By Stephane Stegeman
For those considering homeschooling, one of the biggest questions to consider is the question of scheduling. How will you schedule your days, weeks, months, and the year as a whole? Starting a homeschool is a big deal, and countless challenges await you, and that is why creating a schedule that works for you is a key ingredient to success. This blog post will take you through an average week at the Stegeman homeschool. What works for us, will not necessarily work for you. My goal in this post is simply to give you some ideas that you can take and run with and refine over time.
Breakfast and Family Worship
While many people dread Mondays, I actually like them. After celebrating the Lord’s day, Monday marks the beginning of a journey into Truth, Goodness, and Beauty. We start off with family worship during breakfast around 7:30. This is a great time for Dad to disciple and teach us the Scriptures and to start the day off focused on the Lord. Then the kids are off to do chores. The process of doing chores in the morning, is actually part of our school day. It is an opportunity to learn practical ways to serve each other and contribute to the life of the family. It also allows the kids to learn good habits that will serve them well into adulthood.
Around 9:00am, I turn on a song (right now it’s Little Boy, Heart Alive by Andrew Peterson). The kids immediately know that it is time to stop play or work and go to the living room for “morning time.” This gives the kids and Mom a 4-minute warning that school is about to start. This song also reminds us of the wonder of learning before we begin to dig into the content.
During morning time, I cover everything that I can cover as a group. Just to give you an idea of age breakdown, our twin daughters are 10, and our boys are 8 and 5. Morning time includes Scripture, hymn study, prayer, poetry, current events, literature, character/virtue study, and memory work. I also do a weekly loop (rotation of topics throughout the week). Our weekly loop incorporates art study, geography, nature study, music, Shakespeare, etc. This is a fun time for both Mom and children. During the times we do nature study, we go outside and explore by going on a walk or observing the plants in the yard. Morning time lasts for about 30-60 minutes. Some things we run through quite quickly; others take longer.
One on One Time
By 10:15am, we are ready to have one on one time with Mom. Usually I spend about 30 minutes with the girls working on the Core material which includes grammar, spelling, writing, and reviewing math. While I work with the girls, the boys are doing their individual work on math, literature, and science (our youngest mostly plays). Then we switch, and I work with the boys (each 30 minutes, if needed) on spelling, writing, grammar and reviewing math.
Around 11:30 or 12:00 we break for lunch. The kids help with prep and clean up after lunch. During lunch we often listen to an author interview with Read Aloud Revivial. Sometimes we even take a break to play or watch a sit-com for half an hour. This allows us to easily transition to quiet time at 1pm.
During quiet time, the kids read for 40 minutes a book of their choice and then complete any leftover work from the morning. During this time, I plan for the next day, read, or take a nap (if needed). By 3pm, quiet time is over and we go outside to play, work on an art project, or run needed errands. Almost every day is different.
As the school day winds down, Dad comes home and often does some reading aloud (history or literature) while kids play or work on a project. Sometimes I ask the kids to help with supper. Thus, the learning continues.
Rest Day and Saturday
That is a little snapshot into our schedule Monday through Thursday. We look forward to Friday’s as our “day-off” that we get to spend with Dad. Many Friday’s have been utilized for field-trips and other educational pursuits. Then our school week finishes up on Saturday. We complete unfinished tasks, and review what we covered during the week. It also serves to motivate the children – “if we work hard during the week, we get lots of free time on Saturday!”
We have profited greatly from several Co-ops we have been a part of, usually on either Tuesday or Wednesday. This fall, our Tuesday schedule will be modified in the morning because we have a hands-on science class that we enjoy with a few other families. This is only in the fall and spring and creates a great opportunity for STEM learning.
Finding What Works for You
As I said earlier, every homeschool family is different. No two families have the same schedule. After 6 years of refining, this is the schedule that we have settled into. Some days we get to everything that is planned, other days we have to slow down and take a step back for review. Remember, learning is not a race but a journey. Don’t feel like you have to fill every minute of the 9-3 school day with teaching and content. I have come to see that as the kids grow, so does our schedule. When they were younger we did much less, but as they grow, we want to stretch them and provide opportunites for them to explore their own interest.
The goal of our school week is not for our children to absorb all the facts to be successful. The goal of our school week is for our children, “To glorify God and enjoying him forever.” Having a schedule that works for you is critically important, but remember that your primary aim in homeschooling is for your children to love God and follow Jesus all of their days.
Check out this helpful resource from Pam Barnhill: Best Tips For Creating a Homeschool Daily Schedule
You can also check out part 1 in this series: Our Journey to Homeschooling