Homeschool Schedule & Transitions
Over the weekend I wrote a post about what I might do if I were starting all over again with toddlers and preschoolers in-tow (Homeschooling Multiple Ages). In today’s post, I wanted to share what our routine looks like these days. I have two kids in middle school (ie. grades 6 and 8) and one in grade 3. Our homeschool is considerably more structured than it used to be.
When the kids were little, our routine was guided by meals and quiet time/nap time in the afternoon. We used to do our main subjects in the afternoon.
In the past few years, we just “went with the flow.” Sometimes we started with history. Sometimes we started with a read aloud book. Other times we started with math… There was no “set” schedule.
This year for the first time, we have a set schedule, an order of the subjects we cover. (I have times listed below, but we don’t necessarily go by those.) We tinkered with it at the beginning of the year, but it now looks like this. I have this on my phone (using Google Keep) and try to keep things moving over the course of the day.
As you can see, the kids do their independent reading (and/or literature) in the morning when they first get up. (They have novels they are reading and they also have a big literature book with short story selections, novel selections, etc.)
Then we do our first subject together starting at 9:30.
My kids all wanted to get math done earlier in the day so it is our second subject. Obviously, the kids all have their own math which I mark off in their notebooks/textbooks. They also do a page from their grammar book (Write Source Skillsbook (affiliate link); they each have their own levels). Generally, it takes my son quite a bit longer than my youngest so that is when I find the time to work with her on spelling. We use All About Spelling (affiliate link) and play various games/activities I’ve made for her. She’s currently reviewing the /er/ sound words (with words like girls, fur, journey, earth, etc. See a bit more about spelling here: Spelling: Grade 2. We’re just continuing on from where we left off last year.
Even on our busiest day, I really try to cover most subjects (even if for just 20 minutes like we have to do on Mondays). The subjects are more complicated/in-depth now and I also have to be much more intentional about how I transition from subject to subject. More about that in a second.
One more thing about our schedule… This year, the kids are doing some computer programming for the first time this year. I am completely unqualified to cover that (I wouldn’t really know where to start!), so Hubby is doing that with the kids twice a week in the evenings. He purchased a couple of Raspberry Pi’s. They started with a coding board game and some coding in Scratch. Now he has them doing exercises from a book and also they are doing some sort of coding game… but I’ll have to have him write up a post to give you all the details. The kids *love* their computer class with Dad… and I think it’s a really important skill for them to build. So, that isn’t included on my schedule above because he’s in charge of that! 🙂
Phone as a Homeschool Tool:
I use my phone as we move through our day. I often set the timer for 2o minutes as we work on a particular subject (for example for writing workshop or when we watch a German DVD).
I have the Google Keep app (which is like Evernote) with various lists including the schedules above. I might have a note that sketches out what I hope to cover in a particular subject that day. If I need to print something out for the next day or have something to do that evening to cover the material the next day, I will jot down a reminder note in Keep.
I also keep lists of lunch ideas, ingredients to buy at the store, dinner plans for the week. I have found the Allrecipes app to be really fun and helpful this year (in combination with the Keep app with my grocery list)!!
Review Cards as a Transition Tool:
I’ve found that I rely a lot on review cards to get us going in science, history and German (our foreign language).
Right now for science, we are working on physical and chemical properties. When we sit down for science I have a key-ring with review cards. These us all review the old material (and they help me remember what to review). With these cards I used QR Codes so that they can go back and review things on their own at a later date.
As everyone gathers together, I spend just a few minutes going over the material again. Often there will be things I realize they don’t know well (like ED didn’t know the boiling/freezing point), so I’ll jot down a note in Keep (which is like Evernote) to add that in for the next day.
I still have the kids go over the material from our Civics and Government Unit from time to time so it’s useful to have the QR codes (and they like using the phone for that!)
Similarly, I have conversation cards printed out for our foreign language (German). Often I’ll hand out different cards and the kids need to respond in the conversation with their character. Right now, our unit is on daily routines, chores, activities and hobbies. I made a series of cards with these actions. (They are on Popsicle sticks so we can hold them up so others can see the card easily.) We might use our cards to ask each other what we’re doing today, to practice past tense or to practice the construction would you rather… Again, having the cards on hand helps me/us transition in to the subject right away.
Even if we only spend 5 or 10 minutes using review cards, I find it really helps us shift gears and jump into the next subject. It helps keep the momentum going in our homeschool day and helps them really learn the vocabulary and review the subject matter we’ve been covering.
This year for the first time, my older two kids have homework. In a homeschool? Um, yes! This is material they are expected to complete in the evenings or on the weekend. They have 4 to 7 assignments to complete by Friday. I try to write down their assignments so that they can do it over the (previous) weekend if they want.
In the past month, homework has included reading several chapters from some books (for history), reading and summary questions (from their science text), memorizing the chemical symbol for some elements (gold-Au; potassium-K; iron-Fe; silver-Ag), doing a science experiment and lab report, memorizing German irregular verbs, a writing assignment (read a Shel Silverstein poem and then write their own in a similar style), doing a writing assignment (from Cover Story)… etc.
Why? Well, there are times when things don’t go as planned. We might have errands or appointments to fill into the day. These are times they can grab their homework notebooks and get things done. I also want them to learn to budget their time to get assignments done over the course of a week. And, there are assignments that take more time and care. Finally, there are certain vocabulary or terms they need to find the time to memorize on their own.
