High School Scheduling — Some Non-Traditional Options
High school scheduling for homeschoolers
When was the last time you thought about the best way to schedule your school days? Six subjects, one hour each per day, five days a week — ho hum. Maybe it’s time to ask some questions about scheduling!
Why are high school subjects scheduled in choppy little sections? What do colleges do? And what works best? Here are a few questions to consider as you think about high school scheduling.
- Does it work well?
- What does it accomplish?
- Is an hour enough time for a student to grow interested in a subject, hear a lesson, and do the associated work?
- Does this format work equally well for all subjects?
- Is this the best format for your student’s learning style?
- If this is the best way for students to study a subject, why are college classes not scheduled this way?
Block or college-style scheduling
When we were doing school with the boys, I often chose to use different scheduling styles. We found that while the daily style of scheduling was efficient for repetitive, rote subjects such as math, a college- or block-style schedule was often more interesting and effective for classes in the humanities. As they got older we would often choose to do history and literature on Monday and Wednesday; math and science on Tuesday and Thursday. Friday was for field trips and errands.
Another option is what a nearby military academy calls the “One Subject Plan.” They divide the school year into five seven-week terms, and during each term the students study only one subject. This intensely focused immersion style of learning is what we have used when we wanted to learn something independently. I have used it for academic, business, and home-centered subjects, and the boys have used it to learn about subjects ranging from the Civil War to classical music, computer programming, HVAC, and con-worlding. I would consider this type of scheduling to be related to delight-directed study or unit study scheduling.
Year-round schooling is another scheduling option that works well for many families. They choose to school for ten weeks on, three weeks off, or some variation, and it works quite effectively. This schedule adapts well to frequent travel or other unusual situations, and can help families keep a regular routine going all year, rather letting it all go for three months and having start fresh each fall.
Inspired by the idea of the sabbath — one day off after every six days of work — some homeschoolers have chosen to do six weeks of school and one week off, creating a one-week sabbath from school all through the year. The week off is a time when you can assess what is working and what isn’t, take special field trips, do creative projects, or just enjoy being off. This may be the most sensible idea of all!
Block scheduling or the one subject plan can allow time for students to immerse in a topic and get some serious work done. By the time students reach high school age, their brains are sufficiently well developed that they can easily skip a day — especially in subjects they enjoy — without forgetting material covered. The one-hour schedule, on the other hand, can be frustratingly short for subjects that would benefit from a longer period of concentration or practice.
The point of all this is to remind us all that we need to consider what works best with our family life and our student’s learning needs, rather than just doing what is traditional. After all, education is about thinking and purposeful planning!