March 4, 2010

Tips and Tricks: Pacing Your Days

photo_10631_20091216 There are about as many ways to schedule your family as there are families. No two will have the same mix of ages, personalities, and academics. In this post I will outline several possibilities for scheduling homeschooling with a mix of ages. Feel free to use the ideas as a springboard for the right schedule for your family.
The Time Slot Schedule
In the time slot schedule you take the basics of your day that don’t change, such as meals, naps, and family scripture study and plug those into your plan first. For example:
7:30am – 8:00am Breakfast and chores.
12:00pm – 12:30pm Lunch
1:00pm – 3:00pm Naps
5:00pm – 6:00pm Dinner and Scriptures
Next choose your wake up time and when you expect the kids to be up. I suggest mom gets up at least a half hour before the children for some time to pray and read God’s word. This time will fill you more than sleeping in another 30 minutes ever could. Add in subjects for each time, or a specific child to work with during each time, and off you go.
If you start running behind remember that your schedule is a tool and you are the boss. Jump in where you are and let go of what you’ve missed.
The Routine Schedule
Basically a relaxed version of the Time Slot schedule, this is what we use. It works well with unit studies. Instead of specific times for work you have large blocks of time to complete X number of subjects(or a unit study/group work). Between breakfast and lunch you may expect all math, writing, and two independent subjects to be done. Then after lunch you might do history on Mon/Wed/Fri and science on Tues/Thur.
Mom rotates through the group to help children as needed.
The AM/PM Schedule
This is where you teach half the children in the morning the subjects you have to help them with, while the other half of the children work on independent things (math flashcards, instrument practice, typing or handwriting, writing a story, art, reading, etc.). In the afternoon the children switch. My best suggestions if you want to try this are to take children’s personalities into account. Let the cheerful morning children work independently while those who take a while to wake up get mom working with them to motivate them. Or let the ones who hit their stride after lunch to do the hardest subjects(that need mom) in the afternoon. Be sure the young children get some time right after breakfast with mom, even 10 minutes, so their love tank is filled and they can play happily with others.
The Alternating Schedule
Similar to the AM/PM schedule but on a grander scale. Work with half the children on Mondays and Wednesdays, and half the children on Tuesdays and Thursdays. On a child’s off days they do independent work, complete projects started with mom, or just play depending on their age. You can set aside an hour in the morning for things you do together daily such as scripture memorization or history read-alouds. This together time could be scheduled in the afternoon right after lunch, maybe even at night with dad. What works for your family?
The Weekly List Schedule
At the beginning of the week each child is given a list of assignments. They work independently all week, seeking mom out when they need help. For beginning readers there will be a chunk of time every day that they
need to work directly with mom. Here is how it could work:
Child 1’s list might read:
- Do 5 pages in math.
- Read chapters 8-10 in Charlotte’s Web and write a paper about the relationship Wilbur has with each animal in the barn.
- Practice piano 30 minutes daily.
- Do 1 chapter in science book and the note booking and experiments included.
- Complete project on the the history of farms, be sure to make one item for display.
Child 4’s List might be more like this:
- Read with mom every morning.
- Practice writing spelling words 3 times each day.
- Draw two of your favorite animals from our family read aloud (Charlotte’s Web) and tell an older sibling why they are your favorite.
- Practice addition facts while jumping on the trampoline each afternoon.
- Build a Lego creation.
The Rollover Schedule
You’ve heard of roll over cell phone minutes? Why not try a rollover plan for your homeschool? There are so many fun or non-essential subjects that we want to do but never seem to get around to. These are the ones that usually get pushed to the side when life interrupts our homeschool schedule. Here is what you do:
1. Choose your homeschooling times for the day.
2. List the subjects you want done in homeschool:
  • Math
  • Read-alouds
  • Writing
  • Science
  • Spelling
  • Piano
  • Art
  • French
  • Board Games
  • Nature Study
  • History
3. Now you start at the top of the list in the morning. Each time you have set for homeschooling do the next thing on the list. At the end of your scheduled times stop where you are. The next morning pick up where you left off in the list. When you reach the bottom, roll back up to the top and begin again!
For example on Monday you might start at the top of the list and make it through Piano before your homeschooling time is up. Tuesday morning just start with Art and keep going. Perhaps Tuesday you only get through Nature Study because your family gets caught up exploring the local park for signs of spring. No problem! On Wednesday everyone starts in History. Time to roll over! Now you make it clear through French because everyone is on the ball today and enjoying the subjects they haven’t done since earlier in the week.
Does that idea make some of you moms cringe?
“Math and writing need to be every day!” you think to yourself.
Great! Tweak it! What about doing a set block in the morning of daily work (math and writing). Then the rest of your homeschool day is on the rollover schedule, rotating through list of things you would love to get to regularly, but that do not have to be done daily.
March is here and it is a great time to try something new! The most important part of any schedule is getting on your knees to seek the Lord’s approval or direction, then getting on your feet and doing it. No, every day will not go exactly according to plan. But having a plan smoothes out your day. Everyone gets to know how things generally go, and they fall into it willingly once it is a habit.
You can drop in and visit Tristan and her family at their homeschool blog, Our Busy Homeschool.

Image: Salvatore Vuono /

7 comments - Add a comment below -:

- Dana ♥ said...

I love this post Tristan. You've given me something to think about. My oldest does the assignment list,that has always worked for him. Now that he is attending college part time,we've just added that to his list and it still works great. My youngest two, kind of do a mixture of the weekly list and the routine schedule. However the rollover schedule looks like something that would work for us better. We often miss the "fun" stuff because we just can't get to everything some days. I like the idea of a certain block everyday (math,writing,reading,spelling) and then letting the rollover schedule kick in. I'll have to ponder this. Thanks ☺

Chocolate on my Cranium said...

We are a time slot family usingManagers of Their Homes as a guide. But I can sure see how we can mesh the roll over schedule as part of it. Never thought of "rolling over" the subjects. I really like that idea!

Tristan said...

I started with Managers of their Homes too, (loved it!). My family prefers the routine over the time based schedule though, so we stick with that.

I love the rolling over idea too. It really has helped as we have had so many review items with my TOS Crew position. We keep up with basics and then rotate through everything else. It is great!

Carissa said...

Great ideas! Especially the rollover thing... never even thought of that but it makes total sense. I'm sort of a burned-out homeschool mom but maybe your website can help me get motivated again. It looks so useful! Thanks!

Kathy said...

Knowing there are so many options for homeschooling schedules takes the pressure off. We're somewhere in between the routine and the alternating schedule, and it works fairly well. My son gets through his work faster so I usually try to teach him the high points, and then turn him loose while I work with my daughter who benefits from more hands-on teaching. I'm giving some thought to a block schedule: MTTH- the 3 R's, essentially, and then WF for music,art, History & science. I'm a little scared to try, but it can't hurt. I think we might enjoy all of the subjects more, and not have to rush through this quite like we do now.

We7 said...

Wow Oh Wow! You are amazing! I feel like a old dog who just learned a new trick. I can roll over! Thank you! Your idea just liberated Art and Robotics and a few other things that are constantly neglected! May you find a few extra treats in your bowl tomorrow!

Jeanine said...

The rollover schedule is a fun idea, we do interest based learning, and try to bring the basics into each interest. We just did bunny math on the abacus, talking about how many bunnies one set of parents can have in a year, because that is what the kids are interested in.