A Classical Homeschool Schedule Made Simple
Are you thinking of homeschooling and don’t know where to start? Maybe you are already homeschooling and you’re feeling like you have no direction. Afraid you’re going to miss something important in your child’s education? I used to feel that way, too! A classical homeschool schedule can fix all of those worries!
Beginning the homeschooling journey can be overwhelming. There are so many “ways” to homeschool, so many curricula from which to choose, and about a million other things bombarding the new homeschool mom.
We started homeschooling in 2018, when my oldest started kindergarten. I didn’t worry too much about using a set curriculum because, well, it was kindergarten and I think it should be mostly play. Mostly, I printed out worksheets and found activity ideas online and it got us through the year just fine. The main focus was on the math requirements and we did some sight words until she really showed interest in reading.
But, when it came to first grade, I felt like it needed to be more structured, or official, or…something. But, again, there are so many curricula out there and it was just overwhelming.
I started the year by gathering some books for science that looked fun, ordering Horizons Grade 1 Math Workbooks, and checking out Easy Readers from the library. But, about midway through the year, I just felt lost. Like, we didn’t have a clear path of what we were going to study when and was I going to miss something along the way.
Enter The Well-Trained Mind.
This is the path forward I had been searching for. This book is written by a mother-daughter team. The mother homeschooled her children and the daughter did the same. It provides a very doable classical homeschool schedule and resources to be sure you are getting quality information in front of your children.
Don’t let the length of the book scare you. If you are in elementary school, you will only read the first few chapters. The later chapters are for when your children progress to middle school age and so forth.
What is a Classical Education?
So, what is a classical education? When I first heard the word I honestly thought it sounded boring. But, really, it is a great philosophy. A classical homeschool schedule is language intensive. So, your children aren’t going to spend hours on the computer doing their schoolwork. I loved this. We do some learning on a tablet, but I wanted the majority of school time to be not using a screen.
Language intensive means there is lots of reading. This helps ensure that students’ brains become wired to understand words, not just images on a screen. In the early stages, this will mean a lot of reading aloud. The Well-Trained Mind stresses reading books to your children that are above their reading level. This increases their vocabulary and gets them used to a more complex sentence structure.
A Classical homeschool schedule is also very history intensive. I thought this was great. The suggested base resource for history in the early grades is the Usborne Book of World History. I love this book because it has a ton of pictures and simple, yet mature language describing the pictures. It makes history so easy! The authors of The Well-Trained Mind suggest doing one “spread” (two pages facing each other) for each day.
Growing Life Long Learners
If you are like me, one of your goals for your children is to light a fire in them for learning. You want your children to grow up constantly pursuing new knowledge and skills and doing it confidently. This is the goal of a classical education.
It starts with young children gathering, remembering, and sorting information. The elementary years are spent learning lots and lots of facts about lots and lots of things.
The best part is that a classical education can be so flexible. So, if you are studying life science and your child loves dolphins, then feel free to spend extra time on dolphins. Or a certain period of history.
A classical homeschool schedule will also emphasize the importance of learning basic math facts. As a former high school teacher, I can tell you, this is so important! I can’t tell you the number of students I had that didn’t know their basic addition, subtraction, multiplication, or division. They had to use a calculator for everything. I refused to let that happen to my children.
In elementary years, a classical education will focus on: history, science, writing, grammar, spelling, math, and reading. There are places for art, music, etc., but they are not the main focus.
Classical Homeschool Schedule
I thought it might be helpful for you to see how a classical homeschool schedule looks in real life. We don’t do everything exactly as the book suggests because…well, that’s the point isn’t it? To be able to change and customize your homeschool to fit your children?
Here is a breakdown of our classical homeschool schedule:
- Reading: 5 days
- Math: 5 days
- Writing: 2 or 3 days
- Science: 2 days
- Spelling: 2 days
- History: 2 or 3 days
- Music: 1 day
- Art: 1 Day
What We Changed
In The Well-Trained Mind, the authors suggest having four binders for the main subjects. Students create pages for the various topics they cover throughout the week. I chose to start with just one binder ans use dividers. This is much more manageable to start with. As the binder gets filled, I will separate it out into individual binders.
We are sticking with Horizons Math workbooks. I like how colorful they are and how the lessons are very quick and simple. There is also a lot of variety in each lesson, which I like. I think it is important to stick with a program as early as possible, to avoid missing anything along the way.
We use and HIGHLY recommend Addition Facts That Stick. It is a book that basically provides games to play with your child to help them remember their addition facts. The games are great. They use either a regular deck of cards or templates that are provided. They also make subtraction, multiplication, and division versions.
My daughter is a reluctant writer. I think it stems from her perfectionism, but for whatever reason, she isn’t into writing for writing’s sake. For this reason, I don’t do writing quite as often at this point. I also try to center it around things that interest her. The Well-Trained Mind recommends having students do copywork from classic literature that you are reading. Instead, I let my daughter choose a short sentence from one of her “fun books”. Right now, she is reading the Never Girl series, so her sentences might be about fairies or one of the characters.
The other thing she likes to write is short letters to her cousins that are the same age. I make some lines on a notecard, write out the greeting and sentences on a separate sheet of paper, then she copies it onto the notecard. This also incorporates spelling, grammar, and how to compose a letter all in one activity. I love multi-item activities.
For most other items, we follow the suggestions in The Well-Trained Mind. I am very happy with the peace and structure that a classical homeschool schedule has given us! I purchased The Usborne Book of World History and The Usborne Illustrated Encyclopedia of the Natural World. Both books are great and make covering history and science a breeze. To get ready for the library, I just look ahead a few pages and I know what topics to look up when we go.