How am I going to squeeze everything in?
Are we spending enough time doing school each day?
Where do I even begin? This is so overwhelming!!
If this sounds familiar, don’t worry. You’re not alone!! These are all thoughts I had running through my mind during my first year homeschooling.
Coming up with a weekly and yearly homeschool schedule can feel overwhelming. There is no right or wrong way to schedule your homeschool, but I have found looking at how other homeschooling moms structure their days and year can be helpful. Come take a peek into how I schedule our weekly schedule, yearly curriculum plans, and week-to-week lesson plans.
How long should I homeschool each day?
First, you do NOT need to be homeschooling from 8:00 am-3:00 pm each day as if your child was attending school. The beauty of homeschooling is you get to do school at your own pace when it works for you.
The Illinois State Board of Education published recommendations for how long a child should spend actively engaged in remote learning activities. I’ve adapted these suggestions for homeschooling. Here’s roughly how long each age group needs to be actively working on schoolwork each day.
- Preschool: 20-40 minutes
- Kindergarten: 30 minutes-1 hour
- Elementary: 1-3 hours
- Junior High: 2-4 hours
- High School: 3-5 hours
Also keep in mind that this all shouldn’t occur in one stretch. According to a study published in the Journal of Educational Research, children are less fidgety and able to focus better when their brains get breaks between learning1.
Annalee is in third grade this year, and we spend anywhere from 1-4 hours each day homeschooling. It varies quite a bit depending on what we’re studying, how quickly Annalee masters the material, and how many interruptions we have from her younger sisters that day.
What is a loop schedule?
A loop schedule is a type of homeschooling schedule where you create a list of subjects and teach only one subject from the list each day, looping back to the beginning of the list once you’ve taught all of the subjects.
To create a loop schedule, choose a few subjects that you’d like to include in your homeschool but that you don’t have time to cover every day. There’s no limit to how many you choose. Maybe you only loop between two, maybe you loop five subjects. Many people use loop schedules for fine arts, foreign languages, and other electives.
Once you have your list of loop subjects, choose a designated time in your daily schedule for your loop subjects, covering one subject each day. Once you get through your list, loop back to the first subject.
For example, you might cover reading, spelling, and math every morning, but you loop through history, science, and Latin in the afternoons. Day one you study history, day two science, day three Latin, and then on day four you loop back to History.
A classic loop schedule will continue the loop regardless of the day of the week. You just go on to the next subject in the loop. I like my subjects to fall on the same day of the week each week, so I use a bit of a hybridized loop/block schedule for our homeschool.
Weekly Classical Conversations Looping Homeschool Schedule Examples
Since we are in Classical Conversations (CC), I use two different weekly schedules. One is for weeks we go to CC, and the other is for weeks we don’t.
Here’s what my 3rd grader’s schedule looks like on weeks we go to Classical Conversations.
We have the same flow each day with a looping schedule for our electives in the morning and a looping schedule for History/Bible and English in the afternoon.
One thing you might notice is I don’t include any times on my weekly schedule. This has been a game-changer for me. Removing times from my weekly schedule provides us with the freedom to pivot when necessary.
If a lesson is running long because we got on some tangent and Annalee is really into this deep dive, we go for it. We can take little brain breaks as needed, guilt-free. We’ll play with little sisters between subjects or read stories together. I almost always follow this order of subjects, but the timing can vary day-to-day, and that works really well for our family.
Here’s our weekly schedule for weeks we don’t have Classical Conversations.
The main difference is I’ve added cursive into our morning loop on weeks we don’t have CC.
Also, did you notice the hug and kiss at the end of the school day? This was something Annalee wrote onto her schedule on our first day, and I went in and included it on mine. It might seem like something that doesn’t need to be on a schedule, but having a hug and kiss right there on the schedule each day makes for a great way to end our studies together.
How to Create a Yearly Homeschool Curriculum Schedule
Now that I’m in year two of homeschooling, I’ve realized that it really helps me to have every subject for the entire school year planned out. This might seem like overkill, but it actually helps me feel empowered to get through each day, and having the schedule helps combat my depression and anxiety. I feel ready to tackle each week knowing what the overall plan is for the year.
