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Scheduling: The “Shotgun” Approach or the “Slow Down” Approach

A Heart of Dakota Life
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A Heart of Dakota Life

The “Shotgun Approach” or the “Slow Down Approach” to Scheduling

I know many of you have already placed your orders with Heart of Dakota for this upcoming homeschool year and have had your ‘box day‘ – how exciting! It will soon be that time of year when schedules are being made, put into practice, and tweaked. Back in 2012 on our HOD Message Board, we had some great dialogue about scheduling. At that time, I shared two different kinds of scheduling approaches. I called one the “Shotgun Approach” and the other the “Slow Down Approach.” I’ve switched between these two scheduling approaches throughout the past 17 years of homeschooling. I enjoy choosing my scheduling approach on a year by year basis. As you ponder what scheduling approach you’d enjoy this year, I thought I’d rewind back to 2012 and share this past post of mine:

The Shotgun Approach to Scheduling

I’ll call my scheduling in the past years the Shotgun Approach. The Shotgun Approach to scheduling involves getting up, getting going right away, blazing trails with no breaks for me, and finishing school by late lunch time. This approach worked for me very well for the past ten years. The kids were younger, the guides were shorter, I was younger, my husband was around more, my parents were healthy, and I had to work in the afternoons.  The Shotgun Approach was amazingly successful and very fulfilling for me for many years. Here is my Shotgun Approach for Revival to Revolution, for the  end of Bigger Hearts/start of Preparing Hearts, and for the end of Little Hands/start of half-speed Little Hearts from last year…

My Change from the Shotgun Approach to the Slow Down Approach

My change to the Slow Down Approach all started with this thought provoking post on our HOD Message Board. When I read this post, the first seed was planted that… maybe… just maybe… it would be possible to choose a slower, more relaxed scheduling pace – though you can see from my response, my initial thought was this would not be possible for me. Thanks to the message board post, I really sat down and pondered this days on end – weeks, really. In fact, I had spent forever working out my schedule for MTMM, PHFHG, and LHFHG, making it look much like past years’ schedules, which utilized the Shotgun Approach. Up until now, the Shotgun Approach had worked really well.

What Prompted My Scheduling Change to the Slow Down Approach

This year, however, I am going into this school year tired, physically, emotionally, and mentally – and this is after a summer break – though summer really ended up not to be much of a break after all. Women often work through things by talking with other women about them. Hence the beauty of the HOD board, right?!? Well, Carrie and I have figured this out about each other, and it often helps just to let the other gal talk, talk, talk, and then share lots of ideas until one or two strike(s) a chord.

Talking with Carrie, I realized what worked in the past for scheduling might not work best right now. Why?

– I am 40 years old, with thyroid trouble, and I am feeling my age.
– My husband is traveling more than he ever has in the past, and this is not going to change.
– My seventh grader is going to have a longer school day. I know this is necessary for his age, and I don’t want him rushing through things.
– My dad is going through chemo as a preventative measure against pancreatic cancer. I want to be there for my mom and him as much as possible.

– I need some real time to fill my soul that isn’t accompanied by 2000 interruptions.
– Also, I cannot see me constantly saying ‘no’ to all of my needs for the next 13 years it is going to take to homeschool my youngest child to the finish line.
– I want real time to discuss Biblical things planned in the HOD guides, with each of my children, but especially with my oldest so I can hang onto his heart.

Sooooo, my new scheduling is my version of a slower, gentler pace. I am excited to give this Slow Down Approach a whirl. It looks like this…

I love this Slow Down Approach to scheduling in the morning because…

– In this scheduling approach, the start time for me is later, which equals more sleep for me. I have time to cuddle with Emmett first because he loves this. We have cuddle up and read time in bed together by doing Little Heart’s Storytime, which we both love. I also have private time to talk about Riley’s Bible Quiet Time alone right after he did his part in his room.

– In this scheduling approach, I like the start time for each of the boys. I let Wyatt choose his, with the rule it could not be earlier than 6 AM (he chose 6:15 AM). I let Riley choose his, with the rule it could not be earlier than 7 AM (he chose 7:15 AM). Also, I planned for each of them to do school things they can do independently in their bedroom. This will not wake Emmett up too early, nor will it wake me.

– In this scheduling approach, I actually have enough time planned for chores and breakfast, so this will not be a RUSH. Also, I have enough time to get done what has to be done before we start our school day.

– In this scheduling approach, I like the longer teaching block of time with Wyatt first thing (1  1/2 hours). This includes checkpoints for what he has done already independently.

