Summer Term – On Looping Schedules

This entry is part 2 of 8 in the series Summer Learning

a discussion of looping schedules in a homeschool setting, our approach to scheduling habits in our Summer Term

Initially, when I started our Summer Term this year I thought I would be doing what is called “looping” our schedule. Without recent research on the matter, I created my own definition of “looping” and set about implementing this more relaxed schedule in our year.

Then I started this Summer Learning series in which I am discussing the details of our Summer Term. I had the notion to go back and do a modicum of research before writing any further on looping. Boy, am I glad I did. Because I don’t think I am “looping” the right way. And I haven’t decided if I will conform to the correct definition of looping or blaze a new path forward.

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Let’s discuss this looping thing.

It has been a few years since I read Teaching from Rest: A Homeschooler’s Guide to Unshakeable Peace by Sarah Mackensie. This book, the gold standard, most recommended book amongst homeschooling moms of all stripes, is full of bits of wisdom gained from years of homeschooling.

When I first read it, I got out of it what I needed to get out of it. I still remember the short sentences which shaped my first year of homeschooling.

Today, do less.

Do it well.

Sarah Mackensie

Today, I decided to pull this book off my shelves because I remembered tucked into the pages of simple, wise sayings such as this, there were practicalities for homeschooling. There is practical wisdom in this book about how to create a peaceful schedule. And I thought I remembered a thing about looping.

What is Loop Scheduling?

Sarah Mackensie defines looping simply –

Instead of assigning tasks to certain days of the week, list tasks and then tackle them in order, regardless of what day it is.

Sarah Mackensie, Teaching from Rest: a Homeschooler’s Guide to Unshakeable Peace

The idea behind doing this is to progress through the school year – accomplishing the readings, the subjects, the important things – even when life happens.

In Teaching from Rest, Sarah provides a simple sample schedule using four books. Instead of assigning each book to a specific day, she would simply read from the first one on the first day, and go from there, reading from each book on the day she is able.

I pictured it sort of as having a bookmark in a number of books. The books on the shelf are placed in a simple order and picked up and put down in that order, as time (or inclination) allows. I also pictured it as a crochetier working on a blanket as she is able. When her crochet session is over, she literally puts a pin it and sets it down. When she returns she simply picks up where she left off.

What I Think of Loop Scheduling

I like this simple procedure. Without knowing it, I have been loop scheduling specific items in our home for quite some time. In fact, I think I am a loop scheduler when it comes to homemaking and mama pursuits. I have a number of “mother culture” books I am reading. Picking them up and put them down as I can, I work through them in a sort of natural rhythm.

However, we have not been following looping schedule in our homeschool. And I cannot see us doing so this Summer Term.

What We are Doing Instead

As I mentioned in the introduction to our Summer Term, we are focusing on three subjects we have not been able to get to during our regular school year. In essence, we are attempting to create new habits this summer. Since we are trying to re-center our homeschool around these subjects, we are not looping them.

Rather, I am assigning them each a day at the beginning of the week. Then when that day comes, that subject is the first thing we do for the day. If we get nothing else done for that day, I am calling it a success because the focus subject was tackled.

Although I am probably off on the definition again, I would assume this procedure is more akin to habit training than looping.

Our New (old) Habits

This summer I am focused on three areas for habit formation:

  1. Inductive Bible Study around the table
  2. Conlatio – our Latin Gathering
  3. Music in our Homeschool

These are old habits we have not dedicated the time to maintaining. This Summer Term is the perfect time to focus on bringing these delightful portions of our day into our homeschool again.

Our Inductive study is wonderful for me because it is NO prep! All the work comes after I do it because I have to write it up for our dormant series Inductive Study for Kids – going verse by verse through the Gospel of John.

Our Conlatio is the most high-prep habit on our list. At the beginning of the summer, I worked out the entire Conlatio schedule for the summer. I also wrote up my “teacher’s guide” for myself for the first four weeks – you can get it here, if you are interested. And I can return to the prep for this during a Prep Rally in the coming weeks.

I have turned much of the planning and prep for our last habit to my friend Gena Mayo over at Music in Our Homeschool. We are a music-minded family and I long to feed that this summer. Gena has made it super easy because she has some 15 minute music lessons I can pull up on our Kitchen Hub. (Yes we basically have a TV in our kitchen! And yes, I am determined to redeem it for educational purposes!)

How I Schedule our Habits

Earlier this year, I did an extensive series about homeschool planning. In that series I mentioned I sit down at the beginning of each week and do what I call a Prep Rally. This weekly planning session allows me time to reflect on what is going well in our homeschool, where we are, and where I would like to go in the week ahead.

Since the Prep Rally is a weekly thing, I can monitor closely where we are on the formation of the habits. Our first week of Summer Term, we did well with our Bible time and our Conlatio! Woohoo! Celebration is always encouraged during the Prep Rally! But we didn’t get around to the music habit I was looking to form.

With that look back, I can look ahead to the week and dig my heels in a bit further to start the creation of the new habit and maintain the previous ones. I can adjust the time of day we start a thing. Or I can adjust duration of time – 15 minutes is better than nothing, right?

A Shifting Schedule

The beauty of the Prep Rally and our Summer Term is I can shift things around on a weekly basis. For the weeks when we have a trip to the beach or a playdate planned, I can move the schedule to accommodate our life. On Sunday night I can tell the kids which days we will be schooling and which days we have other stuff planned.

Our shifting schedule actually removes the need to do a “looping schedule” in our homeschool. The the extent I can maintain agility with the shifting sands of our schedule, I can maintain the habits, too.

I am too much of a planner to need the looping schedule at this point in our homeschool. But I can think of places where it would have been extremely helpful. Adding a new baby or caring for sick loved ones come to mind. I am not opposed to looping a schedule. I just don’t need it right now.

What do you think of looping schedules? Do you use them in your homeschool or your home? How do you focus on habit formation in your homeschool? I would love to start a conversation! If you are looking for more homeschool conversation and encouragement, I invite you to my Facebook group Simple Homeschooling Blessings. Come join the fun!

a discussion of looping schedules in a homeschool setting, our approach to scheduling habits in our Summer Term

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