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How to Schedule Your Homeschooling Day: Three Samples

What should your homeschooling day actually look like? When should the kids be up? How should classes be structured? How engaged should Mom and Dad be in the daily grind of home education?

Stressing about these questions can lead us to second-guess ourselves and our decision to homeschool. This is especially true if we are comparing ourselves to other homeschooling families who seem to “have it together” better than we do. (They don’t.)

However, the truth is that there’s no “right” way to homeschool. Depending on various factors, homeschooling can look wildly different from household to household. In this post, we will look at three sample homeschool days and see how different circumstances change how homeschooling is approached.

Example 1: Highly Structured 

Our first example is based on a highly structured routine. The schedule has been arranged so that most of every day is free for homeschooling, which occurs at home (as opposed to a co-op or program) and is centered around a very organized, predictable routine.

Sarah is a stay-at-home mom with three children, ages 6, 12, and 14, whom she homeschools during the day while her husband works. Sarah wakes them up promptly at 7:00 AM every morning so they can attend an 8:00 A.M. daily Mass in town. They are back at home by 8:45 and eating breakfast.

School usually begins at 9:30. Sarah has structured it so her two older children have online classes in the morning so she can focus on working with her 6 year old on reading, spelling, and math. The older children work with laptops on the couch while Sarah and her youngest work at the kitchen table. By around 11:30 everybody is wrapping up their morning work; Sarah sends them off for a half hour to do some light chores while she prepares lunch. At noon everybody prays the Angelus, then eats lunch.

After lunch, the kids have freetime while Sarah has some time to herself to sit down, do some housework, or whatever strikes her fancy. Afternoon class resumes at 2:00. This time she has all the kids doing something together—reading a book together, listening to a history audio book, or doing a science project under her direction. By 3:00 the youngest is done with school for the day; the older two take a break and then work on their self-paced school work (e.g., practicing Latin declensions,  doing math problems, reading Shakespeare). Sarah is doing her own thing during this time, but she is available in case the kids need help. At 4:30 the kids are sent to clean up the house a bit before dinner, which is generally between 5:30 and 6:00 when her husband returns home.

Example 2: Busy With Extracurriculars

Our second example is a family busy with extracurricular activities outside the home: co-ops, a drama club, and evening dance. In this scenario, the parents rely heavily on these activities; their main work is shuttling the kids to and from their activities while ensuring they have sufficient free time at home to keep up on homework. The daily schedule fluctuates depending on what is going on.

Abby is the mother of four kids, ages 10, 12, 15, and 18. They are deeply involved with a local Catholic co-op that meets at a nearby parish on Mondays and Wednesdays—and, Abby manages the co-ops drama club, which rehearses Tuesdays and Thursdays every morning. Two of her daughters are also involved in dance, which meets in the evenings. Abby’s husband Chris works from home.

Four days a week, Abby has to be at the co-op in the morning, either to teach drama or to take her kids to their classes. The kids are usually up and dressed by 7:30; the family eats a hurried breakfast and is out the door by 8:15. Co-op runs from 9:00 to 2:00 with a lunchbreak at noon. While her kids are at co-op, Abby typically runs errands or sits at the parish to work on the administrative details of her drama class. By the time everyone gets home, it’s time for some relaxation, so everybody has free time. The family typically reconvenes for dinner, afterwhich Abby’s husband Chris packs up the girls and takes them to dance. The other two children typically spend some time in the evening after dinner at the table working on homework.

On drama days, the kids are all at play practice until lunchtime. On these days, after drama, Abby and the kids typically stop in at the local coffee and sandwich shop to relax. Everyone brings their laptops and headsets and they chill in a booth watching pre-recorded classes online and taking notes while sipping beverages.

Example 3: The Unschoolers

Unschooling is a method of homeschooling that eschews traditional “classes” in favor of a more curiosity-based approach to education. Children study what they are interested in for as long as they are interested in it, and there is a high degree of integration between the parents’ day and the child’s routine.

Mark and Helena are the parents of two boys, ages 14 and 17. Mark is a mechanic who runs his business out of a large pole barn on the family’s property. His wife Helena runs an Etsy shop selling hand-crafted goods that keeps her moderately busy. The family also considers themselves hobby farmers; they have a few animals they raise for themselves and now and then sell animal products like wool and goat milk privately to people in the community.

The boys have worked with Mark in the garage for as long as they can remember. During the day they can often be found with the father, working on cars while learning about automotive repair. Mark sometimes allows them to handle smaller repair jobs on their own. The boys have expressed interest in taking over the shop when their father gets older and Mark is trying to gradually introduce them to the details of managing a business. Helena has also taught the boys quite a bit about marketing through her Etsy business. The boys have learned how to fill orders, process payments, and understand the basics math of profit and loss.

The boys each have their own interests; the 14 year old is deeply interested in astronomy. He used the money he makes working with his father to buy a decent telescope he has set up in his room. His astronomy interest has sparked all kinds of ancillary projects—his mother recently asked him to write a paper on astronomy, and he has also been keeping a detailed log of his observations. The older boy recently asked to add an alpaca to the family farm. His parents told him only if he assumed responsibility for it, so he has been immersed in books about the care and management of alpacas. If he handles one alpaca well, he may get more and sell their fleece. After a few weeks of reading, he is a veritable alpaca expert and won’t stop talking about them. His parents are ready to cave and buy him the alpaca just to get shut him up.

There’s no fixed schedule for the day; what the family does depends on the daily obligations relating to the garage, farm, and Etsy shop. The family does maintain a fairly solid routine of saying the Rosary at night in the parlor, however. During the summer months, this often happens outside around the bonfire while the animals look on from their pens.

There’s No One Way to Homeschool

As you can see, there’s no one way to homeschool. Homeschooling is all about choosing what is best for your family based on their specific talents, interests, needs, and schedule. There are undoubtedly many more sample schedules we could have included, but you get the point. So don’t be worried if your homeschooling doesn’t look like somebody else’s; the most important thing by far is that you craft a schedule that works for your family.

If you’d like to continue the discussion or share how you schedule your homeschool day, I invite you to join me and other parents at our Catholic Homeschool Connections Community or our Facebook group.

Lastly, Homeschool Connections offers a wide variety of online courses for 3rd to 12th grade to help you homeschool. See our Course Finder to learn more.

Resources to help you in your Catholic homeschool…

Catholic Homeschool Classes Online

Homeschooling Saints Podcast

Good Counsel Careers

The Catholic Homeschool Conference

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