Day 3 of Organization ~ Basic Scheduling

Have you ever noticed that no matter what task we have to do, it fills up whatever time we have? If we know our in-laws are coming for dinner on Friday night and it’s Monday, we spend all week cleaning the house. But, if it’s Friday afternoon and they call to announce that they’ll be over in a few hours to pick you all up for dinner, the house still manages to get clean.

The same thing happens with school work and our kids. We teach a math lesson and give them a worksheet while we either sit there tapping our fingers or leave them to it while we run to throw a load of towels in the washer. As far as they know, that’s all they have to do for an indefinite period, so why rush through it? It’s way more interesting to stare out the window, kick a sibling under the table, or get 3 drinks of water.

I know, not every kid will be like that. Some kids will eagerly breeze through every worksheet, textbook, and reading assignment and be completely done with schoolwork by 11 a.m. This post is for the rest of us.

By creating a schedule, we are creating a time frame in which our children need to complete their work. With enough searching, you can figure out realistically how much time each subject should take each child at his/her level. Curricula vary in their time expectations, so I’m not going to say there’s a hard and fast rule for anything here. You also need to take into account your child’s level of competence and working speed. Some kids can churn math worksheets and essays out with enough motivation. Some kids try and try and still take forever, so be sure to factor all of that in.

Anyway, after you figure out about how long each subject should take, make a list with every subject and the length of time it should take (be sure to count the actual instruction time you spend with them as well) for each child. Be sure to mark by each subject whether it usually requires your input and/or whether it is a group subject.

Then, make a chart on the computer or a piece of paper with 15- or 30- (at the most) minute intervals. Pencil in each subject, starting with the ones that require your hands-on attention. Make a separate chart for each child. If you have a lot of outside commitments, you may need to make separate charts for each day (or, a M-W-F chart and a Tu-Th chart or whatever–you get the drift). Be sure not to schedule yourself to teach math to one child and reading to another at the same time! This step could take a while, but keep at it; it will be worth it, I promise!

Post the charts where everyone can see them. For younger children, set a timer for each new subject. Older kids are sometimes motivated by a timer as well, or they can just watch the clock. At the designated time, they need to move onto the next subject, whether or not they’re done with the first one. Whatever is left over is “homework” for later in the day. You know, later when their neighborhood friends come over to play, later when Dad comes home, later when you decide to take only those kids who have finished their schoolwork to the store.

What this does is to free you from saying “Hurry up already!” every five minutes. It also frees you from waiting on the little darlings to finish one thing so you can teach another subject. One of my kids used to drag out one or two subjects ALL day and then announce that she was ready for me to teach her the next thing right as I was getting ready to make dinner. This method cured that!

When kids reach middle school, or even a year or two before that, they’re ready to have a copy of their daily or weekly schedule (what they’re expected to do in each subject) so that they can work through more subjects on their own. This helps to foster a sense of ownership and autonomy. Check back tomorrow for more tips on how to do scheduling with older kids.

Go check out my friends’ blogs, too:

10 days of socialization for mom | The Homeschool Chick

10 days of classical education | Milk & Cookies
10 days of large families | Chocolate on My Cranium
10 days of special needs | Special Needs Homeschooling
10 days of struggling learners | Homeschooling the Chaotic Family
10 days of homeschooling girls | Homegrown Mom
10 days of homeschool enrichment | Confessions of a Homeschooler
10 days of building a spiritual legacy | Mommy Missions
10 days of frugal homeschooling |The Happy Housewife
10 days of Charlotte Mason | Our Journey Westward
10 days of unschooling | Homeschooling Belle
10 days of getting started | Blog, She Wrote
10 days of homeschooling boys | The Tie That Binds Us
10 days of homeschooling Montessori |  Fruit in Season
10 days of preschool |  Delightful Learning

Brought to you by Heart of the Matter Online.

15 thoughts on “Day 3 of Organization ~ Basic Scheduling”

  1. I love your suggestion to give older students a copy of their own schedule. I think that I need to start doing this with my 6th grader this year. I can't wait to read your post tomorrow on scheduling older kids!Blessings,Sue 🙂


  2. I know it even helps keep ME on schedule when I have things written out–and a rough plan of how long to spend on that subject. I did impliment this idea with my high school son–that he has his schedule, and whatever does not get done in the alloted time is \”homework\” for in the afternoon–it works great with him! Now I suppose I really should work on getting my younger little one on a schedule of her own, so she can be keeping herself on track! 🙂


  3. Great tip! I JUST started the \”time to move on and what's left is homework later when everyone else is playing\” method and I'm anticipating it being help for the reason you mentioned. I'm glad to know that it's already working for other people. Inspires me to stick with it. =)


  4. I'm loving this 10 days of enrichment, each night I look forward to checking out all of the new tips and encouragement. This post is very refreshing, thank you for sharing!


  5. This is a great tip. Not sure if you are familiar with FlyLady, but I adapted her concept of the Control Journal for a schedule for the kids. I put their routines (Motning, School, Evening) in a three ring binder. I made them with pictures as well for my non-readers (for example, brusing teeth would be a picture of a toothbrush) then I put them into paper protectors and gave them ownership of their schedules. They can cross things off with a wipe-off marker as they complete them and I don't have to nag them about what comes next. Even my 5 year old can follow along and make his bed and do his lessons with no prompting. I love it and it has helped my sanity tremendously.


  6. This line \”Have you ever noticed that no matter what task we have to do, it fills up whatever time we have?\” is the essence of what I was feeling and thinking today! Little things can end up taking up so much more time than I wanted…and then half my day is gone! I am continually trying to prioritize things so important things (my kids!) take priority and then am not too happy when little things take up extra time that I hadn't accounted for. 😦 I wish my son would listen more to my time limits when cleaning up his toys! 🙂 But my kids are just (almost) 5 and 2.5…so scheduling things out isn't working here yet. But we have adapted things that do work…when I actually stick with it and implement it! 🙂


  7. Thanks for his post! I am in the middle of making a new schedule so we can get back to living with one. I think school works better for us that way. 🙂


  8. Thanks for laying this out. I will be homeschooling for the first time Fall 2011 and this is probably where I need the MOST help to get started. =) Practical and helpful… Whew!


  9. Love the idea of having them complete work later in the day after the timer has rung. I have one who seems to drag his feet and its so frustrating! Thanks for the ideas!


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