How I Organize My Weekly Schedule

I have been very hesitant to share my particular way of scheduling our week, but I’ve had so many people ask to see it, that I thought I would just go ahead. This is me caving in. 😉

What you need to keep in mind, is that we are all going to organize our life differently. My closet has shirts, pants, underclothes, dresses, and such, just like yours, but we will organize them differently. My way isn’t better, it’s just what works for me.

In my video Merging Forms to Create Your Own Schedule, I show how I create my weekly schedule. You can fast-forward it to about the 10 minute mark to see it. That schedule rules our week. How we then use it, is something that has changed each year.

I like my system this year better than any of the past, so I will start there. I always put one of our art prints in the outside cover of my 3-ring binder, once we have studied it. Because I coordinate our picture study with the time period we are studying in history, it is representative of the time period are in that year.

Inside I have dividers so I can keep other materials close at hand. Like the words to our folksongs, memorization work, maps that we will mark up or just small maps that we can quickly look at, a list of the words we have learned in a foreign language, notes to myself regarding various subjects, and the list of books we have checked out from the library this year.

I use double sided tape to attach a packet of sticky tabs inside the cover. These little guys are my favorite bookmarks. They don’t fall out of books, causing us to lose our place, but they do not damage the pages either.

The first divider keeps my weekly schedule. This is the template I use to keep us on track. I check things off as we finish them, and I print out a new template each week. Below is a closer look, but remember, this is my schedule, and it will not look the same as yours. I am only showing it, so that you can see that I have my topics in their spots and below each topic I noted what books everyone is reading. (Actually, I have removed some of that information here, because this post isn’t about what books I use, but you can see where I intend to put things in.) I shouldn’t need to change this from week to week, unless we finish a book. If you look close enough, you will see that I have several month’s hymns listed at the top. We will only sing the hymn scheduled for the month we are in, but this way I don’t have to make changes to my schedule because the calendar month changes. Same thing with picture study.

I do note on this sheet how far everyone got in each book. Then if a bookmark is lost for some reason, I can look back at last week’s schedule to be reminded where we left off. Also, by writing down how far everyone got, I can see when there is a break down. For example, if one child seems to be managing 5 pages in a certain book each week, but this week he only managed 2, then I know something went wrong. Maybe he was distracted by something or was not giving his best effort. I am informed this way, but the schedule is still ruling our day, rather than me forcing this child to read 5 pages, when maybe the distraction was legitimate, and now the child is spending double the amount of time on this subject. Clear as mud, I know.

Sometimes I’m colorful about the whole thing, and sometimes I save money and stick to black and white. Frankly, the color helped me at first, because there is a learning curve for some of us where keeping to a schedule is concerned. Now that I’m more comfortable with the whole thing, I don’t need it.

For those of you who are technically inclined I will tell you how I have done it in the past. (The rest of you close your ears and eyes.) I created an Excel spreadsheet with each subject that is on my final schedule across the top, and weeks 1-36 down the side. I populated this with my book selections and any other relative information. I then used this spreadsheet to do a mail merge into a Word document. The Word doc had my schedule listed out, for example, Monday – 30 minutes American History, and then my spreadsheet entered the book.

The problem with this method is that it is tempting to write, “book x, chapter 1” in a cell, instead of just “book x”. We run the risk of letting the pages rule again, instead of the schedule ruling. Another problem is that each Sunday night I had to sit down and update the spreadsheet before doing the mail merge and printing it out. To be frank, I don’t recommend this method, and have myself tried to move to a system that uses less nitpicking.

If you are technically inclined, you will understand what all of that meant, and having the opportunity to be techy while making your schedule will be an outlet for you. If you aren’t, then know that I will not answer questions about how it works. I don’t mean to be rude, it’s just that I really don’t think it’s the best way to do it.

With my new system, I have the layout, and I’ve noted the books and other selections, but I don’t have to be a slave to updating it.

I hope this is helpful, and that you will find a system that works for you. Wasn’t there a TV nanny that posted the schedule on the wall using a piece of poster board. There’s not “right way” to do this – use what works for you.

One last note. The schedule is not a secret to be kept from your kids. As they learn the schedule, they will relax into it. However, it will take time for them to learn the rhythm. Kids tend to want to blow through a list, marking things off as DONE! but we want them to learn the art of spending focused time on one thing, before moving to the next. That is one of the reason why doing a good portion of school together each morning is important. They are learning this rhythm when we work together. Over the years I have noticed a considerable difference in how my kids approach a school day by using this method.

I hope this helps rather than giving you a new yoke to wear. Remember, it has to suit you!

Preparing a CM Schedule Main Page
Merging Forms to Create Your Own Schedule (video on how I create my weekly schedule)

12 thoughts on “How I Organize My Weekly Schedule

  1. Kristyn B

    Thanks so much for a glimpse of your scheduling and templates. I am still trying to figure out the most effective and efficient way to organize our day. I really needed to be reminded of having the kids focus for a specific time rather than completing a specific amount of work! I seem to always fall back to getting it all done by "x" date, and then I find myself more focused on checking things off than the joy in the journey that education can be! Blessing to you this upcoming school year! Oh, and just a curiosity: do you have a time in your week where you review previous memorizations, like songs, Bible verses, foreign language phrases, etc.? If so, how does this work into your day? Thanks!

  2. Silvia

    Thanks a lot. I am attempting something different this year, the time allotted thing. I just made my own time scheduled copying yours.

