Taming the Chaos With Looping Subjects

Loop schedules aren’t new–except to me.  As I’ve bopped around the blogosphere this past week I’ve discovered that many homeschoolers have been looping subjects for years.  I guess I have too, in a haphazard and subconscious way–especially with my youngest students.

Because others utilize a loop schedule more extensively than I do, I’ll share my own summary and examples, but also link to those who’ve perfected the loopiness.

What is a loop schedule?  Simply, it is a set of subjects that are done within a finite amount of time rotating through a list in order.  When you finish the first item on the list, go onto the next.  If you reach the end of the list, cycle back to the beginning again.  Continue until you hit the end of the allotted time.  The next day, pick up wherever you left off.

Perhaps you begin your school day at 9:00 with the set (unlooped) subjects of Bible and memory work.  Then from 9:30-10:30 you may have the children work on their (unlooped) independent work which might consist of logic, history, writing assignments and math.  Your “loop” time might run from 10:30-12:30 and consist of spelling, Latin, dictation, nature study, elocution, music theory, science and art.  Perhaps on the first day Latin drags out, and when lunch rolls around you’ve not yet done nature study.  Just stop at whatever point in the loop you find yourself and continue from there the next day.

Many moms have instituted a loop schedule when they find the younger children’s instruction getting pushed aside.  Others loop because they find that the school day becomes interminable or that they never seem to fit in certain subjects.  It’s one way to ensure that all children and subjects get the necessary attention.

Because a “looped” day ends on a time schedule rather than at the completion of a lesson, dawdlers will need extra oversight lest they take advantage and stall out.  (A a creative parent can provide incentives or consequences to prevent this.)  I think it will be an especially good fit with my youngest students, as their school consists of teacher-intensive subjects in which I set the pace and direct through the whole process.

I don’t personally plan to loop past third grade.  My two oldest meet with me every other day (on alternate days) and I grade, present, assign and instruct at those meetings before turning them loose to work independently and prepare for our next meeting time.  They manage their time and determine whether they should work on their logic, math or write their report first in order to finish everything assigned by their next meeting time.  (Some moms loop through High School with great success!  We just have something else that’s working for the moment.)

The Classical Circus has a great blog post about looping.  (Be sure to click on her diagram to enlarge the flowchart.)   There’s also a wealth of looping resources on the Well Trained Mind boards–just do a search and you should find several threads with sample schedules and stories of real-life successes (and failures) from homeschool moms like us!

A loop is a nice way to make sure that we get everything covered with regularity.   Viewing our rotation as a loop is revolutionary to me and a freeing perspective!  As I’ve folded more children into our school time, I’ve begun to feel scattered and things have been falling through the cracks.   The loop will give a flexible structure exactly where we need it.

Our plan is a double loop–with the basics in the rotation twice and a few extras only once.  My older two will be doing independent study during the 3 younger children’s “loop block” each day. (The grid below is the same rotation as the wheel at the top of this article–just expressing the data in a different format.)

Have you tried a loop schedule?  What does it look like in your home?  I’d love to see a few of you blog your loop plans or implementation and link to your posts here in the comments!

(Article also posted on The HomeschoolBlogger Front Porch in my weekly Taming the Chaos column)

~Domestic Chaos tamer and homeschool mom of 5, Dell writes about home, heart and hearth.~

Taming the Chaos: Dell

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