How To Create a Practical School Day Schedule

Blog post - Creating a Schedule

Question:

I need a schedule. How do I create a schedule?!?!

Solution:

Many of us are trying to figure out what the days will look like when school starts. Whether it’s in-person, virtual, or a hybrid school year, having a schedule can help make life much easier. But how can you build a schedule and routine that will work for your kids, you, and the rest of your family?

Boy Running to School

Creating an effective schedule is not one size fits all, nor is it a one and done activity. You take shot at it, you learn, you adjust. Then rinse and repeat. 

Knowing what to consider when setting up a schedule and what to do when you need to make adjustments will make the process easier. The following questions and things to consider are a starting point as you create a schedule. If it doesn’t work for you, skip it! 

Where to start?

  • Start from scratch: Grab a blank page of paper and build your schedule taking into consideration the items that follow. 
  • Go on-line: If starting from scratch seems totally overwhelming, use someone else’s schedule; there are countless options on-line. It can give you an idea of how many different topics to cover each day and how long to schedule activities and subjects. 

Woman waking up to Alarm

What are the non-negotiables?

Block out time for the non-negotiables and things that have to be done at a certain time. These could include:

  • Class times (for synchronous or in-person learning)
  • Activities (sports, tutoring, work, etc.)
  • Bedtime and wake-up time
  • Breakfast/lunch/dinner/snack time
  • Daycare pick-up and drop-off times
  • Exercise/workouts

Things to consider when filling out the rest of the day:

  • When is your kid most engaged? Are they a morning or afternoon person? Do they need to get it done early in the day? Do they thrive in the afternoon? Is there schoolwork that’s better to do at night?
  • Does your kid need to do a physical activity before their brain wakes-up? Build time into the schedule for jumping on the trampoline, a GoNoodle video, playing basketball, 10-minute dance party, running around the block…anything!
  • If you have more than one kid with distant learning, do you want to line-up their schoolwork/asynchronous class times? If you need to get work done, lining up their schoolwork and class times can be helpful. If you need to be available to help them, you may want to schedule it at separate times.
  • Is your kid independent when doing schoolwork or do you need to be with them? If you need to be available to help them, make sure the schoolwork times align with your schedule.
  • How long can your kid focus on a task? Don’t plan for hour long blocks of time if your kid can’t sit still for more than 15 minutes. Or plan on an hour, but know it will be 15 minutes of work, 5 minutes of getting the wiggles out, then 10 minutes of work…
  • Should you plan for work on assignments right after they have a class or is it better to do it later in the day or the next day? Their brain might be exhausted on that subject after sitting through an on-line class, or the content might be fresh in their mind and they can easily complete the assignment.

Other Tips

  • Communicate! It may take a couple weeks to figure the schedule out. It is important to communicate with your kid to see what’s working and what’s not…and LISTEN to what they say. Make adjustments together, so they can start to have a sense of ownership in the process.
  • Resist the instant “NO!”  If your kid has an idea on how to set-up or adjust their schedule, resist your initial reaction to say “NO!” (I’m guilty of this ALL.THE.TIME.) Really listen and see if it’s possible. Let them try it…if it doesn’t work, you can discuss what didn’t work and how to adjust. 
  • You don’t have to tie activities to a certain time of day.  If tying activities to a certain hour stresses you out, try creating a general flow of the day or even a checklist of things that need to be done each day. Then your kid can pick what they do and when they do it.

Once you’ve drafted a schedule…Try it! Evaluate! Adjust! Repeat!

At the start of the school year, you may need to evaluate how things are going daily or every other day. Once you get into the swing of things, you can evaluate once or twice a week.

Always keep in mind you are doing a great thing by including your kid in the process…as much as your sanity allows! They will be learning so much about time management skills and what works and doesn’t work for them. This is invaluable knowledge to start building at any age. 

Again, this is not one-size fits all process, so just pick what resonates with you…and your kid! But if the thought of setting-up a schedule gives you a headache, contact us. We can step you through the process (in-person or virtually!), and help you start the school year on the right foot.

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This is part of a Q&A series on setting-up your home, schedule, and life for virtual/distance learning in the fall. I’ve got three kids (2 year-old, Kindergartner, and 2nd grader), so I feel your pain and am just as stressed out as you are. But I’m hoping with a little planning and pre-work, I can make this fall schooling experiment WAY better than what my home experienced in the spring 🤞🏻🤞🏻🤞🏻 Would love to help you reduce even a bit a stress too! If you have any questions as you prepare, e-mail it to [email protected]

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