Creating a Schedule Is Easier Said Than Done (But These 3 Tips Can Help) ⏰

By Ann Dolin | Out of School

Apr 22

Today, I want to share some helpful tips for creating a schedule that works for your household—but before I do, I need to take a quick moment to draw something important to your attention. 

As you may have heard, the College Board canceled the June SAT test. Whether or not this affects their testing plan, we highly recommend all sophomores and juniors use this time to move forward with test prep so they can achieve their best possible score later. 

To help, we’re offering a VIRTUAL mock SAT this Saturday. Students can take the mock SAT at home, under timed conditions, and with a proctor present (via Zoom). They’ll gain familiarity with the types of questions and pacing, so they can be ready for test day later this summer or fall. We’re also offering virtual, one-on-one sessions with test prep tutors to help students stay on track and prepare for the SAT. If your child is a sophomore or junior, please click below to learn more about those services.

Now--on to today's helpful hints! One of the most common tips we’ve seen for people navigating quarantine life and virtual schooling is to “create a schedule.” A schedule can help you maintain a sense of control, normalcy, and predictability when your family needs it most. 

But creating a schedule—especially right now—is easier said than done. There’s no “one-size-fits-all” solution, and it takes time to find what works best for your family. If your attempts to create a schedule keep falling flat, try the following tips to find a rhythm that suits your family’s needs. 


Pick a Schedule That Fits Your Personality—And Your Child’s

When it comes to time management, people typically fall into one of two categories: the quiet clock or the loud clock.

“Loud clocks” seem to have a knack for time management. They’re generally aware of what time it is throughout the day, how long projects will take, or how much time is left before an upcoming deadline. Loud clocks thrive on clearcut schedules and feel best when their day is blocked out and planned ahead of time.

“Quiet clocks” don’t have that same awareness of time. This doesn’t mean they’re lazy, unproductive, or unskilled; they simply don’t have a strong internal clock that keeps track of passing time. They may find it harder to follow a strict schedule and prefer looser routines that don’t come with hard and fast boundaries.

When you’re trying to figure out a schedule that works for your family, take your personality—and your child’s—into account. If you’re a “loud clock” parenting a “quiet clock,” you may find yourself frustrated as you try to force your child to follow a strict schedule. Consider shifting from scheduled time blocks to more general rhythms and routines.

If you’re a “quiet clock” parenting a “loud clock,” you may find your child is floundering a bit without clear expectations for their day. Consider whether a more structured schedule would make him or her feel more comfortable.


Encourage Older Children to Take Ownership

While young kids may thrive on being told how the day will go and what’s expected from them, this level of oversight won’t always go over well with older kids. 

Instead of forcing your high schooler into a specific schedule, I recommend asking intentional questions that encourage them to take ownership of their responsibilities and day. You can ask questions like:

  • Tell me what you’ve got going on today. What do you hope to get accomplished?
  • What are your priorities during quarantine? How can you work on those today?
  • On a scale of 1-10, how motivated do you feel right now? Why do you think you feel that way? 
  • Which subjects do you need to tackle today? Which one would you like to do first?
  • What do you like about our routines and rhythms so far in this quarantine? Is there anything you think we could do better?

These conversation starters encourage independence and responsibility while also cutting back on the tension that arises from disagreements over the minute details of your day-to-day schedule.


Adjust Expectations and Get Help If You Need It

In a normal school day, there is a lot of “filler” that happens throughout the day—from socializing to changing classes to eating lunch. No one can work for eight straight hours, and you may be surprised to know many homeschooling families only devote a few hours a day to actual instruction. And that’s okay! 

Instead of expecting your middle schooler to stay in their room all day and do their work, ask them to focus on schoolwork for just 25 minutes at a time, a few times a day. This is more realistic and still offers sufficient study time to stay on track academically.

On the other hand, if your child has little or no assigned work, they may need your help finding some activities to keep them engaged. In my free ebook on homeschooling during this crisis, I share a handful of great online resources you can check out to fill your child’s days in a productive way. You can click here to download that.

If you need some extra help, we also offer virtual homeschooling sessions. You can be completely hands-off and leave the homeschooling to a professional tutor—whether your child has a long list of daily assignments, optional work, or nothing at all! We have flexible options, ranging from daily sessions to as-needed support, all conducted virtually to keep your family safe. Just click below to learn more and match your child with their ideal learning coach.