Planning a schedule for homeschooling can feel completely overwhelming. I know. I didn’t make a plan last year, I winged it from day to day, week to week. And it really showed. This year I have a new found determination not to fail at the first hurdle and to actually take control of the homeschooling situation. For this to be a success however, planning ahead is vital.
Decide On Your Schedule
Honestly I cannot emphasise this point enough. I made a huge error last year in not deciding on a schedule and implementing it. Trust me, you need it. The kiddies need to understand their homeschooling routine, and you need to know when the school breaks are and when you can hang up your teacher hat. This year we’re identically following the term dates of one of the local international schools here. There are two reasons for this. Firstly, why create work for myself by trying to determine what are reasonable holiday periods vs. teaching weeks? Secondly, since this is the school most of my kids friends go to (thanks to their parents being on generous expat packages- tsk!), I might as well ensure we’re all on off-days together.
Buy Yourself A Planner
It doesn’t have to be anything fancy or expensive. In fact it doesn’t even have to be a calender or diary. If you’re familiar with bullet journalling then this will be an easy next step. If not then watch this video, and then go and get yourself the essentials: a blank book and a nice pen (or if you’re like me, a nice set of multi-coloured pens for the inevitable colour coding). I have divided my planner into three sections which I will talk about below.
The Day / Week / Month / Year Ahead
Section one in my planner is basically a calender. The full academic year has been broken down by month, week and day (I’m not using terms, but you could do). This allows me to see what I’m working with in a manageable format, meaning planning feels less overwhelming.
I’ve then colour coded important dates, such as red for school holidays (hooray!), and green for notable celebrations / events which could offer ideas for the topics in the week(s) prior. The orange number indicates which week of teaching we are in. This is a reference point to be used in the next section. It also helps break the year down slightly, i.e. our academic year 2017/2018 has 37 teaching weeks in total, which sounds far less intimidating than a year of teaching.
Our term dates are:
14/8/17 – 6/10/17
(two week break)
23/10/17 – 15/12/2017
(three week break)
8/1/18 – 23/3/18
(two week break)
9/4/18 – 15/6/18
You set your own dates, as I said, these are ours for personal and practical reasons.
Start Planning Week By Week
Section two of my planner references the teaching week I set out in section one (in orange). As I’m teaching littlies, I’ve opted for a letter of the week and a topic of the week.
Letter of the week guides our phonics (speaking and reading), and handwriting practice. As my kids are both already very familiar with the alphabet we’ll be thinking about how the sound of a letter changes depending on what other letters are alongside it (for example the letter Y can have a “yuh” sound or an “ee” sound). But as with anything homeschooling, you go at the pace of your child.
Topic of the week varies hugely. Some weeks are maths focused, for example the topic of time perfectly introduces the idea of fractions into our teaching in a real world way (that doesn’t involve cutting up cake!). Other weeks are centred around a celebration or an event, for example week commencing 30th October we’ll be learning all about Guy Fawkes (a figure in British history) as Bonfire Night (a British celebration commemorating Fawkes failed attempt to blow up Parliament) takes place on the Sunday of that week. So that week the focus will be on learning about this story from British history (we’re British), but will be complemented by firework based crafts and making explosions in science for example.
So long as the topic’s are varied and interesting I really don’t think it matters what they are. I also think (at this age anyway) it’s important not to get too hung up on ticking every subject box off with a topic. Start with your skeleton schedule and then add to it as and when you think / find subject related activities.
The Homeschool Day
Probably one of the more difficult parts of homeschool planning, for me anyway, is determining our school day. I’m saying this because teaching from home offers up more distractions for me than it does for the kids. However, whether the washing up pile from breakfast has been cleaned away or not, the school day HAS to start on time. It needs to have a familiar routine every day, and your kids need to understand that they need to be up, dressed and had breakfast ready for it to start. Just as if they went to conventional school. This is not a rule I stuck to at all last year, and we would often be found starting to get books out at 11am whilst the kids were just in their pants. As relaxed and enjoyable as it was, it wasn’t setting the right tone for any of us.
So for the coming year, this will be our schedule:
9:15am School starts – complete the date, day of the week and weather on the board
9:30am – 10:15am Letter of the week – handwriting practice sheets, practicing the sounds of the letter, reading words containing those sounds and spelling test of words containing the letter/sound
10:15am – 10:30am Early morning break – small snack and drink, opportunity to go to the toilet, quick play
10:30am – 11:15am Maths and numbers – challenges involving using maths, completing worksheets of sums, introducing new ideas (e.g. fractions, times tables etc)
11:15am – 11:30am Late morning break – playtime
11:30am – 12:30pm Topic of the week via supporting subjects e.g. craft activity, Marvin & Milo science experiment, Horrible Histories, cooking activity, storytime
Occasionally a trip out will be incorporated into the topic of the week, this will either take place after lunch in place of the 11:30am lesson, or it will begin at 11:30am depending on where/what it is.
12:30pm – 1:30pm Lunch time – food, drink and play
Afternoon Spent enjoying the park, beach, swimming lessons, galleries, museums etc or creative play at home
Homeschooling is definitely not for the faint hearted. And it really requires discipline to make it happen. Realistically, it’s only manageable for us because the kids are so young still. If you’re thinking about homeschooling and feeling a bit lost feel free to drop me a line firstname.lastname@example.org I’m no expect by any stretch of the imagination, but I do know how it feels to try, fail, and try again.
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