Being FLEXuled: Balancing Being Flexible and Scheduled

Guest post by Jennifer of Dear Homeschooler.


Dear Homeschooler,

FLEXuldedAre you the hyper-organized type, planning every minute of every school day? Or are you a go-with-the-flow kind of person, harvesting precious teaching moments whenever they arise?

I admit, I tend toward the former. Anyone who knows me at all is not surprised: I like planning, organizing, and assessing, and that comes across in my approach to teaching. However, having been a special education teacher, I also understand the importance of being aware of the needs of my students and adjusting my teaching methodologies (and timetable) if it is in their best interest.

The beauty of homeschooling is that we get to choose how teach. Some of us are super scheduled, and others of us are super flexible, but we have one thing in common: we want what’s best for our students. I believe there is value in both approaches:

Reasons to be Scheduled:

  • Being scheduled helps us to stay on-track during the day to make sure all our daily lessons get completed.
  • Being scheduled provides a well-rounded day, making sure that an appropriate amount of time is devoted to each subject.
  • Being scheduled helps us meet our goals (e.g. finishing curriculum, attendance days, etc.).
  • Being scheduled provides a routine for both students and teachers, so each one knows what lessons are coming and when lessons are finished.
  • Being scheduled ensures that the school work doesn’t drag on, guaranteeing true free time after lessons are completed.

Reasons to be Flexible:

  • Being flexible allows us to take advantage of spontaneous learning opportunities.
  • Being flexible gives us the ability to nurture our student’s interests for the sake of engagement and learning.
  • Being flexible allows us as teachers to devote more time to challenging lessons to ensure skill acquisition.
  • Being flexible with the time-table, adding breaks when needed, may increase our student’s ability to stay more focused in the long run.

So, it is in the best interest of our students to be FLEXuled: both flexible and scheduled in our school day.

How do we do this?

I know it sounds like having a snowball fight in the summer, but it can be done:

  1. Plan: Create and map lessons per your curriculum choices.
  2. Make a schedule: This can be as detailed as delineating every school minute into subject blocks or as informal as having a checklist of tasks or lessons that need to be completed each day.
  3. Watch for the signs: Pay attention to your student’s responses to instruction. Watch for signs of boredom, wiggles, high-engagement, attitude-changes, resistance, and frustration, to name a few.
  4. Be Flexible: STOP and respond to your student’s needs. Take a break. Incorporate a sensory/movement aspect to the lesson. Spend more time on a challenging lesson. Fast-track a lesson that they acquire quickly. Dig deeper into lessons that capture your student’s interest. The list of interventions is endless.
  5. Adjust schedule: Take a moment to readjust the schedule. You may have to have a shorter or longer school day or reschedule certain lessons to later in the week, but it is worth it!

We can be FLEXuled!

As I mentioned earlier, I am a super scheduler. I remember a particular instance last year. I had allotted 10 minutes for our daily spelling drill, which has proven to be an adequate amount of time. My son, “ZooKid”, who is a pretty good speller, was struggling one week completing this activity in 30 minutes. WHAT??? How long does it take to write 10 words? He was distracted and had a bad attitude. After 3 days of this, I realized (finally!) that he was bored. I had to find ways to increase his engagement in spelling. Some of my ideas fit in the time-frame I had allotted (window markers, themed drill pages, etc.), but some (using alphabet beads, letter magnets, stamps, etc.) took longer. Incorporating these activities into spelling was the best solution for ZooKid. He loved spelling class again and was now focused and had a great attitude. I had to make adjustments for this intervention, but we were better off for it.

So, I believe we can be both organized and free-spirited in our teaching, creating the perfect balance between structure and creativity in our attempt to meet all our student’s needs. I’d love to hear about your experiences of being FLEXuled or your plans to be FLEXuled!

Till Next Time,




About the Author

profileJennifer Myers is a wife, mother of two beautiful children, and Christian home educator. She worked for 5 years in the public system as a special education teacher in an intensive program for students with autism. When her own kids started school, she decided to homeschool them, applying her experience in creating personalized education plans, curriculum development, teaching methodologies, and interventions. Realizing not all home educators have the same educational background, Jennifer is dedicated to sharing her experiences and building a community of home educators to grow together through her blog Dear Homeschooler. You can also follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.


