Current Mood: productive
Current Music: the kids watching Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers on Netflix
I know how much everyone that homeschools (or is thinking about it!) loves to read details of how others make it work for their family, so I decided to share how our routine has changed going into this school year. I have officially started to lean in a more relaxed direction, so we don’t strive to check every box or even complete curricula within the calendar year anymore. Instead, we just take it one page/lesson/chapter at a time and move to the next book on our list as we complete something. It has made a world of difference in my stress levels and given the kids a bit more free time because we aren’t frantically trying to get all the things done by a certain timeframe. Ironically, after beginning this method sometime during the course of last school year, we actually made it through more materials than we had in previous years. Maybe it’s just the feeling of being more in control of our learning instead of it controlling us, but whatever the reason we’re sticking with it moving forward.
This year, we have a 5th grader, kindergartener, and little preschool-aged brother tagging along but not doing anything formal. Our week always changes a bit each semester as activity schedules change for our myriad of extracurriculars for the older two, including dance, gymnastics, piano lessons, and Girl Scout meetings and events. We are also not morning people and choose to let the kids stay up a bit later than most because it works for us. We’re usually up around 9 or so in the mornings, and bedtime for the kids is around 9PM, though sometimes it gets closer to 10 depending on the day. All three kids have a chore chart in order to earn screen time that includes making beds, completing school and piano practice, cleaning up any toys they got out, and asking if there’s anything I’d like their help with. They complete these at their leisure, other than school/piano since it’s built into our routine, and no one is allowed to do any electronics that take up the TV and will be distracting to those still working until everyone is done with school. If they choose to use their screen time while a sibling is still working, they must use handheld devices with the volume down or headphones in. Sometimes we limit the amount of screen time more than others, but if they are using educational apps or taking their own breaks to play pretend or with toys or do something creative, I feel less need to step in and require them to turn off the electronics for a bit.
During my eldest’s independent work, I’m free to work on my own grad school assignments, administrative stuff, etc. and complete any chores I deem necessary for the day. I will say, that I hired out regular house cleaning a long time ago, so my husband and I mostly worry about clutter, laundry, and kitchen-related duties in between kid wrangling and our other commitments for work and education. Our school day lasts as long as it does because my eldest wants to listen to her sister’s read alouds and sometimes takes her time working through her subjects while listening to music and interacting with everyone else. She knows she only takes her own time if she dawdles too much, as I require her to work through all her subjects before she can call the day done on the school front.
Here’s a little breakdown of how most of our school days go:
10:00 AM Kindergarten Bible, History, Literature/Poetry, and Science Read Alouds with Mom
10:30 AM Kindergarten Math, Handwriting, and Phonics/Reading with Mom
5th Grade Independent Piano Practice
11:00 AM Kindergarten Independent Piano Practice and Computer Keyboarding
5th Grade Spelling with Mom
11:30 AM Kindergarten Complete for the Day
5th Grade Bible, History, Literature/Poetry, and Science Read Alouds with Mom
12:00 PM Lunch – 5th Grade Read Alouds Continued with Mom
(Independent Audible and/or Internet-Linked Resources while Mom prepares food)
1:00 PM 5th Grade Independent Science, Language Arts, Computer Keyboarding, and Math
3:00 PM to 4:00 PM School Day Ends as all subjects are completed
If we have extracurricular activities, which we do at least three or four days a week, we usually have to leave the house anywhere between 1 PM and 3 PM to arrive on time. The 5th grader takes anything she hasn’t completed with her in a backpack, including her iPad for access to her online math software and internet-linked materials. Because we finish anything that requires my help or participation by the time lunch is over, she is able to easily work on her own in the car and while waiting if the activity we’re at that day is for the kindergartener. Other school years we’ve usually had one day that’s heavier on being away from home than others and so instituted four-day school weeks a long time ago. This year, things are more spread out, but my eldest decided she would rather take work on the go and still get a third full day off each week than to divide the work we do into the times we are home around activities throughout the week. So, for this semester, at least, we take Friday’s off from homeschool work. The kids get a three-day weekend, aside from any extracurriculars we may need to attend on those days. It can make for some full days for the 5th grader Monday through Thursday because she is basically doing school and/or activities until dinner if we aren’t home all afternoon, but she still prefers it, and we’re usually home a day or two each week for her to finish up at normal time and play for the two or three hours until dinner. I also really enjoy the three day weekends for extra time to get things done for myself that I’ve maybe been putting off during the first part of the week while working with the kids.
Sometimes, our school-day mornings get away from us, and we don’t start school until 11 or even noon, but everything can still be done by dinner because of how we organize our work and don’t take on more than we can handle in any given subject each day. My eldest is given a lot of freedom with the order that she does her independent work in, which has helped a lot with previous issues dragging her feet through her work. We work together to find the best curricula that fit her needs and meet my requirements if something isn’t working for her or is causing a lot of pushback. By getting to choose which things she does next as she works, it gives her enough control to not feel like she has to fight me about getting the schoolwork done, even when she’s having a rough day. By switching to a relaxed next page/lesson/chapter methodology, even on the worst days, she can complete every subject easily by dinner because the work required in each subject is in small, manageable chunks. Going into this semester, we have so far had the least stressful experience of homeschooling we’ve had since she began more formal work in 1st grade. I’m a recovering box checker, and the benefits are definitely encouraging me to stay on the proverbial relaxed homeschooling wagon!