Choosing an online homeschool program is often the first step when it comes to starting your homeschool endeavours. When using Complete Education Australia the guesswork of covering the full curriculum has been taken care of. Now you can relax and organise your daily plan. Working out how to get everything done week to week and day to day in order to meet your educational and personal goals as a family, need not be a worry. There is certainly not a single correct way to plan out your homeschooling days, but it doesn’t hurt to have a few guidelines. Here are a few tried-and-true tips that CEA parents use for getting you started on planning your homeschool routine.
Consider Your Homeschool Goals for the Year
Before you get to work scheduling out every minute of your first Monday morning of homeschooling, take a step back to consider your longer term goals for your child’s education. A great way to start is by writing out your yearly goals. This might include what you need to accomplish in each academic subject, and what you’d like to accomplish in terms of personal growth and aspirations for your children and your family. Getting a clear idea of where you want to be at the end of the year will help you understand what you should aim for each week, and how much wiggle room you have available. We find having the routine of Maths and English lessons each day, followed by one other subject, allows you to complete the weeks tasks easily.
A Homeschool Routine vs. a Schedule and harnessing you Family’s Natural Flow
Making the distinction between a routine and a schedule is a crucial aspect of working out how you run your lessons, and ultimately, your life. Let’s look at the key differences:
- A Schedule is made up of specific tasks, events, deadlines, and appointments that need to occur at or by a certain time on a certain date. You will no doubt have a schedule that needs to be met. However, that doesn’t mean that your homeschool plan has to run on a schedule.
- A Routine is the habits that guide you and your family’s natural movement through your day. This consists of things that you’re going to do whether or not they are written into a schedule. If you don’t have too many regular scheduled items, your natural routine will likely reveal itself rather than being planned out, but you can definitely shift it to suit your goals.
Routines usually involve things you do upon waking up, meal times, and some element of free, relaxation time. Routines tend to follow a rhythm rather than a particular time. For instance, your kids might naturally gravitate towards quiet reading after they eat breakfast, or perhaps they like to take a nap after lunch. These aren’t scheduled events, but they will form your routine.
Use your children’s natural routine to help make your homeschool schedule stick, and use your required scheduled items to shape your routine.
The major benefit of using a routine mindset rather than a schedule is that when life inevitably gets in the way, you won’t feel frustrated or stressed out about things getting delayed or shuffled around. Routines allow you to flow through your homeschooling with more grace.
Time Blocks Rather than Exact Times
One helpful trick for setting a homeschooling routine is to plan out your days using chunks of time rather than exact times. For example, your day may consist of four chunks of time including morning quiet work, Maths and English, lunchtime and play, and Science (or any one of the other subjects). These are simply cue words to shape your day and get mentally organised, but within each time block the actual order of subjects and lesson plans can shift around as needed.
Time blocks allow you to switch around subjects so you can tackle the harder one first if your kids are alert and ready to work hard, or maybe you need to extend the planned English lesson which in turn shortens the handwriting practice in the same block. Use your blocks to get you organised and help you meet your goal, and allow for variation and flexibility within each block to keep the flow and allow for the unexpected.
Plan For More Time Than You Think You Need
Speaking of the unexpected, it should be expected. One of the reasons that routine works better than schedule is that things almost never run to schedule. If you’re planning a three hour block of time to accommodate an estimated three hours of schooling, even a minor day will throw you out of whack. Plan two or two and a half hours of lessons into a three hour block and when unpredictable events occur, you’ll have time already plotted out to accommodate. In most cases the CEA lessons can be completed in this time frame.
Weekly Review and Adjustments
As you reach the end of each week you’ll be able to reflect on whether or not your planned goals were realistic and if your routine and schedule are working out. Take a moment to sit down and jot out any issues that came up and any areas that need some reworking. Don’t be afraid to shift and change the routine to make sure it’s realistic. Test out your new plan the following week and then make further adjustments until things start falling into a rhythm.
Parent Time for Successful Homeschooling
Whether one or both parents are taking on the role of the homeschool teacher, your needs are just as important of those being homeschooled. If the routine isn’t working for you, then it’s not going to be sustainable, even if it looks good on paper. Make sure to plan out some designated time for yourself to check emails, run errands, do the cooking, and enjoy time by yourself or as a couple after the kids go to bed.
Feeling confident in planning your homeschool routine now? Check out our other blog posts on learning styles, building homeschooling communities, and much more.