There are so many different seasons that we endure and enjoy through our homeschooling years . . . and sometimes even within months.
There was a time when I could not keep a schedule for the life of me. I’d try and I’d try and I’d try, only to find myself stressed and overwhelmed. I had a newborn at the time, and I wish I had known that it was okay to just let some things go and do things at our leisure.
There was a time when we couldn’t get through all of our school subjects each and every day. I’d try so very hard, only to find myself stressed and frustrated. I had a child with intense special needs at the time, and I wish I had known that it was okay to just focus on what was most important.
There was a time when routines worked for us, and there was a time when they didn’t. There was a time when a schedule worked, and a time when it didn’t.
There was a time when we did all school subjects each and every day, and a time when we looped through them, or assigned specific subjects to certain days.
There was a time when I was only formally teaching one child, and now, I’m teaching 3.
Over the course of it all, I've had to learn to shift and change and be more flexible and open to new possibilities. I've also had to learn to truly embrace the freedom we have with homeschooling.
Right now, we are using a mixture of schedules, routines, and checklists:
a loose schedule to keep us focused
routines to keep us on track
student checklists for my 3rd and 6th graders
As the children grow, I'm seeing that they are also learning how to use schedules, routines, and checklists to help them be more responsible and independent. It's really neat to see how the older two are embracing what works best for them and their unique personalities. Here is a breakdown of each.
Schedules are sometimes fun to put together. I love mapping out the homeschool week with each and every activity, extra-curricular event, and subject. The problem is that real-life often gets in the way of even the best-laid plans, and executing it all can be challenging--especially is you have little ones or lots of extra-curricular activities throughout the week.
If you're open to being flexible and like the idea of a schedule, here are some pros and cons to consider:
Provides structure and predictability
Often helps children with autism or other special needs
Ensures time for the things that are most valuable
May feel too rigid and constricting
Can be more stressful with infants or children with special needs, depending on your child
Will need to shift and change with the addition of extra-curricular activities, field trips, and life events
For additional resources, video tutorials, and free printables, check out these posts:
Homeschool routines involve a specific sequence without time constraints. Sometimes time frames are used instead to allow for a certain amount of time per activity, but these time frames are not necessarily at a consistent time each day.
For example, you may designate 15 minutes for Bible and 15 minutes for read alouds, and just work through the sequence as the day unfolds and allows, setting a timer to keep you on track.
Routines allow for more flexibility, but they also require more self-discipline in order to make sure that everything gets done by the end of the day. If you’re opting for a routine, here are some things to keep in mind:
Allows for flexibility
Can be less stressful
Easily allows for rabbit trails, spontaneous field trips or activities, and other events
May be overwhelming for children, who need more structure
May leave out important and meaningful activities
May stretch out the homeschool day
When children become older and more independent, student checklists may allow for more flexibility, along with accountability. Some children can complete their individual checklists on a timed schedule if they prefer, and others can complete their responsibilities at their leisure.
Which one is best?
At the end of the day, the most important thing to keep in mind is that the schedule, routines, and checklists are there to serve YOU and your family—not the other way around.
I don’t know what season you are in but know that this homeschool journey is not about definitives and must-haves. It’s not about doing things the way others say to do it.
It’s about sharing life together, focusing on what’s most important for your family, and creating rhythms and structures that make it all possible.
What is working for your homeschool family in this season?