Independent Work Checklist

One of the most important lists in our homeschool is the elementary-aged students’ own daily checklist. Here’s what they do every day.

I love to make lists. I even have lists of the lists I have made and want to make. So, why not share all (well, some) of those lists during The Nester’s 31 Days series? Yes, 31 days of homeschool lists. It’ll be a ton of fun if you love lists as much as I do.

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A Kid's Daily Homeschool Checklist

My elementary students each have their own clipboard with a checklist to work from. Everything they need to do for school is on that list. So while I’m working with the early reader children or changing diapers and moving the laundry, I can tell them to do their work and they know where to look to see what their work is.

I really, really would love to have a daily flow where I work one-on-one with each student in a rotation while the others are doing their work or play independently. I could sit at the table, help one student while the others are occupied, then call the next and so on, just getting up to refill my coffee mug.

Life doesn’t actually work out that way at our house. Someone stalls on every item on their list and can’t wait their turn (and thus disappears to play LEGOs, making me wonder if it was an honest stall). Younger kids squabble or hurt themselves and need attending to. And the amount of one-on-one attention each child needs is a crazy variable, sometimes all converging on everyone being high-needs all together one day.

It’s just a muddle. I make sure there’s enough time budgeted for everyone to have some one-on-one time, and I try to make that time available to each one, but most days are just going to be a muddle. I would prefer us to all run on a whistle system like the Von Trapps, where everyone marches to my bidding, but that’s not actually a good idea. What’s required is wisdom, not automation.

What’s on my 9yo & 11yo’s daily homeschool checklist:

They don’t have to do these in order, except that morning chores come first.

  • Morning chores
  • Exercise (so far this has been to walk the baby down the length of our street and back or run to the end and back, which is probably about 3/4 of a mile round-trip)
  • Read Bible (I want them to have the habit, but I don’t micromanage what or how much they read)
  • Piano practice
  • Writing (they outline, write, & revise a paragraph a week, though we’re about to bump that up)
  • Xtramath.org math fact practice
  • MUS 100% (Math-U-See work page; there’s time to get help if they need it, and then we keep going at it until they have 100%. It’s either 100% or not done yet, but one page of MUS is about 1/3 the workload of a Saxon lesson)
  • 2 lines cursive practice 3x a week, 1x a week fill out country names on a continent blank map, 1x a week fill in books read this week on Goodreads
  • Latin vocabulary practice on own
  • Latin work with Mom
  • EHAP your stuff (you’re not done until it’s all put it away)

What’s on my 6yo’s daily homeschool checklist:

  • Morning chores
  • Play outside
  • Math 100%
  • Reading practice & read-aloud with Mom
  • Xtramth.org

I wouldn’t have a checklist for the 6 year old except that she wants one because her older brothers have one, and I can tell already she’s going to be a list-checker. I also wouldn’t have her do xtramath, but she wants to. My basic philosophy is that the 6-and-under crowd should practice phonics and have stories read to them (including the use of audiobooks), and everything else is just doing what they want to do – at this age, they often want to do more than they want to do when they’re 8-and-up.

When everything goes swimmingly, we don’t start late, math isn’t a struggle, and no one fights their work, then we can get it all done by lunch. So, yeah, that doesn’t happen too often, but it is possible and I’m fond of reminding the children that it’s only their own free afternoon play time they’re using up when they dawdle or complain.

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3 Responses

  1. Stacy
    |

    Mystie~ I just wanted to let you know that I’m really appreciating your series of lists. :) Thank you so much for sharing them all. I tried to do a daily checklist for my kids a couple of years ago, in an effort to help them be more independent and not reliant on me to get everything written on the dry erase board, but the whole idea kind of flopped. I’m wondering if you have a certain spot where you keep those clipboards w/ checklists, or do they carry around their clipboards?—

    Thanks!
    ~Stacy

    • Mystie Winckler
      |

      I tried the same thing two years ago and it flopped, too. Mostly they stay at the table where we do most of our work, and they do have to show it to me and we go over it before they’re done for the day. They also have a home in the school cabinet, so I stick them in there when I see them laying around (or I call them to do it). :)

      Sometimes they just aren’t ready for the responsibility yet and sometimes I think it just takes time for them to warm up to the idea. :)

      • Stacy
        |

        Thanks. I think a big part of the flop was my lack of follow-through on making sure they checked things off. It’s something I need to make a habit of if I want them to do it! :)
        ~Stacy