This is the next installment in a series on kicking off the homeschool year. See my other topics on picking curriculum (part 1 and part 2), finding curriculum without taking out a second mortgage, and starting the actual schooling.
Now that you’ve decided to homeschool and have rounded up enough books to fill a library wing, let’s talk schedule. And by schedule, I’m talking how much and how long you need to “do school” each day. Remember, this ain’t public school. It doesn’t need to fill the entire day because you, the teacher, aren’t shushing, talking over, corralling, or lecturing 20+ kids. Even the super-sized families are probably doing only a few at a time. So, a good homeschool day tends to go a little faster. I won’t talk about a bad homeschool day right now. That might need to be another part of the series, so stay tuned.
Some free spirits start whenever they get up in the morning or early afternoon and might stay in their pajamas through some or all of the lessons. I’ve certainly had those days, and anyone who hasn’t is, umm, maybe lying a teensy bit. That said, I usually make sure everybody is reasonably dressed for the day. No heels or pearls, but could make a fast escape in the event of an emergency without needing to grab a cover-up. I find this positively affects the general attitude of school. There is something about pj bottoms and bedhead that aren’t conducive to multiplication tables or diagramming sentences.
We have a soft start time, which means that by 8:30ish someone needs to be sitting at the table ready to do school. This is usually my kindergartner because she’s the early riser and still the eager beaver for school. Everyone else needs to be working through their morning chore checklist. I have the following protocol for kindergarten, remember I’ve done this a few times.
- She picks the first subject. We do handwriting, phonics, math, and science. Emma usually picks math or handwriting.
- We do two pages in math because the Primer level of MathUSee is pretty simple and fun. I let her color the blocks/pictures, too.
- We also do two pages in phonics. Once she starts reading, we may do less to allow more time for the readers. Although, she’s a pretty motivated kindergartner. She really wants to do it all.
- She does one page of handwriting and then colors the picture.
- We read a few pages in her science reader and maybe do little experiments, like listen to our heartbeat or check our vision. We’re studying the human body right now; can you tell?
- My mother gave my oldest a book of nursery rhymes and stories a long time ago. So, we finish up by reading a story and a poem.
- Emma also likes to do puzzles, so I often have a puzzle or two for her to put together. She doesn’t like doing the same one over and over, and we don’t have enough puzzles to do every day.
After the first one is done, we all sit together for Bible. Right now we are reading about creation in Genesis. My high-schooler has to write a paragraph on each day. My 6th grader draws a picture. And the younger three color a picture. When we’re finished reading through the days, we are going to spend a week making a play-dough diorama. I’ll take pictures so you can ohh and ahh.
Before starting with either the 3rd grader or the 6th grader, I meet with the 9th grader to review what she needs to do for the morning. We do a few things together in the afternoon, but she usually can do grammar, literature, math, and science on her own in the morning. Then, she’s off to do her work. I set specific projects for her to finish by noon. She needs goals. Well-defined goals.
By now, it’s probably about 9:15. I’ll just move on to the 3rd grader. Her schedule is similar to the kindergartner, with a few extra subjects.
- She can do handwriting on her own.
- I review her math, and she does two pages on her own. She catches on pretty fast so far.
- We do two pages in language arts, but because of the repetitive structure, we might only do a few exercises on each page. For instance, I often skip the review of the review of the review of adding suffixes or dividing words by syllable.
- We read science together and do a few pages in Rand McNally’s Geography workbook together. She’s learning about maps and directions. Right now, she thinks everything in front of her is north. We’ll probably do a few compass exercises outside when it cools down some.
- Finally, we do spelling. Her grade level has fifteen words. She reads the words and spells them. Remember, the purpose of spelling is to learn new words and recognize them faster when reading. She does a page of word finds or categorization by sounds or whatever the exercise is.
- Two things I haven’t added this year are history and read aloud. She’s taking an American Girl class at co-op which is a fun history introduction. She’s not my best reader, so rather than have her struggle through five pages of a book she doesn’t like, I’m going to let her pick library books to read. I learned the hard way that forcing a reluctant reader does more harm than good. Thankfully, that child still liked to read, even though she struggled with words for a while.
I typically finish with third grade between 10 and 10:30. Depends on if we take a break and how far one of us wanders off.
So, that’s half my school. This is getting a little long-winded, so I’ll break here and come back tomorrow with part two.
How do you “do school”? Anything different? The same?