How to Plan Your Homeschool Schedule

Daily, weekly, and yearly recommendations for learning at home

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So you’re ready to homeschool, huh? Well, “ready” might be an overstatement, but you’ve made the commitment, picked out a curriculum, and are busy figuring out how to actually do this thing. However, homeschooling is a skill best learned through experience.

Now the next step is planning your homeschool schedule—deciding when you and your kids will learn, when you’ll lunch, and when you’ll call it a day. But you also have to think beyond day-to-day planning and consider your long-range schedule. When will you cover fractions, or the life cycle of a butterfly throughout the year?

Don’t stress—here’s how to break down your homeschool planning across the days, weeks, and months ahead, as well as what you need to meet your scheduling goals.

Choose a Type of Schedule

When it comes to planning the details of your homeschool day, it’s 100% up to you and what works for your family. There is no right or wrong way to schedule your at-home learning. 

There are many variations of homeschool schedules—you could adopt a year-round academic year, or one customized around holidays or seasons—but these are the four main categories most individual schedules fall under.

Traditional

With this approach, you’re studying all the subjects at once, with a set amount of time each day designated for each one. For example, a typical traditional schedule for a second grader might look something like this:

Sample Homeschool Schedule (Traditional)
8–8:20 a.m. Vocabulary and daily journal
8:20–9 a.m. Math
9–9:30 a.m. Snack and stretch break
9:30–9:50 a.m. Geography
9:50–10:10 a.m. Science
10:10–11 a.m. Break (play a game, go outside, draw or color)
11–11:30 a.m Art, music, kid-friendly exercise
11:30–12 p.m. Lunch
12–12:30 p.m. Silent reading or read-aloud with a parent
12:30 p.m. Wrap up for the day

Block

There are two ways to utilize a block schedule—weekly and by term. Either way you’ll have more flexibility, since you won’t be trying to do every subject simultaneously.

With a weekly block schedule, you might do 20 to 30 minutes of daily learning to start your day (like journal writing, reading, and math practice), but then focus only on one or two subjects for the rest of your homeschooling time.

For example, Mondays might be for science and Wednesdays for language arts. You would group all your weekly subject work together, completing it in one day, and then focus on a different subject the next day. 

The benefit to this approach is that you have the freedom to dive as deep into that day’s subject as you want, without having to move on to the next subject at a planned time.

However, you should try to incorporate different learning mediums, like videos, educational games, hands-on activities or crafts, and picture books, so your kids aren’t just toiling away in a workbook for hours.

With a term-based block schedule, the mindset is similar but you might decide to tackle only one or two subjects per quarter or semester, like social studies from September to November and science from March to May.

You could even plan these terms around things happening in your child’s environment. For instance, you could study a presidential election during your social studies quarter, or observe the natural growth of plants and animals in the spring quarter.

The kind of intense study that happens with long-range blocking won’t work well for kids with shorter attention spans, but kids who can happily immerse themselves in a topic for long periods of time might appreciate the chance to focus their attention on one thing for a while.

Unit

Similar to block scheduling, you can plan units of study around topics of interest and take an interdisciplinary approach to learning by making all of your subjects revolve around that focal point. 

For example, a train-obsessed first grader could spend a few weeks sorting trains by size and color, practicing sight words with books about trains, learning about the history of locomotives in the U.S., and experimenting with gravity and velocity on a set of wooden tracks.

An older child in love with underwater sea creatures could build a small at-home aquarium, research and write a report about the effects of pollution on our oceans, and take a field trip to the beach to collect and study specimens.

Older kids may be able to do a lot of this work independently, but you'll need to be more hands-on with younger kids to help them cover all the different subjects within the topic of interest.

Loop

Perfect for parents who need a lot of flexibility and aren’t stressed about getting everything done on a specific timeline, loop scheduling allows you to cover whatever you can cover on a given day and then simply pick up where you left off the day before. 

You would probably want to teach a few basic subjects, like math and language arts, every day, but beyond that you would put your other subjects into a loop and work your way through them one at a time.

When you finish one—whether it takes you one day or five—you move on to the next. If you’ve looped three subjects, you won’t revisit the first one again until you’ve completed your planned work for the other two.

