Best Practices 

for the Home-Educating Environment

Schedule

Weekly Schedules

How you set up your daily/weekly schedule is going to depend on what curriculum and out of the home activities/classes your child attends. Below are some examples of how you can set up your schedule:

5-day Schedule

A set schedule of learning would occur Monday- Friday. Each day would include ELA and math and then two days a week for history. two days a week for science, and one day a week for art, foreign language, or any other subject that interests your family.

4-day Schedule with Field Day

A set schedule of learning would occur Monday- Thursday. Each day would include ELA and math and then two days a week for history. two days a week for science. The 5th day would be a field day in which you could attend classes, go on field trips, spend time on extracurricular/enrichment activities.

4-day Schedule with History/Science Day

A set schedule of learning would occur Monday- Thursday. Each day would include ELA and math and would be heavier on these subjects. On Friday, or the 5th day, you would do history and science. These would be heavier subjects on this day, almost as if you are doubling up on these subjects for this one day.

Daily Schedules

Set a Start Time

One of the benefits of home educating, is the ability to start learning at any hour of the day! It is best practice to have a set start time to begin your schooling. This helps to ensure that the student is awake and ready to start the day. The start time will depend on your family, but having a predictable and consist start time will help your child get into the student/schooling mind set.

Morning Meeting Time

It is a good idea to begin the day with a Morning Meeting. This time can be a quick meeting in which you go over the day's schedule and expectations. Or it can be a learning opportunity to complete family studies or lessons. A popular concepts is a Morning Basket. This would hold any supplies, books, or curriculum that you would use during morning family time.

Student Assignment Notebooks

When it comes to scheduling out one child’s lessons or multiple children’s lessons, a student assignment notebook can be a key component. You can use a simple spiral bound notebook or a weekly planner designed specifically for students or teachers. Each day, you would write down what that child is expected to accomplish that day. This provides a tangible list to see what their day is going to entail. It may even curtail the constant question of “How much work are we doing today?” or “Are we done yet?”. Even the young ones can see their list and cross off when each item is completed.

Break Times

Giving brain breaks are important in education and in a home educating environment, you can give them at the best times that suit you your child. Here are some ideas on how to schedule breaks:

  • Have a set time each day when a break is given, such as 10:30-11:00am or 1:00-1:45. No matter where the students are in their learning, they stop and take a break at this time.
  • The students need to complete X amount of assignments before taking a break. For example, the student may have a list of six assignments to do for the day. He/she can take a 20-minute break after two assignments are completed.

If a student knows when the break is going to take place, it helps them to set a goal to finish the task in front of them with the encouragement of getting a break soon.

Loop Scheduling

Loop scheduling allows you to cycle through a series of subjects or concepts in a more flexible manner. You would have a time set aside for Loop subjects, perhaps an hour twice a week. Then you would go through these subjects in the order listed out. For example, your loop subjects might be poetry, art, and Spanish. You have an hour set aside on Monday and Wednesday for your loop subjects. On Monday, you will do poetry. On Wednesday, you will do art. Then the following Monday, you would do Spanish. You continue on going through the list.

You can loop any subjects you want...ELA components, history/science, or electives!

Organization

For some home educators, coming up with an organizational system that allows for learning, while avoiding chaos in the home can be challenging. Here are some common methods that might work for you:

Workbox System

This system involves a set up plastic drawers or boxes in which each assignment is placed in a drawer/box. It includes a schedule and the children move through the boxes throughout the day while completing their work. For a detailed explanation of a workbox system, please visit this website.

Magazine Holders/Baskets

Each child would be assigned a basket or magazine holder and all their workbooks and student books would stay in this place. This allows them to know where their items are and can easily grab the needed items when the time comes.

Bookshelves

If you have space for a large bookshelf in your home, you can use the various shelves to organize your child’s curriculum. Each shelf can be dedicated to a child, along with a shelf dedicated to the parents. All the curriculum, teacher guides, etc. would be housed on these shelves.

Home-Educating Space

There should be a location in your home that is the “hub” of your homeschool. This could be a designated homeschool room, a living room, a dining room, or the kitchen area. This hub would be where all books and materials are located, so the children know where to access them. However, all learning does not need to occur in this hub. Based upon your family, you may allow child to learn anywhere in the home or backyard. Some families may want specific tables or desks set up for student learning. Whatever your preference, having a hub helps to keep items organized and allows you time to focus on the learning.

Home Guidelines

Technology Restrictions

Being in a home environment that includes technology options for children, can be a strong temptation for them during the school day. If your children struggle with technology and school balance, then implementing technology restrictions may be the way to go. This can include removing all technology items during the school week or allow a certain amount of minutes each day on specific devices. Some common practices are for students to earn technology time by completing work and assignments. Depending on your devices, there are software programs or programs included on your devices that block use during certain times of the day or block entire websites.

Behavior Expectations

Let’s face it, sometimes children do not want to listen to their parents! Let alone their parents when they are serving in a teacher role. If this is the case in your home, don’t hesitate to set up a behavior reward system that would work for your child. A key to any behavior system is to focus on the behavior you want to see and reward the good behavior, rather than consequencing the bad behavior. This has been shown to be the best practice in the classroom environment and can be translated to the home environment.

A way to focus on the positive is to set expectations of what a “student” would look like in your home. For example, a student would stay focused, listen to the instructor, participate in discussion, try their best, etc. Come up with your family answers with your children. This can serve as a gentle reminder when they need to get back on track.

Environment

Home learning environments will vary family by family, but here are  few things to consider:

  • Limit distractions by turning off the television and silencing telephones.
  • If complete silence is too much, put soft music in the background.
  • Watch out for clutter if your child needs an organized learning environment to best learn.