Schedules & Assignment Lists - What To Do?

We have taken varied approaches to homeschool in the past three years.

I have fluctuated between being somewhat of a Classical task master, to embracing my inner Charlotte Mason.    I can see a distinct advantage to each, depending on the situation.

I've been struggling with the question:  Is sticking to a schedule a good thing or a bad thing?  More specifically, is sticking to a schedule of assignments a good or bad thing?  

I have always loved the interest led spirit of our homeschool... but our needs are changing and I'm feeling the need for more structure.   I admire moms who seem to have such a firm handle on scheduling.  I'm not there yet. 

Currently in our homeschool I have one child who is eager to learn.  This child (who shall remain nameless) wakes up eager to please, gets dressed, makes the bed, walks the dog, and does math before I even have breakfast on the table.

All day long this child is in their own little interest led world.  I rarely have to direct them to finish something, because they are just so self-motivated.   

My other child, however, is not quite so motivated.  Without "outing" this child totally, I can tell you this child used to be quite eager to please and very interest driven.  Maybe it's the age?   Maybe it's the personality?    This child needs external motivation and accountability.

In my effort to respond to the needs of my children I created an assignment sheet for my child that needs motivation.    What happened next?  The child who doesn't need motivation complained because THEY wanted one, too.   {sigh}

Alas, we are now working with schedules, assigment sheets and chore charts in my home. 

I think I answered my question:   For our family, schedules and assignments are a good thing!  

This is not naturally the way I operate, but I'm seeing the value of it for my children, so I'm giving it 110%. 

I had a heart to heart with the child that was needing motivation.  It was a mutual decision to tighten the reigns and put in place a system of accountability.    Now I sit down with my husband and show him the assignment lists and we have a little "principal-teacher conference" on Sunday night - Kinda makes me feel more official!


It's going very well, so I wanted to share with you the benefits of homeschool schedules (and assignment lists, chore charts, etc....):

 1.  Arguments about schoolwork are eliminated (for the most part!).

It's hard to argue with a piece of paper.   When my child that is more reluctant starts to complain about the days' assigned work I direct them to the assignment sheet (which is just a simple Word table I created and change each week).  I also leave some boxes blank to adjust as the week goes on... this assignment sheet is a bit lighter than usual because we are preparing to go on vacation and are out and about running errands this week. A normal week for us is much more full.  

I have tried many homeschool planners in the past, and it just works better when I create my own planning sheets.  

*The kids are also free to complete their assignments in the order they would like.   Sometimes I have to stop them and call them together for read-alouds or projects done together, but with just two children that's pretty easy.


2.  We are more productive.

I tend to go off on tangents (the creative side of me does that a lot) and drag the kids with me.   A list of assignments keeps ME focused, too.  

3.  The house is more organized.

Each day I know for sure that the trash is taken out, dishwasher emptied, bathrooms wiped down, the dog is walked, etc...   I used to have the kids do these things, but it was random when I would ask them and they would tend to complain.  Now, it is their JOB to help me.    I just keep a simple Chore Chart on the refrigerator. (Isn't the owl magnet cute, made by my sweet friend, Melissa.)


4.  It actually gives the kids MORE time to be creative.

Yes, tightening the reigns allowed us to make better use of our time.   You see, I do believe there are certain things that need to be accomplished, and those are dictated by my husband and myself.  

I am all for my children pursuing their interests, but I can't sleep well at night if they have poor spelling, grammar, or don't know their math facts.   

I also am a mean mom and make my kids set an alarm clock - 7:15 a.m. - we all function better when we get out bed and get moving! 

When we have a schedule I can allow time for blocks of creativity.  During Anna's "music" time she practices her assigned piano pieces, but she's also been learning every Taylor Swift song she can get her hands on.  She has been improvising on Carol of the Bells on the keyboard.   She gets out her recorder and plays frequently.

This week Anna has been very interested in reading about stories of girls her age on The Oregon Trail.  I'm trying to leave enough for her to read A LOT.    I don't a schedule to rule our lives and kill creativity.

Grant uses his "Lego" time to build based on whatever our history theme is currently.    He has also been working on reading the Brick Bible.

My kids amaze me - the creativity is there, and if I give them the time they are so happy.

5.  It makes record keeping easy.

I save these weekly assignment sheets in a binder.    In addition to my simple record keeping book they give me a good record of the year and what we accomplished.  


Life is changing, and I'm trying to keep up!   Once you think you have the best way to educate your children figured out, they mature and change, and you must change with them.

I'm thankful that I CAN change.   I'm thankful my children are not stuck in a system of education that stays the same year after year.  

 I'm thankful we homeschool.