Rhythm. This term, most associated with music is defined as movement or procedure with uniform or patterned recurrence of a beat, accent, or the like. What does the rhythm of your homeschool day sound like? Like a melodious orchestrated symphony or more like a cacophony?

Establishing a homeschool schedule that has a rhythm we can keep time to can be a rather elusive thing, as we try to balance the demands of teaching multiple children of varying ages. When thinking about creating a schedule it’s necessary to take into account the entire school year calendar, the basic organization of a typical week of homeschooling, and also the arrangement of each day. With some simple planning you can compose a pleasant rhythm for your homeschooling year, week, and day.

The Year

Think big picture first. Most school districts require 180 days or 36 weeks of instruction for the school year (check with your school district to learn what the law is in your state). Decide what weeks you will school and what weeks you will take off to meet your state’s requirements. Will you follow a traditional school calendar from September through June, scheduling breaks on the typical holidays or will your calendar look completely different?

Some families school through the entire year including the summers, in order to take breaks that make sense for them and to avoid losing any academic ground by taking too much time off during the summer.

Others who live in colder climates like to maximize the time they are able to spend outdoors during a shorter warm season and plan their school year accordingly. Conversely, in warmer climates it can be unpleasant to spend time outside during the hottest months, so this can be a good time to get school done indoors in the air conditioning.

A friend of mine used to plan four weeks of school, one week of projects, followed by one week off and would repeat this sequence through the entire school year. She liked having a week set aside to work on special projects or activities that were difficult to fit in during heavy academic weeks, but still wanted to make time to work into the curriculum. Having a week off after being diligent for four weeks and completing a project week felt just right for her family and gave her students a needed break to come back refreshed and focused on their academics for another four weeks. What a wonderful way to avoid burn-out!

The Week

Once you have planned out your yearly calendar, think about the homeschool week.

Will you plan a four or five day week? The benefit of planning a four day week is that the fifth day can be used for catching up assignments, spending extra time on a lesson that required extra teaching or research, working on special projects, going on field trips, or enlisting the help of the entire family to catch up chores around the house (teaching your children to maintain a home is also a valuable part of their education).

When my children were younger we had what we affectionately called Fun Friday. My kids looked forward to it every week and so did I. We aimed to finish our school work for the week by lunch time on Friday and then we would do something special together in the afternoon. I always kept it a surprise for the kids and would announce our Fun Friday activity on Friday mornings. Sometimes we would go to an area park with a picnic, go for ice cream, work on a fun special project together at home, go mini golfing, or to the arcade. It didn’t necessarily matter what it was, we just all looked forward to doing something different together as a family. Fun Friday became an incentive for working hard, and allowed us to celebrate our week’s accomplishments with some needed recreation.

Will you save one day a week for all extra curricular activities or for a co-op day and stay close to home the other four days or will you spread outside activities throughout the week? Some families might plan on spending the mornings on academics and the afternoons on extra-curricular activities every day, while others like to have several days of uninterrupted academic time and limit how much they leave the house on those days. Personally, my family has always needed at the very least 2-3 days where we are mostly at home staying focused on getting the bulk of our assignments done.

Maybe your family wants to include dad in some of the homeschooling, so you might decide on schooling on Saturday and taking another day of the week off instead. Or perhaps you work a job outside the home and need to use Saturdays to spend time with your students over academics. It really is up to you which days you will commit to homeschooling. Do what works for your family.

The Day

Divide your day into three sections: morning, afternoon, and evening. Decide what time your day will begin, what will be scheduled into each part of your day, and what time you will transition to the next thing. Designate specific times that you would like to finish up certain tasks, but leave room for margin to make adjustments as you go through the day. Have a well thought out plan, but build in flexibility. Remember, think about creating a rhythm, not rigidity.

Here’s a sample schedule to help illustrate what a flexible daily plan might look like:

 

Mon Tues Wed Thurs Fri
Morning routine

7-8:00 a.m.

Wake, eat breakfast, get dressed, make beds, laundry Wake, eat breakfast, get dressed, make beds, laundry Wake, eat breakfast, get dressed, make beds, laundry Wake, eat breakfast, get dressed, make beds, laundry Wake, eat breakfast, get dressed, make beds, laundry
Bible

8-8:30 a.m.

