Homeschool flow charts are my homeschooling secret weapon. You can bet that after so many years spent homeschooling so many kids, I’ve tried a plethora of approaches to how we run our school days, but a flow chart has been the one thing to bring us consistent peace and direction. You can have the same kind of calm and purpose in your homeschool, too.
The Difference Between Schedules and Flow Charts
First, let’s look at the difference between schedules and flow charts. A schedule is governed by a time frame, and its intent is to be followed hour-by-hour. Schools and organizations must stick to a schedule by utter necessity, and sometimes families must, as well. Alarm clocks exist to help us get our day going on time for all of the appointments we must keep.
In contrast, a flow chart is more of a guide for what to do next. While a schedule tells you exactly when it will be done (i.e., from 1:00 to 2:00 we will work on our algebra), a flow chart is a list of what needs to be accomplished and the order in which those things will be tackled. Instead of running our homeschool by the hours (breakfast at 8, math at 8:30, English at 9:30, etc.), I make a list and we conquer each task as we go:
Homeschool Flow Charts
- Mom’s Time (i.e., I’m not quite awake and ready to see small people yet, so give me some space in my room)
- Breakfast and Clean-Up
- Current Events
- 15-Minute Break
- Lunch and Clean-Up
- Science or History
- Free Time
- Chores and Dinner Prep
- Dinner and Clean-Up
- Hang Out or evening activities away from home
- House Quiet: screenless, quiet activities like reading
We typically have a start time so that we don’t laze away the morning and look up to find it’s noon. A start time helps the family know that they need to be up and dressed in time to hit the dining room with their bowls of cereal and be ready to start the day.
Before I learned that a flow chart approach was a better option for our homeschool, I lived and died by a homeschool schedule. There are many amazing planners available, however, they didn’t work for us.
It didn’t take long before I realized that I had become a really mean mom. I seemed to be always watching the clock, yelling for kids to stay on the appropriate task at the appropriate time.
“Hurry! We have 3 more minutes!”
“Stop messing around! If you don’t knock it off, we won’t get to Visual Latin in time!”
It wasn’t good for us at all.
How Flow Charts Save the Day
In sheer desperation one night, I made a list of what had to be done and then I listed everything in an order that made sense. I figured out roughly what we could accomplish before lunch at noon, and what could be done during naps. I knew how dinner was going to play out and that we wanted to get the house picked up before sitting down to eat.
If you’re using a flow chart instead of a daily schedule, what do you do when there are errands to run or classes to attend or lessons or sports practices? Flow charts carry on as best they can with the interruptions.
Sometimes individual subjects get done in the car or the waiting room. In many seasons I had a flow chart for some days when we were home and hard schedules for the days of the week that saw us running to sports practices or music rehearsals.
This type of organization worked well for us. Instead of being run by the clock and a task-master spreadsheet, I run the by the chart. It works for us. Because there is flexibility built in, we aren’t derailed by unexpected illnesses or the tyranny of the urgent. Best of all, it makes me a nice mom. That’s a pretty great secret weapon!
Author, Kendra Fletcher
Kendra Fletcher is a mother of 8, speaker, author, and 22-year homeschool veteran. She is the author of Lost and Found: Losing Religion, Finding Grace, and Leaving Legalism, and she regularly writes for Key Life Ministries. The Fletchers reside in California, where they play in the Pacific Ocean as often as possible. Find her here: www.kendrafletcher.com.