Below is the Garnica family homeschool daily schedule that we follow Monday through Thursday, year-round with one week breaks every three months (12 weeks). We also take-off regular US holidays and birthdays.

So what changed? David and I decided to alternate Language Arts and Science/Social studies. Now Language Arts will take place Monday and Wednesday while Science/Social Studies will take place on Tuesday and Thursday.

Also, American Sign Language (ASL) has been added to our daily schedule. I believe ASL is an amazing language that is beneficial at all ages. Azaliah first learned ASL when she was a baby so she could communicate what she wanted versus crying. This worked fabulously. Unfortunately, I didn’t teach Amaziah sign language when he was a baby. Though I only allotted 15 minutes of dedicated study time for ASL, we use what we know all throughout the day.

They ASL curriculum that we follow is absolutely free! Bill Varcas is hard of hearing (HOH) and is an amazing, funny professor. There is a paid program so if your High School student needs foreign language credits then you can pay a very low payment. The free and paid version is exactly the same, but the paid version is designed to offer credit and a certificate of completion.

LIFE PRINTASL12:00 PM12:15 PM15 min
TIME3 hrs 35 min

At first glance it may seem like a lot, but we are only instructing four days a week for 3 hours and 35 minutes a day. Compare this to the 6.5+ hours a day, five days a week that public or private school students have not including getting up, riding the bus to school, sitting in school, and riding the bus home, homework or extracurricular activities.

Also, homeschooling means a 1:1 teach experience and on really great days with both of available, 2:1. Public school have an average 1:30 teacher-student ratio. So you see, you can get a lot more done in a small amount of time since there learning is focused on less students.

What does your homeschool daily schedule look like?


Use the same testing software as students to see what your student or child encounters during the testing! Try out an English language arts or math test to learn how the test works, what’s expected of students and what kind of questions are included on them. With unlimited tests limits, Smarter Balanced Practice test is sure to make your student or child feel confident on testing day.

  • Practice tests, used in all Smarter Balanced states and territories, are available in grades 3-8 and high school. They are similar in format and structure to the actual test and include about 30 questions. Each state and territory has its own practice test, so be sure to use the one where you live (see the list on the right).
  • Training tests are shorter than practice tests and offer a sample of six questions so students can become familiar with the testing software. Training tests are available in three grade bands: grades 3-5, grades 6-8, and high school.

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Not in a Smarter Balanced state or territory? Try out the Smarter Balanced Sample Test.


Scoring Guides

Get the answers to Practice Test questions in these downloadable PDFs by grade and subject. Go to the guides!

Braille Embossing

Braille embossing files for the Practice Test are available to users who require them. Download embossing files.


Try out the calculators available for free to students on the tests. Learn more about the calculators.


Just like your banking records, there are certain papers that are useful for you to stash away for the future, whether for a school official, or for your children, or for you to reminisce!

It is helpful to put together a portfolio each year, even if you use a testing option to verify your progress to the school officials. Because I use a homeschool lesson planning/record keeping book that is fairly comprehensive, all I need to add to my lesson plan book are some photos and samples of my girls’ work. Your portfolio for the year might include:

  • Your school calendar, with field trips, outings, sports events, etc. marked (as well as any attendance records).
  • Your typical daily schedule. You might even include your teacher lesson plan book or journal.
  • Lists of the materials you used this year. I like to include how much I spent and where I purchased my materials, for future reference.
  • Report cards/grades, if issued, and any standardized test scores or evaluation reports.
  • List of extracurricular activities and field trips.
  • Photos of your child studying, playing sports, learning on field trips, socializing with others, etc. Also, photos of projects your child has completed.
  • Reading lists of books completed.
  • Projects and achievements.
  • Samples of his best work. You might collect these weekly, then cull monthly
  • Checklist of life skills acquired.
  • Audio or video tapes of your child reading, playing an instrument, reciting from memory, etc.

There are general homeschool records you will probably want to keep in your files. While not all of these are required by state or local authorities, some helpful records to keep might include:

  • Copies of birth certificates
  • Immunization records or waivers
  • Previous school records
  • Test scores
  • Annual student evaluations
  • Copies of all correspondence with school officials, including Notice of Intent forms
  • Copy of your degree or diploma, or teaching certificate, if applicable
  • Receipts for educational materials
  • List of in-service training that you have completed (homeschool workshops, book lists of resources read, tapes, support group topical studies, etc.)
  • School photos
  • Awards and certificates
  • Transcripts
  • Key to your grading/evaluation system
  • Your philosophy of education/list of goals


Time management is not about finding the ultimate planning notebook or a calendar with stickers or adopting yet another list of to-do’s to get you caught up. Time management is about identifying what is important to you and then ordering your days to reflect those priorities in such a way that you can accomplish what God has for you for today.

