I never posted under the homeschooling tag because I was unsure of how to proceed. But, I decided to start at the beginning. Eureka, I know. So, first know this. I’ve been homeschooling for SIX years now, and am only STARTING to feel like I have a grasp on it. Not because I feel inadequate, but because it takes time to find what works for your individual children (and that is always changing-get used to it) and to find what works for you AS A FAMILY.
Scheduling. It’s the first thing that freaks new homeschoolers, and unfortunately, it’s the least fixed aspect of homeschooling. Different kids do well with different things first. I’ll use my 13 daughter for example. She is NOT a morning person. She needs an hour to wake up and have a cup of coffee. (Much like I do). So, I can’t plan her schedule to be front loaded with her hardest classes. I ease her into her day. Now, she’s also a slow, precise, worker. So, she needs a lot of time to get her work done (in this way she’s like my husband-slow and steady wins the race). I am, to their chagrin, a fast worker, so there can be a lot of frustration in unmet expectations in this area.
For instance, I’ll start her out with reading, or history, depending on where we left off the previous day. Then she’ll do Math, and then we’ll have a snack or lunch and after THAT-is when she really hits her stride. So then is when we pound out grammar/Latin/Greek. If she doesn’t get all of that done before acting, we break for her acting classes, have dinner and she finishes up afterwards.
My job as her parent is to teach her how to manage her own time and to become a self learner. I help her when she need is-obviously- but I want to send into the world a capable person, who can know how to find what they need to teach themselves what they need to learn. She needs to learn to work around the fact that she is a slow worker-meaning scheduling enough time to get her tasks done. This means not being able to do some of the fun things she wants to do because priorities come first.
Back to scheduling. While she is doing her work in the morning, I do table work with the little ones (8, 6, 6, 5). Right now they are all learning cursive*1. It’s a great warm-up to their day, and covers spelling and writing all in one. They all go at different paces, so the twins will be a few words behind the 8 year old, but when the 8 year old is done, I send him off to free read for an hour, and then a few minutes later the twins are done and they go off for a break. And now I get a mid morning break which is when I take a shower and sneak in some blogging.
Side note: If we had a different TYPE of house, I would do things differently, but in our house if I ran the coffee maker at 6 am and started my day, the whole house would wake up and I would get NO time alone, which, defeats the purpose of getting up that early. Also, my husband works late hours (self employed) and so we, as a family, time ourselves around him. He loves spending time with them in the morning because he doesn’t get to see them at night, and that time is important to us-kinda like “dinner” time for other families. Because we homeschool, we can capitalize on that by having our homeschooling start at 10 am. Yes, it’s a little off in timing of the rest of the population, but we build things around our priorities as a family. BECAUSE of that, we are a very close family, and love spending time together. All of this individuality is built into the scheduling, so you can see how answering “But how do you schedule?” is loaded with vagueness.
Another thing that happens to all beginning homeschoolers, and that I’m enormously guilty of myself, is piling on too much work out of my own fear of ‘ruining’ my child’s education. I’ve pulled two kids out of school, and in my first year I overloaded them so much that they were the WORST years of homeschooling for us. Please-learn from me. Take a month or two off if you pull your children out. You will NOT ruin them, I promise. Harness that gripping fear, and let them decompress. They need it. It’s a huge change, and homeschooling is a much more organic process than public school and they need time to adjust. Get them some good books, show them the hammock and let them unwind. Let them do that until they are at peace. You’ll see the difference, I promise you. The pressure of school and dealing with a few hundred of their peers brings a certain type of anger*2, and that needs to be let go so that they can learn and become part of the family unit. It’s a different type of living, and everyone needs time to adjust. For yourself, too. Use that time to research books, homeschooling groups, schools of thought (unschooling, classical, or something in between?) And get used to the idea of being flexible. If something isn’t working, the solution isn’t to apply it with more force. The solution is to turn and go another way. There is a certain stress doing so brings along because it’s a side trip into the unknown, but you’ll adjust and pick up the flow and find out what works for YOU as a family. And if you relax, and trust yourself that you are not going to harm your child, you’ll find there’s a joy in the journey. And they will learn to navigate life, too.
*1-Spell to Write and Read by Wanda Sanseri. I tried them ALL. And I mean ALL. A good couple hundred dollars worth of ‘Teach your child to read’ curriculum’s. SPELL TO READ AND WRITE is by far the best. My 3rd grader was going down the path to dyslexia, and this totally turned him around, and I decided to prevent that with the little ones. They are in K and reading and writing in cursive. I also started SPELL TO READ AND WRITE because despite the 3rd graders ability to read well, he struggled over writing simple sentences. So we stopped the grammar lessons and spelling lessons and backtracked. Three months later, he’s doing fantastic. The Writing Road to Reading, I felt, was written for the instructor who had been taught by WRtR methods and there was a lot of gaps for me as a homeschooler using it. SPELL TO READ AND WRITE uses the WRtR methods, but also is explained in enough detail that it’s not stressful to use. And I also believed in learning cursive first to prevent dyslexia, which is brought up in SPELL TO READ AND WRITE.
*2 In no other time in our adult life are we surrounded by a few hundred people our exact age. Think about all the people you come in contact with during the course of your day -how many are your age? After my oldest was homeschooled a few years I got the best compliment ever. His acting teacher told me that the difference he sees in the homeschoolers (there were a few in these classes) is that they have no problem talking to everyone. From Senior citizens, to small children, they were well rounded in socialization, and that he could always tell who came from public school because they wouldn’t look him in the eye.
Part two later.