Create the Perfect Daily Homeschool Schedule with Pomodoro

The past few years I have used a daily homeschooling method that has completely revolutionized our homeschool! And I don’t say that lightly. We went from chaos, not getting enough work done in a day, struggling to keep up with all the subjects, to producing results, achieving completed assignments, finishing complete works of literature, etc. 

What we found is called the Pomodoro Method. And I think once you learn the technique, it will be revolutionary for you and your homeschool, as well. 

But first, some background….

One thing I’ve struggled with off and on throughout our homeschool journey is how to create a daily schedule. It’s not just about planning out the day, as in when to wake up, get ready for the day, get school work done, lunch, etc. You also have to plan out exactly what subjects you are going to have your kids work on, and when. When you have little ones this is especially necessary because you have to figure in when they will be having naps, and when you will have time to focus on helping an older child (or children) with their school work. 

In trying to come up with solutions as my children grew and their needs changed, we have used a few different plans along the way. Most were successful, for a time. But eventually I, or the kids, tired of the routine (or lack of one) and it fell by the wayside. What we were left with was chaos and frustration.

When we first started homeschooling was the hardest. I had pictured in my mind that I would give the kids their books or worksheets, and I would quickly teach them the lesson and get them started, and then they would just do the work. I laugh at myself now when I look back at my naivety. What happened pretty much everyday was after I would finish teaching something to one child, and try to move on to something else with another, the first child would need my help again. I would end up frantically bouncing around from kid to kid to try to help them get something done. And then the baby would cry, or wake up from their nap, or get into something…. It was chaos. Somehow we managed to get a little bit done, but I couldn’t keep up with that routine for our entire homeschooling journey. I knew something had to be done. We needed a schedule. 

Next, I stumbled onto workboxes. If you haven’t heard of those, they are basically drawers or bins that you place each assignment from each different subject in. When the kids have worked through each bin, they are done for the day. And you can mix in some fun stuff as well, like a snack in one, something to build in another, to breakup the day. It was fun and the kids enjoyed it. But the problem with this method for me was having to set it up each day, complete with instructions for each bin. Sometimes the book or assignment just didn’t fit in the box, so I’d have to leave a sticky note explaining what to do. And eventually, I had less time to fill the bins every evening or early morning, and then the bins just got in the way. It was fun while it lasted.

The next method was a variation of the Workboxes. I used folders for each of my kids. In their folders I would type out a schedule for the week that listed all the assignments they had to get done, and then also any worksheets, maps and tests for the week. Then as they worked they would check off the work. Sounds great. But this, too, fell short. I again ran into the problem of not having time to plan out each subject for them. Usually I had to look at all their books to check where they left off and have them pick up from there. I also had to pull or print all the worksheets, maps and tests. If I tried to plan months in advance, we ended up having to edit the schedules any time something came up and we couldn’t get the work done that day. And then halfway through the year I was scrambling and scribbling down some notes on a sheet of notebook paper for them. It just didn’t work. 

And then we found the Pomodoro Method. 

What is the Pomodoro method?

The Pomodoro Method is a tool used for time management. It breaks up your work into manageable intervals, usually 25 minutes, with a short break in between. You work for 25 minutes, and break for 5 minutes. After four work intervals, you take a longer break of 30 minutes. So here’s what it looks like:

  1. Work for 25 minutes. 
  2. Break for 5 minutes.
  3. Work for 25 minutes.
  4. Break for 5 minutes.
  5. Work for 25 minutes.
  6. Break for 5 minutes.
  7. Work for 25 minutes.
  8. Break for 30 minutes.
  9. Continue the method until you are done with your work or your work day.

How does the Pomodoro Method work for homeschooling?

So for homeschooling, you work each subject for 25 minutes and take 5 minute breaks in between. Set a physical timer that will ring each time. This tells your children two things: 1) they have to continue working the full 25 minutes, and 2) there is a break coming. Save snacks and bathroom breaks for the break times, and focus on getting the work done during that 25 minutes. Alternatively, for older students, you can work for longer. For example, my son is in high school and this year he is going to be working on some subjects for 35 minutes at a time, with 5 minute breaks. After four subjects or sessions, you take a long break. It’s the perfect time to get outside and play, take a walk, or play with something creative. 

What our day looks like

At the beginning of the school year, I make a daily schedule and post it on the refrigerator. This tells my kids what subject they are to be working on, at which time, and where. I specify where because we don’t have a designated school area. They do their work at the kitchen counter, the dining table, the living room couch, or their bedroom if they choose. I specify the location so that they don’t sit in the same room and antagonize each other. I know you know what I’m talking about! 

They get up around 7-7:15 a.m. and get their breakfast, get dressed, etc. By 8:00 a.m. we get started. The timer gets set and they are *supposed* to get started. (Nobody’s perfect, and half the time they are still trying to finish getting dressed, or finishing eating). At 8:25 a.m., they get their first 5 minute break. Then they can get a drink, or play with each other, until the next alarm. Then they’re back to work! We get a lot more accomplished in the day. Sometimes they are able to get more than one lesson done in a day, and we end up finishing up some subjects early in the year. Others, they need extra time at the end of the day (usually math) to finish. So for this time, I have a scheduled “homework” after lunch for them to get finished up.

I’m telling you, this method has been like magic for us! They know that if they have an assignment that they “finish” quickly, if the timer doesn’t go off, they have to keep working. This helps me by making sure they aren’t reading one paragraph in their book, or whatever they try to pass off as “finished”. This method has helped me to keep them on task. 

Going forward

As I said previously, this year my son is going to be doing some subjects for 35 minutes instead of 25, while my daughter will be sticking with the 25 minute intervals for now. That means they will have their own alarms to set. With only two kids this year, that means we have more options for them as far as where in the house they can work, too.