Get Started Homeschooling: Schedule Your Homeschool Days

A daily homeschool schedule will look different for every single homeschool parent, even if they are using the same curricula! As a result, I worry about how this post will come across to people under so many different styles of learning. The three styles I will describe today are a scripted homeschool schedule, a child-led homeschool schedule, and an unschooling schedule. I also discuss the pluses of using a family “morning time” to set the tone of your homeschool day.

Consider having a blend of a scripted schedule homeschool day, a child-led homeschool schedule, or even an unschool day for your homeschool.

A Scripted Homeschool Schedule

A scripted homeschool schedule works well for some moms. In a scripted schedule, the parent plans what needs to be done each day of the week. Then, he or she blocks out time for each subject for each day and plans how it will look. Thus, at 9:00 am, the family sits down for history reading. At 9:15, they shift to math for 30 minutes, and so forth.

Benefits of a Scripted Homeschool Schedule

Such a schedule really helps parents who have multiple children needing parental assistance with work. Parents can work with one child at a specified time, and then shift to working with the next child, and each child knows what is to be done in the interim time.

In addition, keeping a scripted schedule helps parents keep on track with their plans for the homeschool year. Parents can make sure children finish what they need to do each week by following a daily plan.

Some curricula for homeschoolers are written using a “script.” This tells the home educator just what to do on each day of the 32- or 36-week terms. That said, using a scripted homeschool schedule does not mean that children are at a desk for a long time. Reading aloud to young ones, doing physical learning activities, and even having exercise breaks are all items added onto a scripted homeschool schedule.

Downsides of a Scripted Homeschool Schedule

The downside of a scripted daily schedule is a lack of flexibility. Sometimes a math assignment will take longer than planned. Sometimes children wake up on the wrong side of the bed and are not co-operative.

However, for those wanting to follow a scripted schedule, developing predictable routines may help them in teaching children in their homes. My oldest child (a middle schooler) is often provided with a scripted homeschool schedule for the morning, and the afternoons are left to be more child-led.

Learn More about Scripted and Classical Homeschooling

A Child-Led Homeschool Schedule

As much as I wanted to prescribe the times we would get things done in our daily homeschool, I’ve found that a formal homeschool schedule did not work well for myself and my younger children.

Instead, I tend to let my children led in terms of what we focus on at which times each day. In a child-led homeschool, parents could choose the items to learn and learn it in the order the child prefers. Or, parents could provide suggestions and options for a homeschool day and let the child choose what to work on each day. This second option leans toward unschooling (see below).

In my case, I provide an outline of what I would like to do each week. I expect my children to do something in each category (math, science, reading, handwriting, spelling, etc). Then, I let my child decide what she’d like to do first. For example, we can’t do our art projects until the piano is practiced. We have to do one of the hardest things (handwriting or math) first. But I try to give her flexibility in our homeschool schedule whenever possible. This causes less resistance to school in general.

Benefits of a Child-Led Homeschool Schedule

A child-led homeschool schedule means that a child is engaged in what he or she more-or-less is okay with doing. It allows a child to finish a project or an assignment on his or her own terms. Since he or she has somewhat chosen to begin that assignment at that time, she’ll continue.

Further, letting a child choose from among options, may make the learning all the more engaging. Maybe she really wants to stamp her spelling words. Or maybe we will do multiplication practice outside with rocks or on the Boom Learning app instead of the textbook.

Downsides to a Child-Led Homeschool Schedule

Once a parent turns some of the homeschool scheduling over to a child, things will not get done. Maybe she will spend “too much” time on mathematics, and she won’t ever start her writing assignment. For a parent feeling pressure to finish a curriculum, this would be more difficult to accept.

In our own situation, because I’ve taken breaks from our math textbook to review concepts more difficult for my daughter, we did not finish the second-grade curriculum in second grade. She’ll start third grade with a few more lessons to finish from the second-grade curriculum. For me, it is worth the breaks we took to review three-digit subtraction and multiplication. But each parent must work out their comfort level for school work unfinished.

Learn More about Child-Led Learning

An Unschool Schedule

Another approach to homeschooling is the unschool schedule. In this type of homeschooling, a parent is more of a guide or simply an observer of child behavior. A child has a choice on what to spend time each day. Parents may provide suggestions, but the child gets to decide. There is little formal schooling unless it is requested.

Essentially, this is what my preschooler’s homeschool “schedule” is like, and this is how I taught my children in kindergarten as well. I have a checklist for her, as I do for her older sister. But, I don’t write down a weekly plan for her. Instead, I follow her lead. In the mornings, sometimes she goes straight for a game. If it’s a numbers game, I’ll check off that box with a note. If it’s word or letters game, I’ll cross that off the list.

Other homeschool parents adapt this non-scheduled homeschool approach for older children as well. One child might write a story. A tween may spend a morning making a house out of LEGO bricks, and a parent can count it as STEM. A teenager may decide to apply for local jobs or research the planets just because he is interested. Maybe he’ll do a study of mathematics to figure out how much he needs to charge for each cup of lemonade at his lemonade stand. When a child is interested in a subject, he will be more likely to learn the information.

The downside of this approach is, of course, that there is little formal schooling going on, and the parent is waiting for the student to seek out more information. Parents have to let go of control in this approach.

Learn More about Unschooling

More about Homeschool Schedules

Morning Time on the Homeschool Schedule

Regardless of what type of schedule you decide to use, it is a great idea to develop good habits. I’ve written before about how to get your morning started right.

One thing we’ve started doing since the stay-at-home order began in March is a family morning time. This is partly inspired by Pam Barnhill’s morning basket. This family time allows us to do some things together before my son goes off to do the work on his scripted schedule, my daughter begins her child-led learning, and my preschooler goes off to unschool herself.

Learn More about Morning Time

We have been adding things to our morning time. We mostly listen to some scriptures and discuss it. I bring up something I want everyone to consider for the day, like a character trait (kindness, or obeying right away). Sometimes we also read our family book (this is a book we’ve chosen on Audible or a read-aloud). Occasionally, we at some poetry. Maybe tomorrow we’ll do poems with the banana bread I’ve made.

This is a great time for unity. Even though we all learn different things, there is one time of day we’re all learning and listening together.

Consider having a blend of a scripted schedule homeschool day, a child-led homeschool schedule, or even an unschool day for your homeschool.

More in This Series

There is a lot more you may want to know about geting started homeschooling! Below are specific “how to” concepts I intend to address.

Go to the first post in this how to get started homeschooling series.

Have another “how to homeschool” question? Contact me and I’ll write about it too. Send me an email if you have specific questions, or ask me directly on my Facebook page.

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