Have you heard of loop scheduling? It works brilliantly for our family, keeping us moving along every day, but never feeling overwhelmed or frustrated. Here’s a brief synopsis of our loop schedule, plus a printable schedule for you to customize and try out for yourself!
As you probably know, we homeschool year-round, with six weeks on school and one week of restorative rest from bookwork. Wait, what? No summer break! Am I a crazy woman?
It’s possible that I’m cray cray, so yes, I accept that.
BUT, it may make a bit more sense if you read a bit more about Year-round Homeschool at the Cottage and why it’s actually more restful for us to take more frequent short break in the bookwork rather than lumping it all together in the summertime.
We’re also taking a more seasonal approach to life, and our homeschool is included in that! Our Gentle Back to School after a short break has us settling in nicely, without the flurry of stress that is usual for the back-to-school season.
Looping for us consists of a group of daily school subjects, and a group of subjects that are completed one per day, in a loop format.
Daily bookwork is very simple…
The daily subjects are the “Three R’s”. That is Reading, ‘Riting, and ‘Rithmathic. (Reading, writing, and math.) We also do music practice daily.
The golden rule of the daily schoolwork is “short and sweet”. It’s usually one to two chapters of literature that I have chosen, plus a written synopsis. If we are using Pathway Readers, they complete the corresponding workbook pages.
The synopsis must be brief, well-composed, with good handwriting, perfect spelling and punctuation. This is excellent practice for penmanship, grammar, spelling and general writing practice. It doesn’t take long to do this, and that’s the point! I want my children to know that they can produce something of quality in a short time, on a regular basis.
Math lessons are just one section per day, and take about half an hour. Little by little, we keep moving forward. We sometimes do flashcards for extra speed practice, but only when we need to spruce up on the basics. My kids love the flashcards because they feel like a race, and we do them in about 5 minutes.
Music practice is something new to our homeschool this year, and we’re playin’ ukuleles! They are so cute. We are still settling on good Uke resources, share if you have favorites! Uke practice is fun and brief, all about singing and playing and having fun. No scales, no drills. Just a jolly good time.
What’s on the loop schedule?
Every day we do ONE subject from our loop subjects. This Autumn, our loop subjects are History, Geography/Maps, Science, and Handiwork (crafts or painting.) We also have Poetry Tea Time every Friday, where poems are recited or read, treats are eaten, applause is given and bows are taken. We LOVE Poetry Tea Time, and I think every homeschool should have one!
One fantastic thing about just studying one of these subjects each day is that we really get time to dive into each one a lot more than if we were studying each one every single day.
For example, when we do a history lesson, we are able to look up in our other books all about the characters or time periods in the lesson, look at a lot of other illustrations, find areas on maps, and spend plenty of time talking about what we learned, all without the pressure to move on to several more subjects. History is a big story, and it needs discussing, not memorizing.
We’re studying North American Wildlife in Science at the moment, and we take a nature walk every Friday to collect samples and look for signs of animals and plants first hand. We’ll switch to Earth Science when snow arrives and the nature walks become less frequent.
With the loop schedule, we can change up the items on our loop as often as we need to. After studying maps for a while, we may switch to a more intensive grammar study. And when we finish with one history book, we are free to move to another era.
I re-write the loop schedule whenever anything changes, and the kids adore checking off their daily and loop items.
Honestly, I’m not really a person that is naturally drawn to checklists, as I prefer more of a routine and pattern based way of life. But, after watching Shaun the Sheep, and seeing the sheep dog do his daily checklists, it’s all they wanted. Yep, they asked for the checklist and they love checking off their work with gusto.
Self guided schoolwork
We choose schoolwork that is largely able to be accomplished without my constant instruction (although I am always nearby for guidance.) However, for our daily work, each kid is able to get out their books and put them in order and get started without me.
This is a huge blessing for me, as the mornings around here can be quite a whirlwind. The checklist provides a stability that is so helpful in making our mornings go smoothly. We are almost always done with our daily bookwork by noon!
We learn as a group…
Since we now have three students age 9, 7 & 5, it would be very challenging and rather pointless in my opinion to all have them learning separately from each other. Therefore, the subject on our loop are studied by all the students, just at different levels of comprehension. My older kids are able to remember more dates and lineage of history, and have a better understanding of what life was life during the stories of history. Our kindergartener just remembers the major players and architectures, and if they came before or after Jesus.
The same is true for science. We all study animals and plants of North America, but my bigger kids are much more interested in migratory patterns and habitat climates, while the five year old is interested in what different animals eat and when they will have babies.
There is always a rest on the horizon…
You may notice that I always have the date of our next scheduled break on every checklist. Not only is is reassuring to know that rest is coming, but it really keeps us excited for the future and looking forward to each day as one day closer to our time of rejuvenation. The days don’t seem to drag when you’re always on a countdown!
I made up a little checklist free printable for you, please feel free to print and fill in this schoolwork checklist with daily and loop items of your own! Just try it for a while and see if you think a loop schedule may be something that can work for your family. I have found that it provide the perfect balance between daily diligence and freedom to move in directions that interest us.
If you are already on a loop schedule or think you might like to give it a whirl, let me know in the comments, I’m always happy to chat!