Add Dates and Schedule Breaks
I start by creating a spreadsheet with each week’s dates on the left and the subjects across the top. I went with a 36 week school year. It’s up to you (and possibly your state) to decide how many weeks you need to be in school.
Once my dates are in, I block out the week of Thanksgiving and three weeks for Christmas Break. I don’t pre-schedule a spring break because I will add one in whenever we end up needing it.
Plan Weekly Lessons for Each Subject
After adding in dates and scheduled breaks, I take it one subject at a time and fill in my plans for each week.
I do not create lesson plans for the year. Instead, I go through each textbook and make a rough outline of which lessons I’m aiming to complete each week.
The one subject I don’t include in my yearly spreadsheet is English. We’re using Shurley English this year, and I’m just going at our own pace. I purchased Grade 4 instead of Grade 3 since each of the levels in Shurley English has a lot of overlap, and we’re going as far as we can get with the time we have. I’m not worried about completing that curriculum this year.
It ends up looking like this:
How do I decide how much to cover each week?
Let’s walk through my process for planning each subject for this year’s schedule.
I decided to memorize a new Bible verse every other week, so I chose verses for the year and typed them into the spreadsheet.
I chose general musical topics I’d like to cover each week for the fall, and we’ll be learning recorder in the spring, so our spring plans for music are pretty fluid.
We use All About Reading and All About Spelling for language arts. Reading gets 1-2 lessons per week; spelling receives 1 step per week. Read more about how I schedule reading in my All About Reading review here.
I scheduled one lesson each day for Math from our Christian Light Education curriculum. Last year I did math only four days a week, and we didn’t finish the entire curriculum.
For History/Bible we use Biblioplan. It comes with a wonderful family guide that breaks down the textbook into a 34-week plan, so I plugged in the topics for history, Bible, and geography from the family guide into my spreadsheet.
I also included read-aloud ideas that coordinate with Biblioplan, and at the end of the spreadsheet, I added our Classical Conversations weeks and science topics.
Why do I create a yearly homeschool schedule?
You might be thinking, Bethany, that sounds like a ton of work. Why in the world would I spend the time to create this???
Here’s the deal: having everything laid out allows me to see how much wiggle room I have in each subject area. It could potentially only take us 29 weeks to complete the reading curriculum, but it takes 33 weeks for us to complete the math curriculum.
Although this type of scheduling may appear very rigid, it actually gives me the freedom to have more leniency as we progress through the material. Since I have every subject planned out through the end of the year, I can easily see which subject I can drop if we’re having a hectic day without feeling guilty.
Already this year, I’ve adjusted math slightly because we needed an extra day to review before her first test, and I added in an entire week of review to Spelling after a tricky set of words. We also had a week where everyone was sick, so we skipped Music, Art, Reading, and Spelling that week.
If we’re in the middle of a lesson, and I realize we need some extra time to master the content, I just push everything back on my yearly schedule. Right now, we’re still scheduled to end the year within 34 weeks.
Making Library Requests for Homeschooling Topics
Seeing our topics laid out in this format also allows me to quickly make library requests to match our content.
My local library has a fantastic resource where you submit a form to the children’s department with a list of subjects, and one of the librarians will curate a stack of books for you based on your subjects. It’s a HUGE time-saver, and they often find books I wouldn’t have been able to find on my own with three kids in tow.
Creating Weekly Lesson Plans from a Yearly Schedule
Maintaining a yearly schedule also helps me when preparing my weekly lesson plans. I open up my yearly schedule and then break down each subject into our week.
I don’t do anything fancy. I just write out the pages of the textbook we’ll cover and any activities we’ll use for that lesson. Here’s an example of how I lesson plan for the week.
Keep in mind as you create your homeschool schedules that every family is unique and all of our schedules will look a little (or a lot!) different.
Do whatever works best for your family. What type of homeschool schedule do you like to use? Let me know in the comments!
Olga S. Jarrett, Darlene M. Maxwell, Carrie Dickerson, Pamela Hoge, Gwen Davies & Amy Yetley (1998) Impact of Recess on Classroom Behavior: Group Effects and Individual Differences, The Journal of Educational Research, 92:2, 121-126, DOI: 10.1080/00220679809597584