Scheduling: How to Pull It All Together, by Jen N.

I purchased grade level sets for most of my main curriculum for the last two school years. This year I’m mostly on my own. I inherited a plethora of books from my mom who is a newly retired schoolteacher. Coincidentally, her school covers American history in fifth grade, as we do. If you are a planning junkie like I am, take a minute and let the serendipity of my luck wash over you. Normally I’d have used the library for all these books. We may even take two years to get through them. I haven’t quite decided yet.

I had a moment of panic when I thought about scheduling all of it though. That’s a LOT of books. Then I settled down with a caffeinated drink, a snack, and everything in a big mound on the floor surrounding me like the book hoarder I am.

I’m going to attempt to break down the steps for you in a more civilized way.


  • a notebook/plan book/bullet journal – whatever you’ll be using to record your plans. There are also great digital planners available if you like that sort of thing.
  • your daily To Do list – what subjects do you want to cover on what days? Keep in mind any outside-the-home obligations. Don’t schedule a heavy academic day on errand day.
  • a list of materials and books for the year. I highly suggest writing a list and dividing into must-haves and extras. If you are using the library, try to write the list in order so that you can schedule those interlibrary loans on time.

Review your calendar and your To Do lists. I like to start with blocking off all our planned vacation time so that we know how many weeks we’ll be working.

Think about last year. What got done and what didn’t?

What amount of progress are you shooting for? I like to take this subject by subject and know my objectives for the year. For example: in geography, I’d like my student to have mastered the states and capitals both as recitation and finding them on a map.

In thinking about the big picture: with the results  you are looking for in mind, what do you need to accomplish daily to get there?  This is where I try to be very honest with myself about how much work we can really do daily. It’s tempting to knit three math programs together, but that may not be realistic or fit with your big picture goals. I would rather add to a schedule later then have to drop subjects after a few weeks.

Make a new list that reflects these priorities and strips away anything unnecessary.

Schedule the core classes first. Make blocks of time devoted to those truly important things.

You may want a traditional schedule with subjects spread out over the week.

Block scheduling works well for some families. We do daily subjects in the morning and make subjects like science, history, and geography blocks where we work  for entire afternoons on one topic.

Loop scheduling prioritizes certain subjects and after you’ve ranked them, your schedule simply loops through them circuitously.

Commit to one month of working this schedule before you start tweaking it. The first month of school can be rocky; don’t take it out on the schedule. Let it play out a bit. We homeschoolers are always learning at home, but any extended break tends to affect our work ethic. Give yourselves time to settle in before flipping things around.

You’ve got a big pile of textbooks and an empty plan book – now what?

Check the publisher’s website and see if they have a suggested schedule. If so, all you need to do is plug that into your plan. If not, then you can take the number of lessons or chapters and divide it out by how many school weeks you have and then by the number of days per week that you’ll study that subject.

Here is my grade school plan for this year:

Daily – Math, Latin, and Literature in the mornings.

Block afternoon schedule –

  • Monday: History
  • Tuesday: Geography
  • Wednesday: Science
  • Thursday: Writing
  • Friday: Art/Music

My high school student usually schedules herself and works late into the night. I meet with her as needed to keep things in check. I made a master plan for her four years, and as we complete subjects, we check them off.

That about covers it. Do you have more questions? Hit us up over at Sandbox to Socrates. We have about a million years of collective experience and can get you sorted in no time.

Jen N. – Jen has spent her time homeschooling her five children since 2001. She has read over 5,000 books aloud. A fan of all things geeky, she calls her children her horcruxes — each one has a talent for something she might have pursued herself. Jen and her husband have created a family of quirky, creative people that they are thrilled to launch out into the world. With the three oldest graduated, Jen now has time on her hands and has started a blog:

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