There are lots of great resources to help you develop routines and systems that will work for your individual needs; a partial list follows. I surely don’t need to re-invent the wheel; even if I did, it would be my wheel, not yours. And time management is something you have to tailor to your own unique personality and family, not fit into my cookie-cutter calendar (although that certainly won’t stop me from giving you samples throughout the site).

Our goal is to give you some practical ideas for starters and to give you encouragement that you can do this!

Margin is the distance between where you are and your personal limit (emotional, physical, financial, time, etc.). This will be different for everyone (for more on this topic, read Margin by Richard Swenson). Just as everyone has a different threshold for pain, we all have a different threshold for margin (or lack thereof!). But we all need some measure of it—and usually a lot more than we have! I once saw a t-shirt that said, “If you aren’t living on the edge, you’re taking up too much space.” Boy, does that say a lot about where some of us are! Some keys to margin are:

  • Order in your day;
  • Proper nutrition;
  • Exercise;
  • Plenty of rest (okay, so you’re a mom—we can modify it to adequate rest)

(We can take our cue from the children of Israel, for whom the day began in the evening with rest, family time, and meditation/worship.)

Organization is all about stuff and time. We will cover “stuff” in another article, but for now, just visualize a cluttered closet or a cluttered drawer (some of us may not have to “imagine” too hard!). That’s the equivalent of a cluttered schedule.

Let’s look at some practical ways to unclutter the schedule:

Develop a daily schedule or routine. Even if you don’t always stick to it, at least have a plan! Children feel more secure with a routine.

Set goals. “If you aim at nothing, you’ll hit it every time.” What do you want to accomplish this year? Don’t get so caught up in doing school that you neglect to teach your children.

Prioritize. Which items on a to-do list would be most helpful in getting you to those measurable goals you set?

Spend some time planning and organizing. “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” There are many how-to-organize books and websites available; find what makes sense to you, but do something. You could use a notebook planner, a CD planner, a calendar, a PDA, index cards, or whatever works for you.

What have you tried, or considered? What has worked and what has not? Why?

Use a to-do list. I was forever jotting notes on yellow stickies, on napkins, on corners of envelopes, and other never-to-be-found-again paper items, “just till I get home and put it somewhere for real.” To help me keep from losing all those little scraps of paper, I bought a little four-by-seven-inch-ish black binder at Wal-Mart and divided the loose-leaf paper into the following sections (from the 70-Day Challenge):

  • To Do (short-term): Things that need to be done in the next 60 days and take one step (check on cell phone bill, return shoes, etc.)
  • Short-Term Reference: Information I may need in the next 60 days (phone numbers, appointments to transfer, orders to track, books I want to check out, measurements for curtains I am buying, etc.). Numbers or dates get transferred on “office work” days to my main notebook or calendar.
  • To Do (long-term): Things to remember to do more than two months from now; for example: Buy adjustable screens for front windows—15” high/21-37” wide—Marvin brand at Wal-Mart, or: Make dental check-up appointments.
  • Long-Term Reference: Things I’ll need to know months from now. For example: Cell phone numbers I often need on the road, gift ideas, room numbers of the gals we visit in the nursing home, the square footage of one acre, potential speakers for our convention, etc.
  • Short Term Projects: Projects, speaking ideas for in the next two months; these are bigger than “to do” items (generally take more than two steps to complete, and need to be broken down into to-do sections)
  • Long Term Projects: Projects, speaking ideas for more than two months out; these are bigger than “to do” items (generally take more than two steps to complete, and need to be broken down into to-do sections)
  • Delegated: Items that need follow-up
  • Emergency Information: Emergency phone numbers for me and/or for someone who might need to help me in an emergency. Includes designations for each person (for emergency workers who would not know our relationships): Jim’s work (husband), My office, My mom Barbara, Daughter Rachel, Roadside Help, etc. I admit that the pizza place is listed, too!

Know when you work best. I know that I do my best writing after most people are in bed, so I don’t plan my productive days to include heavy writing times in the morning. Because I am not a morning person, I also know that I must prepare for the morning in the evening before, while I am functioning most clearly—I will lay out clothing, have library books or co-op materials in one place, all ready to go out the door, with a list of any last-minute items that need to be added (well, on an ideal day!).

