When I first met someone who used a homeschool loop schedule, it sounded intriguing. I’d hear people mention they “Put it on a loop” but that wasn’t helping me figure out how to make my own loop schedule or how to follow it. I wanted to know what what subjects were “looped”, and what a day actually looks like scheduled this way.
I’ll show you exactly what a loop schedule is, how to set one up, and when a loop might not be a good fit for you. Plus, I’ll show you exactly what’s on ours, how we use mini loops, and how to print a customizable loop schedule of your own.
What is a homeschool loop schedule
A loop schedule is a list of topics or subjects that you rotate through one at a time. Subjects are not scheduled out by day, rather what’s next on the list. This allows you to get to all those subjects regularly that can tend to get pushed aside.
For example, say you want to do math and language arts every day, but want to cover history, science, and poetry less often. You can put history, science, and poetry on a “loop”, and rotate through them one a day. Like this:
So in this case, your day would look like this:
- language arts
- 1 item from your loop above
Block schedule vs a loop schedule
At first I thought I’d just do our daily subjects with each kid (reading, writing, math) and then have an extra thing blocked out for each day of the week. Like tea and poetry on Tuesday, watercolors on Wednesday, history on Thursday, science on Friday, etc.
Each day would have it’s own specific plan. Not all subjects would be covered daily. The “extras” would be scheduled 1-2 times a week on assigned days for the year or maybe a shorter “term”, until changing the plan.
It’s a good system, but then the downside is that when life happens and we miss our history on Thursday, ( o ya, and last Thursday it got skipped because a kid was sick), then all the sudden it seems one subject is getting skipped more than I want.
Or, if you’re like me you just don’t like having a “set” schedule, but still want to make sure you’re touching on what’s important to you.
Why a loop schedule works for our family
Once we had two kids in school (my oldest beginning 1st grade), I wanted to cover more topics but couldn’t seem to figure out how to organize my life and fit them all in. Because guys, I’m not a planner at heart! I love flexibility.
Should I do a little bit of each subject every day? Well that’s exhausting. What about the subjects I want to cover 1-2 times a week, like science and history? Do I lock them into days of the week or…do a loop schedule?
What has been working well for us is to do both.
I have a few core things we do daily with both kids. For my first grader it’s reading, writing, and math. For my kindergartener it’s her reading lesson book, writing, and math. Everything else gets put on a loop.
I made a loop schedule printable, and now I don’t have to plan what “extras” we will cover on certain days. I never have to feel like a failure for skipping something too often. Or plan out our week on paper to make sure we get to it all. Here’s how I DO keep track of what we actually do each day if you’re interested in keeping homeschool records.
I can simply do the next lesson from our “daily’s”, and then go to the next subject on my loop.
Can you have more than one loop?
Yes! I call them “mini loops”!
When you are just getting started with looping, I’d keep it BASIC. Write down list of subjects you’ll do daily and then start with ONE loop.
If you are aiming to get to 1 subject on your loop a day, then your list will probably need to be shorter. For instance, this is one I’ve used:
By doing 1 item from the loop above, we get to each topic on the loop that week, plus 1-2 more depending if we do school 4 or 5 days that week.
If you had a bunch of items you wanted to loop, or several bonus activities within a subject, it might be better to make two mini loops!
I’m not sure which I prefer yet for our days. If I feel like I’m missing something continually because it’s not written down, that’s a good reason to add it to a loop.
For example if you had all of these on 1 loop and only did 1 a day, you might not get to some enough (as determined by your homeschool goals and/or your state requirements).
- educational game
So in this case, it would make sense to either set up two smaller loops where you pick one from each loop each day.
OR just keep 1 loop but aim to get through 2 in the loop each day.
Try a subject loop for any extra’s you want to get to but forget about
We are what I would consider pretty “eclectic” in our choice of random things we like to use for school. Yes, I like a good ol math curriculum and language arts, but it’s still fun to add in games and extras. A subject loop is awesome for writing down activities within one subject.
For example, you could put math on your daily list, AND put all those math extras into their own loop. Like:
- flashcard practice
- math game
- Life of Fred math stories
This math loop could be done after a good long break from your schoolwork, without pressure to do it at all since it’s extra! Sometimes it’s just nice to have some ideas in front of you without pressure to check the box.
