Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Homeschool Scheduling

As I mentioned in part two of this series, I am not the most disciplined person in the world. I know that if we are going to get any serious learning done we have to have some pretty hefty scheduling in place first.

To begin, I set up my system to comply with the state laws. I cannot stress this enough, if you are going to homeschool, make sure that you know the laws for your state and you follow them. You can find your state laws here.

The school year in Missouri runs from July 1st to June 30th. I started by scheduling the breaks and days off I wanted us to take for the year. During our public school years our holiday season had been rushed and unsatisfying so I wanted to take advantage of that time. I scheduled our school year to start on August first and go until the week before Thanksgiving. School for us does not resume again until January 3rd (or so) and continues until the end of May. I also include several days off and a full two weeks for spring break. I love our schedule! It works perfectly for our family and keeps D.D. (and me) from burning out.

Once I had my days scheduled I calculated the hours we would need to work each day to meet the 1,000 hour requirement by dividing 1,000 by the number of school days. In my case it was 1,000 hours divided by 164 days which came out to 6.1 hours a day. I rounded that to 6.5 and scheduled classes to fill that time.

I do all of this scheduling using the iCal program on my laptop. Any calendar will work just as well as long as it is one that can be easily tracked and that you will refer to often.

I then created an Hours Tracking Sheet that I could update to keep track of our school hours and the percentage of hours that were dedicated to core hours. You can make one using excel, or use this one that I created for Pages. It is just as easy to track the hours by hand and add them up later with a calculator.

Once I had the framework of our school year in place I was able to create a master schedule for our school week. To do this I broke the day up into one hour and half hour blocks and inserted the classes into the schedule. I included one hour blocks for the core subjects and half hour blocks for electives.

A this point, most of the scheduling work is done. I do lesson plans every two weeks during the school year. Since I know what classes will be on each day of the week this usually consists of inserting the lesson numbers and a brief description of the lesson into the master schedule template. Again, I do this in iCal. Plan books, weekly planners or spreadsheets will work just as well.

I know this seems like a lot of work, but it is really important for me to have some sort of plan in place. In reality it only took about two hours to plan the yearly schedule and the master schedule. After that is done I only need to spend an hour or two every other week to schedule the daily lessons. Also, this advance planning ensures that I always have up to date records showing that I am in compliance with state laws.

Thought for the Day: As I read this post I'm realizing that I'm a lot more organized than I give myself credit for.

This post is part 4 of the Why We Homeschool Series.

Read Part 1: How We Decided to Homeschool
Read Part 2: Figuring Out How to Homeschool
Read Part 3: Selecting a Curriculum for Homeschooling

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