How to make the best loop schedule to banish overwhelm

Learn how to make a loop schedule for your homeschool! (with free printable)

My daughter giggles as her bearded dragon scampers up her arm. After an hour of therapy and online class, she’s taking a much-needed short break before we start our lessons.

I look down at the schedule I’ve plotted for the week and rub the back of my neck. Shaking my head, I know there’s no way I can ask her to do an additional two hours of lessons.

“Let’s get the basics in,” I think, “and tomorrow we’ll try to pick it up again.”

But the next day is the same, and suddenly it’s two weeks later and we’ve not done any of the “beauty” subjects.

The fun ones.

The ones that make our homeschool a joy instead of a slog.

While a set schedule is nice, sometimes it’s impossible to keep one.

How do you fit everything in when your life is turned upside down? How do you get done what needs to get done on a daily basis, and still get those “beauty” subjects in? It’s easy to revert to doing the 3 R’s and then calling it done for the day since “we got the important things in”.

But that doesn’t do anything to give a liberal (broad) education, the kind that Charlotte Mason wanted us to give our children.

What’s an overloaded parent to do?

One way to make sure you’re getting everything in even when you can’t get everything in is to do a loop schedule.

There are a few ways to do it, and we’ll go over my two favorites. Basically, rather than having a specific time slot on specific days to do specific subjects, you’ll do as much as you can one day and then just pick up where you left off the next.


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Loop Method 1- Two lists

Make two lists, one of your daily (or very frequent) subjects and the other the rest of the subjects you want to do at least once a week.

Label the lists any way you’d like:

  • Category A and Category B
  • Frequent and Loop
  • Aardvark and Anonymous Duck

Whatever you want, hon. No one is going to see this but you. And maybe your kids.

duck wearing sunglasses

Grab a sheet of paper and put your list of “would like to do most days” at the top. Maybe draw a box around it with hearts and stars for decoration.

Or maybe just a bold outline of black sharpie if you’re feeling particularly goth today.

In a separate large box below that, write the other subjects you also want to do but not nearly as often.

Want a done-for-you loop schedule printable? There’s one in the Resource Library!

Now, there are two ways you can handle the second box.

Either pick and choose on a daily basis what you want to work on next, or just work your way down the list and when you get to the end, start again at the beginning.

Both ways have their downsides.

The first way, you’re more likely to just keep putting off the subjects or books that are less favored. It’s temptingly easy to choose your easiest or favorite subjects over and over.

And over.

The second way, where you work your way through the list and then start again? It’s not perfect, either.

Not all subjects should be done with the same frequency in a Charlotte Mason education.

You could very well end up doing both Picture Study and Foreign Language the same amount of time. (Horrors!)

One way to make sure that doesn’t happen is instead of writing out the subjects you want to cover each week, to actually write out books, page numbers, and activities and check those off as you go.

Loop Method 2 – the “5 days of work done in 8 days” schedule

Have your schedule made out as if you were going to do a 5-day schedule, but check off each subject as you go. If you make it through everything planned for the day, great! If not, tomorrow pick up where you left off, even if that’s halfway through the day.

This can be an effective way to make sure you’re getting everything done in a good ratio, albeit at a slower pace. The danger lies in trying to “get caught up” for the week. 

“Hey, if we work extra today, we can get back on track!” 

Don’t do it.

Step away from the math book, Sarah.

Having trouble visualizing it? Take a look at this weekly plan.

loop schedule showing 5-day homeschool schedule with checkmarks on completed days and arrow pointing to block with start here tomorrow text

If you only get through Foreign Language on Day 1, then the next day you would pick up with Math and try to do a typical day’s work.

Make sure you’re taking movement breaks and not trying to push through. (Just a little more … just a little more …. *splat*)

That’s not what we want.

Keep the same time limit on lessons for the day.

Want the secret to making the Loop Schedule work?

Don’t do all of your daily subjects each day.

Um, excuse me? Isn’t that what “daily” means?

Well… not really, no.

You’re already overwhelmed. Our task here is to simplify your schedule, not continue on with the drudgery.

When you do all of your daily subjects first, and only then start working through the joy or beauty subjects, it’s easy to just stop when the Dailies are done. 

That, my dear, defeats the entire purpose of having a loop schedule.

Instead do 1-2 from your Dailies box, and then start working on the second box. This ensures that you get your 3 R’s (or whatever you feel is Very Important) done frequently, but you still get the other subjects in that make for a great liberal education.

If, after doing a few from the Anonymous Duck, I mean the Loop box, you want to do a few more Dailies you can.

If you’re using Method 1, make sure you do the subjects in the order you’ve listed them and don’t skip around to do the 3 R’s first.

Which loop schedule works best?

I usually prefer Method 2, but I’ve been trying out the first method this week and like it, too.

If you are schooling multiple kids then Method 1 gives the most flexibility. I like the second method because I’m a rule follower and I know I’m getting everything in the “right” proportions.

Are those wheels turning in your mind yet? Do you feel empowered?

Here’s your assignment for this week:

Choose either Method 1 or Method 2 and try it for a week. Next week, check and adjust.

And let me know what works for you! I’d love to hear.


Related Posts:

Easy and Relaxed Charlotte Mason Schedule
How to Create a Healthy Home Rhythm
5 TV Shows for a Charlotte Mason Home

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  1. I’m really struggling to get my head around the loop schedule but I have a feeling it’s what I need to do! I have four kids, I’m homeschooling my eldest who is 6 and I’ve got a 3 month old (my youngest) I have been prone to stress and I feel like I’m just getting through (or more accurately rushing through) the days subjects to tick them off in the small window I have whilst baby sleeps and I feel like the joy has been zapped out of it all!

    I’d love some help in figuring this out!!!

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