Finding the Homeschool Schedule that Works for You!
Crafting a homeschool schedule is difficult for many parents because the only schedule they know is that of a traditional school. But as a homeschooler, you can throw that schedule out the window if it doesn’t work for you! Homeschooling provides the awesome flexibility for parents to create any schedule that meets their family’s needs.
Fortunately, most state laws only require that you homeschool for a set number of days per year. They don’t tell you what hours or days you must homeschool — you figure that out yourself. For instance, I work three days a week for six hours a day. As a result, we homeschool during the late afternoons on those days. We like our little system and my kids enjoy the shifting schedule. Below are some other schedule options you can discuss with your family.
Traditional or Yearly Schedule
This type of schedule usually runs from the end of August through May. Many homeschoolers look at the number of days or hours their state requires per year and use that as a guide. For example, Florida requires 180 days a year, which works out to two 18-week semesters. We set up our schedule that way and rotate different courses each semester.
Families that use this schedule usually homeschool four or five days a week, take days off if necessary, or for vacations and holidays, and homeschool until they reach the mandated days. I have a few friends who break the homeschool year into four nine-week quarters. It all just depends on what works best for you and your family.
I have friends who homeschool year-round and they love it. They take more breaks than most traditional homeschoolers and they do homeschool all throughout the year. There are other benefits that come with following a year-round schedule, including:
- No summer slide: The kids continue to homeschool during the summer so they don’t fall behind or lose any knowledge that they gained the year before.
- Flexibility: Winters in Florida are actually much more enjoyable than the simmering summer months. With that in mind, families homeschool more in the summer and take frequent breaks in the winter while still learning.
- No cramming: Year-round homeschoolers have more time to work on challenging subjects, which means less stress for everyone.
- Building a rhythm: My friends tell me that their kids generally keep a positive tempo all year long. The breaks they take aren’t huge so they don’t interfere with their learning momentum.
You could create your own year-long schedule by taking one whole month off and then smaller breaks throughout the year — or some other alternative. Homeschooling gives you that flexibility.
After you determine whether a traditional schedule or year-round schedule is best for your family, you can decide how you will construct your week-to-week schedule. For example, you could homeschool four days a week and use one day as a catch-up day. Some parents homeschool at home three days a week and join a homeschool group for one or two days a week.
A strict Monday through Friday schedule is not mandatory. Working parents often homeschool on weekends and provide a couple days off during the week. You can tweak your schedule to align with your work schedule, just like we do.
Block and Loop Schedules
Instead of doing math every day for 40 minutes to an hour, some parents “block” large amounts of time to focus on the subject. For instance, you could block two hours on Tuesday and Thursday for math and two hours on Monday and Wednesday for science. This allows you to focus on a particular subject and still have time for other activities and lessons.
With a loop schedule you simply choose a few subjects that your kids enjoy and pick a day or two that you can study them. For example, if your child likes music, maybe you could focus on it every Friday. Then, each week you loop back to that subject on the chosen day. You can choose any subject and any day during the week, it’s your call.
Daily schedules vary for homeschoolers. Some prefer starting in the morning, others homeschool during the evening. It really depends on when you have time, especially if you have a job, and when your kids learn best. In our case, my kids learn best mid-morning through the afternoon, so that’s when we concentrate on the more difficult subjects.
The amount of time you homeschool each day will also vary. Don’t concern yourself or stress out if your child is done with school in two to three hours — especially at an early age. As your kids get older, it may take them longer to do the more complicated subjects, but you’ll rarely spend as much time schooling as kids do in traditional classrooms.
If you compare a homeschool day to a traditional school day, you’ll notice a significant difference. Traditional schools have so many more interruptions during the day. As a homeschooler, you have the luxury of providing a focused, one-on-one educational experience with fewer distractions. After all, you don’t have 20+ kids with various personalities in a classroom.
In the end, your schedule will fit your family’s needs. That’s why so many homeschool schedules vary — because each family is different. But homeschooling provides you with the flexibility and freedom to work around the various obstacles that pop up during our daily lives. So go ahead, create your own schedule and enjoy your homeschooling adventure!
For more information about homeschool scheduling, take a look through our best articles on the topic!