Written by contributor Sarah Small of SmallWorld at Home
When asked to discuss my daily homeschooling schedule, there is only one thing I can say for sure:
Each year is different, and every day within each year is different.
But first, let me introduce my family. We are in our eleventh year of homeschooling. This year I have a 4th grade son and an 8th grade daughter at home, and our oldest son is in his freshman year at college. (Yes, we homeschooled all the way through. You really can do it!)
I think of us as relaxed homeschoolers with a goal of college for all of our kids.
We are the kind of homeschooling family that is frequently not at home. For 22 weeks of the year, we have enrichment classes through our local support group on Mondays. My kids take a variety of classes for five hours each Monday, including science, Bible, writing, literature, yearbook, geography, and other classes.
On Tuesdays for 24 weeks of the year, my kids attend a performing arts co-op in the afternoon. And on Thursdays for about 14 weeks of each year, we have a full afternoon of scouting (Cub Scouts and American Heritage Girls). We also enjoy a couple of field trips each month, although those are lessening as my kids get older.
One could say that leaves Wednesday and Friday as regular, at-home days. But rather than look at these outside activities as intrusions upon our homeschooling, I consider them essential elements of my kids’ education.
Regardless of our afternoon activities, our mornings (except for Mondays) look basically the same. We begin at 10 a.m.
Why this “late” start? Simply put, I’m a morning person, and I do the vast majority of my own work in the mornings between 7 and 9 a.m.: writing, paperwork, various planning, exercise, etc. My kids usually sleep until 8 or 9 a.m., so they have an hour or two to get moving, eat breakfast, and watch a little television or play a Wii game.
It’s 10 a.m. now, and let’s say today is a Wednesday—an “at home” day.
Math. We start with math every day. Their brains and my patience are generally at peak condition, and this is an ideal combination for math.
For years we did Bible first thing in the morning because that’s what “everyone” said a good homeschooler should do, but that just does not work for us.
In order for our day to run smoothly, we must get math done first thing. 8th grader does Teaching Textbooks on the computer. 4th grader and I go to our schoolroom and do Saxon together. Often he finishes math before his sister, so he will go play in his room while she finishes her math. I check over 8th grader’s math for immediate feedback.
If math is done, we move on to language arts. It’s Wednesday, so we do spelling.
4th grader does handwriting while I give 8th grader her spelling test. (We have always used Spelling Power with great success.) She misses two words and heads to the computer to make a fancy design with her missed words. She’ll tape this up at her study space to review during the next week.
While she does that, I give 4th grader his spelling test. He also misses a few words, which he copies, colors, and posts on his desk for review.
11:30 a.m.-12 p.m.
Read-aloud time. In any other year, we would do our Sonlight history readers at this time; however, this year we are reading through the Chronicles of Narnia.
We read until noon or a little after if we are in the middle of a chapter. The kids usually get out their markers and doodle during this time.
Lunch break. We eat first and then scatter our own ways. I check emails and Facebook, do a little housekeeping, and maybe start supper preparations.
4th grader is allowed to play 30 minutes of Wii or DS during lunch break. 8th grader can get online.
When one finishes, they are to do “sustained private reading” until the other finishes.
Science or geography. We don’t do these every day, but we have extra time on Wednesdays and Fridays. Drawing from our extensive library, we might read a biography of a scientist and then read more about this particular field.
This year for geography, we are working on locating various countries. I call out names of countries, and the kids take turns finding them on the wall map. We discuss geographical terms.
More read-aloud time. We read some more from our current book and then discuss what we’ve read.
Both kids then do an activity that goes along with our reading. This might be copying a quote, working on an essay, baking something, doing a craft or drawing.
3 p.m.: School’s out!
When I think back through 11 years of homeschooling, I am amazed at how different each year has been and how varied our daily schedules have been within those years. Next year I will have a high school student again, and our lives will adjust to yet another new “normal.”
What about you? Does every day of your week look different or do you try to maintain the same daily schedule?