By the time you finally get to set your homeschool schedule, you’ll have already spent a great deal of time budgeting, choosing courses and exam boards, finding local exam centres, sourcing online materials and outside help --- the list goes on. To make all your hard work worthwhile, however, you now need to build a timetable that works.
What kind of schedule does a typical homeschool use?
It’s hard to say exactly what a ‘typical’ homeschool looks like. Many embark on a homeschool venture because they want to apply their own unique education outlook to their child’s learning. Here are some ideas on how you might structure each week as a unit of term time:
· The full-blown “private school” 6-day week
The first approach is to do what some private schools do, which is have instruction six days per week, with Saturday being perhaps a half day. It’s a big schedule, but studying on more days does allow you more scope for extra content and/or to spread content out more throughout the week.
· The regular “state school” 5-day week
The good-old Monday to Friday school week is a good way to start if your kids have already been in a regular school for a period of time before homeschooling. They may need to stick to the 5-day week while they transition to a new timetable. Regardless, it’s a tried-and-true method and helps keep school lined up with your family work hours, too.
· The 3- or 4-day week
Homeschooling can be done very efficiently when you don’t have to include movement from classroom to classroom. The individual attention afforded to each student frequently sees the work that would take a typical class several hours being completed in a single hour. Some feel that this is cause for a shorter school week, giving their kids additional free time to use for revision, hobbies, and personal/professional development (e.g. teens could get a part-time job).
· One subject or topic area per day
Regardless of how many days, some families may arrange subjects to teach individually on different days, or in groups – e.g. Monday is for sciences, Tuesday is for humanities etc. This is easy for primary- and middle-school-age children, but when you’re contending with GCSE s and A-Levels, it may not always work out that way.
How many hours a day on average are needed?
The fewer days per week you plan to allocate as “school days,” the more hours per day you will need for GCSE and A-Level. If you’re hoping to teach fewer hours per day, therefore, it’s a good idea to include more school days and spread them out.
There are claims online that as few as 2 hours per day are all that is needed for effective homeschooling. We don’t recommend this for students managing ten or more GCSEs and four or more A-Level subjects, however. You will need more time than that to cover the material.
The typical school day is around 7 hours – 08:30 am to 3:30 pm – varying slightly at either end of that scale. When you factor in the efficiency of homeschooling, you might be able to manage with just 4 hours of tuition, leaving you three or more hours to use for review and other class areas like those we discussed in part 9.
Further Advice on Scheduling
Here are some more useful tips on how to get a balanced schedule that really works:
1. Group subjects together logically
Think about how subjects fit together logically and group them onto the same days. There’s always crossover between them and chances to build connections between subjects. For example, if you’re covering the Tudors in GCSE History, then why not create links with the Shakespeare play you’re studying in English? You may find links that help strengthen knowledge and understanding.
2. Allocate more time initially to challenging subjects
When starting out, give more time to the subjects your child finds difficult. As they start to catch up, you can even the schedule out to reflect that. Regular schools can never offer this kind of flexibility. You can use it to your advantage.
3. Remember to give time for rest and recreation
All work and no play… remember to allocate time each day for study breaks and days each week for rest and fun. Trying to squeeze out fun to fit in more practise tests and revision won’t have the positive effect that you think it will.
Finally, never lose sight of the long-term goal: Create genuine learning ability and a lifelong love of learning. At the end of it all, your goal in homeschooling is to provide a superior educational experience and learning environment, something that you feel the state school or other local schools are incapable of delivering. Take the time to do it right, and don’t lose sight of this noble goal.
Here’s wishing all homeschool students the best of luck in their GCSEs and A-Levels!