It's fairly easy to sit down with a piece of paper and fill time slots to create a schedule. But it's a little harder to turn that beautiful paper plan into a workable family schedule and routine that will withstand good days and bad, interruptions, illness, or the need for a break.
Fortunately, harder doesn't mean impossible. It simply means that you have to be a little more intentional and attentive. And it might mean a bit of trial and error in the process.
Creating a Workable Schedule
Here are a few tips that will help you create a workable schedule for homeschool and life.
Solid planning starts with right thinking. Your mental approach to creating a workable schedule is as important as the schedule itself! Remembering two very important truths will help you prepare your mind for creating a schedule:
- There is no “perfect” homeschool day. While it can be helpful to see how other families succeed in homeschooling, we have to remember that what works for one family will probably not work so well for another. Look to others or to books for examples, but be sure to set your mind toward meeting your own family’s needs.
- Your family is unique! Not only do you have unique personalities and rhythms, you also have unique needs and time demands. Work schedules, ages of your children, and seasons of life – such as new babies, moves, times of caregiving, illnesses, etc – all impact your schedule and distinguish it from that of the family down the street.
Write It Out
As moms, we far too often try to keep everything in our heads. Or, we have sticky notes here and there that we pull together now and then. Scheduling is a great opportunity to bring it all together in one place and in writing.
By writing down every single thing you can think of that impacts your schedule, from biggest to smallest, you will be less likely to be surprised by regular interruptions. There will always be the unexpected things that pop up, but we are more often stymied by the regular activities, such as actively acknowledging in our schedule that laundry isn’t just about putting a load in the washer then folding and putting it away when it’s all done, but about remembering to transition it to the dryer at the appropriate time as well!
When we make a list of every big and little thing that impacts our schedule, then try to fit it all into the schedule, we can more easily evaluate what needs to stay and what needs to go in order to facilitate the addition of homeschooling to our routine.
Revisiting & Flexibility
A schedule is just a plan. Implementation of a plan always requires thinking on our feet, tweaking, and adjusting as needed. So, go ahead and plan to revisit your schedule.
Implementation of a schedule is much more about finding your family’s rhythm than sticking to a schedule. That rhythm requires flexibility. Sometimes your schedule will enable you to plan ahead. Other times, you’ll just need to jot down what you actually managed to accomplish that day. There will be occasions when you need an unscheduled break. And sometimes the whole day fails and you need to remember that tomorrow is a brand new day with brand new mercies.
Instead of thinking of your schedule as a solid foundation or permanent framework, think of it as a living entity like corral. It is a tool for you to use to help shape each day, not a structure to hold you in place.
As you create and implement your schedule, never forget the reason for building the schedule in the first place. Growing relationships with your children and honoring Christ in all you do are your reasons for homeschooling in the first place. The schedule is simply a tool by which this is accomplished. Take time to enjoy the journey, even if it means putting math aside for a day or two. And, always remember that God is sovereign and in control. He has perfect wisdom to guide your schedule, your daily routine, and your entire journey through these homeschool years. Focus on Him and He will guide every step.
A Few More Thoughts
Whether we are natural planners or prefer to just “wing” it through life, scheduling is an important part of ensuring that we do not burn ourselves and our families out as we try to juggle this homeschool adventure. But just because something is important for everyone does not mean that everyone has to do it the same way. You know your family, your needs, and the steps of obedience God is leading you to take. Trust your intuition and set necessary boundaries. Then dive in and enjoy your year!
Do you think of yourself as a natural planner or spontaneous? Take our Planner Personality Quiz to find out!