With looping, you can’t ever fall behind in one subject but not others; every subject you tackle will get equal attention, since you won’t move on from one until it’s complete.

You need to be organized for this schedule so you don’t lose track of where you are in the loop, but for families whose schedules change frequently or unexpectedly, this is the most flexible schedule for rolling with the punches.

How to Do Long-Range Planning

Once you’ve figured out what your daily homeschool life will look like, it’s time to look at homeschooling through an annual lens. In other words, what’s the big picture? What do you want your child to learn (and what skills do you want them to acquire) by the end of your homeschool year? 

Keep in mind that this can—and probably will!—change as you gain some homeschooling experience. You may realize you were too ambitious and need to cut back, or find that things are moving faster than you expected and you need to fill in some gaps.

Either scenario is fine; the beauty of homeschooling is being able to move at your child’s pace, not the curriculum’s.

To start mapping out your yearly goals, it’s best to research the grade level standards for each subject online. You can Google “second grade math standards” or “what math should my fourth grader know” and review the basic standards at academic sites like Education.com or CoreStandards.org.

Alternatively, you can preview popular online learning curriculums online, like Time4Learning or Khan Academy, and see what skills are taught for each subject by grade level. 

About Prepackaged Curriculum

If you’re using a prepackaged curriculum, you won’t need to guess at what your child should or will be learning. Unless it’s stated otherwise, curriculums are designed to cover an entire grade level, so in theory, it will take your child from start to end and teach them what they need to know (as long as you keep up with it).

Your child may not be able to meet every one of the common standards, or they could already be ahead in many of them. You can still use the standards as a framework for your yearly goals by subject; it will give you a strong foundation for planning and keep your child on a similar trajectory as their school-educated peers (in case you ever want to re-enroll them in school). 

FAQs About Homeschool Scheduling

Still have questions about homeschool planning? Good, because we have a few more answers to share!

How long does homeschooling take?

This is going to seem like a non-answer, but homeschooling should take as long as it needs to. There is no fixed amount of time you should spend on homeschooling every day, week, or even month.

It depends on your child’s attention span, whether you’re doing a traditionally scheduled day or something like unit or block scheduling, and how old they are.

Anecdotally, many homeschoolers like to start with 30 minutes of formal learning a day in kindergarten and increase learning time by 30 minutes for every grade level after that. By this formula, a third grader would be spending about two hours total each day on at-home learning.

The more important metric, though, is overall progress and skill development. Is your child completing most of the work you’re planning for them every week? Are they able to share what they’ve learned with others? Can they apply those concepts outside of the home learning environment (like reading a road sign while riding in the car)? If so, that’s a measurement of success more meaningful than the amount of time you spent homeschooling.

How many breaks does my child need?

Again, this depends on your child, the kind of daily schedule you choose, and the grade level(s) you’re teaching. Little kids need more frequent breaks, as do wiggly or energetic kids. The more structured your schedule is, too, the more you’ll need to build in time for brain breaks. 

Elementary-aged kids should probably get one break for every 45 to 60 minutes of homeschooling, but you may be able to stretch that out for middle school kids and high schoolers.

Remember that you’re in charge of your schedule, so you can elect to get all your schooling done in one chunk of time—with breaks as needed—or split your day up into morning and afternoon sessions if your child needs a longer recharge.

Do I need to buy a specific homeschool planner?

You don’t need to purchase a designated homeschool planner unless a product like that would actually help you plan! If you’re the type of person who buys a new yearly planner every January, puts it in a desk drawer, and never takes it out again (except to throw it away, untouched, the following January), a traditional pen and paper planner isn’t for you.

On the other hand, if you carry a planner around with you everywhere you go, it could be a valuable tool in outlining your homeschool year. You can also use an electronic planner, like a productivity or workflow app, or even an Excel spreadsheet. There are also tons of free homeschool schedule printables to be found online (like this one or this one) if you’re not quite sure yet what works best for you and want to experiment.

A Word From Verywell

As you get started, it's OK to experiment with the type of schedule and curriculum you use for homeschooling your family to make sure you find the right fit. But as you can see, the flexibility of homeschooling allows you to do just that—adapt to suit your child's needs and goals.

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