  3. Nicole Williams

    You have said it so well, Kristyn. Isn't it true in all facets of life? We rush and rush, and then remind ourselves to stop rushing and rather enjoy each day, but then we are back to rushing. As long as we don't ever just give up trying – that's the important thing.

    Regarding reviewing memory work, we do review previous things. (Abeit, not as often as I wish we did.) It's one of the reasons I like to keep memory work in my binder, so it's close to hand when we are ready for review. If you are asking if I schedule a review day? No, I don't. In fact, we are frequently memorizing more than one thing, but I don't always set specific days for each. I tend to be more flexible about that. But there is a set time in the schedule. Otherwise none of it would get done!

  4. Nicole Williams

    We have some oddities in our home, Silvia, so I'm not sure copying mine is quite the way to go. If you go through the scheduling series, you should be able to put together something that suits your family well. I hope you have the best year yet!

  5. Jo

    For your combined subjects – do you read aloud to them all for each one, or do you have them read aloud – or do they all have a copy of the book being used and read to themselves?
    Thanks for such a wonderful blog! Jo in the UK

  6. Amanda

    This is very helpful. So, if it is American History time, say on Monday, do you basically have everyone get their books (A, M, and G each have their own for this subject, it looks like), set the timer for 20 minutes, and everyone sets to reading for the allotted time, then narrates? Or 15 min reading/5 narrating, etc. and then you stop, and everyone goes on to the folksong together? That's what it looks like to me. Everyone in a different area or room reading the same subject, different books, at the same time.

    Then on Tuesday, same idea with British History, except that two of your students, G &A, are reading the same book, because you have combined them, and perhaps you are reading that one aloud with them.

    Am I understanding? I like the flow, and it seems like this way you would keep more control of the day, alternating family subjects and activities with individual ones, as well as inspirational and skill subjects, as CM suggested. Or reading vs. writing vs. Math, vs. handiwork, and so on. If you have several books going on at the same time, and you need to do the "little talk" of reviewing last time, introducing the current day's reading, map work, etc., then the reading, and then a narration or written narration, are you doing that with each group or child, or is the child doing that, or how does that work? Thanks so much for sharing!

  7. Nicole Williams

    Your narration on my American History is right on. Except that I make sure everyone has their books when we start the day, so we can eliminate using up time to “get their books”. We also use a single composition notebook for all written work (one for each child I mean,) for the same reason. Narrating to each other adds a whole knew dimension to that! It’s taken far more seriously when sister and brother are listening, and they tend to call each other out if they leave something important out. They are keeping up with the story through each other you see.

    You are also right on the British History time. If the book is too hard for them, then I will read it, but if they can read it, then they will take turns. It’s not always easy to listen to someone else read (besides mom,) but it’s an important skill. Alternately, I may get them each their own book. But if I do that, I have to take more caution not to make the slower one feel “behind”.

    Regarding the “set up” as I like to call it, if they are reading their own books, I do not typically do that with each of them personally. I may say to them, “think about where you left off.” Remember that we are trying to teach them how to learn. In the same vein, their narration may be to map the travels of their character, rather than an oral narration.

    You are right about this keeping us on schedule, and setting a flow to our day. I have found that we are a lot less mentally exhausted after following this kind of schedule.

  8. Nicole Williams

    It depends on the reading level. If they can read it alone, then we might take turns reading, but if they cannot, then I will read it to them. I typically read the hard things and the really fun things aloud – things we want to "experience" together like geography and Plutarch, and then I try to schedule different books for each of them in the other places. That eliminates the issues of one child falling behind another. TruthQuest guides are invaluable for this, because they list the general reading level of each book and historical time period, so we can stay in the same time period, but each child has their own [very good] book that is suited to them.

  9. Jo

    Just so I'm clear then – just cause a subject is combined on the timetable – doesn't mean they are all using the same book – They are all just doing that same subject together (and same time period of history) but sometimes it is all different individual books, and sometimes it's one book for everyone so you read that one aloud. – So how do you handle oral narration if they are all reading a different book at the same time – do they narrate straight away after (would that distract others still reading?) or do you have a way they all narrate together in a group and everyone gets to listen to everyone elses narration? Sorry for all the questions – I struggle to 'see' how things work if i can't see it in real life!

  10. Katie

    Any thoughts on how to use a schedule like this when you have a broader age range? I have a 13 yr old who is spending 30 min on most subjects down to a 7 yr old who is doing about 15 minutes per subject. (5 students in all.) Any ideas how we could make our daily schedule flow? I have been doing together time and then breaking off for everyone to do their individual subjects, but everyone spreads out all over the house. I would really like to keep everyone contained and hopefully more focused by staying in the same room and ideally, the same schedule flow.

    1. Nicole

      It just takes constant tweaking, Katie. I have homeschooled up to 7 at a time, across all forms, and now I’m down to only 3 (11, 13 and 17). Last week I laminated my schedule because I thought surely after doing this for 12 years I could count on my plan to be a good one, and still today, 3 weeks into the school year, I was writing on the laminated version with a permanent marker because things weren’t quite right. I don’t know if that will be encouraging to you or terribly disappointing.

      I would agree that it’s easier to do the together-stuff first when you have such a wide range of students. Otherwise, it’s hard to get everyone back together. (I can do this now, and it’s lovely, but it was very hard before with so many ages involved.) I wouldn’t let everyone spread out too far. They need some accountability to stay on schedule. Do schedule a 15 minute break time for everyone at the same time each day. It is a great moral booster. Lastly, I’ve been working on a blog post about how to schedule yourself in order to make the day flow better. I’ll hurry up and get that finished…


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