A Typical Homeschool Day?

New homeschoolers often want to know what a typical homeschool day looks like. I understand that they are trying to get a feel for how other people do this thing called homeschooling. And realistically, as an experienced homeschooler, I like to read about how others do it, too. I know each family does it differently. Some try to copy schools with highly regimented schedules. Some set clear schedules for when each subject is done, but we’re a lot more relaxed than that. In fact, it’s hard to pick a typical day for us since they vary so much. So let me describe three from this past week for those interested.

One day.
This morning, the kids are up around 7:30 (which I aim for daily but don’t always achieve). After breakfast, we spend the morning at a park for a homeschool support group meeting. This particular time, the teens spend part of the time playing a board game and plan some activities with other kids; there’s definitely plenty of socializing going on there. Sometimes during the school year, the teens will participate in running activities for the kids in the group through our homeschool support group’s Student Council. Other times, they’ll take photos to use in the yearbook that we’ve helped make for four years now. Often they’ll get a game of soccer, or kickball, or tag, or whatever going, definitely making it P.E. time. Our littlest guy plays on the playground equipment, uses chalk on the sidewalk, and gathers twigs for some sort of game that he plays with friends. At the same time I participate in the adult part of the meeting (looking over at the kids regularly); the adults discuss topics and share ideas, go over announcements about upcoming activities and events, and more. There’s a table where people place items they’d like to give away; it’s one way we help each other out. And we chat, getting some adult time and helping each other through our homeschooling journeys.

We come home for lunch and shortly thereafter several other families arrive for an SAT prep co-op class for the teens; the other moms and kids watch my littlest while I work with the teens. After they leave, we eat snacks, do a few chores, and then the teens work on assignments in their rooms while I work on dinner.

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Another day.
The kids get up and we get started as they sit eating breakfast. We usually start with math as it seems to work best first thing in the morning. Otherwise, we don’t have a set order for doing lessons in, but generally go to whatever subjects we didn’t spend time on the previous day. We certainly don’t have a schedule with set times for each subject. In fact, we don’t spend a certain amount of time on each subject; generally, we aim to do one lesson and then move on. I record the time spent on each subject for the teens to help me figure out credits earned; after math, I usually glance at the list to see which subject we’ve spent less time on as I decide what to cover next. This particular day, though, we start with music appreciation as it’s easier to do while they are eating breakfast and we’re in a hurry today. For music appreciation, we use a lot of internet resources that we can listen to and discuss while eating.

Soon, other families arrive for our chemistry co-op class. We have rearranged the furniture in the dining room to make space for more kids. There’s a side table set up with a triple-beam balance that I bought used from eBay for a fraction of the cost of a new one, along with vials of substances, glassware, and a variety of other science equipment. Setting the class up as a co-op makes it easier for me to buy equipment because I split the costs, and the kids like having friends along for lessons (which makes for less friction over lessons). It also helps me have time to work with the teens without interruption while the four-year-old is kept busy by the other parents or the other younger siblings.

Most of the time, the four-year-old tends to sit alongside us doing lessons. For example, when we do math, he likes to try to draw on the bottom half of the large whiteboard, often copying the problems we work out on the top half because he wants to be part of what’s going on; other times, he sits with a calculator and diligently uses it to figure out the answers to simple addition problems. Sometimes he’ll ask to work on his own lessons though mostly he does what he’s interested in with lots of playing, listening to books, looking at books, and sometimes watching educational videos.

Chemistry meets for an hour and forty-five minutes once a week. Most of class time is taken up with group activities, hands-on activities, and labs, but there is some instruction, review, and a test. The kids have assignments to do over the course of the week, including some projects and a meeting with our STEM Club later this month.

We break and have a quick lunch. One of the chemistry students stays and eats lunch with us. After lunch, my kids work on assignments on their own while I tutor the other student in math. His mom and I worked out a deal in which I teach him math and she teaches my kids Spanish; she’s a native Spanish speaker and I have a degree in math. So far, it’s working well.

After math tutoring, another group of kids arrive for the Spanish co-op. We thought about having my kids privately tutored in Spanish but other people were asking to join and we figured that conversation worked better with various people, so the Spanish lessons became group lessons. While they work together on Spanish, I work on a project with my four-year-old.

When Spanish is over, I make snacks for the kids and we sit down and do some English–discussing a couple of grammar assignments and then we continue reading through “The Man in the Iron Mask.” I read it aloud since they are eating and we discuss as we go along. Previously we had been listening to it on audiobook, mostly while driving places, but when Hurricane Irma was threatening, we switched to the book version; in the aftermath, we’ve alternated between the two versions.

Then I take the kids to the library. The teens volunteer there once a week for two hours. They’ve been volunteering there since they were each 11 years old.

We have a day like this once a week, but I don’t consider it typical since our other days look nothing like it.

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A third day.

This day the kids are dragging, and we don’t actually get to work until closer to 9 a.m., about an hour later than I aim for. I pop a load of laundry into the washing machine and have the dishwasher running before everyone is actually in the room together, dressed and ready to start the day. We do math and chemistry lessons together, then everyone goes their own way. Some chores are done. Some reading is done–not necessarily reading that’s assigned. The kids spend a lot of time doing what they want, though I do interrupt at times to remind them of deadlines for various assignments. We do a mixture of using textbooks and assigned work along with letting the kids explore their own interests–sometimes with help and direction from me on the latter and sometimes without.

