Do you ever feel like, as soon as you really start to delve into a subject with your children, it is too often time to put it away and move onto the next class? Do you find yourself wishing for larger amounts of time to spend really studying your current topic? Does your day seem crammed full of too many fragmented classes that never really seem to be properly attended to? If your answer is “yes” to any of the above, then a solution for your home school may be to consider block scheduling.
With block scheduling, it is exactly what the name states — blocks of time in which you schedule your homeschool classes. Your first step is to choose the period of time that you want to divide your homeschool into. You can have a block of time — called a term — that might be as long as half your school year, commonly called a semester. On the other hand, you might choose a term that is as short as a couple of weeks.
With traditional scheduling, you have your list of classes you are going to teach, and you teach all the classes each week. Perhaps you are teaching both science and world history: You might teach science class two days a week, and world history two days a week. If this type of a schedule works for you, great! But if you feel your child is forgetting what they learned earlier in the week because there has been a day in between of teaching a different subject, then you might want to consider block scheduling.
For example, with the two classes already mentioned above, you might decide to teach science class for four days a week the first semester, and no world history at all; then, when second semester comes around you do the opposite, teach world history four days a week — but you have already finished your science curriculum for the year.
If you have many topics of study you want to teach, block scheduling may help. For instance, I would like to teach my daughter cooking, baking, and sewing. I could try to fit in a day of each, every single week, but I would most likely burn out with trying to keep them all going. So, these subjects are a great possibility for block scheduling.
In our home school this year, I have our school year divided into six terms of eight weeks each. During our first semester, we did term one with cooking being one of our subjects. When term two came around, we stopped specific instruction in cooking — although of course my daughter continued making foods she had learned how to make — and changed our focus to baking. With term three, our concentration changed to sewing. Our plan now for the second semester coming up is to simply repeat a term of each one of these; so, we will have eight weeks of cooking, followed by eight weeks of baking, and finally eight more weeks of sewing.
Other possibilities for block scheduling could be to spend a term on writing and another term focusing on literature, or a term of spelling and another term of grammar. Using block scheduling this way can lesson the number of subjects you are concentrating on each week, and therefore each day.
“But, what about math?” I can almost hear someone ask! Well, I’m glad you asked that question! There are definitely some subjects that really are best done on a daily basis. Reading instruction when you are teaching your child how to read is one of those subjects. So can be handwriting practice, mathematics, and foreign language study.
Now, if you have a really, really good memory, you just might remember that back at the beginning of this school year, I wrote a blog post about loop scheduling. So, if I convinced you then on the merits of loop scheduling, but now I am singing the praises of block scheduling, which one do I use? The answer to that is BOTH! As I already mentioned above, I am using block scheduling for our cooking, baking, and sewing classes. I also use block scheduling for our physics, social studies, robotics, and art. However, I find I like loop scheduling best for our Bible, since I have a variety of materials I am using in our Bible time, and I want to make sure I can get some study or reading done using all of the materials. I am also using loop scheduling for our language arts materials for the same reasons; we are doing language arts every day, but the specifics of what we are doing changes as we work our way down our loop.
And, what about our “must do daily” types of things? For our family, that is mainly our math and our music. So, those are the two subjects that I do not put either in a loop schedule or in a block schedule. We simply do them every single day.
I hope this has helped give you some ideas of how you can use different schedules to meet the needs of your family, and help de-stress your home school daily life! Remember — your schedule is to work for YOU, not you for your schedule!