One of the greatest advantages of homeschooling is the freedom to plan your school schedule to best fit your family’s needs. You get to decide how to arrange your school year, and you also get to set your daily school routine. But as you do, remember two essential components—structure and flexibility. As a battery needs both a positive and negative charge to work, so your homeschool needs both discipline and flexibility to run smoothly. The key to a successful school year is a balance of both structure and flexibility. If you’re like me, you will tend to lean more toward one than the other, so it can be challenging—but not impossible—to incorporate both structure and flexibility.
Some families err on the side of structure. They have a specific school year start and end date, no exceptions. They begin school at the same time every day, no exceptions. The children do their subjects in the same order every day, for the same amount of time every day, no exceptions. Every minute is planned, even during break times. There’s nothing wrong with being organized, but having such a rigid schedule can create frustration for both parent and child and even hinder a child’s learning process. For example, a mom who feels pressure to stay on schedule may push her children through a subject they’re struggling with when they need extra time to fully understand it. Too much structure can create monotony and stifle educational growth.
On the other hand, some families are too lax when it comes to school. They have no specific start/end date for the school year. There’s no set daily starting time; school begins whenever everyone finally gets around to it. The children may or may not complete all of their subjects. Mom may choose to ditch school for the day and take a field trip instead. She figures she can always make up for lost time later; but that, too, can cause frustration when she realizes just how far behind they are toward the end of the school year. In scrambling to catch up, a child may skip important foundational concepts that are crucial for future learning. Too much flexibility can create chaos and stunt educational growth.
Aim for a healthy balance of structure and flexibility. Set goals for your family’s school year and come up with a reasonable schedule. Then stick to it as much as possible. Try to start around the same time every day, and follow a daily lesson plan. Set aside several days to use however you want; that way, you won’t feel pressured to make up for missed days due to sickness or other unexpected interruptions. Nor will you feel guilty for taking a field trip or a few days’ vacation. Maintaining an orderly yet flexible schedule will help you stay on track and make your school year much more enjoyable.
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Jennifer is a pastor’s wife and mom of two young girls and loves homeschooling them. During her own twelve years of being homeschooled, Jennifer developed a passion for reading and writing. She earned a bachelor’s degree in creative writing and relishes writing during her free time.