In the early afternoon, we get into the car and drive to the HTML programming class taught by another homeschooled teen. This is the second series of computer classes he’s taught; he’s clearly gotten better organized and has put a lot of time and energy into these classes. (The first series was good, too, though there were some hiccups in the beginning. This one works well from the start.)(My kids have organized and/or taught some classes before, too. It’s a great way to learn leadership skills as well as improve their own learning.) After an hour and a half, we head home again, listening to some more of our audio book along the way. I pause it periodically as we discuss the action, terms used, what we predict will happen next, and so on. We’re coming near the end of the book and I’ll look for a movie version of it that we can compare and contrast to the book, plus I’ll have them write a paper on it. Otherwise, I don’t usually give assignments on the reading; too many assignments on reading seem to destroy the love of reading.

Cheryl

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Don’t Like That? Great, Let’s Do It More!

Maybe it’s just me and my warped sense of dealing with children and their issues, but I was reminded today that I’ve had great success in the past with curing a child’s issue by giving them more of what they don’t like.

For example, years ago, one of my children whined and complained and dragged her feet when it came time to do her math. I tried a variety of solutions and none of them worked. Finally, out of desperation, Continue reading Don’t Like That? Great, Let’s Do It More!

Don’t Wait; Start the Transcript Now

Once again this year, I learned of the death of a homeschool parent/friend. The first time this happened, I learned of it when a man contacted me, trying to figure out what his son had been learning and where to go from here. He’d left the homeschooling to his wife. She’d kept the records, purchased materials, took care of lessons, etc. while he’d been busy earning a living to pay their bills. But then, in the midst of their grief, he realized that he didn’t have a clue Continue reading Don’t Wait; Start the Transcript Now

What Can I Teach? Trolling?

In the evenings, after the kids are in bed, I like to go online (particularly on Facebook these days, though I’ve favored other sites in years past) and browse. I often try to help out homeschoolers with questions by sharing my knowledge. Tonight I did this as usual. When a homeschool parent asked about how to find evaluators, another woman made a comment that made it sound as though the school district would somehow limit what she could teach her child Continue reading What Can I Teach? Trolling?

A Homeschooling Twist to an Office Visit

I was at a government office this morning with my 4 yr. old. Apparently an employee meeting was going on for a good part of the time we were there as many employees suddenly disappeared and the speed at which people were being seen slowed down considerably. The time dragged on, but my little guy was behaving quite well given the situation because he’d made friends in the waiting room and had convinced several other small children to join in his imaginative play. Having a snack on hand didn’t hurt either.

Despite having an appointment, we’d been there for two hours when we were finally seen by the woman we really needed to see.  When we entered her office, my little guy asked if she had any toys in her office. She didn’t. But she gave him a clipboard with a piece of paper and a pencil, and he was soon happily drawing smiley faces and doodles.

So far, so good. We were almost done. I was hungry, since it was now lunchtime, and I was ready to get out of that office and get on with the rest of my day. I couldn’t wait. And then something unusual happened.

My little fellow walked closer to show me his drawing. I complimented him on writing his name on the paper and pointed out that I was happy to see that he’d used a lowercase letter in his name in a spot where he usually (incorrectly) writes a capital letter.

“Do you homeschool?” the woman asked.

I don’t usually discuss much of anything than the weather and the business at hand with government employees, so I was taken aback. “Yes,” I finally answered.

It turned out that she was looking to begin homeschooling her five-year-old. She’d looked for local homeschool support groups and found one that didn’t meet during the summer. So I talked about my group that meets year-round, as well as how she didn’t have to register her child for the upcoming year but could homeschool unofficially for a year if she liked and about the number of homeschoolers in our area (likely more than ten thousand in our county alone).

Funny, when I left the office, I didn’t mind the wait as much as I had before. And she commented that she was so glad that I’d ended up in her office (rather than seeing a different woman whom I’ve dealt with for years).

Cheryl

But Why Say That?

“Can I include audio books as reading materials?”
“Can my child study [a particular country], in depth, for world history?”
“Can I decide that my child’s done with the school year even though he hasn’t completely finished the curriculum?”…

I see questions like these (and others) online all the time. I like trying to share what I know to try to help these homeschool parents who are trying to figure out what they’re doing. And I understand that other people are Continue reading But Why Say That?

Virtual School Lessons

This year, we tried Florida Virtual School (aka FLVS)–the online public school program run by the state of Florida–for a couple of courses for my teens with mixed results. Well, they have both earned good grades in the classes taken, but we’ve all learned something about public school courses–not just how to take them but their quality and the huge impact they’ve had on our homeschooling.
Continue reading Virtual School Lessons

Creating Memories with Our Homeschool Support Group

Our homeschooling would be so different without our homeschool support group. I say this as I’ve just put a lot of finishing touches on our group’s fourth annual yearbook since I’m the editor-in-chief. Shutterfly photo books have, it turns out, a limit of one thousand photos per book, and we had reached the limit without completing all of our pages, so I had to go back and check over what the committee had done and weed out photos that were essentially duplicates so that we had space for photos from our big annual Talent Continue reading Creating Memories with Our Homeschool Support Group

Teaching a Preschooler at Home

I frequently am asked “What curriculum should I use with my preschooler?”

After teaching a lot of preschoolers in my home (including my own forever children as well as almost two dozen foster children), I’ve learned a lot about what works with most children and what doesn’t. I’ve learned that Continue reading Teaching a Preschooler at Home

How Do You Use Kids’ Interests?

Every year around this time, I ask my kids about what they’d like to study next year. The answers have varied a great deal but they’ve always made our studies more interesting for both the kids and me, and I know they learn more when they are fully engaged in what we’re studying. It can take a bit of creativity and work to figure out how to include their interests, but the rewards have been great.

For example, one year my son who was about ten years old at the time, asked if he could study Star Wars. My initial response was, “No, we can’t study Star Wars. Continue reading How Do You Use Kids’ Interests?