One of the first questions fellow homeschool Mamas ask me?
“What is your homeschool schedule like?”
It is a common misconception that homeschoolers are stuck at home with nothing to do all day. Unless you live in a very remote area, the opposite is true! There are so many programs, co-ops, classes, lessons, groups, etc. Truly, the mind boggles! Every spring I am inundated with emails, flyers, messages packed with information. Summer camps and science programs. Athletic organizations and music academies. Your schedule starts to feel like a vise around your head before you’ve even committed to anything. Mommy guilt stampedes through your brain, demanding your compliance in sacrificing every free evening upon the altar of team sports for four year olds. Saying “no” on behalf of your family is somehow equated to denying your sweet child the best learning opportunities.
A number of years ago, Ann Voskamp wrote up a lovely post about the seven phases of her family’s day. It has provided a purposeful, meaty framework for our schedule.
The Seven Rungs
1. Listening: A Way of the Spirit
2. Love: A Way of Sacrificing (The heart of everything we do)
3. Labor: A Way of Serving
4. Loveliness: A Way of Seeing
5. Literature: A Way of Seeking
6. Language: A Way of Speaking
7. Logic: A Way of Scaffolding
We then applied our own homeschool rhythm. I teach my children in blocks of time, which is a concept I picked up from Leigh Bortins of Classical Conversations.
If maths start at 1pm, the children have one hour to complete their work, if it only takes 15 minutes then they have the rest of the hour to play. If it takes 30 minutes then they will have the remaining 30 minutes to play. Each hour of our school day is blocked off in this way. I find this method especially successful for our four rowdy boys. They engage with a subject and are then released to refresh and renew. Quite often, their play is focused around what they just learned. This is particularly true of history and science… Lewis and Clark move their expedition outside. Nature notebooks are not taken inside but remain in the backyard to acquire more colored bark impressions. They have the choice to continue to enjoy what they are learning about or break from a frustrating challenge and unwind with a long bike ride or a bit of archery.
We have meshed the rungs and our block schedule to create a daily schedule that allows for LIFE and flexibility in our family.
Here is a sample schedule for the older children (second grade) in our home:
Wake up! Stretch! Breakfast!
8AM Listening: A Way of the Spirit
Devotionals , Memory Work, Family Meeting and Prayer Requests
8:30AM Love: A Way of Sacrificing
Find a way to serve someone in the family/Send notes of encouragement to members of our community.
9AM Loveliness: A Way of Seeing
Art, Music, Handicrafts, Review Core Memory/ Free Play upon completion
10AM Literature: A Way of Seeking
History, Bible/Free Play upon completion
11AM Lunch & Literature
Read books aloud while we eat/Free Play
1PM Language: A Way of Speaking
Phonics, Grammar, Copywork, Writing, Foreign Language Study/Free Play upon completion.
2PM Logic: A Way of Scaffolding
Math, Science/ Free Play Upon Completion.
2PM-4PM Occasional remedial work/Music Practice/Free Time
4PM Labor: A Way of Sacrificing
5PM-8PM Family Dinner/ Read Alouds
For Further Clarification:
*Free time can mean anything on the farm. Reading books up in trees, shepherding the chickens through the back hollow, bike races, or playing in the mud pit. The boys are in charge of their own free play. As long as they don’t kill anything or set any fires, its pretty much a go.
*We taper in seasonal activities as needed and try to adhere to the rungs as much as possible on those days. The heart of our schedule is our rhythm. The boys like knowing the purpose of each hour. It teaches them to try and live their days well. It helps me remember
that my time with them as small children is fleeting.
We have learned the art of saying “no” in open-ended ways. “Right now, this is not a good fit for our family.” Things might change, we could be up for it some other time, we aren’t slamming the door in your face but “right now” is not the time.
We have also embraced the “YES.” Yes to reserving time for jumping in mud puddles and reading favorite stories over and over. Yes to collecting a million sticks for the sole purpose of building teepees for our chickens to play in. Yes to valuing our children’s time! Their season is so sweet and so very short. Yes, lets read another book! Yes, lets have a sword fight! Yes, lets climb that tree. What we say YES to is just as important as what we say NO to.
Do you value your time? Does your schedule reflect that? What is important to you? Family meal time? Tucking your child in at night? Are the activities you are involved in adding joy and learning or stress and fatigue? Plow through the hard questions you need to ask yourself and wipe the slate clean if need be!