Updated: Jan 5, 2021
Prepare your school schedule, half-hour by half-hour, which lessons and when you want them, neatly in a table. Then cut it up and let your kids loose on the pieces.
Wherever you can, let your kids choose their own lessons. At least pretend that they are in control. They have little to no choice over home-schooling, so any chance to give them autonomy is priceless. The most fundamental and early opportunity you have for that is designing the day itself. If they decided to have break time at 10:30 am, then they’re much more likely to keep working until then. If they don’t, you can remind them what they agreed. If you impose the timetable on them, then you have no such fallback.
(this wasn't the timetable we chose in the end, but shows the idea)
Of course, there are limitations! They don’t get to choose how many lessons, which ones, or how long they last. Remember, you wrote up the list and give it to them. My two didn’t even notice that sleight of hand, they just accepted which lessons there were, they were more interested in how early break time could be.
They will have terrible ideas. Let’s do both maths lessons at the end of the day! That’s a ‘no’. Certain arrangements work much better than others and, having just said you should let your kids choose, you should actually do it in the way described in the other sections: start with easy lessons, then have taxing ones. Put fun activities around lunch, then more hard work in the afternoon and finish with some of their favourites.
One way to maintain their illusion of choice is to offer them alternatives, either of which would work well, then let them pick. English or maths first? You don’t mind which it is, so long as you have an important subject early in the day when they still have energy.
Whenever your kids happen to have a good idea, heartily agree with them. Whenever they don’t, gently dissuade them. So long as they agree in the end, it still counts as their choice.
If they really disagree, then you’ll need your powers as a negotiator, and I can provide limited assistance. You’re only debating the timing here, so hopefully, your kids won’t mind if English is before or after lunch or if the break is at 10:30 am or 10:00 am. Compromise, offer quid pro quos, and overrule them if you must.
Remember – you’re the boss. You’re not sending them to work down a mine or up a chimney, all of this is an enriching, wonderful experience that they’re lucky to have. If they can’t stand the idea of having maths in the morning, then tough. It’s going to happen. Win the argument once and never give way. They’ll soon come around and live with the new reality, as will we all.