Before I had kids, scheduling was my life. I was involved in so many activities, I had to have my life planned down to the minute or I would definitely let a ball drop. Now? Four babies later? We don’t really do well with “schedules”. I mean, we work from home and homeschool. I rarely know what day it is, and we don’t even wake up the same time every day. So how in the world do we make a large family homeschool schedule without really making a schedule?
5 Steps to the Best Large Family Homeschool Schedule
First things first, we have a daily “flow”. Our days look mostly the same, even though to an outsider it looks like chaos. We follow a natural rhythm in our house for certain activities, and it works beautifully for us. Immediately after breakfast, we start schoolwork. Immediately after lunch is a nap. We stick to this natural flow instead of a strict time-schedule.
Why We Have a “Flow” Instead of a Schedule
The first and main reason that we have a flow instead of a schedule is that our lives aren’t the type that can be easily scheduled. I am a blogger and virtual assistant, so my workload changes from day-to-day. Chris and I sell LuLaRoe together so that work depends on when we get new inventory, when we’re doing certain types of sales, and whether we have any in-person events happening. Add to that we homeschool, two of the kids have middle-of-the-week visitation with their bio-dad, and I have OB appointments thrown in randomly, and a time schedule just doesn’t make sense.
We also prefer a flow for our family because of A-Man’s autism. Autistic kids can be extremely routine driven, and many become fixated with a time specific schedule. As mentioned above, our lives are too varied for a time schedule, so it would be torture for A-Man if he was used to having breakfast at 7:45 am every day and we suddenly ate at 7:30 because we had to leave the house.
Since we don’t focus on times, A-Man has his sense of routine and the flexibility to change what we do each day. We keep big activities mostly the same. For example, immediately after lunch is rest time every day. We have the routine set in stone, but we can have lunch at 11 and take a short rest time after if there’s somewhere we need to be in the early afternoon, or we can have lunch at one and take a short rest after if we are running errands in the morning.
Our “flow” gives us the perfect balance of routine, flexibility, and the ability to be a bit spontaneous!
The most difficult part of any large family homeschool schedule is fitting in all of the individual subjects. Those subjects that each kid needs to be taught one-on-one with help from mom or dad. Oftentimes these are reading, writing, and math.
For our family, we have a few “hacks” for how we handle individual subjects. First, we outsource some. You’ll see several posts on here about online programs for reading or math. We also teach independent learning as quickly as our kiddos are ready. Mr. C can do many of his subjects independently now that he’s a solid reader.
We also like to flip flop subjects that need direct instruction with those that can be done independently. That way each kiddo is getting individual attention with short breaks of independent learning time. And finally, we are lucky enough to have both parents home. So I can take the smaller kiddos while Chris teachers Mr. C or visa versa.
Natural motivators is the key to success in any large family homeschool schedule! When you build natural motivators into your daily flow, your days will fall into a regular rhythm and your kids will fight you a lot less!
Natural motivators are going to be different for every family, but some common ones are snack/meal times, favorite school subjects, or play/screen time. Once you’ve identified your kids’ natural motivators, you’re going to pair them with the parts of your day that are the biggest struggle.
In our family, Mr. C resists writing lessons, so immediately after writing lessons, he gets to take a break to play with his brothers. He’s a lot more motivated to get through writing when he knows he’ll get to play after. A-Man’s biggest motivator is snacks, so we often place snack time right after a lesson for him.
Every mama with a large family needs to enlist help. We talked yesterday about knowing your limits, and it’s super important to accept that you cannot do it all! Once you know the things you can’t do, you’re all set to get help with whatever it is you can’t do.
If you know that you have no time for grocery shopping, check out Amazon Fresh or a local grocery delivery service. Let your husband know what chores you need him to take over for you or if you need him to take over dinner.
I’ve shared before, Chris does the large majority of the cooking and cleaning here because he’s better at it than I am and he enjoys it a whole lot more than me! He also does a lot of the “hands-on” lessons in our homeschool because I prefer bookwork.
Your husband isn’t the only way to get help, though. Start teaching your kids to help with some of the chores around the house. Maybe your oldest can take a “shift” watching and playing with the baby so you can get lunch made. Build help into your everyday schedule!
My final tip for an effective large family homeschool schedule is to stay boring. We stick to the basics most days and it keeps our lives from being overly hectic. See, when you have a large family, even the most basic tasks take a little bit longer and include a little bit more chaos. We really don’t need to add in a bunch of extra excitement.
We wake up and have breakfast. After breakfast, we start lessons. After lessons we have some play time, then lunch. After lunch is rest time, and after rest, the kids play until dinner. After dinner, the kids brush teeth, go potty, and head to bed. That’s our basic large family homeschool schedule.
It changes from here to there when we have to fit in extras like errands or appointments. They usually either take place after lessons but before lunch, or we do them after rest time but before dinner. That way we can still keep up with our typical routine, we just adjust the times a bit.
Having a successful large family homeschool schedule is all about staying flexible and doing your best to keep your routine. Remember to stay realistic and embrace the flow of your household instead of trying to stick to a strict time-schedule. You’ll be a pro in no time!
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