Want to try it? Head to my Etsy shop to get your printable.
Here’s what our loop schedule for homeschooling looks like
I’m still changing this as we go! Yay for being flexible and figuring out what works for us.
So this exact loop may not be what works for you. And you may end up needing to print a loop schedule for EACH child to kind of customize their subjects. Here’s ours.
- Bible story + New City Catechism q’s (currently my only “morning basket” items)
- Math (one on one with each child while the others play)
- Language Arts + L.A Loop (my 1st grader does that day’s work from his curriculum and then I pick 1 extra thing to practice from the L.A loop, like copywork, a word game, reading a poem, etc.) If his attention span is short, we skip the extra L.A. Loop.
- Read together (me on the couch, reading while they play)
- Weekly loop (we do 1 of the added subjects I want to cover without assigning to days. This usually involves me reading something to them from a library book around that subject)
What’s in our “weekly loop” and “language arts loop”
This is always changing for us, fyi! But here’s what we have going on now for my first grader (which is pretty similar for my kindergartener although she does a bit less).
Our weekly loop contains:
Subjects I hope to get to 1-2 times a week:
History read alouds: We are checking out Beautiful Feet Books Early American History this year from the library.
Geography: Geography games, and working with maps, and learning about states and capitals.
Nature Study: Our nature study as a family is Exploring Nature With Children . This works really well to do once a week, and includes a weekly nature walk, nature topic, book recommendations and art study. There’s extension activities for older kids too!
Science: At this age, nature study is more my focus than any other type of science. However, I’m also trying out Adventures In Creation by Masterbooks which I love so far! It’s bible based and compliments our nature curriculum. It takes us about 30 minutes to cover. One book is fine for 2 kids, and it’s easy to make a copy of the tracing/drawing pages if I want. Some weeks we miss this altogether and that’s fine with me for now.
Our Language Arts Loop contains:
I love our L.A. book (Language Lessons For A Living Education Level 1) by Masterbooks. One day’s work doesn’t take long, covers spelling, grammar, writing, and we skip the reading books because he’s reading so much on his own already.
When a loop schedule might not be the best fit
There are times when a loop might not be a great fit.
When you’re not doing many subjects yet
For example, when my oldest was in kindergarten, we really didn’t need a loop yet. Or a schedule for that matter. We only covered reading, writing, and math daily, and the rest was unstructured learning in whatever spontaneous form I felt like. Sometimes it was nature study. Or a watercolor day. Or just reading lots of books out loud.
When your curriculum covers most topics with a daily plan
Another example when a loop might not fit is when you have purchased a curriculum that comes with a very set schedule or daily plan.
For example, A Gentle Feast (a Charlotte Mason curriculum) covers a “feast” of topics daily, keeping each topic short. There’s a provided schedule of what to do each day and if you follow it you’ll get to everything on that plan, even though some things are scheduled on staggered days. It’s a great plan for someone wanting everything all planned out, including read alouds, history books, poetry pieces, art, and more. But recreating the schedule would just make it more complicated for you.
Another Charlotte Mason inspired curriculum I’m aware of is Gather Round Homeschool. Everything (all subjects) are laid out for you daily in a workbook except math. A loop just wouldn’t make sense here because you already have a daily plan provided with one full day’s work for all subjects in a book.
How to laminate your loop schedule so you can change it
To make this (or any printable) reusable, just laminate it and use dry erase markers. I tried the Amazon Basics brand laminator , and it works so well! Grab this pack of laminating pouches. Then, you can either put this in your homeschool binder or stick it on the fridge with a magnet.
You may have to get some nice black dry erase markers too. The one’s I’ve found at the dollar store are not cutting it ;-). They are too light.
More homeschool organizational posts for you
Be sure to check out a few of these posts for some organizing inspiration!
- How to set up a weekly binder for each child’s homeschool work
- Organize 1 year of curriculum into a crate system
- How to record homeschool activities using reverse planning (after you actually do them)
- How to homeschool preschool: Getting started
- Homeschool supplies we use
- Our filing system for nature printables