14 Apr 2012

Our super simple AO schedule

AO Homeschoolers talk an awful lot about schedules. There are yahoo groups full of them. This one, for example, or this one. And yet, clearly, with all the constant chatter, there are some mums who are still dissatisfied.

I always get pretty bemused at all the discussion, because I seem to manage without fancy charts and checkboxes and clever bits, and I always wonder what people actually gain from all the extra work required to populate the charts or fill the workboxes or check that all the checkboxes are filled.

Now maybe I'm missing something patently obvious here. Admittedly, I have only one child, but I do have a pretty full time job as well as homeschooling Jemimah, so I figure that I don't have that much less to do than other people, and I really have the superdooper simplest homeschooling schedule around, I reckon.

For those of you who are interested, it consists of three documents - all of which you have seen before. I thought I'd show them to you here all together, and show you how I use them. Maybe one mumma somewhere might find them helpful. Maybe. If not, well there is always the yahoo groups, I guess.

Okay, this first document is the most important on a daily basis. It lives in a plastic pocket in our book basket near the sofa in the kitchen where we do most of our read alouds. The timetable tells me what to do each day, and ensures that I remember to do all those once weekly things that I would forget about otherwise - Shakespeare, Plutarch, composer and picture study...stuff like that. It is not rigid. Just because the timetable says do these subjects in this order doesn't necessarily mean that every day we will do that. Rather, it is a list of things that need to be done each day in order to cover the entire AO curriculum by the end of the week.

Our day is divided into four blocks, split by... ahem... coffee breaks really. During the first block we generally do a bit of a stretch routine - a good habit for daily life. In the second we have morning tea and a light snack - a home-made bikkie or a piece of fruit or celery and peanut butter or rice cakes and avocado most commonly. Jemimah generally eats this outside on the garden or in her cubby. I do some housework here! Lunch is the end of the next block. It follows maths, and we usually take about an hour. The final block of the day doesn't always get done. I wish it did. Once a week on a Wednesday we work together in our garden and mostly Jemimah prepares dinner using any vegies that are ripe.The end of the forth block is afternoon tea. We drink this from nice cups and sit together and chat. Once a week we read from a book on Practical Christianity.

Okay, within the block we divide the subjects so that disciplinary subjects are divided by inspirational topics. We never do maths and written narration in the same block, for example, or studied dictation and Plutarch. Jemimah reads aloud from one of the free reading books daily. This is called 'reading' on the timetable. The day begins with devotions, but this year Jemimah has been doing her private devotions alone in her room, and we don't begin actual school until she is finished. I was keen to remove this from school because I wanted her to think of her quiet time with her heavenly Father as an every day thing, not one that is only done during term time. I also wanted her to own her own private devotions, not to do them with me. But more on this in another post.

This timetable reminds me whether it is a French or a Latin day. It reminds me what songs to sing first, although we often sing all of our selections, not just the one that is written. I know to cover the weekly subjects, and it reminds me to do some handwork and music practice.

If you scroll down on this document, page two is the chart of arts subjects that I showed you last week. It lives behind the timetable in my plastic pocket because I only need to refer to this at the beginning of each month when our songs change to remind me what is next. It is really simple, but you can't believe how valuable it is. So that's document two.

On to document three.

Year 5 Timetable

Document three is one you've also seen before, our booklist. This is basically the AO booklist with our additions. I sort of explain how I prepare it here.

If you have a look at this document, you'll see that first there is a list of free reads still left to read. At the start of each term I remove the titles already read so the list gets progressively shorter. (Except that I often add a couple as well!) Below that are the weekly reads. Apart from Abe Lincoln's world which is read daily, there are about ten books to read each week. These are on the timetable simply as read alouds 1-10 so that we can decide which titles we want to read on a certain day. One of the titles will be a written narration, scheduled on a day when we have plenty of time. One day will include science, and we will need time to do any practical exercises, so we do that on a less busy day as well. If there are less than ten read-alouds on a particular week we might read a bit about our composer, or a bit of a our bedtime story. If there are 11 books (the maximum), we read a couple of shorter books together. This term in AO5 I expect that Jemimah will read one book per day herself and I will read the other. She can select which title we each read.

This list lives in the back of our plastic pocket, and sits beside me on the sofa while we go about our day. I am afraid I have made this sound more difficult that it is in reality, because it really is so easy. We check our daily subjects on the timetable, and insert each day's books from the booklist. By the end of the week it's all done.

Superdooper simple.