Family Bible lesson, devotions, and prayer Family Bible lesson, devotions, and prayer Family Bible lesson, devotions, and prayer Family Bible lesson, devotions, and prayer Family Bible lesson, devotions, and prayer
History

8:30-9:30 a.m.

Group history lessons, students do grade level assignments Group history lessons, students do grade level assignments Co-op day Group history lessons, students do grade level assignments Group history lessons, students do grade level assignments
Math

9:30-10:30 a.m.

Students work on grade level math, mom floats between students to teach and assist. Students work on grade level math, mom floats between students to teach and assist. Co-op day Students work on grade level math, mom floats between students to teach and assist. Students work on grade level math, mom floats between students to teach and assist.
English

10:30-11:30 a.m.

Students work on grade level English, mom floats between students to teach and assist. Students work on grade level English, mom floats between students to teach and assist. Co-op day Students work on grade level English, mom floats between students to teach and assist. Students work on grade level English, mom floats between students to teach and assist.
Afternoon routine

11:30-12:30 p.m.

Lunch break, playtime, chores, laundry Lunch break, playtime, chores, laundry Co-op day Lunch break, playtime, chores, laundry Lunch break, playtime, chores, laundry
Science or Electives

12:30-1:30 p.m.

Students work on grade level science, mom floats between students to teach and assist. Students work on grade level science, mom floats between students to teach and assist. Co-op day Students work on grade level science, mom floats between students to teach and assist. Fun Friday
Extra curricular & homeschool administration

1:30-4:30 p.m

Child 1 piano lessons,

mom does administration work, makes doctor’s appointments, finishes up correcting and grading school work, and organizes school work for the next day

Child 2 art lessons,

mom does administration work, makes doctor’s appointments, finishes up correcting and grading school work, and organizes school work for the next day

Co-op day Child 3 soccer practice,

mom does administration work, makes doctor’s appointments, finished up correcting and grading school work, and organizes school work for the next day

Fun Friday
Evening routine

4:30-7:00 p.m.

Chores, laundry, household duties, errands, prepare, eat, and clean up dinner Chores, laundry, household duties, errands, prepare, eat, and clean up dinner Chores, laundry, household duties, errands, prepare, eat, and clean up dinner Chores, laundry, household duties, errands, prepare, eat, and clean up dinner Chores, laundry, household duties, errands, prepare, eat, and clean up dinner
Bedtime

7:00-8:00 p.m.

Baths, bedtimes,

quitting time for mom, enjoy some much needed downtime

Baths, bedtimes,

quitting time for mom, enjoy some much needed downtime

Baths, bedtimes,

quitting time for mom, enjoy some much needed downtime

Baths, bedtimes,

quitting time for mom, enjoy some much needed downtime

Baths, bedtimes,

quitting time for mom, enjoy some much needed downtime

 

If you happen to finish up one subject ahead of schedule, move on to the next, or keep going and finish up academics early for that day. The suggested times for each subject will vary depending on various factors. You don’t need to be legalistic about keeping to the exact times designated, instead they can serve as guidelines to help keep you on task for the different parts of the day. Shoot to have the bulk of academics done by lunch, so the afternoons can be for finishing one to two more subjects, extra-curricular activities, running errands, tending to other household duties, etc.

Don’t underestimate the value of a predictable evening routine. If your kids know what to expect every night, they will be more likely to settle down and fall asleep at a reasonable time. Regular bedtimes are healthy for everyone, mom and dad included.

Making a homeschool schedule will go a long way in helping you feel like you have an adequate grasp on what needs to be accomplished and how long it will take. Without a schedule you might end up saying yes to too many things and find yourself frustrated and stressed trying to fit it all in. A well thought out schedule and executed plan will create the rhythm you need to make your homeschooling life sing.

Mary Ellen is a devoted follower of Christ, wife to a wonderful husband, and mother to three amazing people. She is a passionate advocate for home education and loves to encourage and empower others to give it a try. A life-long learner herself, she appreciates all the incredible educational and faith-building opportunities homeschooling has afforded her family. Mary Ellen holds a bachelor's degree in Missions and Bible. In addition to homeschooling, she currently serves as a part-time missionary alongside her husband. She loves photography, spending time at the ocean, reading, and watching British mysteries.