Planning flexibility into your homeschool schedule is essential. Here are some simple ideas for homeschool planning that will reduce unnecessary stress and help you to never feel like you’re “behind”.
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How many of you are feeling stressed because it’s painfully obvious right now that your plan for the school year has gone out the window at this point?
You put so much effort into planning out just the right curricula and scheduling everything to fit so nicely into your school year. But, you have kids. And, not only that, you might have kids with ADHD. And, maybe, you have ADHD yourself.
So, chances are, you haven’t been able to “keep up” with your own expectations of all you and your kids would accomplish this year. Now, you feel like your kids are “behind”, and you’re afraid you’re failing them and ruining their chances at a successful life.
Guess what? Your kids are going to be just fine if they don’t finish that entire curriculum. They will learn more if you slow down and let learning happen in a natural flow than they will if you rush through lessons just to check them off the list.
Here are some tips to help you plan a flexible homeschool schedule:
Leave Room in Your Homeschool Schedule
Don’t schedule every moment of every school day for the entire school year. It will just cause stress for you and your kids when things don’t go as planned. And, trust me, things WILL NOT always go as planned.
Instead, work some flexible time into your routine. That way, you’ll be able to adjust without feeling like you’ve gotten “behind”.
And what about that word, “behind”? Behind what? Behind who?
A beautiful thing about homeschooling is that we don’t have to measure our kids against some arbitrary age-level guidelines that were put in place to manage a system of moving kids through an education system as a herd.
We are blessed to have the opportunity to give our kids an individualized education. We can meet their needs where they are at. There’s no “behind” in homeschooling. *steps off soapbox*
Use a Homeschool Planning Method that is Easy to Adjust
Now, I don’t mean you shouldn’t plan. Planning is good. Just make sure that you don’t plan so much content that you don’t leave room for life to happen. It’s all about structured flexibility.
I use an online tool called Homeschool Planet to help me do this.
Just last week, my daughter was sick, so she couldn’t do school for a few days. I wasn’t worried about it at all because I knew I had some extra days at the end of the school year that weren’t planned out yet. I just went into Homeschool Planet and used the rescheduling tool to shift the assignments to the next school day.
No stress. No getting behind. I anticipated that every day wouldn’t go perfectly and allowed room for adjustment from the beginning.
Maximize Learning Time by Combining Subjects
This is one of my FAVORITE homeschooling hacks!
You don’t have to set aside a different block of time for every subject. Streamline your school time by combining subjects!
How do you do this?
One of the most popular ways is to use unit studies. Unit studies focus on a particular topic and work language arts, math, science, history, art, geography, etc. around that topic.
The first unit study we ever did after we started homeschooling was about the Titanic. We already had a set of three books that told the story of the Titanic how the passengers may have experienced it, so we started with that.
By the time we were done, we had studied icebergs, buoyancy, time and distance, what else was going on in the world at that time, continents, oceanography, and more! We finished up the unit study by making a great big paper mache model of the Titanic.
A year or so later, we got to go to the Titanic Museum in Branson, MO, and the kids loved that they knew so much about it already. The museum just brought it all to life!
You can make your own unit studies or choose ready-made ones. Rabbit Trails, Trail Guide to Learning, and Pandia Press all offer great options for ready-made unit studies.
It’s a little harder to find ready-made unit studies for high school kids, but it’s really not that hard to combine subjects on your own.
My daughter is a sophomore this year, and her goals for the school year included learning about botany to help her with her gardening and learning how to set up her own photography business. We’ve been able to include literature, writing, and history into those two topics beautifully with just a little extra effort on my part in finding books, documentaries, etc.
Homeschool Routines Over Strict Homeschool Schedules
I always try to stress to families who are homeschooling kids with ADHD to depend more on routines than strict schedules. But, really, I believe this to be a better approach for all types of homeschooling families. Here’s why…
Strict Homeschool Schedule
A strict homeschool schedule sets you up for failure.
The minute you get off schedule, everyone starts feeling stressed. Before you know it, emotions have gotten really big and unintended behaviors are soon to follow (for kids and parents)!
Flexible homeschool routines, on the other hand, can add a natural flow and rhythm to your homeschool day without catching you in the trap of a stressful strict schedule.
Here’s the difference…
A strict morning schedule would demand that you wake up at 8:00 a.m., have everyone dressed and at the table for breakfast by 8:30 a.m., and start school at 9:00 a.m. If you happened to hit snooze one time too many, have a kid who didn’t sleep well the night before, or deal with a meltdown over a sock seam making someone’s foot uncomfortable, your whole day is already shot.
Flexible Homeschool Routine
A flexible morning routine, however, would allow you to set the expectation that when everyone gets up, we get dressed and have breakfast before we start school. The timing of it may be a little different each day, depending on what life throws at you. But, the structure of the routine provides a framework for your day.
You can do the same type of thing for the rest of your school day. For example, maybe everyone works independently after breakfast and the whole family comes together for read-aloud time after lunch.
Meals and other breaks tend to work as good landing points to set routines around, but every family is going to have different needs. It’s okay if your routines don’t look like those of other homeschool families. Your family is unique, so do what works best for you. If you have a big age range of kids, it’s likely that routines for older kids will be different from those of younger kids. That’s okay, too.
Make your flexible routines functional for your family. Don’t worry about how others might be doing things. Peaceful days based on a natural rhythm and flow will be much more likely to build a love of learning than will stressful days filled with a constant battle against the clock.
I hope these tips will help ease some stress in your homeschool and give you the confidence to believe that you know what is best for your family.