The next installment of Back-to-School Prep from the Teaching Home Newsletter is all about setting up your school year and those, often dreaded but severely needed, schedules. Routines are great, but fitting things into a schedule will help your family not fall into the “homeschooler stereotype” of always being late. I don’t know about you, but that stereotype fits many of the homeschooling families that I know and it is one that I don’t want labeled on my own family! If you know many families that fit this stereotype, I challenge you to change it!
Set Your School Year Schedule
1. Determine Your School Year ScheduleTake into account the number of school days or hours, if any, that you are required to document according to your state law (see www.hslda.org).
Use a traditional schedule or set up your own year-round schedule. These examples all include the usual 180 school days.
• Traditional Schedule. 9-month school year and 3-month summer break. Includes 5 days of school per week, with 3 weeks of break within the 9-month school year.
• Year-Round, 5-Day School Week. 36 weeks of school, with 16 weeks of breaks interspersed wherever you wish.
• Year-Round, 4-Day School Week. 45 weeks of school, with 7 weeks of breaks interspersed wherever you wish.
2. Create a Master Calendar
• Calendar. Keep a calendar, with large boxes for each day to write in, near the phone where everyone in your family can see it.
• Planner. Also use a planner to collect all of your organizational information in one place. Include goals, calendar, schedules, lists, telephone directory, plus notes and information your family needs to find easily.
Buy a planner that is all set up for you (see Well Planned Gal), or use a large or small loose-leaf notebook and make or buy pages for it.
Organized Home.com offers online articles on how to create your own Household Notebook planner and offers free printable forms for your planner.
Mark both your master calendar and the one in your planner with the following information:
• Your school year schedule (see above) including school days, vacations, dates of major units of study, test days, field trips, and support group activities.
• Birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, and special days.
• All of your family’s appointments, church and social activities, music lessons, etc.
• Anything you need to be reminded of, such as library due dates (and number of books out) and household bills (payment dates and amounts due).
Set family rules and procedures for accepting invitations and scheduling appointments.
Check daily to see that you have transferred necessary information from your master calendar to your planner and vice versa.
These practices will help your family’s schedule run more smoothly!
3. Make an Ongoing Master To-Do List
• Compile a master to-do list, a single continuous list that replaces small slips of paper. Assign individual’s names to items that are delegated to them.
• Add items as you think of them; cross them off when they are done (the fun part!).
• Assign items from this list to your calendar; monthly, weekly, or daily schedules; or daily to-do lists for each person.
How To Create Daily and Weekly Schedules
Work out a time budget that reflects your priorities. Follow the steps below to create your regular daily and weekly schedules.
Step 1: List All Activities
List all the things your family needs or wants to do, along with how often they are done and how much time they take each week. Include:
• Family and personal devotions. Schedule your own personal time with God in His Word and prayer to prepare for your day before your children get up.
• Maintenance: grooming, chores, meals, exercise, and shopping.
• School work: each school class or regular educational activity, reading aloud, and individual studies.
• Calls, errands, meetings, projects, mail, paying bills, and planning sessions.
• Social activities or entertainment.
• Free, unscheduled time for you and your children to relax and follow your own interests.
• Family relationships: time alone with each child and with your husband, plus family time together, e.g., a family night.
• Sleep, including naps. Many children suffer from sleep deprivation. The recommended amount of sleep for various age groups is as follows:
· Toddlers (1-3 years): 12-14 hours
· Preschoolers (3-5 years): 11-13 hours
· School-age children (5-12): 10-11 hours
· Adolescents 9.5 hours
· Adults 7-9 hours
Read “How Much Sleep Do We Really Need?” by the National Sleep Foundation.
• Reserve Sundays for church, rest, family, and friends.
• Limit the time your family spends on the computer. This time can eat up your schedule very quickly otherwise. Also keep your computer in a family area in order to monitor its use.
Step 2: Budget Your Time
• Add up the total time per week for all the activities on your list.
• If your total is more than (or even close to) the hours in a week, start re-evaluating, prioritizing, trimming, or cutting out some activities until you have a comfortable fit and good balance.
• Allow extra time for slow-downs and transition time to move from one activity to another.
Step 3: Make Daily and Weekly Schedules
Now you can plan your family’s daily and weekly schedules to incorporate your plans and goals.
Your time budget assures that urgent demands don’t steal time from the important things you want and need to do.
• Establish regular times for family meals, going to bed, and getting up.
• Schedule a normal week’s activities (see list above).
• Don’t schedule so tightly that a few minutes here and there will throw everything hopelessly off schedule.
• Leave time for unexpected events and opportunities.
• Post a copy of your schedule where all can see it. This is different from, and in addition to, your master calendar and stays the same every week, all year, or until you decide to change it.