Timing is Everything with Homeschool
Written by Amber Marie | January 26, 2018
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I needed to start somewhere, so I began looking at what other homeschoolers were doing. Through my search, I found many types of schedules to choose from. Let’s dive deeper into each method to get a better understanding, then I’ll share the schedule I have chosen to implement (which uses a few characteristics from each method).
Traditional scheduling includes the subjects you want to teach planned on a regular basis. For example, say you want to teach math, reading, writing, science, geography, and social studies each week. You may schedule each of these subjects each day or decide to alternate and teach reading and writing one day, math and science the next day, and geography and social studies on the third day. This method of scheduling has some pros and cons.
- You fit all the subjects in everyday or every week
- Your schedule is consistent and predictable
- You have little flexibility for interruptions or life events
- There is too much planned in one day which can lead to burnout
- There is too much space between subjects which can lead to gaps in learning
Block scheduling is setting blocks of time for scheduling homeschool classes. There are many ways you can use block scheduling in your homeschool. The first thing you must decide with block scheduling is the time periods you plan on using. Many homeschoolers who use this method will break their year into two semesters and further into 3 or 4 terms (sets of weeks followed by a break). Once you decide on a time period, you choose which subjects you would like to focus on during those times.
For example, let’s say you would like to rotate between History, Science, and Geography. The first term (lets say a 7 week period – 6 weeks on, 1 week off), you would focus on Science. During this period of time, you would only teach Science and not History or Geography. Once the first term ended, you would switch from Science to History and spend the next term focusing only on History. In the final term, you would switch to Geography. After you complete each block, you repeat the pattern.
Following this type of schedule allows for more focused time on one subject versus split time on multiple subjects. Although this method works with many subject areas, I would not suggest this type of schedule for younger students in regards to the core subjects of reading, writing and math. These subjects should be taught daily or every other day to help ensure a strong foundation in learning to read, write, and building number sense. For more on block scheduling, check out the links below.
Loop scheduling is as it sounds. You create a list of subjects, activities, projects, etc that you wish to complete in your homeschool and you loop through the activities as time presents itself. Many homeschoolers will keep the core subjects intact but loop through different studies for the other school time blocks. For example, maybe you keep your reading, writing, and math in the morning when your children are most focused. Then in the afternoon, you loop through history, science, geography, art and music. These subjects are not scheduled on a specific day. You just do them as you approach them on your list. Each day you complete one or two in order, then the next day you move down the list to the others. Once you reach the end, you start at the beginning. Simple enough, right?
Another way homeschoolers will use looping is through activities, lessons, and games within one subject. For example, for math you have a progression you like to follow with teaching a new math concept. Maybe you start with a focused lesson, then hands-on work, then a review game. You could use this list and loop throughout the week to vary the type of activities you complete during math time. It definitely will help keep things interesting for your different subjects.
- Looping: Task Management for a (Recovering) Type A Mom
- Fitting It All In: The Loop Schedule
- Loop Scheduling
So you may be wondering which one of these scheduling methods I use and how I use it. Well, I would say my homeschool schedule is a mix of all, mostly traditional and loop, but some block scheduling included. Let me explain. I have created blocks of time for different subjects/tasks for school time. In the mornings while my toddler is awake, I have found it easier to complete handwriting, calendar, geography, and Classical Conversations (CC) review. While my oldest completes his handwriting practice, my toddler will practice his own handwriting (aka scribbling) in a dry erase book like this one. Then we will move to calendar where my oldest will use his dot-it calendar along with this magnet calendar board. My toddler is by this time playing with some toys or still scribbling away.
Finally our morning school block will end with CC review time through the use of youtube videos. Here is one area we implement loop and block scheduling. We loop through different weeks and block different subjects. Currently our schedule follows a rotation of week 1/2 math and history, followed by week 3/4 math and history, and so on until we reach week 11/12, then we repeat weeks 1 through 12 but with latin and science. This method has helped limit the stress of reviewing the abundance of memory work that comes with CC. Before, when I would try a review all the subjects and all the weeks, it would take too long and it was too repetitive. With implementing loops and blocks, it keeps things fresh and also allows us to review all 12 weeks of most CC subjects (the subjects I choose to review) within a months time.
The afternoon is where I implement the loop schedule with a more traditional approach. This block of school time is math and reading focused. Following the traditional schedule, we complete math and reading daily (except on CC community days…too much to add for one day). Loop scheduling occurs with the variety of math and reading lessons/activities. For both subjects, I like to follow a rotation that includes a lesson, a hands-on activity, and then a review game. After completing each on the list, we repeat the loop. Following a loop schedule like allows for interruptions to our schedule. If I miss one day, I don’t worry about a missed activity that was scheduled on a specific day. Instead I go to the next item on the list for that subject. This approach takes the stress out of the day, especially when things go ary due to sickness or other interruptions.
To help you visualize this type of schedule I’ve included the table below.
|Morning (9:00 – 10:00)||
|Afternoon (1:30 – 2:00)||Reading (loop through lesson, hands-on activity, review game)|
|Afternoon (2:00 – 2:30)||Math (loop through lesson, hands-on activity, review game)|
There are many ways to approach your homeschool schedule and I implore you to explore your options. Not every method will work for every homeschool family, but once you find what works, it can be freeing. Also, just because a type of schedule works right now does not mean it will work forever. Be flexible and accept change when it makes sense.