The big challenge to the homeschool schedule is that there is one of you and more than one of them and they are all in different grades. This year I am teaching a 12th grader, 8th grader and 7th grader. Yes, there are some things we can tackle together but still plenty that needs to be done separately. For us, it's important to have a set schedule that everyone understands and to be willing to make the changes and re-communicate as needed.
We are not "night people". My own brain shuts off by 2 p.m. and the kids are not far behind. Therefore, we start as early as possible. This also helps for seasons that my boys play sports at the local high school and have to be at practice at 2 p.m.
The overall rule of the day is that everyone needs to be at the table ready to start at 7:30 a.m. and everyone needs to assume they are "mine" until 3 p.m. (It's a bit painful for teens to be at the table that early but I've found it's worth it in the end!).
7:30 a.m. Bible Time/Family Devotions. My husband leads this and has the past couple of years. Before that, it wasn't possible due to his job schedule and I did it. I learned a long time ago...Bible FIRST or it often doesn't happen.
8-8:15 a.m.-ish Once Bible is over, I have them take out their schedule. I make any necessary changes and make sure everyone understands what needs to be done. Then I teach a subject that requires more than one of my students. I find if I wait then we are waiting for this one to finish this independent subject. Then when they're done we're waiting for someone else. So I teach first after Bible and then first after lunch.
Once I have taught any group assignments then they all move on to independent work. Some subjects have to be staggered to share the laptop and others have to be staggered if my help is needed.
On needing mom: I do try to schedule myself according to what I think they will need help in. I've hopefully corrected (or they've corrected) the previous day's work so I know if we've hit problems. I let them know when I want them to do the subject they need help in so that I am available to them and I don't have more than one person needing me at a time. There is never a flawless system for this, but planning is definitely more efficient than not planning.
**Scheduling Mom: When the kids were younger there were years when each child had a scheduled time to meet with me. So student 1 might be 8:30 a.m.-10:00 a.m., student 2 might be 10-11:30 a.m. and student 3 would be 12:30-2:00 p.m. Their turn would rotate so that someone wouldn't be stuck with me in a time slot when their brain had already shut down. I have found that these scheduling decisions have to be flexible so that they are determined by our needs and communicated so that everyone knows what is happening.
Break Time: Everyone is allowed to take one 15 minute break in the morning. They must set a timer. They also schedule practice on their instrument. Since a guitar/piano/drums is more fun than Math (to us anyway) I don't have to remind anyone to practice their instrument!! ;) I have had to say, "You've been practicing for an hour. How 'bout that Math?"
11:30 a.m. (ish): We break for lunch and take an hour if we can. It depends on how much needs to be done.
12:30 p.m.: Back to the books! I teach anything else that needs to be done as a group.
Once people are done they have their free time. I don't allow any screens until 3 p.m. unless it is for a learning dvd, writing stories or blogging on the computer, learning music, etc.
2:00 or 3:00 p.m. we do our chores for the day.
This is not to say that there isn't ever a student who has more work to do. Now that we have a student taking some college courses there's usually more to be done.
But generally, all homeschooling can be done by 3:00 p.m. if the student works hard. Think about it. They literally move from one subject to the next with only the time it takes to pull it out and put the last one away. It's very intense but it is definitely quicker than changing classes and having multiple interruptions.
"Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom." Psalm 90:12