My daughter (the one in 6th grade) really likes homework… and always gets things done way ahead of time. My son has realized he needs to budget his time better. So, this is working well for our family.
Note: My youngest (age 8) does not have homework at this point.
Things Don’t Always Go According to Schedule:
One last thought before I close this for today… There are times when things don’t go according to plan. That is totally normal!! I’ve written down our ideal routines… but often things don’t go the way we think they will. At times our activities take too long or we spend too much time watching a documentary. That’s totally okay because we are learning all the time!!
See you again soon here or Homeschool Den Facebook page. Don’t forget to Subscribe to our Homeschool Den Newsletter! ~Liesl
Disclosure: Please note that some of the links in this post are affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you decide to make a purchase.
You might also be interested in thes similar posts:
- Creating Homeschool Procedures and Routines from two years ago (when the kids were in 1st, 4th and 6th). At that point I had “Mom Time” which worked really well for us!
- How Does Your Family Handle Chores?
- Back Into the Routine: Writing Workshop Rules!!
- Or this post from even farther back: Starting Our Routine (When the kids were ages 3, 5 and 8)
- PreK Routine (when ED was 3 1/2) or Preschool Routine Mondays (again from when ED was in PreK)
- Being Strategic about Your Homeschool Organization
Hi! I was wondering if you would mind sharing which history dvd’s your using? Thank you for all you share!
I have a (history) post that’s 1/3 written (for Monday) about what we’re covering in history (and the DVDs are included there). Are you okay to wait until then (or are you studying/planning right now)? My in-laws are in from out of town, so time is tight at the moment. 🙂
This is my first year doing the homeschooling with my two older children who are in grades kindergarten and third grade . I was wondering if you could help me with planning there lessons for the week , I find my self lost at times knowing what they need for the year .
First, congratulations taking up homeschooling! I want to say that you’re awesome! All homeschoolers need to high-five and encourage one another!! And, while I hope you find some inspiration and/or good ideas on our blog, take it all with a grain of salt… A blogger like me loves to write and share on good days and in good moments, but I can guarantee I’m shoving a mess aside to take pictures or (AND!!) not turning the camera to the laundry piles, paper piles, and so forth! We all feel overwhelmed, inadequate and inexperienced at times because we’re always dealing with a new phase in our kids’ lives. I also wanted to say that our homeschool looks a lot more traditional/scheduled when I write a post like this… but it isn’t our reality. At times we have plans, but it all goes out the window. I know that’s normal and then just try to jump back in the next day. None of that really addresses your question, but I feel compelled to say all that because we all struggle to find our “groove” with homeschooling. Every family is on their own journey and I *know* you’ll be awesome because no one knows your kids better than you do!!
But now to the meat of your question… planning things for kids in 3rd grade and kindergarten. Maybe my thoughts will help (or maybe you’ll find a style/rhythm that suits your kids better). For what it’s worth here are a few suggestions… Decide on the two or three things that feel important to you to cover most days… perhaps it’s read alouds, math work, and having the kids improve their phonics and reading skills. When those get done (along with keeping the family fed, organized, reasonably clean while keep your sanity intact!) feel a huge sense of accomplishment!!
Then consider the other subjects – history, science, writing, spelling… Think about how often you want to cover those (if at all). (For example, when my kids were younger we covered spelling for part of the year and grammar in the spring). For science and history choose a topic (or let the kids choose a topic) to delve in to. These don’t have to be daily… In fact, sometimes when the kids were younger we’d spend a couple weeks on a history topic doing crafts, projects and reading books from the library. Then we’d switch and do a science unit (and do experiments, activities) for a couple of weeks. If you like lapbooks, hands-on projects, crafts, experiments or whatever – add something (not all of that!!) in… but don’t feel pressured to do anything in particular. I guarantee you’ll circle back to that topic at least once or twice if not more in the coming years!!
As for what to cover for the year, that’s up to you. I’ve written a couple of different checklists that have helped me as I think about our journey… but these may or may not be helpful along your homeschool journey.
Here are some things we enjoyed for early elementary science: http://homeschoolden.com/2016/10/04/early-elementary-homeschool-science/
Here is a similar post with some the science activities we did http://homeschoolden.com/2016/03/04/20-science-activities-for-early-elementary/
And, the science tab above gives you links (and pictures) with some projects we’ve done along the way — http://homeschoolden.com/science-units/
(I have 3 kids, so these are things we might have done when one or the other was young, if you know what I mean!)
And here are some of the subjects I hope to cover K-8 in science: http://homeschoolden.com/2015/06/02/homeschool-science-unit-checklist-for-elementary-and-middle-school/ This is a homeschool science unit checklist.
We’ve made our way through time in history. This is a history checklist — http://homeschoolden.com/2015/06/04/homeschool-history-checklist/ and the history tab might give you some ideas if your kids have a particular interest. — http://homeschoolden.com/history-units/
I also wrote this post recently… I don’t know if this will help at all, but it was about homeschooling multiple ages from 8 on down… http://homeschoolden.com/2016/10/01/homeschooling-multiple-ages-an-8-year-old-preschoolers-and-toddlers/
I hope this is helpful and feel free to write back if you have any questions. The homeschooling community (online and off) is amazing. Be sure to find a network of homeschoolers to encourage you in the hard moments!! 🙂