Creating a Homeschool Daily Schedule: Tips and Strategies for Success

One of the biggest struggles new homeschoolers face is creating a schedule and building structure into the school day. But where do you start? And how do you create a homeschool daily schedule that still embraces the flexibility that homeschooling allows?

Below, we’ll cover everything you need to know about homeschool schedules and give you nine easy steps to help you create your own.

How Many Hours a Day Should I Homeschool?

It’s not uncommon for new homeschool parents to assume they need to create a homeschool daily schedule that imitates the public school schedule. But how on earth do you fit an eight hour school day in at home while doing chores, running errands, making meals, and most of all maintaining your sanity?

The good news is, you don’t have to! There are many ways that homeschooling differs from public school, one of which being that it takes way less time to get through a day’s work.

That said, be sure to check the homeschool laws for your state before starting your homeschool journey. Homeschool regulation varies by state, with some states requiring attendance records or a certain number of school hours per day, while others have virtually no regulation at all.

For kindergarten and early elementary students, all you really need is about an hour a day, three or four days a week. An older homeschooled child will of course need more formal learning, but will still find around three hours of schooling sufficient, four to five days a week. 

Homeschool vs. Public School

A homeschooler’s typical school day will be drastically shorter than a regular public school day. There are two main reasons why public school days are so much longer. 

The first reason is that in essence, public school doubles as a childcare option for those who are working outside of the home. The other reason public school days are longer is that teachers are managing a larger group of children, therefore requiring more time to navigate behavioral issues and different learning abilities. 

You also have to consider all of the extra time teachers spend on non-learning activities, like getting students settled at the beginning of the day, keeping them quiet during class, going to lunch and recess, and switching between classes.

Another reason that a homeschooler’s day is so much shorter is that you can naturally integrate learning into their day.

For example, kids might play on the trampoline or run in the yard for PE. And you might forgo learning fractions in a workbook for an afternoon of baking together, talking through math concepts as you measure out ingredients together. 

What is a Good Homeschool Schedule?

You may jump for joy or sigh in exhaustion when you read this but there’s no “one” answer to this question. Homeschool gives you the freedom to find how your family thrives, so you’ll have to experiment and find what homeschool daily schedule works best for you

Since there are so many variables within the homeschool community, what works for one mom may not work for you. When creating a schedule, you’ll want to consider your state’s laws, your child’s grade level, how many kids you’re teaching, and the curriculum you’re using.

To start, a good homeschool schedule should look more like a routine than a rigorous list of to-dos staring you in the face each day. How will your days look? Which subjects will you tackle each day? However you slice it, the overall goal is to integrate your homeschool schedule into your existing routines and daily life. 

You should also keep it flexible. A good homeschool daily schedule is relatively loose and adjustable where needed. This allows you to move things around without falling behind in your kids’ studies. Let’s face it, life happens, and sticking to a strict schedule doesn’t always work.

Ready to get started? My number one tip: don’t worry about getting it wrong. This is about trial and error. If you create a schedule and it doesn’t work quite the way you anticipated, scrap it and come up with a better one!

So without further ado, here’s nine steps to get you started creating a homeschool daily schedule that fits your needs.

How To Create a Homeschool Daily Schedule – 9 Steps

1. Do Your Research

As I mentioned above, the first step in your homeschooling journey should be to pull up the homeschool laws for your state. Don’t put the cart before the horse and start creating your schedule without doing your research on what is required for homeschoolers in your area. 

2. Find a System

Before you get started, think about how you will keep track of your schedule. This could be as simple as making weekly checklists or using a homeschool planner like this one.

Looking for something more techy to keep you accountable? Open your browser and check out what claims to be the world’s best homeschool planner, Homeschool Planet. The site offers a host of drool-worthy features like lesson plug-ins for popular curricula, automatic rescheduling options for missed lessons, and features like grading and attendance trackers.

For a free trial of Homeschool Planet, click here

Some states require you to keep track of your child’s progress throughout the year and submit periodic progress reports. This is another great feature of Homeschool Planet, with its outstanding recordkeeping and reporting capabilities. 

3. Decide on Your Approach

Once you’ve got that squared away, it’s time to decide on your homeschool approach and how many days a week you will teach. 

Will you take the traditional education approach, and follow the public school schedule of learning five days a week? Or will your kids do their schoolwork three or four days a week, leaving the rest of the week open for things like field trips, socialization, and life skills? 

Taking the time to look over different homeschool styles will give you a better idea of what your daily schedule might look like. For instance, If you take a Charlotte Mason or Unschooling approach to homeschooling, your days will probably look a lot different than say a Montesorri or Traditional homeschool approach.

Deciding on an approach also means zeroing in on the subjects you will focus on and how many subjects you will cover each day. Will you tackle one subject per day and go more in-depth with it? Or will your child’s school day consist of shorter lessons in each subject? 

