Our day is made up of many mini routines – a sequence of actions that helps us accomplish our goals.  We have a mini routine that helps us get ready in the morning, we have a mini routine when we need to go to town, a mini routine when we have people coming over.  We have a mini routine that helps us study – it doesn’t take up the whole day and yet it helps us reach our goals.

A study schedule or routine is simply knowing when you are going to study whatever it is you are going to study.

Tips for Writing a study schedule:

  • Start off knowing how much time you want to spend in study each week.  It does not have to be every day; neither does it have to be the same hours as your local school.  Remember to take into account every day learning that happens in family life – especially in your family life.
  • Look at each of you students, list each subject you intend for them, consider and record how much time each subject needs.  Keep this list at your side – you may well tweak it but it is the foundation for your planning.
  • Though I start my planning off with time increments they aren’t closely followed in real life. Writing our study schedule is really about knowing if my plans and curriculum choices are realistic.  There are many times when I go through this process and I see that I simply can’t fit it all in and I have to prioritise some more.  Though we may not watch the clock on a daily basis I need to know that we have some realistic chance of completing our work on a daily basis.
  • List weekly commitments – this could include music lessons, sports, co-ops, community/church involvement etc.    Write down the opportunities that Dad has to be with his children – these things certainly account for learning opportunities.  Once you start writing a schedule you get a big picture (rather than seeing one subject or activity in isolation).  Some activities may have to go for a season.  Don’t make the decision based solely on time – look at the value and purpose and choose which activities and which studies you take on.
  • Write down your priorities. It may be a family priority such as Family Devotions and Bible study and/or it maybe a student priority such as Daniels reading.  Once you start plotting in your schedule these go down first.
  • Know what your child/ren can do independently – if you need to teach one child (or a combination) you can slot those independent studies to happen with any other child  i.e. While I’m working on Daniel’s reading, Nomi is working on her math independently.    If your children are doing a lot of independent work (highschool etc) then make sure you have time in your day to touch base with them, and go over their work.
  • If you have children younger than school age include them in your study routine.  They need to be focused during study time so they are not a distraction.  Go through your cupboards, research on the internet for things that will occupy them during this time.  Write their activities in the study schedule
  • You have now done the prep for writing a schedule – now the fun begins! I use a spreadsheet (Excel) instead of a table on Word because it is easier to manage columns on a spreadsheet.  I have times across the top and days/child down the side.  Often people do a schedule with times down the side but when I do it this way I can see at a glance what each child is doing – it is much more helpful.  The chart below is not to scale – simply to show you my layout.  I repeat this block for every day that I want to plan for.
8.00 8.30 9.00 9.30 10.00 10.30 11.00 11.30 12.00
Monday
Daniel
Nomi
Jessica
Joshua
  • If you are using pen and paper I suggest you use pencil and have your eraser close by.
  • Once you have it all there – you are happy with the balance of time and subjects/activities then print it out large – I enlarge mine to cover four A4 pieces of paper.  Have it where you can see it in passing – reflect on it – study it – look for errors, look for things that just won’t work, and keep tweaking.  Creating such a routine takes time, revision and lots of thinking.
  • Then comes the hard part – using it.  Give yourselves two weeks (maybe more if it requires completely new habits).  Use it and take notes.  Reflect on each day and take note of how things work – or didn’t work.  Make the obvious changes but don’t make knee-jerk reactions, wait till you’ve tried it a few times.  But we must review and tweak or our schedule else it becomes a piece of paper that you feel legally bound to or judged by.  Instead it should be a guide for your day that helps you be successful.
  • Remember how I said I don’t watch the clock too closely on a day by day basis.  Once my schedule is written up I then convert it to a study-to-do-list.   I list each activity that is planned for the day and any key times I need to remember.  We go through our day from this list, not from the study schedule (the schedule was simply to see that it was a realistic overall plan).  So once the schedule is made we then work on a routine – flowing from one activity to the next with regularity.
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