It’s official. I stink at keeping up with the blog. I wanted to write and publish all three parts of this series within a week of each other and completely failed. I don’t know how other homeschool moms with littles write regularly, but I know there are some out there who do! Hats off to you, Mamas! As for me, I’m learning to accept my limitations and write when I get the chance. So here’s a little glimpse into our busy homeschool world…
If you’ve talked with anyone who home educates their children, you’ve likely heard all the benefits there are to this lifestyle: flexibility, tailored education for children, more free time. I touched on these and more in my last post about why we chose this form of schooling for our kids. (Be sure to check out Part I, too, about freedom in education.) But you might be wondering, “Ok, but what does a homeschool day actually LOOK like?” Whether it’s pure curiosity or maybe you’re thinking about educating your own kids at home and need some ideas, I’m going to address that question here.
I’ve said before that we loosely follow a Charlotte Mason style of educating our children. Charlotte Mason was a teacher in England around the turn of the twentieth century. Along her career, she published several books containing philosophies of education. She viewed children as persons with their own ideas, interests, and desires. In her philosophy, children should enjoy the learning process through hands-on experiences, real and meaningful encounters with the materials or ideas being taught, and have opportunities to formulate their own opinions and thoughts, rather than being told what they’re “supposed” to think. She believed children should be presented with a “feast” of quality learning on a daily basis.
I’m not an expert on Charlotte Mason by any means, and I’m only halfway through the book, For the Children’s Sake, which is an informational book about Charlotte Mason’s life and philosophies of education. But everything I glean from books and podcasts about her philosophies I love. Picture studies, music studies, nature studies, and poetry studies are just a few of the things she insisted must be in a child’s education and we incorporate them all on a regular basis.
So what does our schedule look like? It’s important to note that it changes at times. Whether it’s year to year, or even week to week, the schedule doesn’t always look the same. I try hard to make my schedule serve ME, not the other way around. With two toddlers of my own and the occasional visit from our neighbor’s baby who I watch 2-3 days a week, I have to be flexible. It’s also important to note that I keep my lessons short. This is another Charlotte Mason “trick.” I agree with her that it is better to have your child’s full attention for 5-10 minutes than to have half of their attention for 30-40 minutes. When they are giving their full attention, they will retain more information. And when they get into the habit of paying full attention, they will continue to do so when the time frames increase which is much better than getting into the habit of only half-listening or interrupting all the time. We can get so much more done in a short amount of time when we are working one on one or one on two and they are fully present in the lesson. It’s awesome! This means that most of the time, we are completely done with school by lunch. The exceptions to this are when the toddlers are really antsy or continuously interrupting us in the morning so some of the school gets pushed off until the afternoon when they might be napping. Or maybe none of us are feeling the art or read-aloud component of school in the morning and this is better saved for afternoon tea or snack time–picnicking outside on a blanket or cozying up on the couch indoors.
Our family has a 7:30 breakfast rule. Because of Sunday morning church and Saturday morning sports, this is a 7-day rule right now. Breakfast is at 7:30 everyday and you must be dressed with your bed made and ready for the day when you come to the table. On homeschool days, this is when we do Bible. We are able to discuss our devotions for the day over breakfast as a family. Immediately following breakfast the kids have a few chores to do and then it’s right into school. Abby is usually starting her spelling by 8:15. So here is what our daily schedule might look like written out:
- 7:30 Breakfast/Bible
- 8:15 Abby – spelling, Noah – play with Emmalyn & Eli
- 8:25 Abby – ELA This varies daily from mini-lessons on grammar, oral narration, oral composition, written composition, dictation, poem memorization, copywork, picture studies, or week-long units on a different fairy tale which I’m incorporating myself. The lessons almost never go over 10-15 minutes.
- 8:40 History for Abby & Noah This is usually in the form of a read-aloud and then a retelling of what they remember. Sometimes there is an accompanying fun project or video. At the end of the week, Abby writes a summary of the topic or person we’ve studied.
- 9:00 Abby – book basket (quiet reading from any of the books I’ve placed in the book basket for the week) Noah – kindergarten letter work, reading, number sense, etc, with me.
- 9:20 Math We usually do a hands-on lesson with manipulatives on the living room floor or kitchen table. Noah participates with us. When the lesson is over, Abby does written practice in her math workbook. We use Singapore.
- BREAK/SNACK AT 10:00
- 10:15 Science/Art/Other We don’t do science everyday but when it’s scheduled, we usually do it right after snack. We might have an art project to do, a music study, or something else that’s “special” planned and that would go here or after lunch.
- After lunch we might play a math or reading or letter game or take a nature walk. Then I read aloud before quiet time.
There’s our schedule. It doesn’t always look exactly like that, but it’s close. I can’t emphasize enough that every homeschool looks different and it’s not always “picture perfect.” But I love this homeschool life, I really do. And I honestly think my kids do, too.
Whether you do homeschool, private school, or public school with your kids, Mamas, I hope you remember the freedom we have in our education choices and to change our minds when something doesn’t seem to be working. There is no “one-size fits all.” I’d like to leave you with just a few of my favorite quotes about children, education, and homeschooling.
“Children want to be sparked like flames, not filled like barrels.” – Heraclitus
“Whatever curriculum you use, remember to give yourself and your children three things: something to love, something to do, and something to think about.” – Karen Andreola
“Homeschooling is about freedom. But not just doing things the way we want. It’s also about our children’s freedom. Let’s not hold onto our methodologies so tightly that we forget the reason we’re doing this in the first place. Children are born persons, after all.” – Ainsley Arment
“Free time is necessary for the fruit of creativity. It grows out of a rich life. All children respond to this abundance with ideas, plans, imagination, playing. They solve problems, think, grow. Children respond to life by living. They need this time to grow.” – Susan Schaeffer Macaulay