If your child is old enough, ask for their input. Some children have particular preferences that help them learn better. For instance, your child might say they get bored concentrating on just one subject. Or, they may enjoy the extra time to dive deeper into a particular topic, feeling overwhelmed or distracted when switching gears too much. 

4. Consider Your Current Schedule

Be sure to take your other daily activities into account when creating your homeschool daily schedule. This will help you keep a handle on the day to day without feeling like things are falling through the cracks. Think daily chores, extracurriculars, family time, meals, and anything else that is important to you. 

5. Choose a Time of Day

For some families this will be first thing in the morning. For others, the afternoon or evening might be better. Again, the aim here is to create a homeschool daily schedule that fits into your daily life.

If you know you want to get chores out of the way first thing in the morning and that your children’s extracurriculars are in the afternoon, you might schedule a few hours of lessons mid morning, finishing up just before lunchtime.

Do what works best for you and your family, but in my opinion, knocking everything out in one timeblock makes for a more sane and streamlined school day. 

Of course, especially for younger kids with shorter attention spans, it’s ok (and smart!) to incorporate little breaks in formal learning. Let your child have a 5-minute “busy body break” here and there, or free-time when they can quickly grab a snack and relax their mind before the next activity.

6. Find a Flow

Choose a logical order for all of your child’s subjects. Depending on your child’s age and skill level, some subjects may be more teacher-intensive, and some may be able to be done independently via a center activity, workbook, video, or audio book.

You’ll also want to consider your child’s strengths when determining which order to teach each subject. If your child struggles in reading but is great at math, it might be a good idea to do math as a warm up to let their brain get some momentum, take a little break, and then head into your reading lesson armed with a yummy snack as reinforcement.

For families with multiple school-aged children, finding the best way to order their subjects is especially important. Since it’s 2021 and we still don’t have an adequate cloning machine (one can dream, right?), it’s important to find a way to make the rounds so each child gets individualized attention where needed.

If you have a younger child who still takes regular naps, this is a great opportunity to jump in and work one-on-one with your older child. Likewise, while your older children work independently, you can dedicate this time to helping younger kiddos with the tricky stuff, like math and phonics.

Finding a flow gets even easier if your kids are all around the same age, because many of the subjects can be taught together as a group or with only minor adjustments. 

My kids are 18 months apart, with my youngest currently in Pre-K. Most of our work is done together, whether it be morning Bible work, read alouds, handwriting practice and journaling, or games like math bingo and sight word slap. He really learns so much just from being in the room while I work with my 1st grader. Believe it or not, he knew his times tables by age 4!

Whatever order you create, make it a routine so that your kids know what to expect every day.

7. Get Creative

Allow yourself time to think outside the box and get creative about different learning opportunities and the types of activities you can incorporate into your schedule. 

Do your kids love exploring and adventure? Plan a nature walk each week, where you can take your science lesson outdoors and stretch your legs for some PE. You can even find ways to teach math through nature, so the possibilities really are endless.

Or turn a trip to the grocery store into a learning experience full of life skills like budgeting, list making, and label reading. When you get home, make a game out of sorting and categorizing groceries, then putting them away in alphabetic order. Just make sure you start with the freezer items first; no one appreciates melted ice cream.

8. Keep it Simple

When making a schedule, don’t over do it! It’s easy to get swept up in planning out every detail of your day, but this can actually breed stress and lead to burnout. Instead, focus on carving out time blocks for when things should happen, leaving some wiggle room for unexpected additions to your day. 

I have a terrible tendency to fill in (almost) every inch of our planner when I first get it each year, and you know what always ends up happening? After just a few short weeks, I buy a new planner and start all over, with a much more simple approach!

A great way to avoid my mistake is to start off small, literally. Before you buy a yearly planner and let your pen fly, grab a notecard and start by simply jotting down your schedule for the week.  Using something small will help keep you focused on what’s truly important, so you can have room to let life fill in the rest.

Look, it is great to have ambition. But it doesn’t all belong in your planner. You can always make a vision board or separate list of optional activities to choose from, should you have extra time.

9. Have an Endpoint

Establishing a reliable endpoint, such as being done by 2 pm, gives your kids structure they can depend on. It also helps them differentiate between school-time and free-time.  

If you do set an endpoint, let your children know up front that this is always the goal on typical school days, but that some days might look a little different. That way, if your day doesn’t go quite the way you planned or you have a doctor appointment pop up, you won’t have children mocking your attempt at structure. Ask me how I know.

On the flip side of the coin, if your child is still engaged and interested in learning more about a topic, don’t stop a learning opportunity just because you are supposed to be done for the day. Learning is an ongoing process and should be embraced whenever possible!

Final Thoughts on How to Create a Homeschool Daily Schedule Step-by-Step

As you can see, if you want to create a homeschool daily schedule, there is a lot of work that goes into the process. But trust me, the hardest part is just taking the time to do it.

What it boils down to is figuring out what works best for your family and how to make the best use of your time. Remember, this is all about trial and error, and what works now may not work in a few months. 

So grab your pencil, keep your eraser handy, and enjoy the journey!

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