How to Create a Daily Schedule for Homeschooling
If you haven’t yet seen the first post in this series How to Set Up a Homeschool Classroom head over and read it now. I’ll wait for you!
To recap, yesterday we engaged the kids about a school environment/classroom, we evaluated a little bit of our anxiety and embarked on the first step of a do-able 4-step/4-day set up for a Happy HOME room.
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# 1 – Set A Space For Homeschool
The first objective was to set up a consistent functional space that supports the needs of the students in a way that promotes learning, provides a positive and engaging environment, is physically comfortable and has minimal distractions.
Please review HERE for further details.
Once the space has been defined you will want to move on to to the second step:
#2 Creating a new homeschool rhythm for your kids
There is beauty in a rhythm. There is predictability and peace to knowing what to expect. We created a degree of rhythm for both the kids and you with setting up the space yesterday. You established where to go, where things are, and what things look like – like a new homeroom.
Believe it or not, this predictability along with the supportive functions of the space will be a huge win for the kids and here’s why.
When they know where to go and where everything is, they can set it and forget it. Like moving into a new home, you put things away and it might take a few days to learn where everything is, but you get it pretty quickly and then it’s no longer a conscious effort. You just always know where to get silverware and a bath towel.
Setting up a homeschool schedule
With that same thinking in mind, we are going to set structure in their day with a schedule.
Reflect for a minute about the regular routine that the kids had before. Depending on their age, their school routine generally might have looked something like this: prep for school Sunday night, gather up completed homework into the backpack, go to bed at a set bedtime, get up at a set time for a morning routine – breakfast, get dressed, brush teeth etc., school day, come home, play or extra-curricular time, homework, unwind, get ready for bed. And while at school they also had a structure for when classes were and who was teaching them and each teacher’s classroom rules and expectations. Whew. Think about how it was, and then make a note of it.
You know, listing out the routine for the kids just now, really feels like a lot. I mean just reading it aloud is a lot. And honestly guys, the list is quite general. I know they are doing way more each day, in each class and in each sport. You know what I mean?
The kids are doing a ton when they’re at school, and they’re probably managing it well. The reason why they do well because the mind adapts to what it expects and knows and that predictability creates comfort and safety. Predictability lowers stress when they no longer have to mentally process that newness and change, and then they can focus on the work.
Be encouraged. The kids can do this, and so can you. It will be new, and new can be hard at first and even uncomfortable. But this is do-able.
NOTE: It is also important to note that if the kids weren’t managing as well as they should while at school, this is a perfect opportunity for you to quietly observe and provide resources for help. This doesn’t mean hover, just observe.
Today we will focus on the schedule:
- what has changed with remote learning and
- how to adjust and fill those gaps, as well as
- what could and should stay the same
ALL that to say, that today we will address structure through a schedule/rhythm, with the same purpose of creating predictability.
So the focus of this blog is the Second Step:
Set up a Schedule
Why a schedule?
To provide predictability and security. To take all the differences and changes and shifts of each day and create normalcy to them. There are lots of notes in a symphony, but it has a predictable rhythm that is easy to take in. This is the same.
One of the things you will want to address with the kids is what to expect, while also preparing them for what might be different. There are a couple ways to do this.
1. Communicate with them what is coming up.
Depending on the ages you can discuss over dinner, or at bedtime when you tuck them in. Ask them if they are looking forward to anything in science class tomorrow, or remind them if they have music, etc. There is always time to chat about what is going on and what is coming up.
2. Make a visual
You can do this in several ways. You can make a chart that hangs on the wall with columns for each day and time, like an enlarged planner. It can have fun colors and is a whole view at a glance. You could use a planner for yourself if the kids are little, and for older ones, use technology. There are several wonderful tools to use, from simply using Google Calendar to Microsoft Outlook to Trello.
3. Be consistent
The most important thing is consistency, so try to have the same times and order in the day if possible.
Try to sandwich the school days with consistent and predictable routines/rhythm before and after. Meaning a morning routine and an evening and bedtime routine.
Set a wake-up and bedtime. This sets the body clock and helps to avoid fatigue. Additionally, you want to be sure that they have a morning routine. If they were going to school they would be expected to eat breakfast, get dressed, brush their hair and their teeth, maybe make their bed and arrive early. Just because they are home, this shouldn’t be any different. This routine sets up an expectation for the brain and body and sets them on the right course for the day. That said, NO jammies and sitting in the bed for school.
