Theories are nice to read about, but we all need to have real-life examples of just how things work, don’t we? (I know I sure do!) So, how ’bout hearing how we’ve done things at our house? Here is an example of a relaxed homeschool schedule (although I prefer the word “routine”).
Our educational philosophy consists of four tiers, and here they are:
- Relating to God and man–Bible, spiritual, and character training
- Tools–reading, writing, and ‘rithmetic
- Content–science, history, geography, etc.
- Practical skills (this includes the arts)–homemaking, auto maintenance, bill paying, gardening, vocational skills, entrepreneurial pursuits, etc.
Having a framework from which to plan, even “un” plan so the children can learn on their own, has ended the confusion and helped us all tremendously.
But even with these guidelines firmly in place, sometimes I don’t hold on securely enough and I slip. Sometimes I get caught up into that Pinterest vortex of “keeping up,” of taking our temperature to make sure we are doing everything “correctly.”
Lots of times I am certain of what I want to use, secure in the direction I want to go, but absolutely clueless as to how to get there…
Of course, if I can calm myself down, I can hear the Holy Spirit, and He is the One Who can set it all straight for me.
As always, He has given me the answers I have needed. Finally, our required learning (tools) is dovetailing splendidly with more free-spirited exploration and discovery.
So, here it is, not so that it can be copied, but to inspire others to find a Divine balance for their own lives (trust me, if I can do it as a continually distracted, creative person with continually distracted, creative children, numerous demands, and a husband with a varying schedule, anyone can!).
Mornings (all times/activities are approximate and subject to change):
I rise early and have this prepared and ready. I am sort of sneaky because I play good sermons while I am cooking and they are eating–getting a good word in us all however possible!
7:30 Bible time.
We are systematically reading through the Gospels. Our method is to take a chapter a day and split it up so that all readers have a portion to share. We also like to take out our hymnals and sing at least three hymns together.
8:00 Journals/read aloud.
Journaling is something new I have begun in the hopes my girls will keep it as a habit for the rest of their lives. After 15 minutes of journaling, I’m reading to the older children during this time since I read to the younger ones later in the day. We have enjoyed titles such as Aunt Jane’s Hero by Elizabeth Prentiss, But Don’t All Religions Lead to God? by Michael Green, and In God’s Underground by Richard Wurmbrand. Since the older set is made up of avid readers who probably know more than I do on many subjects, I try and take this time to give them solid Christian biographies or engaging books on apologetics or other tomes which address the questions of our age.
8:30 or 8:45 Personal hygiene/chore time.
I can’t operate well in an untidy house, so the whole shebang is gone over, from beds to bathrooms to dishes to laundry. Everyone has a zone to be responsible for which is inspected by Yours Truly.
Depending on the child and the day, phonics, McGuffey’s, Ray’s and other arithmetic (including Saxon, Khan Academy, and lately business math), Harvey’s Grammar, Long’s Language, penmanship and copywork with scripture, math games, German. The younger children have between 1/2 hour to 1 1/2 hours’ worth of work, the older children have about 2+ hours’ worth. Everything is spelled out on their assignment sheets. Those who are independent readers do the work on their own. If the pre-reader can’t busy herself I have her sit and give me “an artwork,” which means she draws a picture using the medium of her choice inside a square I have drawn on a blank piece of paper (at this point it usually has something to do with princesses, but that’s just fine by me, the idea being to get her practicing her fine motor skills while keeping occupied). The little one also has one line of copywork on her assignment page and plays a game on the 100’s board with me.
11:30 Lunch is prepared by an older child, some continue to work, others play.
12:00 Lunch is served, cleaned up, life logistics are taken care of.
Somewhere in this time the younger children and I pause and read aloud from our current novel (right now it is The Wheel on the School) and then a story, article, etc. concerning history, science, or any other content area. Often we will extend this time by examining a map on the wall, grabbing an atlas or other history reference book, or looking up something on the Internet, such as a video demonstration, etc.)
Also, throughout the morning classical/contemporary praise music is being played whenever we need to shut out distractions and concentrate. This seems to help one concentrate on the task at hand, such as copywork or math problems. It also gets the children used to listening to excellent music so that their tastes are developed for higher things.
1:45 or 2:00 Time with the pre-reader.
This is precious to me. I am actually taking these moments to teach my little one to read, although she never suspects. To her this is just cuddle time on Mommy’s bed with books, but I sneak in sounding out a few lines in something like The Victory Drill Book, a McGuffey’s, or even with chalk and slate. Then I read a short story to her from one of the volumes of My Book House just before I cuddle her so she can take a nap. Everyone else is either finishing up their studies, napping, reading, or some other quiet activity.
The rest of the day is for real-life. We don’t play video games and we delegate movie watching to special days when Daddy is home. Each person must forage around and find things to do for herself, although there are chores required from time-to-time which I write down and assign. They read, write, craft, keep track of their “finances,” and play a lot. Oftentimes they go outside or go on nature walks together in groups as the weather permits. Sometimes they take the cushions off the old couches in the basement and build forts or spaceships or “apartments.” They might even surf the Net or create using some Adobe software and a tablet for art. One is helping her older brother with his online business.
Oh, and I only require one content notebooking page due by Thursday evening (deadlines are something homeschoolers need to become accustomed to), but I might suggest another one to a youngster who is especially enthused about something. I have them track what they are learning by writing their activities down on a line on their assignment sheets called “Free Learn,” an idea that is very popular around here.
Of course, there are rules–they must clean up after themselves and be respectful of tools and supplies. Also, I am quite available to read about an interesting topic to the younger set, perhaps a little history of the world, some poetry with tea, or maybe we will bake something together or we will learn how to sew a button on a dress…
The whole idea is that we are relaxed and enjoying ourselves as much as possible.
Yes, we are hitting academics, but we are also allowing delight-directed learning within a structured environment. Everything is relaxed and there is so much freedom and a whole lot of fun!