As I was planning our homeschool year it became clear to me that this was the year to finally get on board with loop scheduling!
My oldest is in grade four this year and I’ve really noticed an increase in the amount that I want her to learn this year and have decided that this is the year we start sitting down and having more focused “school time”. After our first few years being more on the relaxed/semi-unschooling side this is definitely a change.
I’ll be honest, there has been a bit of push back on her part, especially since we “started” a light version of our rhythm a couple of weeks before the school system here but I keep reminding her that we take lots of breaks (even our first week had two days off), plus this will take us maybe three hours a day if we do all the things I have planned for the day as opposed to the six hours kids are in school.
That all being said, I am contemplating running one day like the school system, making sure the kids are up, dressed, eaten, etc for the day, make them walk the distance of the bus stop and then make them do a regular school days work, have recess only at designated times, eat only at regular times and not talk while working. Ha, I think I may have the hardest time getting through the day! But I do think it would be an interesting experience.
Anyway, on to our rhythm for our year and the loop scheduling!
WHAT IS LOOP SCHEDULING?
Before we go any further I need to break down loop scheduling, thankfully it’s really simple.
For loop scheduling you just make a list of the subjects you want to cover and each day during your loop time you will go down the list and spend time doing the subjects until your loop time is over.
So, let’s say you have artist study, composer study, nature study and art on one loop and you spend one hour each day doing that particular loop.
On Monday you would start with artist study and let’s say it takes you 45 minutes, then you will move on to composer study.
Then on Tuesday you will continue down the list, meaning you are on to nature study. Let’s say nature study takes you the full hour.
Wednesday comes around and you’ve planned a play date for the afternoon, so you don’t do anything off your loop.
On Thursday you continue on where you left off: art. Let’s say art takes you half an hour, you still have half an hour left so you start back at the top with your artist study.
Friday the kids are really interested in your composer study and you spend the whole hour on it.
WHY LOOP SCHEDULING IS GREAT
The nice thing about loop scheduling is that it can keep you from consistently missing a subject like you may if you were doing a weekly schedule. For instance, if you always wanted to do nature study on Friday afternoons but that turned out to be a day when you end up planning a bunch of play dates you would “fall behind” in your nature study.
With loop scheduling, even if you miss a day there is not one particular subject that suffers since you just pick up where you left off.
OUR THREE-PART HOMESCHOOL RHYTHM
I did some research on loop scheduling because it had been awhile since I had really thought about using it and I came across this 3-part homeschool routine that really resonated with me (though not the word routine, there’s a word I don’t like!).
There were a lot of changes that I wanted to make to have it suit our needs but the bones of the three-part rhythm (that’s a better word!) would be perfect.
I already knew there were some things I wanted us to do each day in our homeschool and then other things that we could loop. I wanted to start with the daily tasks to make sure they actually got done, but, let’s be honest, tea time sounds way better than tasks.
After we were done our tea time we would do some chores around the house and then do our morning loop (couch time), after that it would be lunch and then time for our afternoon loop.
Tea time is how we kick off our homeschool morning. Truthfully, for my son this is actually breakfast but for my daughter who likes to eat at the crack of dawn this is usually second breakfast, and this is when I have my daily cup of homemade, dairy-free hot cocoa (so it’s not really tea time at all).
Here is what we cover during this time:
1. Bible reading and journaling (check out how we do that here)
2. Scripture writing
3. memory verse
4. language arts
6. independent Bible reading
7. reading (independent reading for my fourth grader who reads one of the books off of the list I’ve given her and reading practice for my first grader)
These are the most important “subjects” I want to hit each day and if we only get the tea time portion of our day done I am okay with that.
I plan on writing a separate post for exactly what we are doing for each of these subjects and will come back and link here when I do so.
MORNING LOOP/COUCH TIME
The next portion of our day is our morning loop/couch time, this is the shortest portion and we will generally just do one of these a day, which means it will take us a little more than a week to go through the loop.
1. artist study
2. composer study
4. creative writing
5. character study
7. fairy tales & Aesop stories
Once again, I’ll share these more in-depth in the upcoming weeks.
Our afternoon loop has less subjects on it but we won’t be doing it every day. On Monday afternoons I’m blocking that time for our “Monday unit” (more about that later in the post) and Tuesday afternoons are poetry tea time, though we may also do one of our loop subjects that afternoon as well.
3. nature study
One thing I wanted to try out this year was very, very short unit studies. So, I got creative and I decided that on Monday afternoons we would take some time for a mini unit study and then if the kids were interested we could continue learning about the topic throughout the week.
If I’m being honest, a big part of the reason I want to do some unit studies is totally because I’ve been suckered in by all the beautiful unit study flat lays I see on Instagram all the time.
Thankfully that’s not the only reason though, I also wanted some time in the week to be able to add in learning about topics that aren’t really in the “schedule” for the year. I’ve been creating a list of random things that we may use for these mini units including: owls, constellations, print making, Canada, spies, colors, mountains and more!
You can check out our completed unit studies here.
And there you have it, a bit of an overview of what our homeschool rhythm will (hopefully) be looking like this year! We started things off easy last week by “homeschooling light” meaning we’ve just been doing the tea time portion and are slowly adding in our loops.
Now, over the next few weeks I hope to share more details about what each of our “subjects” all entails and I’m also planning to write a post about how I plan our year without a curriculum. I wish I was able to be a little more ahead of things because I feel like that probably would be more helpful for people if I could share it before the school year started but hopefully it will still be helpful to some this year and others in years to come.
You can check out my step-by-step process for how I plan our year without a curriculum here.