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Homeschool Organization for the Artful Stacker

One of those big homeschool myths is that we homeschool moms are oh-so-organized. Some are, and some aren’t, depending on personality and preference. I am not one of the naturally organized people in our world, so getting (and keeping) my homeschool in order can be a real challenge. I probably know which pile of stuff next week’s textbook is in, but to everyone else the bookshelf looks like a mess; and that’s probably not the example I want to set for my kids. Here are my experiences along with a few tips for organizing your homeschool, especially for the organizationally challenged mom.

Homeschool Organization for the Artful Stacker

Homeschool Organization for the Artful Stacker

Fortunately, I do love lesson planning! That means I’ve got no problem sitting down with a notebook and calendar and planning out the coursework over an entire school year. I also enjoy transferring that information to a homeschool planning program, either online or using software and spreadsheets; so all that hard work is saved and stored and can be pulled up at any time. I’m a longtime fan of Homeschool Tracker, and another fantastic online planner is Homeschool Planet.

  • Tip #1 – Decide what you need to accomplish in your homeschool and make a plan for getting it done. Whether you use pencil and paper, online tools, or a combination, the first step is knowing what you’ve got to work with and what needs to be done. This can be as simple as “one chapter of the history curriculum each week for 36 weeks” or can be detailed down to specific page numbers, whatever level you are comfortable with. If lesson planning and record-keeping is not your forte, simpler is probably better!

Now that all the coursework has been planned and organized, the real challenge begins. Keeping all the books and school supplies organized; and staying on top of the grading and record-keeping. Here’s where those online planners really come in handy for me. I find it more manageable to check off assignments and plug in grades in one program (and let the planner do the math when it’s time to calculate an average and issue a report card!) than to hand-write in a teacher’s log. My personal goal is to get it updated once a week. In a perfect world, I do it every school day, but that doesn’t usually work in my real world. I often get way behind my once-a-week goal too, but that is what I strive for.

  • Tip #2 – Check your student’s work regularly and often. If you are keeping grades, do your best to write down or enter their scores on assignments and tests as they do them. Tick it off the list when it’s done, or better yet, let your kids tick off their own lists.
  • Tip #3 – Make use of routines and deadlines to stay on top of things. For us, Tuesday is library day, because that’s the day we almost always go into town at least twice anyway. Since that’s the day I stop at the library, all our library books are due on Tuesdays. It’s part of the routine now, and I very seldom have overdue books any more. I’ve been less successful with making sure grading gets done every Friday afternoon, but it does help! Many of us that aren’t naturally organized also forget where we put that form we need to fill out until the day it’s due; or that there even was a deadline for signing up for that co-op class or field trip. Personally, I work harder and faster as I see a deadline approaching (or passing… can I get an Amen?) so writing deadlines and due dates on my calendar and on my planner and anywhere else it might be relevant helps me see what’s coming up, and hopefully adjust accordingly.

We don’t have a room dedicated to homeschooling, so our books need to be kept in the places where we do our work. I have a section of my bookshelf  and a crate beside my desk where I keep my answer keys, teacher’s editions, and other resources. My kids each have a desk in their room and are expected to keep their schoolbooks in or on their desk, even if they cart books to other places in the house when they are using them. Do books get left on the dining room table or on precarious stacks beside my desk? Yes, pretty much every day, but since there IS a designated place for it, we can put it away quickly.

  • Tip #4 – Make it easy to get your books when you need them. Wall-to-wall bookshelves with all the titles arranged alphabetically or by Dewey decimal system is nice, but will it stay organized and will you be able to find the book you need quickly? Keep only the books you are currently using out, and keep them wherever is handiest for whoever is using them. Store the textbooks you already have for some future time out of the way. (I need to do a better job of this one!)
  • Tip #5 – Train kids to take responsibility for their own schoolwork and supplies. Little ones can learn where to put their science reader when they are done with it, and to put the date on their workbook pages as they finish. As they get older, they can be responsible for keeping all their school things together and organized, maybe even for checking their own work against the solutions manual on occasion.

