Plan All Subjects Before Starting to Schedule
First, you'll need to figure out which subjects your child/ren will be learning and how much daily time is needed for each. Each family will have a different set of subjects, as some may wish to teach more about something that is valued in their family. All homeschoolers will have Reading/Language Arts, Science, Math, and Social Studies/History.
However, depending upon your state, your child may also need to learn something else besides the core subjects. Different states will vary, so be sure to look up your state's requirements and be sure to adhere to them. They also may change from time to time, so be sure to stay current with your state's laws by visiting the HSLDA website or your local Board of Education.
While not required, art, music, and physical education can help provide for a solid educational background. You may also choose to add the study of one or more religions or history in your family's cultural background. Don't forget to factor in a subject that particularly interests your child as well. This can be an interchangeable class, where you focus on certain things your child likes at the time. We call ours "Special Class".
Timing Makes a Schedule Successful
You'll need to specify times for each subject, as well as time for lunch and any extracurricular activities. Remember, some subjects aren’t necessary every day, which can help free up some time. For instance, alternate a few subjects or activities with each other that may tie in together or are miscellaneous activities that aren’t needed daily. Core subjects do need to be factored in each day, whether you are studying them through hands-on learning or from a book. A field trip or class outside of the home does count as instruction time, providing it has something to do with what the child is currently learning. Some trips, activities, or lessons might also include instruction for more than one subject.
Bringing Your Schedule Together on Paper and in Action
Lastly, you need to put the schedule on paper, factoring in the first two points. It may take a few tries to get it right, but don't worry. It will fall into place. Sometimes, once you have implemented the schedule, you may find too much time is allotted for one subject and not enough for another. Revise until you have it the way you want it.
Remember that during homeschool, some kids will finish earlier than planned. That's fine. Just move on to the next subject. In a homeschool setting, 6 or 7 hours of instruction may not be necessary because there are far less students to answer questions for, no roll calling (you already know who's there), and no time constraints as to when you can begin the next subject. As long as students are receiving adequate lessons and instruction (and you’re following your state’s laws), there’s nothing wrong with a shorter school day.
Here is a sample of one of our past homeschool schedules for an example of what can be done.
8:00 am - Warm-Up Time
This consists of yoga (exercise, as well as preparation for learning with an awakened mind, body, and spirit), pledge of allegiance, and reciting our own school motto.
8:30 am - Group Reading/Circle Time
Each person reads aloud from our current novel. Younger kids read from simple readers or picture books (whatever level they are on) before the novel and can continue to play with books or clay during novel reading.
9:00 am - Discussion & Reading Comprehension
Discuss the toddler books and the novel and ask appropriate comprehension questions. Toddlers can play in the circle with blocks or other "busy" toys once it’s time to discuss the novel.
9:30 am - Vocabulary/Spelling test or study
Toddlers may use abc or word flash cards instead.
9:45 am - Free reading
Read or look at picture books, according to appropriate levels.
10:30 am - Writing Assignment
Write in journal, do a research paper, complete a writing worksheet, or play a writing game on the computer - depends on what needs to be done) - Adult can make lunch while they’re doing this and toddlers can do something at their level, such as a game or drawing.
11:00 pm - Lunch
11:30 pm - Recess/Exercise/Sports
Rotate between sport of the month, exercise, and free play - if the weather's bad, do an exercise video or dance - toddlers participate where possible or just play actively.
12:15 pm - Math
Learn a lesson and complete related problems from textbook or worksheet - toddlers might be tracing numbers or using flash cards instead
12: 45 pm - Math Fun
Play a board game, computer game, or do a hands-on activity (such as pattern or counting games)
1:05 pm - Math Review
At times, review will be done along with the regular lesson or game. When this happens, we move on to the next subject.
1:35 pm - Miscellaneous
Rotate Character/Etiquette/Citizenship, World Religion, Home Economics, and French Lessons
2:05 pm - Social & World Studies
Social Studies, History, Geography, Government, or Black History Lesson with accompanied discussion, worksheet, or activity (rotate genre and lesson type)
2:30 pm - Science Lesson
Lesson with accompanying worksheet, discussion, or activity
3:00 pm - Snack & Cool-Down Break
You can play and eat outside, weather permitting.
3:30 pm - Art or Crafts
This may or may not be related to what we're studying, sometimes it's a free-for-all, sometimes it's a formal art lesson
4:00 pm - Music
Sing, learn about different aspects of music, or learn music history and culture.
4:30 pm - "Special-Class"
This is a time where you are free to ask any question about anything and have it answered. They can learn extensively on one question or they can ask more than one question and get simple answers to them all. My children usually prefer to learn extensively on their favorite question. One of my daughters almost always wants to learn something new about Egypt. Another has a new question every day.
5:00 pm - School's out!
Go to playroom, computer, or bedrooms while the adult cooks dinner (or help with dinner if you want)! Have Fun! This is your free time. When dinner is quick or we order food, we will all play outside or ride bikes, if everyone agrees, during this time and eat around 6:00.
Some days we will skip art and music if the kids want to play instead. Many times, the kids finish their assignments ahead of schedule. When this happens, we have a "free work" basket where the kids can pick from various worksheets (some fun, some work) to use up time. If there is still extra time after 1 worksheet, the person who is ahead can move on to the next subject.
Also, on certain days, there will be a class or field trip taken outside the home. On those days, only core subjects will be taught. If the trip lasts the entire day, we will do extra work in core subjects not covered during the trip on the following school day and skip whatever electives we need to skip to allow for time -- or if the kids feel like it, we'll just have a long school day, so they can still have their electives, but only if they want to.
Saturday and Sunday:
1. Go to library or bookstore for any references or books needed
2.Take any planned "field trips" that won’t work during the school week and bring along a sketchbook or notebook for each person, when useful (any follow-up work will be done on Monday during appropriate subject).
*I originally published a version of this via Yahoo Contributor Network