Relax your standards a tad, if necessary. While we all seek excellence in all things, sometimes our perfectionist tendencies can cause us to put off accomplishing anything if we can’t do it all perfectly. Let’s re-evaluate “perfection” in our homes. We have a saying, “If you don’t have time to do it right, you sure don’t have time to do it over,” but it is balanced with, “Our house is clean enough to be healthy and messy enough to be happy.” When the refrigerator repairman spends the day in your kitchen, you may need to be content that the children played Monopoly (math skills!) and Set (logic) and performed a puppet show (language arts and drama). Or maybe they spent the day cleaning up their rooms—organization and classification are language arts and science skills, after all!

Don’t procrastinate. Tackle the biggest challenges while you are fresh and motivated, breaking them up into small, manageable tasks. Get them over with and feel good about your accomplishment!

Just say No. We all go through seasons of life. Maybe this is not the season for you to coordinate that particular activity or teach that class or fill that volunteer slot. Or maybe there are some items in your schedule that you can delegate.

Expect the unexpected. This is when margin is critical! 


Each state has it own rules surrounding homeschooling and it is important to stay current on the location that governs you. We started homeschooling in Washington state and we continue to file our annual letter of intent there.

Homeschooling in Washington requires children between the ages of 8 and 18 years to attend school or comply with the homeschool laws. Below are the ways in which you can qualify to homeschool your child in Washington State:

Option 1: Homeschooling under the homeschool statute:

1. Meet the teacher qualifications. 

You must be qualified to operate a homeschool program by either:

  1. Instructing only your child and being supervised by a certificated person (i.e., the certificated person and the parent together plan the educational objectives; the certificated person has a minimum average of one contact hour per week with the child; and the certificated person evaluates the child’s progress); or
  2. Instructing only your child and having either 45 college quarter credits or the equivalent in semester credits (approximately 30 semester credits, since one quarter credit equals two-thirds of a semester credit); or
  3. Instructing only your child and having completed a course in home-based education at a post-secondary institution or a vocational-technical institute (these courses generally do not require an extensive time commitment); or
  4. instructing only your child and being “deemed sufficiently qualified to provide home-based instruction by the superintendent of the local school district.”
2. File a notice of intent. 

You must annually file a signed declaration of intent to homeschool by September 15 or within two weeks of the beginning of any public school quarter, trimester, or semester. File with the local superintendent or with the superintendent of a nonresident district that accepts the homeschool student as a transfer student. The declaration must include the name and age of your child, specify whether a certificated person will be supervising the instruction, and be written in a format prescribed by the superintendent of public instruction. HSLDA has a declaration of intent form available for our members’ use here.

3. Teach for the required number of days. 

You must teach 180 days per year, or average 1,000 hours per year.

4. Teach the required subjects. 

Your homeschool curriculum must include occupational education, science, math, language, social studies, history, health, reading, writing, spelling, and the development of an appreciation of art and music.

5. Conduct an annual assessment. 

You have two options for the required annual assessments. While the results of the assessment do not need to be submitted to the public schools, they must be retained as part of your child’s permanent school record.

The assessment options are:

  • Ensure that a standardized test approved by the state board is administered annually to your child by a “qualified” person (i.e. anyone qualified by the test publisher to administer the test), or
  • Have your child evaluated by a certificated person.

Option 2: Homeschooling with a private or denominational school:

1. Enroll as an extension program of an approved private school.

Approved private schools are permitted to allow families to operate their homeschools as extension programs of the school. You will need to locate an approved private school that allows extension programs and enroll your child in that school. A list of approved private schools is available here. The best way to determine if a school accepts extension students is to visit the school’s website or contact the school directly.

2. Comply with the private school’s requirements for its extension programs.

The importance of recordkeeping

You can find Washington’s specific record-keeping requirements, if any, above. These records may be helpful if you face an investigation regarding your homeschooling or your student needs to furnish proof of education.

These records should include and be maintened for two years:

  • attendance records
  • information on the textbooks and workbooks your student used
  • samples of your student’s schoolwork
  • correspondence with school officials
  • portfolios and test results
  • and any other documents showing that your child is receiving an appropriate education in compliance with the law.

If you are interested in the curriculum we use to not only meet, but exceed the requirements click here.