Updated: May 1, 2021
What's the best homeschooling schedule for you and your family?
Do you want to be more of a relaxed homeschooler that lets the learning schedule unfold through the day or is a structured homeschooler a better fit, where you follow a strict schedule each day?
We are going to provide you with schedule ideas that range from a super relaxed approach to a much more structured day. All are welcome!
Your homeschooling schedule has to fit you and your family! We have ideas to help get you started!
Click here to receive homeschooling schedules or read on to learn more, watch a video from one of our co-founders, and receive the opportunity for example schedules at the bottom of the page, as well.
For relaxed homeschoolers, there can be days where you feel disappointed because you didn’t get in all of the skills or activities you hoped for. You might want to step back and let your child be driven by their own interests. Then again, you want them to also learn certain skills. Balancing the two can be hard, but not impossible!
The key is finding a curriculum or activities that you can readily adapt to your child's interests. You may also need to slightly restructure your schedule to provide time for your child to embrace their passions, while also accomplishing certain learning goals.
For structured homeschoolers, there can be days of frustration if your child or children are resisting, or not getting a concept in the time you had allotted. In the Montessori world, the aim is to follow your child's lead. As a structured homeschooler, it might be hard to be fully "Montessori-ish," and that's fine.
The key is to strike a balance between listening to and respecting your child and accomplishing the learning goals. What is developmentally appropriate for kindergartners is a maximum of 15-20 minutes of continual focused learning time; however, most kindergartners do best with 5 to 7 minutes.
As you face these challenges, just know that you are not alone. We are all going through this together, even if our style for homeschooling is slightly different. We all have to find a balance and work through the challenges, including how to schedule our day in a way that is best for our child and best for us too!
Maybe you have tried out different homeschooling schedules and you are feeling that it didn’t work. My advice is don’t give up and when you feel discouraged, take 6-8 breaths where you just focus on the air going in and going out. Take a moment to meditate. In that moment, think about what IS working, what IS going well! Even if it is as small as my daughter used a big word today that surprised me, or my son recognized a number that I didn’t realize he knew.
Routines for Kids
When creating an ideal homeschooling schedule for your family, it is crucial to start with routines. Children thrive when they know what’s coming. While surprises can be fun, no one enjoys being surprised everyday, especially little ones with their brain development still at the stage of concreteness and limited ability to manage emotions.
If you already have these routines in place and are consistent with them, kudos to you! Great job! If these are inconsistent each day with routines for your children, start here and set this as the first goal - to build in consistent daily routines.
Daily Routines for Kids:
Bedtimes: Young children do best when they have a consistent bedtime and a bedtime routine. Children between the ages of 4 and 7 need 11-12 hours of sleep per night. Be sure to organize your evening routine to ensure your child is getting enough sleep!
Wake Times: It is okay to allow your child to wake on their own. If you are keeping a consistent bedtime routine, then this should naturally occur within an hour range (e.g., between 7 and 8 AM).
Snacks and Mealtimes: It is ideal if you are consistent as possible with carrying these out within a certain range of time (e.g., AM Snack between 10 and 10:30, lunch between 12 and 1, PM Snack between 3 and 3:30, dinner around 6).
Read Aloud Time: Aim to have certain times of the day where your children know it is time for reading books together. Ideally 30 minutes per day should be devoted to reading aloud. This could be two 15 minute chunks, three 10 minute chunks, or even smaller segments that total 30 minutes of read aloud time .
Brushing Teeth/Getting Dressed/Chores: Try to maintain certain times of the day where your children carry out certain tasks. We all have days where we stay in our PJs and forget to brush teeth - that is completely okay once in a while. To teach good habits though and to build in clear expectations around routines, try to have days where there is consistency with these tasks (e.g., weekdays).
The rest of the day we believe is best organized in ways that fit your lifestyle, work situations, children’s personalities and needs, the weather, and energy levels!
Homeschooling Schedule Ideas
By looking through our examples, we hope you find one that fits. We recommend choosing one and trying it out for a few weeks.
