The ideal homeschool schedule has both structure and flexibility. The purpose of a schedule is to help you accomplish the things you think are most important. A schedule also helps you make the most of your time. Your life will usually run more smoothly when you have a schedule. Many children love structure, but too much structure can be stifling. Flexibility can still be built into a routine. Creating margins in your routine means that you don’t have to miss out on good things that were unscheduled.
We have basic schoolwork to complete each day. We actually start the school year two weeks earlier than most families, with half days, doing only our math and grammar, so we will be able to take a day off now and then without getting behind. This is one type of built-in flexibility.
For us, some homeschool activities start at lunchtime. In order to do them, we have a shortened school day on those days. Then other days of the week, we have longer days and complete all of our subjects. A combination of longer and shorter workdays is another type of schedule that has built in flexibility.
Our family doesn’t go by the public-school calendar. We don’t take a long fall or spring break. We do take holidays off when my husband is off work. Some years, we might finish our 180 school days in May. Other years we might take an off-season vacation and finish later. Our family’s schedule doesn’t need to look like yours. Maybe one of your children attends a brick and mortar school, and your entire family needs to follow that school’s calendar. Make a schedule that works for your family, and remember that it doesn’t need to fit anyone else’s mold.
As your students become teens, you might need to adjust your schedule to include their job, volunteer work, or time spent with friends and extra-curricular clubs. You might find it helpful to adjust the time of day that your student does schoolwork, or you can adopt a university model schedule with classes only on certain days of the week—leaving some days completely open. You might need to change your school schedule more than once to find the right fit, and that’s okay, too. You still have structure and flexibility!
Please don’t try to be all structure; you’ll miss many opportunities for fun and fellowship. And please don’t try to be all flexibility—you won’t get anything done. To succeed (and avoid frustration) customize your homeschool with a balance of both structure and flexibility. You and your family will love it!
Dava Banner has been married thirty-seven years and has three fine sons. She has been a happy homeschooler for seventeen years and counting. She and her family live on a small farm in Crouse.