In my first year of homeschooling, I created a miniature school at home. Formerly a public school teacher, I was following my instincts. Every minute of our day was scheduled. Literally, I had a timer. It didn’t take long for us to lose our minds. There is nothing wrong with structuring your homeschool like that. But, it wasn’t working for my family. At that point in my life, my boys were seven, five, and two. Trying to follow a strict schedule with three young boys was like trying to wrestle an octopus. I needed a new plan.
Today, we are learning the art of flexibility. My boys need structure. If they don’t have it, then their physics lesson will consist of plummeting large objects (or themselves) off my rooftop. But, they need flexibility to that structure. As I start to lose their attention, I need to be able to send them outside for a “brain break.” When I began homeschooling, I did not think that flexiblity and structure could co-exist. Friend, they can.
I will attempt to give you a glimpse of our flexibly structured day. You won’t see times. We just start at the top and keep going until it is done!
As soon as they are up and around
- 10yo and 8yo old begin math until breakfast
- Mom is making breakfast.
- 4yo helps Mom in the kitchen.
- Prayer, then we eat as a family.
- Usually, I eat before everyone wakes up. During their breakfast, I read the Child’s Story Bible to them.
- Individual Work
- 10yo and 8yo have a list of independent work.
- This list is the same everyday.
- Here is my 4th grader’s checklist.
- Here is my 2nd grader’s checklist.
- Here is my 4yo’s checklist.
- All of these assignments can be done with little assistance from me.
- Side Note: I have explained their individual work to them on the previous day.
- Work with Mom
- As they work independently, I pull out each child so that I can work with him by himself.
- I begin with my 4yo. If I don’t teach him first, he will get neglected.
- He has a checklist, also. But, he can’t read. So, we work on it together. Typically, we do math, phonics, and handwriting.
- After working with my youngest for awhile, I put him to work on some independent work. He stays in the same room with me, but works by himself.
- puzzles, pattern blocks, coloring books, mazes, blocks, legos
- Next, I snag my 8yo away from his independent work. My 10yo continues to work independently.
- I work individually with my 8yo for about an hour. Generally, we are doing math, reading, or spelling.
- After I’m done with my 8yo, everyone takes a break. At this point, my little guy is usually feeding the puzzles piece to the dog or catapulting legos. So…break time!
- On a nice day…meaning, above freezing…..they go outside to run, jump, and climb trees. On a yucky day, they run, jump, and climb on my walls.
- When I am done caffeinating myself, I call them back in for round two.
- My 8yo continues with his independent work.
- My 4yo goes to his room to play alone.
- Next, I work with my 10 yo by himself for about an hour. We review his individual work. Then, we do grammar and writing together.
- Sometimes, the boys will complete their individual assignments before I am done working one-on-one. If this happens, he can read on the couch or play in his room by himself.
- My two oldest sons make lunch while I check their individual work.
- When lunch is completely ready, we all sit down together.
- While we eat, we listen to our Classical Conversations Memory Work. If we are caught up with that, then we will listen to an audio book.
- Once we are done eating, the boys correct their individual work. Ideally, they are done with it by now. Not-so-ideally, they have spent the morning hanging upside down in their chair instead of working. In this case, their individual work will be waiting for them at the end of our school day.
- The rest of our learning is done as a family. While reading the blog, A Holy Experience, I saw that the author calls this part of her day “Explore.” I like that, so I have borrowed it.
- Our “Explore Time” looks like this:
- We have a big pile of books and resources that relate to whatever we are learning.
- We have the computer nearby so that we can view related pictures, websites, or videos.
- This is my favorite part of our day. It never looks the same. It is just……us……searching for answers.
- All of the “fun” takes place during “Explore.” We might do a science experiment, creating a diorama, watching volcanoes erupt, sing our history songs, or take a cyber field trip on the web. It is not uncommon for our explore time to be under a tree with a large pile of books. Some days, our “explore” will be at a local museum. The options are endless.
- We spend about an hour or two exploring science, history, or fine arts.
- Usually, when we are done exploring, we are done with the structured part of our day.
- Before they are released, the boys check their individual checklist. If it isn’t done then they must continue. Also, they make sure that all of their corrections are complete.
- After completing their schoolwork, they are expected to do their chores. Click here, to read about my chore system.
- Once their chores are done they can have a snack and free time.
- The remainder of our day is….life.
- Mom: email, dinner, laundry, errands, phone calls
- Boys: playing outside, games, building creations, wrestling, scooters
- Most days there will include plenty of unstructured learning in the evening, also.