Home School Answers – How do you schedule a homeschool day?

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There are as many ways to schedule a home school day as there are home schoolers. What works for one family will not necessarily work for another. The important thing is to find a system that works for you. This is the system that I am implementing in my home school.

The Home School Tickler

A tickler file is an organizational system that allows you to create reminders for yourself and then file them away by the date they are due or next need action. In terms of home school organization, a tickler file can let you easily see how much work is assigned for each day, reschedule unfinished assignments with ease, and even add in fun extras without having to worry about fitting everything into the little square of a traditional calendar or planner.

There is one major drawback to this type of system. The detailed day-to-day and eve

n minute-by-minute scheduling that some people do is not included. Instead, a chunk of time is set aside each day and a list of things to be accomplished during that time is given. If only have 1 child that is doing formal school lessons at this point this system works well. When you add in more children you will probably need to do at least some minute-by-minute scheduling to coordinate times when one is working with mom and the others are doing independent work. At that point the ticklers can still be used to track what independent work has been done and, with a little training from mom, can even be updated and maintained by the students themselves.

Supplies Needed:

  • 3×5 card file box for each student
  • 3×5 card file day and month tabs for each student
  • multi-colored index cards (all one color works as well, see “Adaptations” below for why I prefer multi-colored)

How it works:

  1. Create an index card for each subject or resource that you are currently studying. On each card include how often it is used, how many chapters, pages, or sections are used at a time, and any other information that will help you keep track of the specific assignment.
  2. Put the tabs in the box, starting with the current date, and following inchronological order.
  3. File the index cards behind the tabs for the date that you would ideally like to finish each assignment. Remember, index cards can easily be moved to a different date if you find one day too full or don’t finish everything you intended.
  4. Each day, pull out the cards for that day and complete the assignments on the cards.
  5. At the end of each day all cards that represent a recurring assignment or subject can be refiled behind the next date you will need to do that type of assignment; one-time use cards can be tucked into the back of the box to be recycled into another assignment or tossed into the trash.


For our family, I am also color-coding the cards by type of assignment. Red cards are reading cards and show subjects that are mostly reading with narration afterward. Yellow cards are writing cards and show subjects that are mostly sit-down work like math and penmanship. Blue cards are doing cards and show subjects that are mostly hands-on work like music, art, and p.e. Having them categorized by color lets me see at a glance if we have a good balance of types of activities for the day.

Add each child’s house-hold duties to their tickler file as well. Green cards can be chore

cards that show tasks each child needs to carry out around the house. Again, include the frequency with which you expect the chore to be done, who is responsible for doing it, and instructions on how to do the job. A picture of what it should look like when it is done would also be helpful for children who are very visual.

If you plan a lot of field trips, add cards in the days that your field trips are scheduled for. This can act as a simple reminder that work might need to be kept light for that day. Want to include them in your color-coding? Just make them orange.

Other Scheduling Ideas

Don’t think the tickler file will work for you? Here are a couple of other places you can look for ideas.

  • Workbox System – This is a popular system among home schoolers who use a variety of methods and curricula. As far as I can tell, Sue Patrick’s Workbox System is most likely where it all started. Visit her site to buy her book or other products or you can check out this Working the Workboxes Squidoo lens for more information and links on what the system is.
  • Printables – Donna Young has shared many free printable resources on her website. Her Lesson Plan Forms page includes ideas for many different formats.
  • Online Scheduling– The CM Organizer from Simply Charlotte Mason is an online scheduling resource tailored specifically to those who are using a Charlotte Mason method for home school. Homeschool Skedtrack is a more general program that can be used by many different types of homeschoolers.
  • SoftwareHomeschool Tracker is downloaded to your computer and has a free version and a paid version.

How do you schedule your home school? Tell us what method you use to schedule your days and let us know what resources we might have missed.


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2 thoughts on “Home School Answers – How do you schedule a homeschool day?

  1. Thanks for sharing! I’ve never really heard of any homeschoolers using this system before. Can you give specific examples of what you might write on some of the different colored cards? How much time do you spend planning on a daily, weekly or monthly basis?

    Very interesting!

    • Jennifer Lavender

      Carletta, Thanks for commenting! I am still working out the details and putting it into practice, so I’ll be posting updates with more specifics as I go along. Feel free to subscribe to my blog to make sure you see those posts when they come through. Things that can be written on the cards could include how much to read, how often the resource is used, or the amount of time that should be spent on each subject. Since I’m just starting it’s hard to judge how much time is really spent on planning, since mostly it’s been on making the cards and getting set up. I keep a 36-week (1-year) plan for our curriculum printed out as a checklist. I’m hoping that most of the planning will be as simple as putting each card behind the next appropriate day as we go along, checking my master list for the next assignment and writing that on the card if I need to. Subjects like Math shouldn’t require any more time for specific lesson planning than they do now, and may be easier for me to track which lesson we are on. I am working on designing my cards right now, I want them to have pictures on them, and I will be posting those on this blog as a free download when they are ready to go.

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