How to Homeschool Without a Schedule

You’re probably pretty shocked right now, homeschool WITHOUT a schedule! Is that even possible?

It is but requires a shift in mindset and a loosening of the grip our schooling has on our beliefs about learning.

How to Homeschool Without a Schedule

Look at the Week

In our family, a daily schedule would be pointless, wake up times vary depending on what we did the day or night before. The variation in what we do each day, including co-op and field trips, makes every day different.

However, we do tend to have a pretty set weekly schedule. Monday and Friday are our days out at co-ops, and it makes an excellent beginning and end to the week. That then leaves me three days to take field trips, catch up on laundry and housework, and do the more routine homeschooling tasks.

I tend to look at the week ahead and make a mental map of what I would like to accomplish. This past week was exceptionally busy with two days being filled with visits to the science and art museums. So by having this in my mind before the week even starts, I know that it will mostly be an experience week and not so much of the nitty gritty homeschooling. However, the week ahead is more open, and I envision us tackling some of those more mundane homeschool activities like phonics and math.

By focusing on the week and not a single daily schedule, I’m better able to manage my time and outlook surrounding what we accomplish and where we direct our energies.

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Homeschool Strewing

Look at the Month

So looking at the week is my more close up view, but I also take another step back and look at the month. October and November are always busy months with a break in activities finally coming around Thanksgiving. Fortunately, both co-ops we participate in take all of December off; this gives us time to tackle some of the larger homeschool projects we would like to complete. It also provides me the needed break I require to recharge my batteries.

So this year, I’m looking at our time between Thanksgiving and Christmas and planning where we would like to focus. At this point, I’m thinking maybe a Bravewriter project or two for the younger girls and some serious attention to math for the older ones.

Looking at the month is really about managing expectations. Is it a busy month where time at home will be devoted to life maintenance or a slower month where we can focus some attention on basic skills?

Look at the Year

Stepping back even farther, I look at the year. What are my goals for our family, for each child, and what are their goals? My awesome year-at-a-glance calendar can be found here!

This year I recognized we were taking on a substantial commitment by attending 5+ hours of co-op on Monday and another four hours of music on Friday followed by more co-op time. My reasoning was if we’re out of the house for three or fours hours, what’s one or two more? I also appreciate that both days have activities for all of my children. I don’t think I could manage different children with different activities every day of the week.

With our Mondays and Fridays already being determined, that left the other three weekdays to focus on those long-range goals. By knowing my yearly goal for them, I can make the best choice on what to do when we sit down together.

By knowing what they want to accomplish, I can better manage our time so they can focus on their goals. My oldest has set a lofty goal for NaNoWriMo, and I know that needs to be a big focus for her this November. If I had every day pre-scheduled for her, she would have a lot less flexibility to accomplish her goal of writing a novel.

Making Adjustments

What I love most about approaching our homeschool in this manner is that it gives me the flexibility to make adjustments. There is room for life and all it brings.

Maybe I’m just lazy, but I’m also realistic.

I can write down on a schedule that read aloud time is every day at 9:30, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to happen and when it doesn’t happen I just feel like a failure. Maybe it occurs at 9:45, 10:00, or even at two in the afternoon, but my bigger goal is that it happens, not the time it happens.

By looking more at the big picture to plan, I can make our life and homeschool work together, which is so much better than every day being a long list of boxes to check.

Don’t Feel Bad

All this to say, if you thrive and feel better when you have a daily schedule, then by all means do. However, if you feel like a detailed schedule turns homeschooling into drudgery and gives you a feeling of failure, don’t.

A schedule isn’t necessary to successfully homeschool.

Doing the time (180 days for 6+ hours) doesn’t guarantee an education.

Following a schedule doesn’t mean you’re doing it “right.”

Do it your way, that’s why you homeschool.

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About Bethany Ishee

Bethany is the mom of six, always-homeschooled children, who one day realized she'd lost herself in the process, probably under a pile of laundry. Her eclectic style of homeschooling draws upon Classical to Unschooling and everything in between.  While homeschooling her children and writing about learning outside of school, she tries to find time to read a book, drink coffee, and pay the bills.

4 thoughts on “How to Homeschool Without a Schedule

  1. Love how you laid this out, Bethany. We are very similar. “…requires a shift in mindset and a loosening of the grip our schooling has on our beliefs about learning.” is what we’ve found as well. Once we did, homeschooling became a lot less stressful and a lot more rewarding.

  2. I am new to your page and I am considering homeschooling my 9yr old due to a lot of medical problems. I am still learning all the ins and outs of it all, so forgive me if it is a dumb question.. What exactly do you mean about co-op?

    1. Co-op can mean a lot of different things in the homeschool world. Ours is project-based, where kids go one day a week for enrichment type classes. We have a history, science, and then our main class which alternates topics each month. It’s not academic and is more for those get messy and see friends days. Some are run entirely by moms and some have teachers. There are others that are more like hybrid schools that are much more academic. Co-op is kind of a catch-all term and can mean a lot of different things.

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