A hot topic amongst homeschoolers, especially newbies, is “When do you actually get some studying done?”
This is something that still makes me slightly uncomfortable, internally. Are we doing enough of anything? When does play transition from socialization to excessiveness? How long before I, personally, burnout?
To be honest, I don’t have answers to any of those questions but somehow, I have managed to find my balance amidst the chaos. It’s a process, you have to first rummage and find what works for you before applying that to your children’s schedule. It gets rhythmic, I promise – but not before you endure the haphazardness.
With age (or responsibility?) I’m growing an attachment towards an organized day. I have this innate need to write things down on paper and have it visibly within reach. So I do just that. I write each and every thing down, from playdates, trips, classes and meetups to, even, the cost of courses, material and trips. I make notes to refer to when my memory fails me and that happens far too often.
If you are driven by visual cues throughout the day then read on to know how you can calm the storm brewing each morning.
CREATE A SCHEDULE TO FALL BACK ON
Yes, you read that right. Create a schedule to fall back on, not one to follow exclusively forever. You will bore yourself before you even begin to bore your child.
No one wakes up and says “Hmm today looks like a maths day.” A little bit of planning can pave course for days when your mind is blank and you are not sure where to start. For this, I created a digital schedule, which repeats itself weekly and it never gets boring. Why? Because we barely ever follow it!
This schedule is followed pretty loosely throughout the year but more rigidly during the summer, when we are mostly home and catching up to take the annual exam.
You can create one too very easily. Write down all the subjects you wish to cover throughout the year and spread them over the week, frequenting them in order of relevance. For instance, maths and typing require repetitive practice, thus, you could choose to do them daily or maybe 3 times a week.
My strategy was to assign all the subjects that my daughter does alone until brunch time – because we mostly skip breakfast and do brunch instead. I utilize that time to finish up my chores around the house. So this schedule doubles as my child’s go-to guide when I am busy and she knows which subject comes after the other.
GET AN OUTING CALENDAR UP ON YOUR WALL (LIKE NOW NOW)
This is our actual guide to each, individual day. Every morning, my daughter wakes up and runs to check if we have an outing planned for the day. If so, then we abandon the schedule and head out. If not, then we refer to the schedule; discussed above.
Every couple of weeks, I go hunting for events around town. Then I assign field trips and outings, and mark them on this calendar so we are set for the next few weeks. This practice also helps me find balance to have an equal amount of indoor versus outdoor days.
If we have an outing planned for later in the day then my daughter carries on with the subjects indicated on the schedule, until it’s time to leave.
THE WORLD WILL NOT END IF YOU TAKE A FEW DAYS OR WEEKS OFF
Let’s get something straight. All of us folks, who have been through regular schooling, have an ingrained notion that if we skip a few days of school then we will fall behind. Although that may be true for conventional schooling, it’s not the case for homeschool.
In a traditional school setting, children have to move at the same pace as the rest of the class but in homeschool we can alter that pace to tailor the enrichment process. As a homeschooler, I assume you would already know that enrichment is not limited to books only.
An example would be, when the weather starts to get slightly cooler in Dubai we organize a lot of outdoor activities and barely get any studying done. I do still lay emphasis on a bit of math and memorization activities daily because those need practice but it’s mostly my child doing a bit of light studying on her own and then we are out the door. The summer is another story. Temperatures spike during the summer months and the humidity does not grant us the leisure of outdoor play so we mostly spend time playing indoors and preparing for the annual grade exam. It only takes us about a month of rigorous, or 3 months of regular “actual” studying to catch up and be prepared to take the exam.
I often have a good chuckle when I scare my child by telling her “Today we are going to study for a change.” It’s hilarious, the look on her face. And then I announce the day off and we sit and stuff our faces in front of the TV or play board games instead. Homeschooling is not about being a teacher, it’s about being your child’s companion through their most impressionable age. They learn responsibility from you daily, teach them to have fun too. My daughter has my husband’s sense of humor and they constantly plot elaborate pranks against each other all the time! Fun cannot be specified in a fixed manner. Fun can be anything you enjoy doing together. My daughter loves to jump on her trampoline while I read to her during geography. We do art and well, there’s nothing more fun than that. We kick each other off the bed or jolt the other person awake when one of us falls asleep during reading time (it’s mostly me that falls asleep). I tease and annoy my child during lessons, then I tell her “Look, you won’t miss the bullies at school,” while she rolls her eyes.
You may have noticed by now that I put in a lot of planning, just to wing it at the end. No day is like the previous one and I love that, along with my child. All that discipline, planning and order is for days when you have had enough and things start to feel too turbulent. You know there is something for you to fall back on, that’s all you need.
Was this article something you could resonate with or would you rather stick to a routine? Share your crazy journey and we may learn a thing or two from you as well.