Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Guest Post: Homeschool Schedule and Structure

Another guest post from my friend, Donna, while I am away particularly for homeschoolers. For her bio information, see her previous articles here and here. She will also be writing Thursday's post.

Scheduling in the homeschool varies with each family and
circumstance. The purpose of this article is to help you
that homeschool to feel a little less guilty and more
relaxed in your educational adventures.

Let me begin by saying that some structure and organization
is essential to the successful homeschool, but you do not
have to feel bound to do things exactly like others in the
Christian and public schools. Homeschools are just that,
schools in your homes...and as scary as it may seem, you are
in charge of what goes on as the administrator and head
teacher. There are times that it is okay to have a
parent-teacher conference! It is okay to talk to
yourself....as long as you don't answer yourself, then that
is a real indication that you need a good long vacation!!!

In the early spring, before the previous school year ended,
we ordered the curriculum for the next school year...or at
least figured out what we were going to use. We also chose a
good record keeping software or inexpensive homeschool
planner and spent time setting up the yearly and weekly
outlines, school calendar, vacation times, doctor visits and
other appointments for the entire year. Time invested ahead
in planning is well worth it in the long run. I found that
by planning ahead, it saved me tons of work throughout the
school year. With a plan in hand, it kept us focused on what
we needed to learn and how to adapt our homeschool. By
having the written records of our field trips, books the
boys read, experiments they did, or cool stuff like that, we
were prepared when it came time for our yearly assessments.
We had already projected the next year's curriculum as we
went along, so it was not difficult to present the assessor
or the school district the information they needed before
the next school year began.

In our family, we did not have what you would call a tightly
structured schedule. Some families are run like a boarding
school, everyone up at 6:00 am and doing school by 8:00,
Lunch at 12 noon, and school dragging out to 3:00 pm beyond
the point of exhaustion for everyone! We did not follow the
prescribed schedule set down by people who did not know our
circumstances or our family schedule. My illnesses prevented
early schedules. Instead, we had a loose schedule and stayed
adaptable. We would “do school” when I got up. A lot of
times when the boys were younger, they would spend their
time in creative playing or reading, doing homework for the
co-op, listening to stories on cassettes, etc. until I got
up, then we would spend time cracking the books. Sometimes
I would give them some fun projects to work on. Either way,
we were often done by 1:00 pm, then I would be free to do
laundry and other tasks that had to be done. Adaptability
lent itself to more learning opportunities and to our
ultimate success of homeschooling.

Our schedule looked something like this:
Mondays were errand days. We counted them on our schedule as
library days. After we visited the local year-round flea
market, and grocery stores and other places on the list, we
ended our trips at the library. The boys researched and
checked out tall stacks of books and other learning
materials every week. By the time all of the shopping was
over and library trip was done we were all exhausted. We
headed home to get a late lunch, do chores, and get ready
for Daddy to come home.

Our Tuesday through Thursday schedules were typical school
days...if our days were ever typical! I tried to
concentrate on one subject at a time with each boy to help
them understand the concepts before I helped the other one
with their school work. Some subjects we studied together,
like social studies and science, and it made things a lot
easier once we were able to do that! There were times when
things got frustrating and we all needed a break. I would
call a recess time and they would run outside to clear the
cobwebs from their brains while I hung a load of laundry or
did whatever else that needed done.

Fridays were different because we went to homeschool co-ops
and the boys always looked forward to that break in the
schedule. We got up early, packed a snack, grabbed our
backpacks and headed out the door. The boys learned a lot of
subjects that I did not have the ability to teach them,
like geology, chemistry, sign language, and Spanish, etc. It
was a way to for me to connect with other moms and to give
the boys some socializing time. I found that time to be
especially helpful even though they were not of like faith.
We talked about our children and their struggles and shared
advice and encouragement with each other.

I know this thought may be a bit controversial, but... you
do not have to feel obligated to spend the exact amount of
time in school that others do. Take the typical school day
of 6 hours, then subtract the hours that are used for
recess, going to from one class to another and back again,
restroom breaks, snack time, parties, lunch breaks, assembly
time, busy work, homeroom time, audio-visual time, etc., you
can see that a homeschooler is getting the same amount of
instruction time that their counterparts are. Add it up and
see if I am not right. I hope this point alone has relieved
some of the guilt that some homeschooling mothers feel about
how much time is actually spent “doing school”.

You have to have a balance of school time, free time, and
activities / chore time. Choose what works best for your
family and allow for life to happen! Have a schedule as a
guideline, not as a taskmaster! Without a balance of free
time, an ultra structured schedule can be as devastating to
a child as much as no structure and all free time. A
balanced homeschool is a happy one! I have been there, done
that and I know it works!!!

Happy Homeschooling!

1 comment:

  1. Great post and I loved the look at your schedule and life. It sounds as if you attended a great co-op and reaped the benefits of academic instruction, socialization and support for you! That's what co-oping at its best is all about!

    Carol Topp
    Author of Homeschool Co-ops: How to Start Them, Run Them and Not Burn Out