If you're just joining me for the 10 Days to a Flexible Homeschool Plan series, then be sure to read the previous posts:
Yesterday we talked about year-round homeschooling and how being open to the idea can add even more flexibility to your school year.
Today we'll talk about another concept that I completely misunderstood at first, but grew to love, and that's Block Scheduling.
If you've been homeschooling for even a short while then you've likely heard the term, but what is it exactly, and how will it add freedom and flexibility to your day?
What is Block Scheduling?
There are several ways to define block scheduling. I personally define it as our daily flow framework. It isn't set in stone. It's very fluid and flexible while still providing structure and routine to our day.
In it's simplest form it is blocking your day into time periods that can last as few as two hours up to as many as you need. Those time periods are not necessarily strictly adhered to, but are meant to provide a loose structure to any given day.
This is what our block schedule looks like.
While we don't always stay in these neat little boundaries, it does provide some semblance of structure to our day. The important thing about our daily block schedule is not the times assigned to each block, but the outline of tasks. It is the flow of our day and it can be modified to fit whatever comes up.
Sometimes we sleep late. Sometimes we have an unexpected visitor. Something we take a field trip for the day.
Let's say that we slept until 9 am (not uncommon actually). I cannot reasonably just skip Breakfast and Treasure Time and jump into our daily lessons. That's just asking for a rotten day.
I can, however, move our morning chores to mid-day and choose a shorter Bible story to read during Treasure Time. Both of those things help to make up for some lost time.
I can also shorten our lesson time by removing an optional subject and moving it to another day. Something you can absolutely do without stressing over it and I will show you how later in this series.
So why even have a daily block schedule if we're not going to stick to it?
Accountability. Structure. Something to lean on when it feels like life is pummeling us from every direction and I can't even remember my name much less what to do next!
When life feels like too much and I get completely overwhelmed, my natural introverted tendency is to shut down. I don't want to think about school, or work, or home. I want to curl up with Netflix and recharge!
But I can't do that, and our block schedule is just one of many tools that I use to keep me on track. Because it's there, I don't have to think about school. I just have to do the next thing. All of the thought has already beeen put into it, now I just follow it.
Creating a Block Schedule
I create our block schedule by answering one simple question...
What do I want our day to look like?
When you start to think about this remember that a typical homeschool day is going to look nothing like a traditional school day. I can generally accomplish in two hours what would take six hours in a classroom setting. Because we can do so much more in such a short amount of time, it's very easy to fall into the "am I doing enough" trap.
Just remember - do what needs to be done, high-five the kids for a job well done, and go for a walk or play a game, but don't feel guilty because it didn't take you all day!
Take a moment to really think about what your ideal homeschool day would look like.
- What are you doing?
- How are you doing it?
- When and where are you doing it?
- What do you do during the first hour or two of your day?
- What do you do for the 2-4 hours after that?
Remember to consider your unique family rhythm and things like...
...are you morning people? No? Then don't plan to start your day at 7 am!
...are your children more focused in the morning? Afternoon? Evening? You don't have to do lessons in the morning!
Take some time to really consider the natural rhythm of your family and then build your ideal day around it. Don't try to force yourself, or your kids, to be someone you're not just because the powers that be (whoever they are) say that things should be done a certain way. You know your family best. Find what makes them thrive!
Have that ideal day in your head? Now write it down!
Segment Your Day
Take that ideal day that you just wrote down and break it up into time segments, but don't get too detailed! You want to keep this pretty general in nature, focusing more on what you're doing than exactly when you're doing it.
What do you do first thing when you wake up?
Eat breakfast? Take care of some chores? Bible study or quiet time? About how long does it take? This is your first block of the day. Use it to do all the things that you do to prepare for the day ahead.
What do you do next?
Schoolwork? Outside classes or activities? Chores? About how long does it take? This is your second block of the day.
Continue this pattern until you've blocked your entire day into segments of closely related tasks.
There is no right or wrong way to do this. Your block schedule likely won't look anything like mine, or anyone else's, because it is a picture of your family.
You may want to make a few copies of the Block Schedule printable and complete it in pencil. This is a part of the planning process that will likely change a few times before you're happy with it. Just keep at it!
Tomorrow we'll look at how to decide what you'll teach and when you'll teach it as we continue to create your Flexible Homeschool Plan.