Other things I love about this Slow Down Approach to Scheduling…

– In this scheduling approach, Riley and Emmett play together first, which they love! They also worry they might not get their computer time. (We don’t have any other media time other than educational videos). So, letting them play together first and then do computer equals them coming to school work with a great attitude ready to work. This also gives me teaching time with Wyatt alone.

– I have checkpoints in place for Wyatt and Riley throughout day in this scheduling approach. Emmett is also with me fairly early on in the day, which helps me get him going.

– In this scheduling approach, we knock out dictation, R & S English, and math for my olders early on when they are fresh and focused.

– We have a BIG break in the middle of the afternoon (as in from 1:30 to 3:30 PM). This is great for the boys to run off some steam outdoors. Likewise, this is great for ME! I have my Bible quiet time, prayer, and journal alone in the house when it’s QUIET, and I can actually think.  Also, this is a good time for me to exercise, do phone calls, assess what needs to be done for work, etc.

– In this scheduling approach, the kids take a big break. Then, they come back to finish subjects they can do on their own, with just a bit of overseeing from me. This way, I can “float” between them as needed to help while also prepping for supper.

– In this scheduling approach, the kids have a quiet time and then have short outdoor play. I can work during this time and finish out supper as needed. Also, I don’t have to help them come up with a plan for a long afternoon all in a row of free time.

I feel at peace about this Slow Down Approach to scheduling.

I am excited about this slower, gentler scheduling approach, and much more ready to start now! After much prayer and pondering, I feel at peace now to begin this year. I am sharing all this in case being a fly on the wall for this gal chat Carrie and I had may be helpful to any of you wonderful ladies as you consider what layout for your day fits you best now. Maybe the Shotgun Approach would be a welcome change. However, maybe the slower, gentler Slow Down Approach would be a welcome change. Or, maybe you find yourself somewhere in between these two scheduling approaches. Either way, hopefully this can spark some thoughts about how your day can be set up best to work for YOU this year! My hope is we can all have the kind of year that’s just right for each of us right now – for whatever our stage of life is!

In Christ,



This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. Tabitha

    Thanks for sharing. It seems very fitting and wise for this stage in life. Even if you are type A, I promise you won’t regret the time carved out for your parents. Any falling behind can be fixed later, ya know? We have our kids all year long.

    I pray the preventative chemo treatment is successful.

    I will be mapping out the major routines for us. I work part time two evenings so Tuesdays and Thursdays have to be finished by 3:00. Your schedules are helpful. I have one in Ref to Rev, Preparing w/extensions, and Beyond.

  2. Des

    I don’t understand how it’s even possible to get done by noon.

    I am floored when I see your schedule…my daughter in is 11th using World History and it takes her until about 3:30pm (she starts around 7:30, and we takes about 1 hour off for meals/showers). My son is using Resurrection to Reformation and LOVES reading, but the history readings alone take him 30-45 minutes, excluding all the extras.

    Maybe this curriculum just isn’t a good fit for us. I love the organization, but it’s an 8 hour day, easy. And that is on fast mode!

    1. This is meant to encourage! Be sure you look at the guides I am teaching in each schedule, as well as the times kiddos are schooling. The first Shotgun Approach schedule I shared was for Revival to Revolution, for the end of Bigger Hearts/start of Preparing Hearts, and for the end of Little Hands/start of half-speed Little Hearts. You’ll also notice my son doing Revival to Revolution either started his school day at 6:30 AM or had to do science in the afternoon after lunch if he didn’t get up early.

      The second schedule I shared was for MTMM, PHFHG, and LHFHG. In this schedule, my MTMM son started his day at 6:15 AM and did work in the afternoon as well. So, even in MTMM, he was not done by noon.

      World History high school took us much longer to do! Usually, for 7 credits plus the Living Library extra credit work, WH took my sons about 7 1/2 hours a day to complete. However, they thought doing 5 days of work in 4 days was worth it to have the 5th day off. To be high school credit worthy, 7 1/2 hours for 7 credits plus extra credit is right on track for the amount of time it should take.

      In high school, rather than doing all the work in a row, we like to do ‘homework’ at night. Here is an example of how to use ‘homework’ in WH:


      Here is how we are breaking up the day for USII this year (be sure to note the 6:15 AM start time, the after lunch/before supper Science/Lab time, and the before 9:45 PM Bible and Latin time):


      So, I just want to encourage you that taking around 7 ½ hours to do WH 4 days a week is on track! It is important to compare apples to apples when looking at schedules, as high school guides will take longer in order to be high school level credit worthy work. Breaking up the day in the ways I’ve mentioned has made our high school experience be terrific! It has also prepared our sons for college level work. Hope this helps!

      In Christ,

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