Friday, August 12, 2016

Our Large Family Homeschool Schedule

Teaching a large family while keeping up with the cooking, cleaning, medical needs for Mason, and everyday life including taking care of babies and occupying toddlers is always an adventure. Each year our routines and schedule have been different because each year I have more children at different ages and stages. I set up a tentative schedule and we tweak it when we need to. This year is no different. I'm going to share our tentative schedule and we can see where things need adjusted as we go. Please remember each family is different and that is a good thing! I always say, "Do more of what works and less of what doesn't."

5am-5:40am - Rise and Shine. Makayla and I get up at 5 o'clock because she has early morning seminary, a scripture study class, at 6am each school day with some teens from church. This year they will be studying the New Testament. I drive her to the teacher's home each day. Then I go home and exercise or do my own scripture study. I wake any kids who are still sleeping at 6:30am, which is only a couple kids as I have lots of early risers. Depending on the week Makayla will arrive home around 7:05am with a carpool driver or I head to pick her and a couple others up, drop the others off at the high school, and Makayla and I come home.

7am-8am - By the end of this hour everyone should have eaten breakfast, gotten dressed, and can do their chores if the wish. This year we will be moving chore time to 3pm. I know a child or two who will go ahead and do theirs during the early morning hours, but most won't.

8am-8:30am – This is when we do the items in our Morning Basket as a family! Check out my post about our Morning Basket Plans for more details. Little ones participate in this, or are at least in the same room playing or snuggling someone.

8:30am-10am – I work with my 6th, 5th, 3rd, 2nd, and K kids around the table on the following: Math(all), learning to read (2nd), learning alphabet sounds (K), Spelling (6th,5th,3rd).  I just rotate around the table helping when needed. The high schooler is doing her work in writing, history reading, literature, etc. independently. She is in charge of planning her daily work, I hand her the week's assignments but she is responsible for deciding what to work on when. The only rule is she has to be working during school hours.

10am – 11am – I spend this hour one on one tutoring my 10th grader Makayla. We work on anything she wants/needs to do with me. History discussions, writing/editing, math help, etc. During this time the other kids have a snack and then do their personal scripture reading and read or listen to an audio book for 1 chapter of assigned literature. Any free time after those is theirs to enjoy until 11am.

11am – 11:30am – I read aloud from our history stories to all but the high schooler. Then I turn the kids loose to do a narration in their notebook (writing, drawings, etc) while I make lunch. From 11am-12pm my high schooler works on her school work. She’s got more freedom to pick what to do each time block, because she’s shown over the years that she can lay out her own schedule and get her work done diligently.

12pm – 2pm – Lunch and FREE time. I take care of medical needs for my 4 year old that take an hour after lunch. Kids are allowed to play on a Kindle from 1-2 if they wish.

2pm-3pm – Kids can finish up anything they ran out of time to finish earlier in the day. For example if they didn’t get all their math problems done or wanted to work more on their history notebook page. BUT if they did their work in the reasonable times allotted earlier in the day they are essentially done with school work at noon. The other possibility for this hour is art projects or nature study, because really, the kids usually buckle down during the morning to get work done. They've learned how joyful it is to have the afternoon free to follow their interests. The high schooler will work on science homework in this time block for an online veterinary science class, or any other work she needs to do. I’m available to help anyone during this hour.

What are my 4 year old, 3 year old, and 9 month old doing during all of this? Playing, sitting up to the table and doing playdoh, listening to read alouds, building with magnet tiles, drawing on the chalkboard or dry erase board, doing puzzles, getting into things, typical little kid stuff! And the Kindergartener is always done early in every time block, he has short lessons and then is free to play with these younger 3 brothers. He enjoys being the ‘big brother’ during this time. Tobias also still naps once or twice a day.

What happens at 3pm?

Snack, chores, and freedom. Kids follow their own interests, play, read, argue, build, create, whine, and be kids. It's pretty laid back because that is how we like it. We are not a fan of scheduling full evenings every single day to run and go. Several kids have activities at church on Tuesday evening (Boy Scouts, Youth Group, Activity Girls age 8-11) and this year our Cub Scout pack meets on a separate night (Wed.). Beyond that we don't schedule anything in the evenings as a regular thing. No lessons, no sports, nothing.

Well, except for last year.

Makayla did have a regular activity last year for about 2-3 months that was daily, M-F, plus some Saturdays. We all just about died were miserable from the intrusive schedule dictated by an outside entity. She joined the local public high school's track team for the spring season. As a high schooler we felt that was something she could make the commitment to if she had a strong desire to. She had a love/hate relationship with it, learned a lot, and may do it again this year. It sucked a lot of joy out of our spring though.

Wait, if you're a sports fan, don't throw tomatoes - or the ball from your favorite sport! Remember what I said earlier? Every family is different. We do not believe that playing sports heavily is worth the time it takes for our children at any age below high school, and even then it's not a priority or important goal if it is crowding out other, more important things. You can disagree for your own family - just pretend you didn't read my thoughts and we'll get along just fine!

Did you miss any posts in this series?


  1. I agree with sports being intrusive. We play basketball and for a while it was year round. I put my foot down and said no to summer play. But we are gearing up for the season and I'm not looking forward to it. It's like 2 nights long hours plus games and away games!!!

    1. Isn't it crazy? I remember when there were kids hanging out playing for fun but now there are not enough kids with unscheduled evenings to pull together a neighborhood ball game - or any neighborhood game. And why did a sport that used to have one season grow to encompass several?

      I think it would be easier if kids were old enough to drive

  2. You always inspire me, even when you're writing about schedules!!!

    And I'm with you about the intrusion of sports. I really want my kids to be involved in activities because they are satisfying when all is said and done, but in the middle of it all they are joy-killers! I have a hard time reconciling that contradiction.

  3. We did competitive figure skating and soccer with the bigs when they were younger....and then we purposely WALKED AWAY from it ALL. We were running in two different directions, dragging littles along the way, and it was working against the goals we had for our family. Don't miss it one bit, and neither do the kids! We are very much home bodies, except for church things that include the whole family. I get where you are coming from here!!

    1. Did your kids miss it at first when you walked away? I know we've had times where we stopped doing something and I've been surprised that the kids didn't miss it as much as I expected they would. It was a relief for them as much as it was for me.

  4. I totally agree with you re sport... and yet I have a 15 yo who is a comoetitive trampolinist and is at the gym 4 days a week, 5 hours for three of them (she coaches then has a break before training). She has never trained as much as her teammates (most train 6 days) because I put limits on her. I still feel conflicted but she loves it. I think if she wasn't the youngest I couldn't make it work. Since her dad works late and her only sibling still at home is studying/working/doing his own thing her training doesn't really impact on family time. Since I was never sporty I'm surprised to find it playing such a role in her (and therefore my) life.

    1. That is really interesting Sandra! I love that we can always find examples of when something works that we generally wouldn't ever do.


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