In the last few posts, I’ve shared what we cover in our homeschool by subject area for a full year, but what does this look like on a week to week basis? How do we fit it all in? I thought it might be useful to share our schedule with you and to paint a picture of what a ‘typical working week’ (if there can be such a thing) looks like for us. But before I do, I think it’s worth first putting it into context of the broader picture.
Homeschooling is Unique to Your Family
Compared to a lot of home ed families I know, we have it quite easy, in that I only have two children to homeschool (who are only 16 months apart in age); they’re both at an age where they’re fairly independent in their learning; and it’s our fourth year of home educating (oh my gosh, that feels scary!), so we’ve already found our rhythm. We’ve built up our weekly schedule slowly, over time – it’s a million miles away from what it looked like when we started this journey with an energetic 5 & 6-year-old! I can’t stress enough how important it is for your sanity and happiness to find a schedule that works for your beautiful and unique family at whatever point you happen to be in your own homeschool journey.
Homeschooling is Seasonal
Homeschooling is also seasonal. There are seasons where you are highly efficient in what you might consider more academic learning, and other seasons where life throws you a curveball, maybe through illness, moving to a new house, or a new baby. It might feel like they’re not learning anything throughout these periods, and inevitably guilt sets in, but I guarantee they will be. Firstly, children need time to absorb the knowledge and skills they’ve learned. Secondly, children are, by their very nature, much more independent and self-led in their learning than we give them credit for (particularly if you reduce screen time), taking the initiative and exploring topics they’re interested in. And lastly, there’s an awful lot to be said for learning through life and play.
We had a period of 15 weeks at the start of this year on our travels around the world, where our only formal work was daily maths practice, reading (not considered work in this household!) and the odd piece of writing. And yet they learned and experienced so much (one for another post), from seeing the glaciers in New Zealand, to gold mining in Australia, to exploring the coral reefs of Indonesia. But what amazed me most was that they both made huge strides in their academic work over that time period. Even in topics like grammar, spelling and punctuation – areas we’d not touched once in their time away. The break was clearly an important part of the learning process; it allowed time for their brains to mature and assimilate all the work they’d completed before their trip, combined with the experiences from our travels. So, don’t be afraid to plan in lots of breaks!
The Yearly Picture
Our full year involves periods of fairly intense academic work punctuated by plenty of holiday to rest and explore the world around us. This works for us as a family, but I appreciate a more relaxed, year-round approach may suit others, or alternatively, something in between the two. Choose whatever works for you.
We started our autumn term on the 2nd September, and we plan to finish on the 13th December. Within that period, we’ve planned in two weeks of holidays: one week’s trip to Marrakesh and another week in mid-November for museum visits/days out. This gives us 13 weeks for the autumn/winter term.
Our winter/spring term will run from Jan 6th until April 9th (Maundy Thursday), followed by a week off for Easter, and three weeks holiday around Feb/early March (I’m hoping for a trip to Central/South America, but we’ll see if funds allow!). This equates to 11 weeks of work for this term.
Finally, we’ll work for 11 additional weeks until 3rd July, the last three/four weeks of which will be on the road, with some of our regular work mixed in with a more hands-on curriculum as we explore the UK on our mini road trip. This will be followed by a nine-week summer holiday before starting back again in September 2020.
As you can see, a large percentage of our academic work is completed in the darker, colder months of autumn, winter and early spring, leaving more time to explore the outdoor world in the warmer, lighter months of late spring and summer.
The Weekly Schedule
Obviously, no two weeks look exactly the same, but I’ll show you a fairly typical week to give you an idea. Sometimes though if we want to book onto a trip or fancy a day out (as we did this week with a visit to our local fire station), we’ll just alter the basic plan accordingly, taking out activities from a mix of subject areas so no one area is too affected.
