When setting your homeschool schedule you need to consider the specific needs and habits of every child and adult in the household. Here is how you should proceed.
- Spend a month or two observing your family under relaxed conditions. Summer is the best time to do this as bedtimes can be loosened and learning and activity schedules may be nonexistent.
- Determine the natural body clock of each child and record this information. Observe what time they typically wake up unassisted. Observe the times that they fall asleep without prompting. Most importantly, observe the times they are most alert, and when they are most cranky.
- Record the un-adjustable schedules of each parent. This includes work schedules, and other responsibilities like church and continued education.
- Record and prioritize the children's current activities. This includes, sports, tutoring, volunteer activities, and clubs.
- Determine the homeschool requirements for your locality. You can get the rules for your state pertaining to how much instruction a child needs from HSLDA.org, or your homeschool curriculum provider may also make suggestions.
- Combine these schedules. Determine where and when these schedules converge and if there is adequate time for homeschool instruction. Ideally, instruction should happen when the children are most alert and naturally rested. In addition, the schedules of the teaching parent, support parent, and child must be conducive to the children having uninterrupted periods of study time.
- Evaluate your schedule. Is there time for large blocks of uninterrupted study? Is there time for relaxation and outside interests for both the children and adults? Will you be able to continue your natural sleep habits? (Amount of time you will sleep naturally without the use of sleep aids and alarm clocks).
- Adjust your schedules. You may need to strictly enforce bedtimes so that everyone wakes up with ample time to work, play and study. You may need to consider changing your jobs, eliminating an activity or two, or relocating either your home or activities to provide greater proximity to your activities.
- Break down your learning schedule. Once you understand the living and working needs of each family member, look at the allotted learning time closely and plan subject work (unless you are an unschooler where the children do subjects out of desire). You may want to do a subject a day, each subject each day, or something in between.
- Test your schedule. Begin living and working according to your schedule. Each month or so, evaluate the schedule to determine if it works for you. Make changes to your schedule as the goals and needs of your family changes.
You can see that there is no set guideline to follow when it comes to making a homeschool family. While using a typical "school" schedule or even that of another homeschooling family may work, at least for a while, it will not be the optimum schedule for you and your family. Therefore, it is important to take the time to evaluate your family closely a make a schedule that is unique to you.