There have been many articles written on how to schedule homeschool work and activities. Virtual homeschool is a bit different. Since it is still public school, just done at home, there are certain time requirements that students have to meet each day. At the beginning of the school year, we had to turn in a schedule that would loosely show how we planned for our kids to get everything done each week.
I love schedules. I love making them on my computer. I love making them by hand. I love making them color-coded. So when first confronted with needing to make a school schedule, I turned to Excel.
This first schedule was more of a time-accounting sheet. I was keeping track of everything after the fact, trying to make sure that the girls got every single second of every single subject. This schedule didn’t last long. It was much too cumbersome, and I was working so hard to help the girls just get their programs to work, that I wasn’t paying close attention to the clock.
Here was my second attempt at a schedule. It’s a true schedule, showing what Bubbles is supposed to do when. It worked relatively well, but no week was the same, and it was a pain to have to change it.
Another shortcoming here was that the girls were developing preferences for certain subjects/programs, and wanted to do them first. That, of course, didn’t fit in with my carefully crafted schedule, so I decided to try a different type of schedule entirely.
The next schedule I made in Microsoft Word. In this one, I listed every possible school activity for each girl. Every day I’d print out the sheet, cut it in half, and then highlight the activities I wanted them to do. This gave them a bit of independence, allowing them to choose the order in which they completed activities.
We used this schedule for several weeks. Near the end of the semester, however, I realized that in some subjects the girls were spending more time than they needed to, and were a quarter ahead. In others, they were behind. The problem was that individual lessons aren’t timed in most of the programs, so saying to do “one Compass Math” could take 5 minutes or 50 minutes depending on how challenging the material was.
I love to research on the internet and learn about new things, and this issue was no exception. Finally, I happened to stumble across Donna Young’s Homeschool Printables and Resources. After looking through all of the options she presented, I made our current schedule based on her Lesson Plan Timer.
We’ve used this schedule since January, and it works well. At first I wrote the actual time I wanted the girls to do an activity (9-10 am) but we still had issues with doing work out of order. Finally I settled on writing down the amount of time that the activity needs to be done (60 minutes) and that’s worked out best. Bubbles uses an online timer, and M-bug uses a kitchen timer.
I still occasionally make an overall weekly schedule for the school, just to make sure the girls are getting in all of their hours and specials, but it doesn’t work as well for us for daily use. So after six months of virtual homeschooling, we finally have a schedule that helps the girls get all of their work done and me some time during the day to get to my laundry.