What should your homeschool daily schedule look like? This is a question that every one of us has asked at one point, whether you’re still trying to decide if you should take the leap or if you’ve been in it for a while and need a change.
Well I’m not here today to answer that question.
Sorry, I hate it when people do that too. But what I do want to talk about is what your day should not look like. And the answer to that is…public school. (Don’t worry, I’m not here to bash public school, that’s not the point of this article.)
More often than not when I hear parents talking about their struggles with homeschooling or their reservations about starting homeschooling, it has to do with problems that come from trying to replicate public school. And you know what, that’s understandable. Most people went to public school and that’s what they know. So it makes sense that when they picture what school will look like at home they picture a traditional classroom in their living room.
But let’s be real for a minute, most of us homeschool because public school doesn’t work anymore. And even if it did and that’s not your reason for homeschooling, public schools are designed for 30 kids in a classroom with a teacher that has to do his/her best to get them all through a curriculum chosen by a committee and designed to be a one size fits all. Your goal should simply be a great education for your child.
So let me give you 3 areas that we think we should copy public school in, but we really shouldn’t.
The first is grades.
And by this I mean scores. Before your kids are in high school there’s really not much point to scoring their work. The point in public school is for the teacher to easily track how everyone is doing and for the parents to know what their kids are doing all day. But in your homeschool, your goal should be learning. Did your child learn the material? Did they miss problems because they didn’t understand or because they were being sloppy?
Brace yourselves: my kids grade their own math and grammar lessons. If you told a public school teacher that, they would probably flip. How can you possibly trust children to grade their own work honestly?? Well, for my kids there’s no motivation for cheating because there are no consequences for getting answers wrong. All they have to do is explain to me why they got an answer wrong and then we move on. If I feel like they’re struggling to understand something we pause and work on it for a while until they get it.
Not worrying about grades takes a lot of pressure off of you to record and track all those numbers. And it takes the pressure off the kids to try to live up to a standard that may not be realistic and if you have more than one kid can breed unnecessary competition.
Side note: No, I don’t believe competition is bad. But in K-8, learning should be the only goal. Your kids at that age are building their foundation and being compared to a younger or older sibling can seriously hamper their progress.
The next is curriculum.
I know that some states set out a long list of subjects you are required to teach every year, but here in the great state of Texas we have only 4 required subjects (reading, writing, math, and citizenship). So obviously depending on where you are you’re going to have part of your decision made for you. But even if you are in one of those states that tell you exactly what subjects to teach, I want to encourage you to try thinking outside of the box when it comes to how you will teach it.
Does your child need to sit down with a workbook and complete an art curriculum, or can you sign them up for an art for kids class? Do you have to make them read a book and take a test on good citizenship, or can you get together with some of your friends and go visit your local police department or take cookies to your local fire department? When my son was 5 he kept asking questions about police officers so we took him to our local police station and they were more than happy to talk to him and show him around. He even got his own Jr. Police Officer badge. I guarantee that meant more to him than reading a lesson or doing a worksheet.
Or how about combining subjects? Can your writing assignments be about history? Or geography and art? Or math and music? So many possibilities. If you’re feeling bogged down by thought of having to complete 8 different subjects every day then spend some time thinking about how you can reduce that with some creativity.
The last area is timing.
By timing I mean both your daily schedule and your yearly schedule. Public school kids go to school from about 8am – 3pm between September and May. Does that mean your homeschool has to run like that? Nope.
As far as daily timing- don’t be afraid to just change your schedule around several times until you figure out what works. If you’ve read my post about Smoothies and Homeschooling, you know that I’m all about changing things up. My oldest is a night owl. His bedtime used to be 9 but he wouldn’t actually fall asleep until well after 10. So I decided to move his reading time (1 hour) to 8pm – 9pm and let him do recreational reading from 9pm – 10pm. So he doesn’t get up until 8:30 or start schoolwork until 9:30, but he has one hour less to do during the day so it all evens out and he’s actually more productive.
You also don’t need to cram all your schooling into 9 months. We don’t take the summer off. A lot of parents tell me something like “I just need that break.” But since we aren’t rushing and stressing the rest of the year to stick to a schedule I never feel the need to take a 3-month break to recuperate. We do take breaks-I’m not a masochist. But we take a break whenever and for however long we need to then just get back to where we left off. Not taking the summer off also prevents that breaking in period at the beginning of each year.
So there you have it, 3 areas that you can take control of your homeschool and break out of the public school mold. Start today with one of them and see what changes you can make to better customize your school. Your kids will thank you.
Which of these do you think you’ll try to tackle? Leave me a comment and let me know.