Year 5 Schedule


  1. Hi Jeanne! This is an easy schedule for you because you have done all the hard prep work. I know in my own organising of schedules that preparation really is the key, knowing what I'm doing and where I'm going. To be honest though I still haven't found my rhythm with following AO with 2 children in different years. I find it extremely difficult to choose which literature is right for my children. I'm really still just hoping I am doing the right thing. I would love someone to whiz through my choices and give me advice. Anyway, felt good to get that off my chest! xxx

  2. Thank you for this! I feel rather sheepish because I know that I don't cover some of the things that you do, like Latin and singing, but I arrange our "schedule" in a similar manner. Our is more a "List of Things to Do" than a real schedule. I love how you have your day broken into blocks. I wish I could do this with my children, but so often I find that if I move onto something other than school I have a hard time getting everyone "back to the table". But this is a good goal to aspire to in the long term!

  3. You're right. There is a lot out there! I think this year has been our simplest by far. My oldest is the only doing AO. (The other two are not ready...not sure it will ever be a good fit for them, actually.) Now, I just print off a list of what needs to be done at the beginning of the week and attach to a clipboard. I add paper and any worksheets that need to be done. (Gasp! Yes... we have those in our home.) My son is an early riser and very self-motivated. He usually starts school by 7:30 or 8:00. He heads to his room where his desk is and sets to work. I let him work at his own pace because we established good work habits in the early years. He usually finishes by 11:30. He chooses not to have a break because he's a work now play later kind of guy.

    It's simple. I like it this way. No schedules, no charts. Just a book list and a motivated child. I know I might be lucky with him. Anyway, that's how we roll in this house. It's kind of the same with the other two. Only, they still like breaks and I'm directing the work.

  4. You must be my Australian twin! Laid back and relaxed! I'm gonna try this to see if it helps us get our work completed. I am always forgetting something. lol Thanks for sharing!

  5. I used to schedule much like that, but it got too cumbersome with multiple children. (Too many pages to keep track of and carry around--we school all over the house and outside!) Since I have four different schedules to manage, I love the chart format that has the weeks' assignments for the whole term laid out in a chart that my printer will put on one sheet of paper front and back if I keep it to four pages or less. That means one page per child, week at a glance and term at a glance.

    I suspect you are right that some scheduling conumdrums could be avoided with a more relaxed attitude, but I do think that some of it has to do with having multiple children's schedules to manage. It adds a lot more complexity than you might think!

  6. Oh well, Kathy, it may be helpful to others! There are many one child homeschooling families...at least at first!

  7. Thanks Jeanne. For me the fascination with other peoples schedules/timetables is with how they fit h/sing into the rest of life. For example, when do you do your full-time job when you are timetabled with Jemimah for most of each day or when does cleaning /cooking get done? I would love to see your timetable along-side Jemimah's then I would know what she does alone and how you juggle your responsibilities.That would really help me. This year I am juggling a part-time job,a special needs child as well as the normal h/school/homemanagement load.

  8. I like to know what others are managing with their children at what ages. I like what you said about how you fit different tasks together, to balance the intense and the inspirational. I also like your summary of each term. I think that would be a good idea for me, and I try to do it but always seem to complicate it by entering too much detail, or filing it in my folder and ignoring it ... laminating the important pages is an excellent idea. I have some habits to change!!

    I rethink my timetable a few times a term, and plan too ambitiously, forgetting my kid's ages. I'm obviously not happy with how things are flowing yet, but I can say it's improving. Thanks, as always, for this glimpse into how you make things happen :)

  9. Hi there Jeanne...
    We have decided to embrace Charlotte Mason:)
    I have set out a VERY simple ( and I really mean simple) curriculum to get me started.
    It's something I will add to as the months go by. I really want to focus on habit training first...for all of us :)
    I would really apreciate your advice.
    Thank You!

  10. I'm a great believer in keeping it simple. Thanks for sharing Jeanne :)

  11. Jeanne, yes I homeschool an only too but you are certainly far more organized than me! I tend to just print off the AO weekly schedule and sub our Aussie stuff where needed. I then keep a weekly record for the powers that be so I can show them what we've done. I tend not too plan the whole year out because I'm not as knowledgeable about books, which is where you and others help me. So if I see somrthing that would work, I add that in during the year. I'm hoping to start on folk songs this year as we haven't gotten atound to that yet:( sorry about typos, blame the iPad!

  12. Hi Jeanne,
    This is just a wonderful insight into your homeschool structure. I too love to have as simple a schedule as I possibly can (I hope to blog about my own current one soon) but I find that my problem is that I get overly enthusiastic about what I want to cover each term ;) & slowly start to fall behind (not on all books, just some).

    May I ask - do you expect to actually get through all of the books you have scheduled within the school year? What if you have underestimated the time each book will take to read &/or overestimated how many hours a week you can give school (taking excursions, sickness etc. into account)?

    Have you culled books on your schedule as you travel through a year? Or have you just made sure you've eventually covered them by the time you begin the next year?

    I would love to hear your further thoughts :)


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