You know the most freeing moment I have had as a homeschool mom? The moment I let myself scrap the schedule and just go with it.
Yes, I heard the gasp filter its way through the internet line. I know, right, scrap the schedule. What? However will I get anything done?
Well, I’m here to tell you that we get more done now than we ever did when we had a schedule. Let me tell you how it has worked for us.
First, this is how my first year of homeschooling lesson plans looked (give or take).
800-830 – Get kids up, get ready for the day
830-900 – Breakfast
900-930 – Clean up after breakfast and get ready for school
930-945 – Devotion
945-1000 – Bible lessons
1000-1015 – Handwriting
1015-1030 – Break
1030-1100 – Math
1100-1115 – Reading
1115-1130 – History
1130-1200 – Science
1200-100 – Lunch
100-130 – Outside Time/Walk
130-230 – Read Aloud and craft time
230-300 – Quiet time, wrap up
300 – Practice Piano and complete anything extra
330 Chores then free time
Yes, I wrote everything down like that.
Now let me show you how that worked out in reality.
8-830 – kids wake up, come into mom’s bed if she’s still in bed with infant or come into living room where mom is attempting to work before kids get up or come and say good morning while mom is in the shower
830 – still in PJs, have breakfast and do morning dishes, think about if there is something mom should be getting out in preparation for dinner and realize we are out of bread for toast, milk for cereal and bananas, decide we are having waffles for breakfast
900 – realize all kids are still in pjs so go upstairs to get ready for the day, change baby, help kids get ready, remind them to make their bed, throw in a load of laundry, get sidetracked talking about what we are doing today, think about when we can go to the store
930 – realize its 930 and we haven’t started school yet, decide that 10 is a good time to start, finish tidying up the upstairs and the breakfast dishes, clean a room or get sidetracked and reorganizing the baby’s clothes drawer after trying one 3 pants and realizing she has outgrown them all
1015 – realize we still haven’t started school and ask the kids to get ready for math or memory work or whatever is easiest to get our hands on
1030 – we are sitting and working on whatever we decided to work on. Work on it until 1050 and then decide to change subjects
1115 – completed 2 things and now youngest needs some attention so let the kids go outside to play for 20 minutes while I switch the laundry out and figure out what is for dinner
1135 – call the kids in and get them back to work by 1145 for next subject
1230 complete 2 more items and kids are ready for lunch, realize it is 1230 and need to make lunch, put in learning video so kids can learn while I make and serve lunch – take break to nurse baby and change out laundry while they watch the video
100 – clean up from lunch and have children take turns practicing piano while finish cleaning up and getting baby ready for nap
130 – have kids play learning game while get baby down for nap
200 – do read aloud while kids build or do play-doh or draw
230 – figure out what we haven’t done yet and do it
300 – make sure we didn’t miss anything vital for the day, allow some computer game time or outdoor time while reading with one or the other on something that needs to be covered, anything that is actually left
400 – neighborhood kids start showing up at the door to play after school – get baby up from nap, start cleaning up from the day and doing chores while kids play
430 – 500 – start getting dinner ready, realize we still haven’t made it to the store and make list for tomorrow- dad gets home and kids go crazy.
And then the evening begins. Sometime in there I might go through the books and figure out if we left anything out and jot down what needs to be covered tomorrow.
What I quickly learned is, that as a homeschooling mom, the plan derails easily and often. But for almost a year I kept trying to start the week with a daily schedule and then got upset when we derailed by mid-afternoon Monday.
So, I scrapped the schedule. And boy is it freeing!
Instead, we now have a weekly list of goals for the week. Goals! We hope they all get done but I don’t freak out if they don’t. We just work toward it.
There are other reasons that it’s good to have a list for the week and not a daily plan. First, we all know that every day every kid is not at the top of their game for learning. Maybe that day we save the hard stuff and keep it light. Or maybe a child wakes up motivated and interested, then we might do some extra that day.
And there are days when mom has other priorities (ie a sick child, an important household task, an errand, or even a migraine). These days you might focus the kids on more independent work and leave the stuff that requires a lot of your time for another day.
Whatever you reasons, there are certainly reasons to be flexible in your day to day schedule.
I am a list person so having a weekly list is nice to be able to check off. It did take some work to be ok with moving something to the next week on the list but that has worked too. I know that it will get done – eventually.
One of the joys of homeschooling, in my opinion, is working at the pace that promotes optimal learning for the student. So, if this isn’t the week, maybe next week is!
Another reason that a weekly schedule works well is that, at least in our house, dad’s schedule changes so sometimes we take the morning to spend time with dad and then maybe work on a weekend day or in the evening. A checklist allows this.
And for my older students, they know what they have to accomplish in a week and if they feel they would like extra free time they can move through some of their lessons to free up some time in their schedule for something extra.
I must say, once I got over the need for the traditional school schedule, I have felt so much more at ease and we have actually gotten through our days with less stress and accomplished more. When you are constantly looking at your schedule, then looking at the clock and realizing you are “behind schedule,” you have a stress about you all day. But when you go with the flow then you can just go with it and feel good that you are moving through what needs to be done, regardless of the time.
We attend a Classical Conversations community day once a week. That day we obviously get up and out of the house; however, otherwise, we ensure we get the proper amount of sleep and get our lessons done, with plenty of time to enjoy the weather or the fresh air when needed.
I love starting our day with a walk and we do that when the weather allows. Sometime I read a devotion before we leave for our walk and then we use our walk time to talk it over. Why not, right?
And since we do memory work with Classical Conversation, we listen to the CDs of our memory work while we are running errands, which means we are working even when we are heading to the doctor or the store. I’m sure to check that off the list when we get home.
Yes, there are things that need to be done most days – memory work, math, reading – and we get these things done most every day. But maybe math is at 9am and maybe it’s at 1p or 4p. Whatever works for the day. And yes, I’m a Type A personality and this was not easy for me to do. But….
Scrapping the schedule was the best thing I ever did for our homeschool!
Do you follow a rigid schedule? Or do you scrap the schedule and go with the flow? I would love to hear from you.