Yesterday I started a short series about homeschooling with “Iron Man is Swimming in My Lemonade.” Today I’m talking about a few more lessons learned in my homeschool journey.
Calendar: Public schools are required to complete all of their curriculum standards within a 180 day window. That’s about six months give or take holidays and snow days and such. This seems like a lot of time, but really – it’s not. In our lessons, we chose to take some extra time on some subjects and topics. We found that a lot of things were glossed over or missed in fundamentals, so we spent more time there. But the biggest thing we discovered (are you ready for this?) was that it’s easier to keep up the momentum if we don’t take a three to four month break for summer. <Insert gasps here.> I know, right?
Seriously though, my kids are good with it. They are able to have shorter weeks or shorter school days and they still get vacations. Plenty of them. But the three months off at a time didn’t work for them or for us as their teachers. You’ve all heard about the ‘lost’ education during the summer months…right? I feel badly for school teachers who spend a great deal of time at the beginning of each year going over everything from the previous year.
For my family, if we stick with a lighter schedule, we can keep going through the summer months and our kids don’t lose that momentum.
Being a homeschooling family has also given us a big measure of freedom. If we have family come to visit or we want to take a vacation, we can do that any time of the year and work our schedule accordingly. I never imagined homeschooling would give me a huge amount of freedom in my schedule, but it has!
Play Time: Now I know that some of you might be worried now that you realize we still have school in the summer months. It’s just not the way it’s done. You might even have the idea in your mind that my kids don’t have enough ‘kid’ or play time. But trust me on this one. They get more than the average school kid. Every day, even with a full workload, my kids can be done with school in the early afternoon. They don’t have to take breaks for everyone to have lunch or to walk from art class to P.E. or other classes. This eliminates a huge amount of time in their day that would just be spent standing around at school or waiting.
My kids are outside playing every day for most of the afternoon. This means that nearly every day we’re at Six Flags, a park, or doing some other activity. In fact we do these things throughout the whole school year as well.
Are You Ready to Juggle? No matter whether you’re someone who is planning to stay at home and be a full time teacher with your kids or you’re someone who is running a home business or holding down a career, homeschooling brings a whole new level of crazy (and fun!) into your life. Be prepared to juggle. A lot. The reality is that unless you’re uber-organized, (I have a few of those friends and I love them to pieces – see Organized SAHM for one of them.) your meal schedule, cleaning and organizing will take a hit when you start to homeschool. You need to figure out space in your house for school time. (We use the kitchen table and various desks around the house for different things.) You’ll also need to figure out where school supplies will stay and how to reach them. Some place in your house will turn into a classroom. We have maps and globes and poster-board with quotes on it all over our living room area. We even have a Twitter board that I created for the kids. (Pinterest is awesome for homeschooling ideas!)
No matter where you set it up or how you set it up, just be ready for some growing pains that involve juggling of schedules, meals and space! (I recommend putting together a meal plan with some prep/freeze ahead meals so you can take that off of your stressors list. There’s a reason I LOVE my Crock-Pots!)
On Monday, come back for the conclusion of the series: Curriculum!