You should also try to have regular time blocks for after school times. For instance, if the kids had sports after school until dinner, set the same time block and fill it with some indoor or outdoor physical activity. Strive tor regular dinner times and then time block for homework and social time as well.
NOTE: We will talk about this more with Setting up Support on Step 4.
What if their school schedule is different every day?
First of all – it’s ok. Don’t let this be a stressor.
I’m sure you know the kids were doing this at school already, you just weren’t here for it. They had different teachers and subjects and music days and PE days and library days, and older students had different classes to go to throughout the day.
Use these odd jumps in the schedule as an opportunity to create more consistency and predictability, and be sure to account for them in the visual chart, so they (and you) can recall what is going on at a glance.
If the schedules are vastly different for the student, for example on Wednesdays they only have a half-day or a late start, then time block those gaps as a study hall. It’s still a school day, so anything that is school-related is on board. Practicing math, reading, doing art, or cleaning out their papers is all productive time spent toward school.
How do I address multiple gaps in the day?
Sometimes the teachers give a lesson and then will break, allowing the kids to use the time as they need. If they are caught up on everything, then use these gaps as opportunities to address their other needs.
Because these gaps often come at random, it might be helpful to have a brainstormed list of acceptable activities the kids can engage in during their breaks. Just take caution that they don’t get off the school mindset and that they are early/prepared for the next class.
Basically the kids need to feel like they are still in a classroom and have a school environment, so handle the school day as a time block. Then you can address changes in the school day, or gaps, with activities that they would be able to do at school. So yeah, that means no tv watching or video games at school so not remote school either. That shouldn’t be on the list of activities.
Are you starting to see this fall together into a little more manageable structure? AND we are only halfway there. In our next post, we will address setting up a system for all the links and emails and tech stuff.
But for now, I promised we would address some of your concerns and anxieties regarding the schedule. Cause mom, your vibe sets the tone (no pressure) but when you can calmly lead, they can more easily follow.
What you/the family needs.
Same as previously…
To maintain your home space and daily functions as normally as possible like things were before this change, a place where you can still take a call and manage your home. A place where you can still function with your own responsibilities, and retreat with family later in the day or evening.
Anxious that the kids can’t manage all the moving parts?
Two words – They can. Your kids can manage more than you might think. And what’s more, if they think that you have confidence in them to do it, they will believe the same. By the way, the opposite of that is true too, so helicopter momming is crippling to the kids. Just saying.
Trust me, they will get the swing of things. In fact, for many kids, this will force a degree of personal accountability and maturity. It’s an opportunity for them to grow.
If they are students that have been in school before, they can handle it. If they are kindergarteners, they will be used to being home, so no big changes there. It will be fun for them. The key for the success of these little ones is to remind them that during class times, Mrs. Teacher is in charge, not Mom.
Anxious that the kids will get bored with school and start doing “home” stuff?
Remember the list of acceptable activities? Well, if they are migrating to things that are not on your list, then don’t allow it. If you are home and able to supervise that should be easy. Tougher methods are removing temptations for them. If you aren’t able to be home, you will have to consider alternatives.
If it continues, observe and evaluate the disconnect and what they are either drawn toward or repelled by. Then introduce skills to manage and do what they should.
Anxious that you have to be the teacher/tutor and that you are on call for every need and question that arises?
Simply put, just say no. For us older kids from the 80s Nancy Reagan used that in another context, but those three words surface all the time for me.
Give yourself permission to know that you are not a teacher, nor do you have to be. When you set up the expectation for the kids that you are not there as a teacher, then they will become more resourceful and ask the teacher, or other students or learn to google what they are looking for. We will address some of this in Setting Up Support – Step 3, tomorrow.
I strongly urge that you only assist during homework time blocks and in the same capacity as you did when they came home from school and had homework.
TIP 1: Consider packing the kids’ lunches. Unless you have the same lunchtime for all your kids each day and you want to eat together. Otherwise packing their lunches allows you to not be on-demand for different lunchtime schedules and it makes it easy and fun for the kids. They can access it at any time, and also can prevent endless wandering to the pantry for snacks.
ACTION ITEM: Create a schedule and routine for each of your students right away. Get their involvement by engaging in discussions about promoting good uses of time, eliminate anxiety when they know that their other needs will be addressed. This will help them take ownership, gain confidence and reduce stress. Plus you are teaching them a Life Skill in time management, scheduling and priorities. And that is priceless. All of this adds up to happy – happy student and happy HOME room.
This is getting under control and we are only halfway there.