How (and Why) To Use a Loop Schedule in Your Homeschool
Do you find yourself stressing about what you are or are not getting done in your homeschool? Does life always seem to interrupt your daily homeschool time and have you leaving subjects out to keep on schedule?!
That was us, too. I felt like our schedule was sucking all the fun and excitement out of our homeschool days. Something had to change.
Enter the homeschool loop schedule!
What is a Loop Schedule?
A loop schedule is a list of tasks, or in this case school subjects, that you want to cover. When we started using a loop schedule in our homeschool, my oldest daughter and I sat down together at the computer and wrote a list of all the subjects we wanted to cover during homeschool this year.
We did a little tweaking(which I talk about further down in “How to Create a Homeschool Loop Schedule”) and put our loop schedule up on our bulletin board.
Now, when it is time for school, we go check the list and start with whatever school subject is next. Here are the topics we added to our 2nd-grade homeschool loop schedule:
The subjects are not assigned a particular day like in other scheduling types. You simply have a list of what you want to cover in your homeschool and work through it as you go. When you finish your loop you go back to the beginning and start over.
The Benefits of a Homeschool Loop Schedule
One of the main complaints I hear from homeschool moms regardless of the age of their children is fitting everything into a day that they want to or think they need to.
You are supposed to complete math, science, history, and grammar on Tuesday, but little sister got sick and you had to take her to the doctor and you spent the rest of the day cuddling on the couch. There goes Tuesday’s homeschool schedule and another day of science missed. Science is only scheduled two days each week and something always comes up and it gets missed.
Does that sound familiar?
The problem with daily schedules is they put unnecessary pressure on you and your children to get a certain amount done each day. I don’t know about you, but I have enough stress and feelings of “getting nothing done” that I don’t need added homeschool stress on top of all the rest!
One of the main benefits of using a loop schedule in your homeschool is that it removes that burden of feeling like you have to accomplish so much in a certain time period.
Simply work down the list. If you have a banner day and get six subjects done….fantastic! If life interrupts and you only get one subject completed that day….fine. Just pick up where you left off the next day.
One thing that I have found since starting to use a loop is that we actually get more done than in previous schedules.
” The right schedule is the one that works for your family.”Surya, The Busy Mom Club
Our daily schedule is a little sporadic. When we do schoolwork, I always felt like we needed to start with math. Maybe because I was a math teacher, maybe because it’s a core subject, I don’t know. What I found is that
1) my daughter doesn’t always want to start with math, so that left us having an argument about school or me feeling stressed that we weren’t doing enough and
2) other subjects (art, writing, geography, music, etc,) get pushed aside and often left for weeks at a time because all our focused time got used up with math and grammar.
Having the list tell me that it is in fact time to work on music, art, or science somehow releases all that stress about making sure we cover math, etc. and I actually enjoy teaching these subjects now.
Yesterday, we did a science unit on air. We read the text and did 3 short experiments from The Good and the Beautiful’s Meteorology unit. It was fantastic! The girls enjoyed it. Everyone participated. They learned a lot. And I enjoyed it because I was given permission to be doing science without feeling like I should be doing something else.
Thank you homeschool loop schedule!
I also love the idea of a loop schedule because it is completely customizable to your family.
You can add in any subject that you want, as often as you want. You can loop certain subjects in their own, mini-loops, creating a totally customized schedule for each child. And it all takes about 5 minutes to set up.
After her older sister had a loop schedule, my kindergartner wanted her own. I kept it simple, but it has gotten her more interested in doing school activities more often.
Is a Loop Schedule Right for Your Homeschool?
Let me just start by saying that a loop schedule is not for everyone.
Some families thrive on habits and they like the feeling of starting their day with the same subject or always doing a certain subject after lunch, etc. If this is you, that is totally fine! (You might check out the multi-loop schedules at the bottom of this post.)
There is no right or wrong schedule. The right schedule is the one that works for your family.
It could also be that some of your students work best on a loop schedule and some of them work better on a daily schedule. I can definitely see a daily schedule coming back into play as my kids get older and are able to do more each day.
Right now, though, that stamina is just not there.
