Updated for 2021 – we’ve now been using this homeschool checklists system for NINE YEARS! See the base of the post for how it’s translated to self-managing university study.
I am not the most organised person. I am a spontaneous, do-what-I-feel-like-when-I-feel-like-it sort of person. The idea of scheduling each day, hour by hour, makes me hyperventilate.
But I still need to keep track of what I need to do, and so do my children. Even though we’re fairly relaxed we use curriculum and we all have structured goals and like to make progress with what we’re learning.
So, like most people, we needed a homeschool routine, not a homeschool schedule. Something that would let us know what we want and need to do each week, without tying it to strict days and hours (because that NEVER works at home).
And so we came up with these simple homeschool checklists. Yes, these are real lists – can you tell by the crumples?
Forrest’s list, just turned 7 years old
When they have a workbook or activity book they would like to add to the list they decide when they would like to have it finished. We work out how many weeks that is, and divide the pages in the book by weeks available. This gives them the minimum they need to do to achieve their goal.
One square on the list usually equals one page. Alternatively, it may be more convenient to divide a resource up into units or chapters – if so, they get a square each.
Often they have activities they would like to remember to do. Currently, these include violin practice, hooping, creative writing and skipping. They decide how many sessions they would like to do per week, and draw one square per session. They each draw up their own lists (bonus handwriting and spelling practice!) and stick on the the wall. See them drawing them up in our Day in the Life.
If they do extra pages or sessions they add a star. There have been many weeks when a child is inspired, and ends up proud of the 15 maths stars they managed to do!
Sometimes, someone will decide to make a list for everyone. They’re flexible.
This has worked beautifully for years now. The lists go up where we can easily see them, enabling them to see at a glance what they’ve done, and what they would still like to do, this week.
Us parents can also see them, and give a gentle reminder when a week is nearing its end but a list is looking empty. A page of work is generally not difficult, and it gives them a great sense of satisfaction to jump up and cross off multiple squares at once. They also enjoy working hard on Monday and Tuesday and having the rest of the week free!
Working from homeschool checklists also enables us to be flexible – if we have days when not much work can be done because we’re out at homeschool group, or travelling, then this can be accounted for over the course of the whole week, with no rescheduling required.
In fact, during a particularly busy few years, I also combined our homeschool checklists with a loose weekly schedule – I detailed our flexible homeschool schedule here and in the video below.
I used to keep our homeschool checklists for my own records, but as I’m not required to and space is limited by caravan life we throw them out at the end of every week. I imagine they could be kept as part of learning evidence for registration purposes in some areas.
And of course, sometimes they decide they’ve just had enough. That’s OK too – there are plenty of other things to be done on weeks off!
And how has this translated to independent organisation now my children are teens?
Well, check out Gabrielle’s whiteboard – she manages full-time university study, volunteering, a busy social life, AND tracks driving hours with this and Google Calendar.
She’s managed to combine organisation, accountability and pride in progress in one small whiteboard. It’s a pretty good effort!
Overall, I think we can call our homeschool checklists a success. They’re quick, they’re easy, they’ve lasted for years, and they WORK.
If you need a simple way to reach your homeschool goals and stick to a loose routine and rhythm, give homeschool checklists a try. And please let me know if you do, I’d love to see them.