will also use clothespins for the marking of "Where are you?"

    I like to make our classroom and miscellaneous decor fun for the girls. This keeps them excited for the year. I am a garage sale/thrift store girl and find many of the items that way. Then I look for free items to get from the net or use my coupons to get the rest from Target/teacher store/Dollar Tree/etc.

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    1. Oooo, great ideas with the cardstock and magnets and clothespins! That would pretty it up quite a bit too. Hmmmm...now I'm rethinking mine. :)

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  25. Love the picture of how your son "plays" piano, lol! Too cute!

    I LOVED my homeschooling schedule and it was a timed schedule, but as you said, if you oversleep or sleep in you wake up behind, lol!

    So I had to tweak it a few times to find a schedule that worked best for us, and also to make sure I built in enough extra time in case it was needed. That way, if my sons completed their work early, they could have free time until the next schedule change.

    I felt like I "needed" to have mine have times on it, because that works best for my personality. But I am going to recommend your schedule of no times to any friends who need a bit more freedom in the day but still want to have a schedule.

    Thanks for linking up to the "Making Your Home Sing Monday" linky party today! :)

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    1. I would like to have a timed schedule, but I just can't seem to make it go with all the children and my husband. Good for you to keep it up, Nan!

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  26. Meghan,
    I like the routine over the strict schedule as well. I have a question tho... What do you do if you have a child who is routinely on "subject #2" when it is lunch time. I don't mean the occasional, "math took a little longer today" attitude I mean never really getting to "subject #4"?
    Thanks!
    Molly

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    1. Off the top of my head...I would start with incentives. For example, when he's done with school, he can play the Wii for 30 minutes or he can get outside faster. Whatever motivates. However, you'll need to stay vigilant to make sure he actually does the work to the best of his ability and doesn't just mark down answers so he can claim he is done. :-) I've also read that competition helps, even just competing with himself if there isn't a sibling. Set the timer and see if he can get done before the beep. My last resort would be discipline of some sort, and only you would know what might work for your child. Hope that helps, Molly.

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