During the summer, we are in the transition of putting away the schoolbooks we are finished with and setting up for the next school year. What do we keep and for how long? When my kids were little, of course I wanted to keep every sweet art project they put together, and every cute story they wrote. Obviously that became cumbersome, and eventually I had to admit that we weren’t likely to look at those keepsakes very often. A homeschooling friend once shared her system – at the end of each school year, she got a clean cardboard pizza box for each kid, and chose only the papers that would fit in the box to keep. The edge of the box could be labelled with the name, grade, and year, and they stacked very neatly in her attic or whatever. I’ve been using magazine boxes to do basically the same thing. To sum up, keep only the most important highlights once you’ve finished your school year. In general, the records are more important than the actual books once they get to high school.

  • Tip #6 – Don’t feel guilty about chucking the completed workbooks once they are completed. Limit how much schoolwork you keep from previous years. Consider taking a photo of your student with their kitchen table sized styrofoam model of the solar system and then get rid of the styrofoam.

Are you naturally organized or are you an “artful stacker” like me? What are your best tips for keeping your homeschool organized?



Kym (9 Posts)

Kym is in the middle of her 17th year of homeschooling her four kids, two of whom have graduated. She and her husband of 27 years are Canadians transplanted to Maryland. Kym loves coffee, history, and homeschooling, and you can join her for coffee break at her blog, Homeschool Coffee Break.

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Frugal Year-Round Homeschooling Planner

Guest post by Clarissa of clarissarwest.com.
We homeschool year-round. Up until now, we always just went with the flow of our family‘s needs without using a planner. This has left my type-a personality freaking out a little, so I have searched for a homeschool planner that would work for our style of schooling.


We school January through December. Because of medical reasons, we end up taking several weeks off from school throughout the year and then we reserve a 6-week planned break for the major Holiday season at the end of the year. I have been wanting to better plan our breaks and try to keep our doctor/therapy appointments on the weeks we take off from school.

Frugal Year-Round Homeschooling Planner

Most homeschool planners are from June of one year to June of the next. I would much rather use a planner that uses the traditional 12-month calendar year. Most homeschool planners are also missing key elements that I would like in a homeschool planner. Elements I never even knew I needed until I found the perfect planner for our year-round homeschool schedule!

I have recently found an inexpensive, yet awesome Mead planner that has helped me plan our school year better. I want to share with you all of the reasons I love this planner and the simple way I have used it to plan our year-round homeschooling.

The Mead planner has a 3-year reference calendar at the front and a list of important dates (major holidays for the USA and Canada), these two elements have been a huge blessing to me! The rest of the planner consists of each month, January-December covering a 2-page spread. A to-do list down the side of each month is perfect for jotting down notes or plans for the month.

One of the best parts of this simple planner is that each week is numbered throughout the year. For those of us who homeschool January through December, this works great! Being able to glance at the planner and see which week of the year we are in compared to which week of homeschool lessons, lets me know quickly if we are on the right track.

At the back of the planner, is a 2-page spread for future planning. This consists of each month of the following year, with horizontal lines beside it to write in ideas. This is great for those of us who are constantly thinking of next year’s curriculum or schedule.


There are a few pages for recording usernames and passwords, as well as contacts in the back. This can be used to keep track of online membership sites used for our homeschool. The space for contacts can be used to keep track of homeschool companies that we love and order from frequently.

All of this comes in a nice folder-style cover. It is very thin, so it doesn’t take up much space on our bookshelf where I store it. There are several Mead planners to choose from, so you are sure to find one that works for your homeschool.

Here is how I am using it:

I decided to look at the reference calendar on the first page and use a highlighter to highlight the entire week of all major USA holidays that fall on a weekday. Those are our planned weeks off. I love that I can glance at the entire year and see which weeks we are not doing school. This makes scheduling doctor appointments or family vacations super easy.

For us and the holidays we will celebrate, we ended up with 14 planned weeks off throughout the year. This leaves 38 weeks for school. Most of our curriculum is 34-36 weeks worth of lessons, so we are left with 2-4 weeks extra throughout the year. This will give us the weeks we need in case of a medical crisis.

Do you homeschool year-round? How do you plan the year? Have you found a planner that works for year-round homeschooling?


Clarissa writes at www.clarissarwest.com . She is a Christian, wife, homeschooling mama, homemaker, and freelance writer.






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