Organizing Your Homeschool Day – Part II

Posted on October 27, 2015 by Amanda Witman

In Part I, we explored some essentials to include in your homeschool routine. Here we take a look at some ways to approach ongoing planning and create a helpful academic routine.
With household and family routines and the less flexible activities in place in your schedule (even tentatively), the next step is to make regular time for academic planning.

Photo credit: Lucy Enge. (Oak Meadow archives.)
Photo credit: Lucy Enge.
(Oak Meadow archives.)

Some parents prepare their academic plan monthly or even yearly, but it is important to revisit it regularly and to include your child in the process. Set aside a dedicated time each week to look over your homeschooling materials and curriculum and figure out what needs to be accomplished in the coming week. Make a list of materials needed and gather them together. Set things up so that you feel as prepared as possible before the week begins.
As children get older, consider sitting down with them once a week to look at the coming week’s plan and discuss what needs to happen and when. Sometimes our children have insights into their own habits and capabilities that will help ensure a successful plan. In time, students who are in the habit of a weekly planning session may be able to manage it on their own, or at least begin a to-do list themselves before finalizing it with a parent.
Visual tools can be very helpful. Some families create a weekly assignment sheet with checkboxes so that each student can easily see what needs to be done and mark things off as they are completed. For others, a large chalkboard or whiteboard is the best tool for listing daily or weekly assignments, along with reminders of other important weekly responsibilities or events.
Preparing your schedule is like laying out a custom patchwork quilt. Continue moving the pieces around until they fit together just right. Over time you’ll hone and create a good flow for each day.
When the fundamentals are in place in your schedule, and you’ve included time for planning and outside activities, it’s time to work out in detail how academic time will be spent.
Identify regular times for focusing on academic learning and practice. It may take some trial and error to figure out how much time you need to block off for academics in each day or week. If you are unsure, start by reserving more time than you think you need, particularly if you’re still figuring out each family member’s inner rhythm.
Photo credit: The Ross family. (Oak Meadow archives.)
Photo credit: The Ross family.
(Oak Meadow archives.)

In the younger grades (K-3), many families start their day with Circle Time. This can become a wonderful ritual that everyone looks forward to. It is an opportunity for sharing a verse, poem, song, or story as a family. Some families also integrate yoga, dance, a thought question, or the cultivation of gratitude. Circle Time can be as long or as brief as your child can tolerate – just long enough to be a positive experience. If it’s not working well, change it!
For older children who have outgrown the concept of Circle Time, devise another way to connect each morning. Use that opportunity to discuss the plan for the day. This might be as simple as chatting over breakfast or checking in with each other en route to a scheduled morning activity. Make it a point to touch base with your child in some way each morning to go over the day’s plan and affirm your connection with each other.
Each Oak Meadow curriculum lesson is designed to be completed over the course of one week and contains an assignment summary in each subject, which can be used to create a checklist for each lesson.
Some families choose to do something in every subject every day. Other families prefer to use block scheduling, focusing exclusively on one or two subjects for a day or more at a time, or “loop scheduling,” where you attend to subjects one by one in a chosen order, returning to the top of the list once you’ve completed the loop. You can read more about these different approaches here. You might come up with another approach that will work even better for your child.
Consider how long your child can focus before he or she needs a break. Students and parents both benefit from the opportunity to switch gears when needed. Academics can be strategically woven around active play and down time to make learning time as efficient as possible.
If you believe you will need more time for academics than you have in your schedule, consider ways to multitask. Depending on the ages and abilities of your children, you may be able to overlap different kinds of activities.
Photo credit: Lindsey Obliskey. (Oak Meadow archives.)
Photo credit: Lindsey Obliskey.
(Oak Meadow archives.)

For example, you might have a period of time during which a child is working on academics in the kitchen while you prepare a meal. Or you might have a focused academic session with an older child while a younger one naps. If you have multiple children with various needs, consider engaging extra hands — a neighbor, grandparent, or friend — to help you succeed.
One of the great joys of homeschooling is having the opportunity to follow a custom-fit schedule. There are many good possible ways to organize your homeschool time, so go ahead, make a plan, and give it a try. Do the best you can, allow for flexibility where needed, and trust in the process. You’ll soon figure out what works best for your family!