We tend to start the week with long days (8ish to 3ish on Mondays and Tuesdays), which get shorter as we progress through the week, normally finishing at lunchtime on Thursdays and Fridays. Here’s what a “standard week” looks like in our homeschool:
Every day starts with our Morning Basket, from 8-9am (or sometimes a little later depending on how tired we are!) and includes:
- Singing our daily hymn choice;
- One track of Michel Thomas Spanish;
- Our poetry or Shakespeare reading, discussion and memorisation;
- An idiom, a new word from our Latin/Greek word set, and a picture from our Usborne Famous Paintings set;
- A section from the Drawing & Painting curriculum from Easy Peasy All-In-One Homeschool;
- One additional element, which rotates through: history, science, religion or geography reading to support the week’s work; music options such as SQUILT lessons, art options, such as an Artventure lesson or the Mike Venezia biographical books; or just an educational game.
On Mondays and Tuesdays, we tend to do the full hour of Morning Basket, covering all the elements above. Realistically, as we progress through the week, it gets shorter as we drop or shorten a few of the component parts (different ones each day to ensure we get a good mix of activities across the week), although we nearly always do our prayers, Spanish and poetry/Shakespeare section.
I tend to do a separate Morning Basket schedule to plan out the hymns, Shakespeare/poetry memorisation section and additional element to tie in with the rest of our activities for the week. Here’s a section from this planner:
After Morning Basket and a run around the garden, they choose the order in which they complete the rest of their day’s work, taking into consideration that there are some subjects which need more support from me. So, for example, they couldn’t both be doing grammar at the same time, since I need to sit with them both for this subject.
- One Math-U-See lesson (on the DVD) and an associated practice sheet (45mins)
- All About Spelling lesson (1 hour)
- A grammar lesson from First Language Lessons Level 3 (15 mins)
- 3 new vocabulary cards and a review of 5 others previously learnt (15 mins)
- Piano practice (15 mins)
- Typing (10 mins)
- Practice Makes Perfect Spanish writing/reading lesson (30 mins)
- Time to build one of his engineering projects (however long he wants!)
- One Math-U-See lesson (on the DVD), which we watch together, and an associated practice sheet (45 mins-1 hour)
- An English language session (1 hour) – at the moment, we’re focusing on literary techniques, which she’s loving!
- A grammar lesson from First Language Lessons Level 4 (15 mins)
- Vocabulary instruction (30 mins)
- Piano practice (15 mins)
- Typing (10 mins)
- Practice Makes Perfect Spanish writing/reading lesson (30 mins)
- Time to work together on one of her drama exercises (30 mins)
For more detail on any of the lessons above, please see the previous four posts.
They both work through their schedule at their own pace, taking breaks when needed and an hour for lunch and a play. At the end of this busy day, we all go for a walk together to blow the cobwebs away! But in the summer, this is replaced by their much-loved weekly cricket lesson.
Our Tuesdays are simple in terms of the schedule: we start with Morning Basket, followed by one long science lesson from around 9:15am until 1:45pm (with plenty of breaks), sometimes at our house and others at our friend’s place (we’re doing our current genetics module in collaboration). As I mentioned in this post, our science is very hands-on, with as many experiments or practical lessons as we can sensibly factor in, combined with the written elements in their science journals.
After science, we head on out to our piano lesson in the neighbouring town, where they each have a 30-45-minute session (they love this time and honestly don’t consider it work). Whilst they wait for their sibling, I sit and work with them on their maths. They each do another practice sheet from their current lesson, although often, as I’m working with them 1:1 during this time, they also manage to do the next day’s maths practice sheet as well!
Then it’s home and time for play, with a 30min reading session (with their stretch book – see this post) at some point in the evening.
Wednesdays is our physical day! We start the day as always with the Morning Basket, and then Bean8 works on his Writing with Ease lesson, whilst Bean10 writes her novel, as well as finishing off their maths practice sheet for the day (if they didn’t finish it during the previous day’s piano lesson!). Then, at 10:15, we jump in the car and head to the local sports stadium for their weekly Multisports session (and my chance to have some much-needed chat with the other home ed mums!).
