Definition of School
If you are already in a homeschool setting, you probably have gone through multiple schedule changes depending on seasons of life, and what each of your students have needed at the time. After speaking with a few moms on the topic of scheduling, I thought it may be helpful to share what has worked for us and why. The biggest challenge here is to take away comparisons that are not an encouragement to you, and realize what works for some may not be the best for others. Sometimes, however, it is nice to hear a fellow homeschooler’s plan to enhance your own or to change yours when things become stagnant.
The dynamic in our home is upper-elementary and preschool. Because of this, I have had to become creative with keeping it quiet enough at the right times for my older one to think and work, while also allowing for creative play for the younger one. Using some ideas we found online and added our own twist to, we start our day with table time. We do different things together each morning, like watching a quick video, listening to a composer and coloring, talking about certain ideas and topics, and even making a weekly menu together. Giving my little guy time to color and glue while having great conversation with my daughter all at the same time really took a load off my shoulders! This is also when we try to pray for our day, hop into a devotion time and talk about the day’s agenda.
Morning has always been my daughter’s best time to “think.” She does her best work and can concentrate the most in the morning hours. After our table time together, we try to jump into math. My son usually will play well on his own while I work with her, because he just got done having interaction at the table. After math, we do a 30-minute break with music videos and exercise—this is a must for us! If you are struggling with frustrations of concentration, I encourage you to try this. After exercise, we generally do some reading together, usually a couple books. We have just completed a full year of a weekly check-off sheet that my daughter goes through on her own, in her own time. She must have it all checked off and completed by Friday afternoon. I work on these each Sunday evening and go over her week with her on Monday morning. She really needed some independence and was ready to make her own choices with her time. She has learned so much about time management with this! When she is working on her own, this is my time to hang out with my little guy and “learn.” This is flash cards or puzzles, or even just play with his trains or workbench. So much is learned through play!
By the time this morning routine has been completed, Mama needs some chore time, and time to get lunch on the table. I find this is a great time to let them watch an educational show like Popular Mechanics for kids, or a RightNow media show. Sometimes, I will have them help with chores or help make lunch. It depends on the day and everyone’s demeanor. We attempt to pack our mornings full…this sure helps us have a good quiet time after lunch. My daughter generally completes all her school work during quiet time and by 2:30, we are conspiring if we should dig in the garden or run through the sprinkler. Of course, on days when we have errands, this schedule doesn’t play out like this. The key to success for us, though, is to have it as similar as possible from day to day. Then, the kids know what to expect and look forward to knowing that.
As of this year, we seem to agree that year-round schooling works well for us. During the fall and spring terms, we take off many Fridays. This allows for extra projects and seasonal functions. Also, this helps with weeks when someone is sick or we are traveling, sort of a make-up day. In order to get our 180 days in for a school year, we finish up by the end of June, have most of July off and for testing, then get back to it by August. It may sound like it isn’t enough time off, but really, the kids love the schedule and we travel throughout the year, taking breaks from the routine during the holiday season. Maybe this will give someone a new perspective on their own schedule, or some fresh ideas to try out. Happy homeschooling!
Laura Hooks – Hi! Laura here, enjoying writing, crafting, baking and outdoor time with my kiddos! Growing up in East TN, I am drawn to the mountains and anything with trees and woods. I am a novice gardener and enjoy experimenting with what will grow in our area. Speaking of, my little family of 4 currently lives right outside Atlanta, GA with our coonhound Dixie. My daughter Olivia (9 years old) and I have incorporated a side business into our school time, making kits for families to get back to hands-on craft time! I look forward to sharing some of our craft ideas and other creative thoughts with you!
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