Sometimes initially, a new schedule can be hard to adjust to and so don’t give up, just be patient. If after a few weeks it still isn’t working, then return to your meditation breaths to clear your mind and gain clarity on what it is that you need to adjust.
And, just remember the ideal amount of time to engage kindergartners in “purposeful learning activities” is 60 minutes and of course not all at once. We recommend breaking it up into segments that are around 5 to 10 minutes. This aligns with the ideal length of 5 to 6 year-old's attention spans.
If you have a 20 to 30 minute segment scheduled for teaching and learning, be sure to take a break or two during that time.
One option is to organize a longer block of time into what we like to call, "Your Turn, My Turn." This is where you play with your child for 5 to 10 minutes. You can say, "It's your turn, so you decide what we do together." Have fun and enjoy the time together! When the timer goes off, it switches to you. You can say, "Okay, it's my turn now," and you get to decide the activity. Here is where you can incorporate a learning activity. Use a timer and continue to switch back and forth!
You can also think of the day in chunks.
The early morning chunk is a great time for reading aloud (check out our blog on reading aloud for maximum engagement and learning), fitting in a few short learning activities, and discovering a question of the day that you have placed in their mailbox or another special place for them. This could also be a time for making a list with your child (grocery list, checklist, etc.), discussing what day it is (calendar time), and getting ready for the day (chores). The morning too is a super important time to connect with your child and make sure their attention bucket is full! This will help tremendously as you move through your day teaching them at home!
The mid-morning chunk could be a mixture of learning and free play activities. Short and sweet segments for learning activities are ideal! Be sure to have snacks at a consistent time each day. This mid-morning chunk of time is a perfect time to incorporate fun, hands-on math and reading activities, as well as handwriting. It would also be great to incorporate outside time, if possible.
On days with nice weather, we aim to be outside by 11 AM, incorporate learning activities outside, have lunch outside, and come in around 2 PM for some quiet time. However, when the weather is wet or chilly we wait until after lunch and quiet time to head outside. During the hot summer months, we go outside early in the morning and come in for the afternoons.
Think of lunch as what separates the mid-morning from the afternoon chunk of time. The afternoon chunk is a great opportunity for a combination of outside time, quiet time that includes reading aloud, and fun discovery activities that include art, music, social studies, and science. This is also a fabulous time for sensory play and free-play.
I do fit in learning activities right after lunch. I find that for my children though, learning activities are most productive in the mornings and early afternoon. Once 2 PM rolls around, any type of learning activity that I present gets met with resistance.
Connection Comes First
Also, one final tip that I always have to remind myself is that the connection with your child or children has to come first. If my children are feeling disconnected from me, either because they haven’t received enough attention that day or they aren’t feeling like they have been given enough control (e.g., choice), then they resist anything I ask of them.
I am learning that in these times, I have to stop what I am doing for 10 minutes, sit down with them on the floor, and just play whatever it is they want to play.
Building a connection each day goes a long way in terms of getting buy-in when you want to engage them in tasks, a learning activity, read alouds, or whatever it may be.
Here is a video where I share my family’s daily schedule as a relaxed homeschooler carrying out the Thoughtful Play Complete Homeschooling Curriculum.
The Thoughtful Play Curriculum can easily fit with whichever homeschooling approach you take. Our curriculum is primarily games, activities, adventures, and play. It is worksheet-free with a few optional templates to print.
You can carry out the Thoughtful Play lessons throughout the day in a relaxed format - doing an activity here and there when it seems to fit in the day, or you can deliver the lessons through a more structured approach where you do the activities and games at a set time each day.
Now for our homeschooling schedule ideas to provide inspiration and encouragement!
We wish you the best on your homeschooling journey and aim to continue to support you along the way! Please share this post so other families can find the perfect schedule for them!
If you would like some advice on how to ease back into a homeschooling routine, check out our Instagram Page @Thoughtful_Play for a short video on the 3 Tips for Getting Back Into a Homeschooling Routine and 3 Tips for Preventing Getting Out of a Routine.
Thank you and play on,
Hollie Young, Ph.D.
Co-Founder, Thoughtful Play, LLC