Here are some hints that a loop schedule might be worth a try:
> You keep skipping subjects because you “ran out of time for the day.”
> You have young children and the amount of time you have to spend on homeschooling various drastically from day to day, without notice.
> Your child(ren) crave variety and don’t want to start with the same subject every day.
If any of these sound like your house, then a loop schedule just might be the answer you are looking for.
How to Create a Homeschool Loop Schedule
Ok, you’re ready to start using a loop schedule in your homeschool. Great! Let’s create a customized schedule just for your family.
It’s going to take about five minutes!
Here are the steps to create a basic loop. I suggest this if you are just starting to use a loop schedule or if you have elementary-aged children. If you want a more complex, double loop schedule, just skip down a bit.
Creating a Basic Loop
First, write down a list of ALL the subjects you want to cover in your homeschool this year. I wrote mine on the computer because it makes it easier to adjust in the next step and my daughter wanted to make it pretty.
Next, take the subjects that you want to cover more often (ie., math, grammar, history, etc.) and add them throughout your list as often as you want to cover them. I tried to kind of spread them out evenly.
Try to avoid something like:
Get the idea?
Here is a peek at our 2nd-grade loop (the handy checkboxes are an option if you make a bulleted list in Word/PowerPoint, etc.):
Creating a Multi-Loop Schedule
Let’s say you have some subjects that you really do want to cover every other day or so. A basic loop isn’t really set up to handle that. But, a multi-loop schedule is just as simple to make up and allows for more frequent coverage of your chosen subjects.
Here we go.
Let’s say you want to cover math and grammar more than any other subjects. They get put in their own loop. Now, there are only two subjects in that loop and you’ll hit them quite frequently.
Your second loop might be your second-tier subjects, say, reading, history, science. Great, put them in their loop.
Then, you might make a fine arts loop. It might include art, music, dance.
So, when you put your loops together, your homeschool days would look something like this:
fine arts loop
Now under each loop, you’d have your order of subjects. So, the first time through the loop would look like this:
art (fine arts)
Then, you would go to the next subject in each loop:
Now, when you run through your loops a third time, you are back to math for the core loop, but onto science and dance for the other two loops:
This ensures that your core subjects get covered more often, but still allows time for those extra “fun” subjects that often get pushed aside for the sake of “keeping up.”
Once you get the hang of creating loops, there really is no end to how you can customize your schedule.
I have seen some families that use looping inside of a daily schedule. For example, they might do Bible study every morning or read-aloud time first thing, then go into their loop(s).
That schedule might look something like this:
morning read-aloud time
core subject loop
I think, as my kids get older, and we move towards some semblance of consistency, this is the type of loop I would like to adopt. Only time will tell if life agrees!
Other Ways to Use a Loop Schedule
Once I started thinking about a loop schedule for my homeschool, it dawned on me that this type of schedule could be used for others around the house.
Some of the other areas that I would like to try to use a loop are:
- meal planning ( kind of already do this, but I think I could tweak it a bit with loops)
- deciding who’s turn it is to “choose” whatever
It also occurred to me that we already use loops in our home for some things. And, then it quickly occurred to me that the areas we do use loops are the areas that run the smoothest.
Our children are young, but the one area they consistently help around the house is with feeding our dog. A few months ago, we assigned each kid 2 days a week to feed the dog. We just went down their names and they got a day. Now, when it’s their day, there is no complaining. They just feed the dog.
The other area we have used a loop and didn’t realize it is with the TV.
I know they say screens before bed is not a good idea, but our kids watch one TV show at night before they get ready for bed.
This really helps them stay still, have a snack, stop arguing, and relax before bed. But, with three kids, there was always arguing over who got to pick the show.
So, we just started going down the line. One kid picks one night, the next one down picks the next night.
I actually can’t remember the last time they argued about picking a TV show. fantastic.
Use What Works for You
I hope you have found this information about using a loop schedule in your homeschool helpful. There is no right or wrong schedule – just the schedule that works best for your family. And that schedule might change over time, too. So, find something that works and use it….until it doesn’t work anymore and then find something new.
Did you find this post helpful? Be sure to share it with your friends who struggle with their homeschool schedules.