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I want to start this post by saying that the topic of ‘scheduling’ is hotly debated in the homeschooling world. Some of us want to model our home education after a public school. Others loathe that method and run far away. I want to share why we have a strict homeschooling schedule in this season of our lives.
Please, please know that you have to homeschool for a bit and find your own groove. Each child is different. Each year is also unique. Times will change and so will your schedule. I want to share my journey so far with those of you who struggle with the same things my family does.
First off, let me tell you a little about my family. My husband works from home. His office is out in the garage, but never the less, he’s home most days of the week. We have a TV and all the channels that Direct TV can give us. We enjoy TV. We own iPads, Leap Pads, and there are plenty of technological distractions in our home. I homeschool 4 boys ages 7, 5, 3, and 1. I’m due with a baby girl in October. We are also part of many co-ops and groups, and that schedule keeps us running as well.
I think we’re pretty average. I think I’m a pretty average mom. I am easily distracted. Be it housework, texting, Facebook, my own blog, or TV, I have the natural inclination to do what I want first. My boys are also average boys. If they could wake up, wear underwear all day, and play Minecraft until their eyeballs fell out of their heads, they would. They would most likely eat cereal all day long, and no toilet would ever be flushed in my home.
There you have it. Our beautifully (imperfect) family.
I’m a former public school teacher. I taught kindergarten most of that time. (Read my story about why I homeschool here.) I am used to a pretty routine environment when it comes to education because of my background. I’ve seen some children thrive on it, and others struggle with it.
When we began homeschooling, I never ever leaned toward unschooling. I still do not. However, I wanted our journey to be relaxed and to incorporate learning into every facet of life. Then, reality hit. Morning sickness, lots of babies, whining children, laundry, dishes, and all the distractions of life made it difficult to get even the basics done on a daily basis. I think a less Type-A person could handle the hodge-podge type days we had, but I could not. I felt discouraged on our journey. I felt like I was failing my kids.
The big shift came last year when my second son started homeschooling formally with us. He loves routine and thrives on a schedule. My first son is the total opposite. However, our oldest is easily distracted, like me. So, my husband urged me to post a strict schedule of our day. I did, and while it never goes perfectly, we felt like we were moving somewhere positive everyday.
We start between 7:30 and 8:30 am depending on the day. I have breaks, snacks, and most subjects posted on a wall that we follow. I do not have a time constraint per subject. If math takes 30 minutes one day and an hour on another it’s just a fact of learning. We might spend 5 minutes on science or an entire day. I still feel like I’m meeting goals.
The past two years we’ve finished our day by 11am. However, with a 2nd grader, 1st grader, and pre-schooler this year, I know our day will last a bit longer.
The housework waits until school is finished. Ideally, I have everything cleaned and prepared the night before. During pregnancy, that’s a big fat joke. We homeschool first, do chores second.
I still believe in incorporating learning throughout our day. Despite a strict schedule, our homeschool operates nothing like a public school classroom and is perfect for our family. We take lots of field trips and do hands on activities daily.
A strict homeschooling schedule is not for everyone. I hope you know that children will learn in almost all environments. I think the goal is to choose the best environment for the entire family and to be confident in your decision.
What’s your schedule like? Do you thrive on having a routine, a strict schedule, or a take-it-as-it-comes kind of day?