As we begin August, most homeschool families are in the final throes of scheduling for the coming school year. For some of us (unschoolers?) we are planning what we won’t schedule, but for the rest of us, we are sorting out how long it’s going to take to teach the things we want to cover, and deciding how we will lay out our days.
Like a road map or a trail guide, a good homeschool schedule helps you determine how to get where you want to go, without being too strict about the timing. You’ll want to linger at a viewpoint, stop for a snack or to fix your shoes, and hurry along some of the less scenic parts. Like a good hike, the best schedule will probably leave you hurrying along the last stretch so that you can cover the ground before dark, and wishing to do the hike again just to see anything you missed.
Our schedule this year starts slowly. Because the kids have done a few math lessons during the summer (keeping their hand in,) we are starting off with only our history and science plans. These were the areas that felt neglected at the end of the last school year, (we were hurrying right along,) but we want to put them to the forefront this year. We are working on finishing up Story of the World Book 3, and it is a good time to linger as we explore the west along with Lewis and Clark and read a little Shakespeare. Our science year is going to start out with a bang as we do a couple of field trips, significantly a field trip to a local cave, to give us some good ideas to use in our work.
I use an Excel spreadsheet to lay out all the Math and English lessons for the year. This helps me to know if we are staying on track. I schedule lots of off days, but we don’t take off unless we are doing something fun, so that some years we finish these curriculums significantly earlier than our planned May 15th end of school. We rarely take a day off for illness–we’re healthy folk– but we dash out for an unplanned hike, a quick vacation, or just a play day. These work into the schedule. We also have some months that we have big projects planned — we like to spend extra time in our ministry work in March, so we schedule that time in at the first of the year. I schedule all Mondays free of Math and other big projects, because with music lessons we just don’t have the concentration time for that.
The combination of scheduling with flexibility has worked for me for about 12 years now. How do you start the year? Do you have a full year plan made now, or just a first week plan? Please leave me a comment below.