A homeschooling schedule is a great tool to make sure your child stays on track and gets exactly the education they need. But it's also useful for you as a parent.
A schedule keeps you organised, makes teaching easier, and helps you get the most out of each day, so you can balance the demands of being a parent, teacher, and even an employee.
Now, the actual process can be a little daunting, especially for parents that are new to the homeschool scene, which is why we've created this step-by-step guide for creating a schedule that works for you and your family along with advice on how to avoid the pitfalls that often catch out the newbie homeschooler.
But Hold On...Can't I Use My Kid's School Timetable?
Well, you could, but you probably shouldn't.
You see in 'regular' school a lot of time is wasted on things like taking the register, assemblies, and announcements and, in a class of over 30 students, there's a lot of ineffective time.
Homeschooling is more focused and provides your child with more one-on-one attention, so it's possible to get through the exact same material in only a fraction of the time.
In fact, on average, children that are homeschooled spend only 3 to 4 hours a day on schoolwork (or about 20 hours per week).
So, following the regular school timetable is probably overkill.
Isn't There a Homeschooling Schedule I Can Follow?
The main advantage of homeschooling is that you don't need to follow the one-size-fits-all approach to education that schools use. By following someone else's homeschooling schedule, you lose that advantage.
To be most effective, your homeschooling schedule needs to take account of:-
your teaching goals
the teaching time available each week
your child's attention span, interests, strengths and weaknesses
your family's lifestyle
When you create your own schedule, rather than use someone else's, the entire process will run a lot smoother.
Step One - Create Learning Goals
With schools closed all around the country until further notice (as of March 2020) it looks increasingly likely that you're going to be the one in charge of teaching your kids for the rest of the academic year.
So, the first step to creating the perfect homeschooling schedule is to identify learning goals for the rest of the year.
You want to know what material you need to cover so that you can then create a schedule that achieves these goals.
This may sound a little intimidating, but actually it's quite simple.
First, contact your child's school. They should be able to provide a copy of the curriculum which will tell you what material was going to be covered. Then, you can set your learning goals accordingly.
But if you can't get this, don't panic.
There are other options available, such as:
Working through the remainder of your kids' textbooks
Identifying which Key Stage your kids are in and then downloading a copy of the curriculum directly from the exam board websites or looking on websites like BBC Bitesize. Then, you can find a comprehensive list of topics for each subject and use that to create the learning goals
Bear in mind, it's best to set goals that are realistic and achievable. Being overly ambitious is a recipe for burnout, frustration, and maybe even mutiny from your child.
Step Two - Create Weekly Targets
Once you know the work you want to cover by the end of the year, the next step is to convert that into a set of weekly targets.
To do this, simply divide the amount of material by the number of weeks left in the year.
For instance, if your overall learning goal is to get through a certain number of pages of a textbook, divide the number of pages by weeks and this will give your weekly target.
If you're teaching by topic, add up the number of topics and divide by the number of weeks to find how many topics you need to cover each week.
Step Three - Make a Time Inventory
Next, we create a 'blank' schedule to decide what days and times your child will study.
Simply decide how many hours your child should spend studying per week, about 20 hours is the homeschool norm, and then block it into your calendar.
How you arrange this time is up to you. Some parents like to do 3 or 4 hours of schooling per weekday. Others prefer to homeschool in the evenings or weekends.
And of course, you should split each day up so your child's studying different subjects rather than spending 4 hours straight on a single topic.
But, how long should a lesson be?
We recommend you plan for lessons of no more than 45 minutes in length, just like in school, as even the most-dedicated students seem to lose focus beyond this point.
You should also think about how much of this time you can dedicate to instruction.
As a rule of thumb, we've found that, for a 45-minute lesson, the actual direct tuition time, where you're explaining concepts or working through examples, is usually around 15 or 20 minutes.
The rest of the lesson time is best spent on independent learning activities such as reading, writing essays and, for subjects like maths and science, completing worksheets.
Of course, if your child uses worksheets, you also have to factor in additional time each week for creating questions and answers, unless you take advantage of pre-made worksheets, like Cazoom's maths worksheets.
Bonus Tip: When planning your schedule, include time for breaks and lunch. Breaks provide an important breather and, because 20% of the calories you eat are used up by your brain, lunchtime is an essential part of a productive school day.
Step Four - Create a Draft Homeschooling Schedule
At this point, you know the learning goals for each week and how many hours of study you can comfortably schedule.
Now it's simply a case of plugging the lessons into the available slots.
To make this even easier, here are a few tips:
Consider your child's attention span. Often more intense, technical subjects, like maths and science, are better placed earlier in the day when kids' minds are fresh
Get feedback from your child on when they'd prefer to study each subject
Stagger the lessons for each subject throughout your weekly plan to add variety and help improve retention
Step Five - Adjust Your Schedule
Unfortunately, just like when piecing together a jigsaw, sometimes things don't match up perfectly.
It may be that there's simply too much material to cover in the lessons you've planned.
At this stage, you have two options:
Stick to 20 hours per week, but prioritise the core national curriculum subjects of English, maths, and science, and any subject that your child's struggling with.
Increase the number of hours to account for the extra material you want to cover.
The best choice depends on your own circumstances.
So, now you know how to create your own homeschooling schedule from scratch.
But, keep in mind that the best schedule isn't the one that contains the most subjects or teaching hours, it's the one that actually works for you and your child.
Instead of cramming every waking moment with work, it's better to create a more modest schedule that you and your kids can stick to and that keeps learning enjoyable and stress-free.
Finally, remember to check out Cazoom's free maths worksheets, arranged by topic and secondary school level, to help you save time and also check your kids understand what you're teaching them.
Outstanding Maths Worksheets
Our maths worksheets for kids cover the UK secondary school curriculum, and provide the perfect opportunity for children to put their pencils to paper and have fun with these maths worksheets.
Our maths resources are used by over 40,000 teachers, parents and schools, and we are a recommended resource for helping key stage 3 and key stage 4 students learn mathematics.