I am not sure where the loop schedule concept originated, but I first heard of it on The Well Trained Mind Forums (Excellent source of information that. Even if you are not a classical homeschooler.) It seems that there are as many ways and reasons to use a loop as there are homeschoolers, but the number one reason is the desire to fit in all the extras that we never seem to have time to get to doing.

What is Loop Scheduling?

The idea is pretty simple. List all of the subjects you want to do. Work from one subject to the next completing tasks (or time slots would work too, I suppose). Once you are done with the list, start back at the beginning.

There are daily loops, which include all of the core subjects, and weekly loops, which tend to not include the core subjects. Some people have individual loops for each child while others have only family loops. Then there are those who do individual loops and family loops.

As you can see, the loop variations are enough to make you, well loopy. I think these threads on TWTM are a good place to start if you want to explore the various ways people use the tool. The biggest take-away, though, is that this is a very flexible tool for your homeschool.

Our Loops

So as I am thinking about our current high-tide and the things I would like us to explore, I think a loop will be the best way to help me fit in all the topics to study. This is a work in progress. We have only lived with it one day so far, and it is likely to change a few times before we are done. Ours will be a family loop (meaning we will all do everything together) and it is a weekly loop (meaning the goal is to get to everything at least once a week, but ideally more).

Yes, we school in our PJs at 3:30PM.

Daily Subjects:
Logic of English (Olivia, John by osmosis*) (15-30)
Spanish (10-30 if we have a craft or cooking)
Poetry Memorization (5 for now, but will lengthen as we add poems)
Picture books (A selection aimed at Thomas, some reading from the loop, something for Olivia and I to buddy-read, a math reader on alternate days.) (20)
Math** (20 – split between two students)

* Yes, I am serious here. He is starting K in the fall, but I have no desire to teach him to read this year. Why? So far he is showing no signs of wanting to learn to read this year, and the work is turning him off. I think he is capable, but that is really neither here nor there. Olivia was asking at this age and that is different. So, he is usually around when Olivia and I are working on this. What he learns, he learns. If his desires change, our schedule will change. Other than some games I have no specific plans to work on reading with him. He already knows all of his letters and sounds — by osmosis.

** I had originally wanted to loop math with it being on the loop multiple times so we got to it at least three times a week. I am comfortable with doing “formal” math only three times. Then my loop changed and that wouldn’t work. I am not comfortable with less than three times. So I am putting it on the daily list and keeping it short. We will alternate between games, activities and math readers. I know my approach to math seems crazy, as many unschoolers even use a curriculum for math, but really it is working for us.

Loop Subjects
Faith
Art
Salsa Spanish
Science (typically BFSU)
Game (phonics, board, Unplugged Play)
Yoga video/PE game
Writing projects or writing games 
Burgess Bird Book
Video*

* We have a Discovery Streaming subscription that includes all of the Weston Woods video storybooks and Reading Rainbow episodes. I pull out some to go with our topics of study, but there are tons of others that I never know how to fit in. Brain Pop Jr exploration time can go here as well.

Depth Subject
Space Unit Study (now*)
World Cultures (later this summer)

* I decided to throw in some extra science and used my Smart Points from Homeschool Buyers Co-op to download the K-2 Intellego unit study on astronomy. We are going to adapt that and use it for a while before beginning the cultures study.

My original idea was to do daily subjects, work in the loop for a bit (about 2-3 subjects) and then still have about 30-60 minutes to explore our depth subject. Now I am not so sure that is going to work.

We did daily subjects yesterday, plus faith, art, and science, and the day was pretty much gone. We did include some depth subject reading in our morning reading and watch a Magic School Bus video on space, but add in our morning trip to the park and our day was full.

It was a good day, but it was also a typical day. I am not sure we could squeeze any more in there. That may change as little people get older, but for now, it is what it is.

I considered simply adding the depth subject into the loop a couple of times, but honestly the approach is different.

For the loop subjects I have created a list of things to accomplish, much like Sarah’s progress lists. Some are move-from-one-thing-to-the-next like our Faith readings and others are more pick-and-choose like writing projects, but there are specific activities on the lists — largely so I can have supplies on hand and things prepared for projects.

With the depth subjects it is really more setting aside time for exploration using the resources at hand. I figured if it was on the loop it would end up taking up the entire day, so why bother. W

hat I have decided to do instead is alternate loop days with depth days. So Monday we do daily subjects and then loop subjects. Tuesday we do daily subjects and then depth exploration. And so on.

Of course there may be days when we have nothing outside the house and are looking for things to do, so we do all three. We may want to double up on a topic for two days or skip the loop for a week or whatever.

The idea is to use it as a tool, not to let it drive us. So many of these extras were not getting done even though we love to do them. We need a routine to help us and that is what this is.

Pam Barnhill

Pam Barnhill

Pam is the author of The Your Morning Basket Guide and Plan Your Year: Homeschool Planning for Purpose and Peace. She also is the host of three popular  podcasts -- The Homeschool Snapshots Podcast, Your Morning Basket, and The Homeschool Solutions Show. She lives in the Deep South with her husband and three kids, where she is the go-to lady for great curriculum recommendations or a just a pep talk on a rough day.
Pam Barnhill

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