As you are creating your plan for your upcoming year, we want you to consider the idea of a schedule versus a routine. A schedule is typically designated times to complete items, whereas a routine is a more general flow to your day. One of the most significant benefits of homeschooling is flexibility! Routines are great--a general idea of what your days will look like. For example, breakfast, get ready, and chore time first thing in the morning followed by school time, snack, and break time, followed by a bit more school then lunch! A routine allows you flexibility if a subject takes longer one day or an unexpected learning opportunity arises. A schedule is creating specific times for every activity and can end up being very confining and frustrating if something takes longer than it should, or an unexpected event happens.
Many parents are juggling working from home while homeschooling during this time of the COVID pandemic. While you may need to schedule designated hours for employment, there can still be a routine for your children within those periods. Plan to have them complete more independent work or enrichment activities if there are times when you are not available. Reading is also a great activity to fill time, and you can choose books that support their studies. For example, there are so many historical fiction books to go along with different historical periods. Teach them to make a list of questions or flag pages with a sticky note when they need help with, so when you have time, you can sit and assist them with those areas.
There are a few more considerations to keep in mind as your family begins this new journey!
Flexibility. It often seems just as you figure out a routine that fits your family, it will work for a while and then need to be tweaked for some reason or another! These changes can occur from year to year or even from month to month, especially if an unexpected life event happens--a new baby, a new job, or a family member dealing with an illness. It is sometimes hard to stray from the routine you have created--give yourself permission to be flexible enough to adjust when necessary. You will be so much happier in the long run.
School hours. Homeschooling will not take your entire day! You won’t be spending the whole day working on school with your children. In elementary school, typical instruction time might only be from one and a half to three hours. Middle schoolers might only need three to four hours of schooling time, while high schoolers can typically wrap up their day in four to six hours. And remember for older students you won’t have the extra homework hours that you usually have with public schools, which can leave time for enrichment, service, or employment opportunities.
Creative Scheduling. Additionally, consider a four day versus a five day school week, especially if you have elementary students. Doing school four days a week gives you an extra day to explore other topics, do more outside exploration, or catch up on lessons if something unexpected comes up earlier in the week. Weekend schooling, sometimes due to a parent’s work from home hours, may be necessary in order to complete teacher-directed lessons on the weekend and more independent lessons during the week.
Go ahead and start planning! Remember, you get to create the routine that works best for your family!