Demystifying Homeschooling Series: Routine and Schedule
Routine and schedule – keeping your children on track
As an iCademy Middle East parent, you are now in control of your children’s learning journey. You have the freedom to design and plan that journey specific to your children’s needs and abilities; working with their learning coaches to get the very best out of them. But that freedom comes with its own challenges – not least of which is creating a clearly-defined and well-thought schedule.
For a home-schooling parent keeping your children on task and on schedule is one of the most important aspects of your role as a learning coach. At home, there is no bell dictating when the day begins and ends, nobody to report to if lessons are missed – the responsibility falls on parents, so here we will give you some really useful advice to help you establish a clear routine to keep your kids on track and make them aware that there is a time and place where they are expected to study.
Plan ahead and look at the big picture
When planning your schooling, do make sure that you are taking everything into consideration – vacations, events, extra-curricular activities – and plan accordingly. A 180-day school year is fairly standard and works out to four nine-week quarters, two 18-week semesters, or 36 weeks, but this can be changed to suit your child’s abilities and to accommodate any additional advanced classes in which they may be enrolling.
Make the week your own
Once again, flexibility comes into its own here, because unlike bricks and mortar schools, you can take your weekends or days off whenever they work best for you and your family. This is great if for example you have an unconventional work-week or you simply want to maximise family time.
A neat suggestion for weekly scheduling is the 4:1 ratio – four days with the children working from their desks at home, with the fifth reserved for field trips or outdoor activities. This is a great way to break-up their schedules and again, you can move the days around to suit your kids – for example it is a Tuesday and you can see your children lacking in motivation, you can schedule an impromptu external day to revitalise and reinvigorate them, without falling behind on their studies.
An additional tool is establishing a block learning schedule. With this method you can divide the curriculum into larger chinks, so your children will focus on a specific subject for a larger period of time rather than little and often. This method allows students to fully focus on a particular subject without over-scheduling the school day.
Take it day-by-day
If you are new to home-schooling, you may be slightly concerned about how many hours per day to sit your children down to learn. It is very important to remember that your schedule can be much tighter than that of a mainstream school. For instance, there is no need to add time for admin tasks such as roll-call or moving around a large campus. Lunch breaks can be much more efficient – preparing lunch for one or two is a great deal easier that for a class of 30. You will also not have to provide time for students to move from one classroom to the next between subjects. In addition, learning speed can often be accelerated in children who are learning in a one-to-one fashion, so it’s important to see and understand how your children have responded to the home-schooling environment.
Many parents of young children through first or second grade find they can easily cover all subjects in just an hour or two. As students get older, it may take them longer to complete their work – as much as four or five hours in high school – but what is important is that provided there is a learning-rich environment with teaching aides, books, art, crafts materials etc, you will come to understand that learning happens even when the school books are put away. Students can use all the extra time they have been given to broaden their horizons by reading, pursuing their hobbies and talents, and becoming more rounded and happier children.
Remember, your daily schedule should be shaped by your family’s needs and the academic ability of your children – and nothing more. There is no one perfect home-schooling schedule and finding the right one for your family may take some trial and error. And it will likely need to be adjusted from year to year as your children get older and the factors affecting your schedule change.