A Flexible Schedule That Still Has Set Key Times

From Our House to Yours

A Flexible Schedule That Still Has Set Key Times 

Do you have a night owl who likes to stay up late and start school late? Or, maybe you have an early bird who likes to go to bed early and start school early? Or, maybe you have a child who is just “in-the-middle” who likes to start school mid-morning and end school mid-day? Then of course, there’s YOU (as a homeschool mom) to consider too! You yourself might be an early bird, a night owl, or an “in-the-middle” person. In our home, we have a night owl, a few early birds, and an in-the-middle person. So, how do you make a flexible schedule that still has continuity for everyone? Well, you choose set key times for everyone, but allow flexibility around those key times!

Key Times for All to Make a Priority

Below you can see the key times our family has set for all to make a priority:

8:30-9:00 Shower/grooming, chores, room (30 min.)

9:30-9:45 Breakfast (15 min.)

11:25-11:45 Cocoa break (20 min.)

1:00-1:30 Lunch and cleanup (30 min.)

2:20 Leave for work

Key times keep us moving forward and make us aware if we are falling behind or wasting time.

We need key times in our days to keep us all moving forward. Key times make us all aware if we are falling behind or wasting time. They act as markers for each of us within our own schedules. The early bird who got up early to finish school early can see he is off track for his goals if lunch has arrived for everyone and he still has a lot of his school left to do. The in-the-middle person who doesn’t want to do ‘homework‘ at night can see if he is off track for his goals if the time to leave for work has arrived and he has not finished his school. The night owl who doesn’t want to get up early can see he is off track for his goals if night has come and no ‘homework’ has been done for tomorrow.

Key times give us times to all be together cohesively.

Key times give us times to all be together cohesively. They give us routine amidst flexibility. Everyone can plan on doing their chores at the same time, so there is no need to be quiet as no one is trying to do school. Several can plan on having help doing bigger chores, such as clearing snow, watering flowers, or feeding/watering/exercising the pets – because they know they won’t be interrupting each other’s schoolwork. Everyone can plan on breakfast and lunch being ready at key times, so all work hard to arrive on time. All can look forward to having cocoa together mid-morning, so everyone knows they have that break in their day just to talk and hang out. Everyone can plan on wrapping up their school day by the time they leave for work.

Key times are planned in an order that helps the day go smoothly.

Key times are planned in an order that makes sense. For example, chores must be done before breakfast, as unloading the dishwasher and setting the table are part of our chores. By mid-morning, everyone is needing a break, wanting to talk, and longing for beverage. A cocoa break between breakfast and lunch fills all those needs. Lunch and cleanup must be consistent so each person can make it to work on time. Key times keep order to the day so things happen in an efficient manner.

Flexible Times for Everyone

Start and end times can be flexible for everyone. That way, the early bird can start school early. The night owl can do homework at night. The in-the-middle person can structure work time in the middle of the day. Each person can have a snack whenever he is needing it. As the homeschool teacher, I can be flexible with how many teacher-directed meeting times I plan with each child. I may want to meet more often for shorter segments of time with a child who needs help staying focused. Or, I may want to meet fewer times with an older student who works well with large blocks of uninterrupted independent work time. For the child who struggles with transitions, I may add extra time in the schedule for transitions. If I need my teaching to be done by 1:oo PM, I may only schedule independent work after 1 PM.

I hope this post helps show how having set key times in the homeschool day promotes unity but also respects individuality! Try having set key times in your day, while still allowing flexibility in the rest of the day, and see if you like it!

In Christ,


Tips on What Order Works Well for the Boxes of Plans

Heart of Dakota Life

Tips on What Order Works Well for the Boxes of Plans

I love this time of year when I get to put together my homeschool schedule! The organizer in me comes to life, and I begin to craft my schedule to best fit our stage of life. Some things in my schedule change every year, but others remain the same. As you craft your schedule, I thought I’d share some tips on what order has worked well for us for the boxes of Heart of Dakota’s plans!

Try putting the Bible box of plans first! Then, follow up with the Corresponding Music box of plans!

God’s rightful place in our lives is first, so why not put the Bible box of plans first in our day?!? Whenever possible, I schedule Bible as the first box of plans for each child to complete. I want our children to learn to have their own personal Bible Quiet Time as a lifelong habit. It is my prayer that this habit continues long after our homeschooling is done. I have my sons do the Corresponding Music after/with their Bible Quiet Time or Bible Study, as these go together.

My son, Emmett, loves wood-working. I have said so often that I want to put God first in my day that he made me a little wooden cross. He suggested I put it on my end table next to my bed. Every morning I wake up, I see that little wooden cross. It reminds me that after all Jesus has done for me, the least I can do is start my day with Him! I want my children to do the same, and starting with the Bible box of plans and Corresponding Music conveys that!

Keep the Reading About History box of plans and the follow-up History box of plans together!

The Reading About History box of plans provides the backbone for all of the left side of plans. The follow-up history box(es) of plans are meant to be done after the reading of the books in the Reading About History box. In the younger guides, there is one rotating history box of plans. It is directly underneath the Reading About History box of plans, and it works great to do this box right after reading the history book.

In the older guides starting with Preparing Hearts for His Glory, there are multiple boxes of history plans. Each box of plans has its own purpose and teaches its own skill. After reading the history, it is a good idea to the rotating box of plans. The rotating history box of plans is found on the left side of the guide. In Preparing Hearts for His Glory, for example, the rotating boxes of history plans are Research, Vocabulary, Geography, and Timeline. After completing the rotating history box of plans, it is nice to do the History Project box of plans. This flow has a beginning reading, a rotating follow-up, and an ending project – all connecting the history theme beautifully!

Other Tips on What Order to Do the Boxes of Plans

There is a lot of leeway in how to choose to do the rest of the boxes of plans. I like to rotate seat work things with active, hands-on things whenever possible. Especially for active children, I like to keep things moving! I also like to alternate disciplinary and inspirational subjects. Click here to read more about that! If you are like me and are teaching multiple guides, I find it helpful to end with something my child can finish independently. For example, I might end my teaching block with the History Project because I can get my child started and then walk away to help another child as he finishes his project.

Finally, I take into consideration what might be too much in a row for particular children. For example, my older two sons liked to do their dictation, grammar, and math all in a row. My younger son did NOT like this! It was too much in a row for him. Another example – as a young child, one of my sons was a strong reader but not a strong writer. For this child, I spread out his writing. If he did a written narration in history, I made sure not to put his formal writing curriculum assignment next. A final example – one of my sons lost focus when reading too many books in a row. For this child, I spread out his reading. For example, I would have him do his DITHOR reading after lunch. Hope these tips help as you ponder what order you’d like to do the boxes of plans!

In Christ,