How to Create Homeschool Schedules for Kids

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Kids love consistency.  Consistency and routine are essential when everything else in life feels out of control.  But creating a new “normal” routine may feel really daunting right now because you have no idea where to start. And that’s why I am going to help you create homeschool schedules for kids from preschool-third grade that work for your family.

But before we dig right into creating schedules, you need to know the foundational components of designing a schedule that works.

There is no “One Size Fits All” with Schedules for Kids

Schedules will look very different depending on the age of your kiddos and your family’s circumstances.  

If you want, you can create a schedule that’s broken down into 15 minute increments with activities planned all day long.

But chances are if you’re reading this, then you’re not that type of person.  And the truth is, if you try to implement that type of schedule, you’re going to get really frustrated really quickly.

The key to a good schedule is that it fits the changing needs of your family.

Don’t feel like a failure if you try a schedule that does not work.  Trial and error is just part of the process!  Remember, a schedule needs to be fluid and must be able to change as the needs of your family change.

Create a Routine That Matches Your Schedule

We all like knowing what’s coming next.  Think about it, most of us are struggling right now because there are so many “unknowns” and we’re trying to move forward not knowing when we’re going to have to pivot again.

Your kids are in the same boat!

They are completely out of their normal routine, they miss their friends and teachers, and mom is about to jump ship.  Sound like your house right about now?

This is where a routine comes into play.  If you make a plan of the flow of your “ideal day,” what would that look like?  (Remember this doesn’t have to be defined by time frames.) 

  • Would you start the day with coffee, a shower, or prayer?
  • Would you like to know when you can have some alone/free time?
  • Would you like to be less stressed?

If you answered YES to all of these questions, then I’ve got great news.  What I’m going to share will help you achieve these things…even if you are stuck at home indefinitely with a house full of toddlers or young kids.  

How to Create Schedules for Kids That Work

Remember that your schedule is going to be one that works for your family and that fits with the natural routine you have.  You also need to think about the fact that your schedule and your kids’ schedules might look different.

You might need to help your oldest child with a math skill while your second child is playing.  Then you might need to switch gears and help your younger child with letters while your older child reads a book.

So understanding that your personal routine may look different from the homeschool schedules for kids in your family will keep you in tune with all the “happenings” around the house.

1. Create Time Blocks

To keep things simple, I like to use time blocks.  This simply means that different parts of the day are dedicated to certain activities. The simplest way to do this is by breaking your day into 3 large chunks…morning, afternoon, and evening.

Then you decide what activities you want to complete in each block of time. Here are a few to get you started…

  • Morning Meeting
  • School 
  • Play
  • Lunch
  • Outside/Movement/Exercise
  • Chores
  • Quiet Time (nap, books)
  • Independent Work/Play
  • Dinner
  • Electronics/Tech/Gaming

You can decide which order to put these blocks into that works for your family. Here is an example of a sample schedule for you to use as a template.

Morning Chunk

  • Morning Meeting
  • 30 minutes of “school” work
  • 1 hour of play
  • 30 minutes of “school” work
  • 30 minutes of independent time (Mom gets a break!)

LUNCH

Afternoon Chunk

  • 1 hour of quiet time (Mom gets a break)
  • 30 minutes of “school” work
  • 30 minutes of outside play
  • 30 minutes of indoor play
  • 30 minutes of electronics (tv or tablet time)

DINNER

Evening Chunk

  • 1 hour of play
  • 30 minutes of tv time
  • Bath/Ready for Bed
  • 30 minutes of reading books

2. Keep “The Big 3” in Mind When Making Schedules for Kids

There are three main categories that you need to consider when making your child’s schedule.  I like to call these “The BIG 3.”  

  • Play
  • School
  • Independent

The length of time devoted to each of these categories is dependent on the age of your child.  They simply rotate through these 3 categories over and over throughout the day.

Preschool

If you have a preschooler, you want to let them spend MORE time in the play category because play and school are synonymous.  You see for preschoolers, they are learning during play.   They definitely do not need to spend more than 30 minutes a day doing “traditional” school activities.

Simply incorporate letters, words, writing, drawing, problem-solving, and numbers into their play environment by giving them paper, a calculator, pencils, and crayons.  You will be amazed at some of the things they practice while playing.

Kindergarten-First grade

Children in the kindergarten and first grade age group will be able to spend time on school activities, but you definitely want to make sure that time is broken up by other “play” based time.  They only need to spend about an hour at the most on worksheets.  They are still learning so much through play and they need to be given time to exercise this.

Second-Third Grade

Second and third grade children have the ability to sit for longer chunks of time, but they do better when they are given many opportunities to move.  These kids only need to spend 2-3 hours a day doing school, and this needs to be broken up during the day.

Remember when you are creating a homeschool schedule for preschoolers-third graders that their needs are different and the way you approach the schedule will need to reflect that!

4. Give your Child a Personal Schedule

If you have a child that asks you 400 times a day, “When is lunch?  What time do we get to go outside?” then simply give her a PERSONAL schedule.

Then she can look at her personal schedule whenever she wants, which will most likely be 600 times a day. But the most valuable part of giving her this schedule is that the number of interruptions from her will diminish because she doesn’t have the “I need to know!” excuse to interrupt anymore.

4. Use Timers

Timers are one of the best ways to keep kids on task (and to make sure that you don’t lose track of time).  When you have toddlers and preschoolers at home, they will not be able to spend 2 hours doing quiet activities…unless they are sleeping.

So setting timers gives them an idea of how long they have until the next thing without really understanding the dynamics of time.  They just know that when the timer goes off they get to do the next activity.

When you are thinking about creating a schedule, it has to work for you and your family. Therefore if you have very young children, you need to remember that their attention spans are very short and changing activities frequently is going to be the norm.

However, this also means that they like to do the same things over and over again. So don’t be afraid to let them do an activity in the morning and then encourage them to do it again in the afternoon.

The key to creating a meaningful schedules for kids is trying new things, discovering what works, and pivoting as needed. You can do this!