Creating a successful homeschool kindergarten schedule or routine starts with knowing your child and ends with complete flexibility. When you start to make a homeschool schedule for your kindergartener, be realistic about what you and your child are capable of. If you follow a logical flow of planning considerations, you'll create a great schedule that works for the whole family.
Step One: Look at Your Typical Daily Routines
The simplest way to create a realistic kindergarten schedule is to model it after your typical routines so it feels natural. This also allows you to see which times of day you and your child will be most productive together since kindergarteners need a lot of instruction and help. For example, if you are typically tired right after lunch, that's probably not going to be the best time to teach a subject like math that requires a lot of focus.
Look at Your Child's Typical Routine
Your kindergartener is going to be the best student when she is rested and full. Write down what a typical weekend day looks like, noting what time she usually gets up, eats meals and snacks, and goes to sleep. Ask yourself these questions to further explore your child's daily routine:
- How long does it take my child to wake up?
- When does my child have the most energy?
- What times of day is my child most grumpy or irritable?
- Does my child ever choose quiet time activities alone? If so, when?
Look at Your Typical Routine
Next, you'll need to think about what your daily routine looks like. Consider when you generally wake up, what your morning routine looks like, meal prep times, your work schedule, and when you go to sleep. Ask yourself these questions about your daily routine:
- Are there specific times when I need my child to be self-reliant?
- Where is there room for flexibility in my routine?
- What time of day do I have the most energy?
- Where can you fit in prep time?
Look at Your Family's Typical Routine
You and your kindergartener probably aren't the only ones in your household. If that's true, you should consider the usual routines for everyone else in the household. Ask yourself the same questions as they pertain to other family members. This will give you an idea of times when someone else may be available to work with your child on school, when everyone else will need quiet, or when you can do things as a group like field trips.
Step Two: Understand Homeschool Kindergarten Regulations
Every state has different homeschooling requirements. Learn what the curriculum requirements are for your state, if there are any. If there are no curriculum requirements, you can create your own schedule that includes any subjects you deem important. If there are requirements, they'll provide a guide of what topics or subjects must be included in your schedule.
Step Three: Choose Your Subject Areas
If your state mandates a specific curriculum for homeschooled kindergarteners or suggests one, it's wise to use that as it's been created by experts. If you're creating your own curriculum:
- Write down the subject areas your child must learn, like math, reading, and writing, and the subject areas you'd like them to learn.
- Prioritize these lists by numbering them from most important to least important.
- Make sure all your "must learn" subjects have a spot on your schedule at least 2 times per week.
Where to Find Basic Kindergarten Curriculum Guidelines
If your state education department doesn't offer resources for a kindergarten homeschool curriculum, there are a few places you can use as references. For now, you only need to use these resources to see what subject areas you feel must be included in your child's schedule.
Step Four: Choose a Schedule Format
You should now have notes about your daily routines, homeschool requirements, and what subjects you have to include. Examine these notes and think about what type of schedule seems like it will work best for your child and her school requirements. Take a look at some homeschool daily schedule ideas to see different ways to plan your day.
Types of Kindergarten Homeschool Schedules
Some kindergarteners need rigid structure, while others do best with child-led learning. Common types of schedules for homeschool kindergarten are:
- Routine Schedule - Includes things like brushing teeth or chores and follows a structure that's implemented daily. This doesn't necessarily use strict times, but could use general times like "before lunch."
- Daily Schedule - Outlines blocks of time for one day. This could be the same schedule every day or a different one for each day of the week.
- Weekly Schedule - Outlines the schedule for each day in a week. You can use the same schedule every week, or create multiple weekly schedules and rotate them to keep things exciting.
- Interactive Schedule - The schedule is displayed in a way the child can interact with it, like erasing an activity on a chalkboard after it's been completed.
- Checklist Schedule - Includes individual assignments or lessons that get checked off when complete. There are no timeframes for this schedule.
Step Five: Create a Homeschool Schedule Template
You can use a free, printable homeschool schedule template to make your schedule or create your own from scratch. You are only creating the bare bones here, so things like days of the week or times are all you'll include.
- Let your child help make the schedule to help them take ownership. Explain why certain things have to be certain ways.
- Add your child's name to the top of the schedule to help them take ownership.
- Add in blocks of time starting with when your child could feasibly start her school day and when it should end. These can be general or specific.
- Aim for around 2 hours of instruction or educational time each day.
- Keep directed activities to 10 or 15 minutes each.
- For creative times and free times, allow around 30 minutes.
- Add activities that won't change like breakfast, lunch, and snack.
Step Six: Fill in the Most Important Activities First
Use all the information you've gathered up to this point and the decisions you've already made to guide you in completing your schedule.
- Determine whether your child will do best with an easy activity first thing or the most challenging activity and add that in.
- Fill in the most important subject areas or activities first. Make sure they go in the spots where your child will be most likely to engage.
- Try to add in your child's favorite activities or subjects after their least favorites so they feel like rewarding breaks.
- Add in fun breaks like recess, free time, or special events such as field trips.
- If there is open space left on the schedule, add in your highest priority "want to learn" subjects or topics.
Step Seven: Edit the Schedule
Now that you have a rough draft of your kindergarten homeschool schedule, you need to edit it. Look at the schedule as a whole to ensure everything works together. If you realize something seems off, like you accidentally scheduled a full hour and a half of lessons with no fun break, go back and rework it. Imagine your child actually moving through this schedule.
Step Eight: Try the Schedule for One Week
The first day or two using any new schedule or routine can be difficult for kids this age. Hang the schedule near their work area and go over it each morning for one week. Do your best to stick to the schedule, being flexible when necessary. Keep an open conversation with your child about what they like and don't like about the schedule.
Step Nine: Evaluate Your Schedule
At the end of your first week using the schedule, evaluate if it worked.
- If every day felt like an exhausting fight, chances are this isn't the right schedule for your child.
- If your child was able to prompt you about each part of the schedule by the last day, it might be a good fit.
- If the schedule works, great! Make yourself some copies with space to write in specific kindergarten lesson plans and activities.
- If it doesn't work, go back through the steps and see where you could pivot slightly to rearrange the schedule and try again.
Create a Great Kindergarten at Home
Your kindergarten homeschool schedule should be tailored to your child. Kids in kindergarten should be getting about 2 to 2.5 hours of educational instruction time per day, with a normal schedule running for eight months in the fall, winter, and spring. With a good combination of games, lessons, multimedia experiences, hands-on experiences, kindergarten worksheets, toys, and activities, you can make a great kindergarten for you and your child at home.