If you’re a homeschooling parent like me, summer’s end means it’s time to start thinking about your homeschool schedule for the fall. Trying to figure out how to fit everything in and strike a balance that works for you and your child can be a challenge, so here are some tips I’ve learned from my experiences over the years.
Start with your homeschool schedule priorities
Is there an appointment or a regularly scheduled activity that is especially important for your child to attend, like a therapy session, an art class, or a social group? Put those on your calendar first, and then fill in around them. Then, if you run out of space in your schedule, you know you’ve got the most important things covered.
Prioritize your homeschool schedule with quality over quantity.
It is much more beneficial to your child to have high-quality activities in their homeschool schedule than to have something scheduled every single moment. I used to be a big-time overscheduler, especially with therapies, because I thought we needed to work on something at just about every moment for my son to reach his goals. What I eventually came to realize was that this approach was putting way too much pressure on both my son and myself. We missed out on more valuable learning and bonding experiences because I had left no space for them.
Include your child’s input on their homeschool schedule
Involve your child as much as possible in deciding their daily routine. One of the benefits of homeschooling is that it allows you to set up your child’s day to meet their specific needs. So, if your child is not a morning person and wants to start their day at 10:00 instead of 8:00 (whether they can tell you this or you just know by observing their behavior in the mornings), consider that and adjust your homeschool schedule accordingly. If your child can express what goals they want to work toward, make sure there is time in your schedule to work on them.
Remember that there is more to school than academics
Especially when you have a child with special needs, it is essential to ensure that there is space in your homeschool schedule to work on things beyond academics. Depending on your child’s age and developmental stage, academics might not even be the top priority. However, communication, fine and gross motor, social, and life skills are critical for your child’s development. These skills may need strengthening for your child to show their academic capabilities. For my son, gaining the ability to communicate through spelling was the linchpin that started bringing everything else together.
Consider community resources for your homeschool schedule
A growing number of options are available in the community designed for homeschoolers in general and specifically for children with special needs. For example, many communities have local homeschool co-ops you can join or educational programs designed for homeschoolers at the local library, zoo, museum, etc. You can also look into local “field trips” to your town police station, fire station, town hall, post office, or other community institutions. These are excellent ways to give your child some real-world experience and work on several essential skills all at the same time. Check out this post for more ideas!
Have a plan, but stay flexible.
Kids tend to thrive on routine, so having a general flow to your day that allows your child to anticipate what is coming next is usually preferable. On the flip side, we don’t want our kids to be overly dependent upon routines staying precisely as expected. Let’s face it. Life just doesn’t always work out that way. On occasion, math may happen before reading instead of after. Or, you have to make an unexpected trip to the grocery store for an ingredient you’re missing for lunch. Treat these as opportunities to help your child work on their flexibility and model a positive attitude about the change by going with the flow yourself!
Include breaks in your homeschool schedule!
Break times are just as important as the rest of your day for your child and you. You will have more patience and focus for academics and skill building if you allow yourselves periodic breaks throughout the day to refresh and prepare for what’s next. So don’t forget to recharge your batteries often! A nice walk or a trip to the park can do wonders.
More about Jen
Jennifer Rainey is a Parent Mentor VitalGuide on Vitalxchange, a digital platform that empowers and enables parents to make informed decisions & engage actively in their child’s care by providing them personalized parenting ‘prescriptions’ that match their needs. Check out her Vitalxchange personal page for more personalized homeschooling tips and other topics such as recreational activities and spelling to communicate.