Initial Questions and Considerations

We are getting to the heart of the matter now, creating a schedule that works for your own family. Let’s consider a few family-specific things first.

Do you have multiple students?
I am picturing my dear friend with one child, and another with eight. Your schedules will look very different from one another’s, but do not fret. Each family dynamic has so much to offer your child/children, and homeschooling them is a valuable gift that you are giving them. We will work together to make a schedule that works for you and blesses your children.

What Forms will your students be in this year? 
Take a look at the Form Breakdown below to see what forms your children will be in. (Click on it to look closer.)

There is some speculation about whether a child would have moved up based entirely upon their age, or whether their level of ability would be taken into account. You will have to make that decision for your children.  I have found that it helps me to look at what is required at each level in order to find the best fit for my child.

“I will refrain from enlarging upon the involved state of affairs when there are children working partly in one class and partly in another; nor will I discuss what happens when one has a child of 10 who cannot read.” On the Possibility of Doing P.U.S. Work While Keeping Strictly to the Time-Tables by K. Clendinned

You may be surprised to see that some of your children are in the same form, even though they are in different “grades”.

How many days of school do you intend to do per week?
I used to think that if I was not going to do school on Saturday, then I needed to add that work onto the rest of the week.

But then I realized three things:
1. Charlotte Mason did school with the students when she had them. In other words, the children came to school on Saturday because that was the culture at the time, so she was sure to have a schedule for that day. This is not the culture that we live it today. Typically Saturday is a day off. (However, there was a time when my husband worked on Saturday and had Monday off. This is one of those times when flexibility in homeschooling is a blessing.)

2. A lot of what was done 6 days a week was duplicate work. If she had the students to hand, then they should do those things that are helpful to do consistently, such as math, foreign language, repetition, drill/play time, and writing.

3. By adding to the school day, to make up for a lost Saturday, I was losing the integrity of a Charlotte Mason style day. Outdoor time in the afternoon is a vital component of a Charlotte Mason education and we cannot fail to include it.

“In the first place, we have considered some of the conditions to be observed with a view to keep the brain in healthy working order; [exercise, rest and nutrition, pg 20] for it is upon the possession of an active, duly nourished brain that the possibility of a sound education depends.” – Charlotte Mason, Volume 1, Home Education, pg 96

It’s important to be realistic however, and going to the other extreme may be unwise. I’m not sure you can reasonably do a Charlotte Mason education in four days. I talked about my German lessons recently. The key to my being successful is consistency. If you are only doing math, memorization, foreign language, and writing four days a week, you may not see the fruits of you child’s labor, the same as you would if you do it five days a week. Short lessons, repeatedly, is the key to much of Charlotte Mason’s philosophy. Again, it’s important to maintain the integrity of a Charlotte Mason education.

Do you have any commitments that will interfere with a regular school day?
Scheduled appointments can mess up a whole school day. I used to feel so proud when I made my dentist appointments. “We homeschool, so we are flexible,” I would tell them. How silly. Now I realize that I am in charge of protecting our school day, and that I don’t need to be flexible. We are done with our morning schooling by 1:00, so if at all possible, I make appointments after that. Be it dance class, music lessons, or a dentist appointment.

Do you already have some subjects scheduled?
Are you part of a co-op that includes some of the subjects on your list, such as picture study, or handicraft? Or do you have lessons already scheduled outside the home, such as music, singing, or dancing?

Will schedule things that were typically “afternoon” items in the morning instead

  • Handicraft
  • Drawing/Painting
  • Dancing
  • Singing
  • Music Appreciation
  • Music (practice)
  • Picture Study
  • Nature Study

This is entirely up to you. There have been times in our life when creating an afternoon schedule would have been good, but at this point in our lives, that hour of scheduled work before “tea-time”, is actually housework in the afternoon. Therefore, I schedule the following things into my morning schedule: Drawing, Singing, Music Appreciation and Picture Study.

Handicraft is another matter however. My children are old enough to do handicrafts themselves. I frequently just need to get the ball rolling, and then they take off. Until recently, we were involved in a co-op where I led the handicraft instruction. I introduced all of the kids to a new handicraft about three times per term, and then my children continued on with that effort with little effort on my part. (My husband and I have decided to discontinue our participation in a co-op, so things might change a bit now. I won’t have a deadline to introduce a new handicraft, and without that accountability, I will need to be more dedicated. I’ll keep you posted on that.)

Now it’s time to put your pencil to paper and make your first draft of a schedule. I’ll take you through the process I use in tomorrow’s post.


9 thoughts on “Initial Questions and Considerations

  1. Alysa

    I realized the same thing about scheduling appointments in our first year of homeschooling. Being "flexible" actually became quite problematic!

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  4. Carrie D

    A friend recently told me about your website and your method of creating a CM-style schedule for your homeschool days. Having read this far in the series, THANK YOU so much for doing this! Even though these posts are a few years old, they are a sanity-saver and are changing my perspective of how I can homeschool my children. Thank you for writing this series!

    1. Nicole

      I am so glad, Carrie! Miss. Mason didn’t allow public schools to use her programmes of work (the curriculum,) unless they committed to using the schedule as well. They could tweak it, but not using it was a deal-breaker. That lets you know how important this part is to our school days.

  5. Courtney Rivas-Hamp

    How do you handle transitions from subject to subject, especially if you are new to this with a lot of kids(2nd,4th,7th,8th grades plus 3 under school age)? Everything is back to back.

    1. Nicole

      The transitions were built into the time period allowed. For instance, if you have a 10-minute science lesson in Form 1, that allows you time to set the lesson up, read the assigned material, narrate, possibly look at a picture you have gathered before hand, and transition to the next lesson. There is a common misconception in the CM community that all we do is read and narrate, and a lot of reading at that, but there is both more to a lesson and less required in each individual lesson than most realize. You might find help in the teacher training video Lesson Planning in a Living Education on


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