We’re normally home just before 12, at which point they practise piano in turn (15 mins) and complete a Rosetta Stone Spanish lesson each (15 mins), whilst I cook their main meal for the day. After lunch, they each do a typing lesson (10 mins), read their stretch novel for 30 minutes and complete a religious studies or geography lesson together (around 1 hour).
Then, it’s time for play before leaving the house again for Bean10’s ballet and modern dance lessons (which she’s currently obsessed with!). As it’s still light in the evenings, Bean8 and I hire a tennis court for an hour or so and enjoy knocking a ball around before we go back to pick her up. Then, it’s dinner in the car (the salubrious life of a home ed mum!) before heading onto their singing lessons! They each have a 30-minute practice (another session they love) whilst I walk with the other one through the park and to the sea!
Having written this down, it does sound somewhat extreme fitting in two after-school activities in one evening, but I much prefer it this way, as it leaves other evenings free for play. I also love all the one-to-one chatting time I have with them both on our walks and playing tennis with Bean8. It is, despite how busy it is, my favourite day of the week!
On Thursdays, we only have a morning’s work before finishing at 12 for the much-relished weekly outdoor session with our local home ed group. Sometimes, there may be a small element of structure to our weekly session, to focus on a John Muir conservation activity for example (see this post), but mostly, this is their free time to play in nature with their friends, exploring the beach, woods or meadows as they see fit.
Thursday’s morning’s schedule is as follows:
- Morning Basket (45 mins);
- One Math-U-See practice sheet (30-45 mins);
- Piano practice (15 mins);
- A grammar lesson (15 mins);
- Reading their stretch novel (30 mins);
- Typing practice (10 mins);
- A Writing with Skill lesson for Bean10, whilst Bean8 completes a comprehension lesson from his Bond book (see this post) and learns 3 new vocab cards (1 hour).
Like Mondays, and aside from Cubs in the evening, Fridays are a home day, and a family one to boot, as MrJ normally works from home on this day.
They start, as always, with our Morning Basket, which is often only 30-45 minutes long by the time we reach Friday, followed by this schedule (the order of which they agree between themselves):
- An hour’s writing – either Writing & Rhetoric, Creative Writer or Non-Fiction writing for Bean8 (see this post) and either her novel or more Writing with Skill for Bean10;
- A 30-45-minute maths session – Geometry & Measures for Bean8 and Statistics for Bean10 (see this post)
- A Story of the World history lesson (1.5 hours)
- Grammar lesson (15 mins)
- Spanish listening practice (30 mins)
If we’re feeling efficient, we can be done by 1pm, but some days, we fancy a more leisurely pace and finish later in the day.
Once a month on a Friday, we have a full day of watersports (either kayaking, paddle boarding or sailing). On these days, we drop our normal work in favour of a day in the great outdoors! Often though, I’ll swap one of our normal work activities for this day with something from earlier in the week, so that, for example, we don’t always miss our history lesson.
Saturday & Sunday
Apart from a quick piano practice each with Daddy’s help and a few weekend clubs (which they choose to do), it’s an opportunity for rest and time together as a family.
In terms of clubs, Bean8 has hockey from 8:45-10 on Saturdays followed directly by football until 12, which does tend to wipe him out physically for the rest of the day, but he wouldn’t give these up for the world! Bean10 tends to have some Daddy time during this period, where they bake together, play in the garden or brew beer together!
Rather than sport, Bean10 instead opts for an acting lesson on Sat afternoon, whilst Bean8 gets some one-to-one Daddy time (often with a sports focus!) and I get a much needed 90-minute peruse of the shops/relaxing with a book and coffee in Waterstones whilst I wait for Bean10!
And that’s it! A busy schedule but one that works for us given the number of holidays we factor into our year. I have to admit that as we near a holiday, you can tell we’re all ready for and in need of a break. Mornings start later and the odd activity is dropped if we’re just too tired to do fit everything in. But as the schedule is written in pencil, I just rub it off the list!