There have been many people with reoccurring questions when it comes to homeschooling aimed at those of us who are considered “veterans” of the trade, haha. Some questions include, “what curriculum do you use?”… “what’s your daily schedule like?”… “how do I know my child is on track?” This blog post serves merely as an example of OUR daily life, and hopefully gives some guidance and answers some of these questions, even if indirectly.
First off, there needs to be a realization that homeschool does not need to reflect traditional schooling in any way, shape or form. We know many homeschoolers who “roadschool” meaning they learn as they travel, we know many homeschool parents who work full-time and don’t get to schooling until the evening when their schedules allow. We know some “unschoolers” who don’t have any set scheduling and allow their children to self-direct their education based upon their interests. There are MANY different forms of setting up your own educational atmosphere, goals, curriculum, etc. This may include school books, activity kits, online programs, etc. Whatever YOU choose! Our way of homeschooling may look different from the next family and guess what, that’s OKAY! That’s the beauty of it… YOU get to pick and choose with your family what you think will work best for your child’s educational needs and learning styles. Guess what, if it’s not working, you get to try something new until you find what works best! Learning is not a one-size-fits-all kind of thing like we’ve been conditioned to believe because of institutionalized education. One child may learn visually, another may be more hands-on and tactile, and so on.
Here’s what we do… It may serve as a guideline for your homeschool needs, and it may not. We’ve used this system for a few years now, and it works out well for us. We have a weekly checklist that gives them all their assignments, whether it be a workbook, an online program, or a hands-on project I want them to work on. During our “vacation weeks,” I typically lay out the curriculum for each child on my bed, and bust out about 9 weeks of checklists for each of them.
We don’t have a set timeframe for school, my children understand they need to get their schoolwork and chores done before they get to do any playtime, videogames, movie watching… and that works for our family. Yours may need more structure, especially if they are younger – and that’s when we did a lot of group learning projects at the kitchen table.
I let them sleep in, because I feel their growing bodies sometimes need the extra zzzzzz’s. We mostly have “slow mornings,” which means we spend time together chatting over a hearty breakfast that either I or my kids (cooking skills) have made. We enjoy time in the garden at the beginning of the day, getting some vitamin D and not rushing to get dressed and get somewhere. Honestly, my kids typically live in their pajamas unless we have a group meet-up or lesson we need to be at. Woohoo less laundry, all the Mama’s said, “AMEN!”
My children are older now and are able to pace themselves in order to get their assignments done for the day. Some want to get it all done quickly and even move on to get assignments done for the next day so they can enjoy extra play time. Hey, works for me! Sometimes, we get immersed in one of the hands-on projects and they want to expand further, so the checklist gets pushed aside to finish another day, and that works too! See the beauty of homeschool here?
I hear consistently, “how long is your typical day?” Again, it all depends. Most of their assignments range from 15-20 minutes each for my Elementary and Middle schooler, 30-45 for my High schooler… These typically include a daily assignment in Language Arts / English and Math. We also incorporate other languages like Spanish, Mandarin Chinese and Japanese and extra-curriculars like Advanced Art. Some of the assignments for Science or History may include a hands-on project that could extend for an hour or two if they’re really into the subject matter and want to dig deeper. Sometimes, we’ll even go further and watch a documentary or show about something as well. So, it’s all up to you how you structure your day and time and allow for extended learning moments or want to move on to the next topic.
We also try to incorporate a lot of real life experiences into our learning, including trips to museums, parks and landmarks, and specialized classes for lifelong skills like cooking and sewing. Now you might be thinking, “must be nice, but we can’t afford that!” Guess what, a lot of places offer free or low cost opportunities for homeschool families, and if they don’t offer that, I’ve been able to negotiate with places asking if I can get a group together, to offer a discount price, and almost always, they will. Take advantage of it! We’ve loved visiting places like museums, farms and factories and enjoy the open-ended learning that we can take home and expand further on.
Local libraries are also wonderful when it comes to working with homeschoolers. We’ve enjoyed taking classes at different libraries for free or a small supply fee, so check online or call around and ask.
To make sure my kids are “on track” with their same age / grade peers, we do use a few apps and online programs that I’ve mentioned in previous posts such as Freckle Education, Prodigy Math and Mystery Science. Some of these programs (all free BTW – with purchase options) offer grade-based reports so I can keep track of what it is their working on, need some extra guidance with, or have mastered and we can move on from.
Again, these things work for us, and may work as a guideline for you to try if you’re just venturing into the realm of homeschool. Take time as a family to sit down and discuss what your homeschool setting will be like, your expectations, what you look forward to learning and experiencing. Try different learning styles, books, projects, games and see what works for you!