When your children go to public school, you have a schedule that tells you exactly where your child will be and when they will be there. The teacher goes through the same routine every day, teaching the subjects in the same order with only the skills covered changing from day to day or week to week. This is not necessarily a bad thing. It works for the public schools. It’s efficient and simple.
But one of the joys of homeschooling is that we don’t have to restrict ourselves in this way. My sons both have ADHD, and are now unmedicated. The lack of a strict schedule is a huge benefit for them. This is not to say that we just “wing it.” We don’t. But we do have the freedom to take a break when it’s necessary, to skip a day here or there when things come up, and to alter our daily plans to suit our needs. As an example, on the day I created this page, we had planned to read two chapters of Swiss Family Robinson. But I found that there were going to be two episodes of How the Earth Was Made on History Channel. So, I scrapped our plans to read (although we will likely still read one chapter later) and we watched TV instead, learning how the Grand Canyon and Mount Everest were formed – science and history covered!
There is a certain amount of routine built into our homeschooling, though. In general, we typically start our day with a walk around the neighborhood. Around 9-9:30, we begin our schooling. We do some reading and math every day. I try to find books and websites that we can use that will cover reading as well as some science, history, and social studies all at once. I also use these science, history and social study lessons to teach other things, such as grammar, punctuation, etc.
Art and music are two things that I feel are very important to teach. Public schools tend to cut these when they are low on funding and/or time. My sons school kept kids from these classes when they needed remediation in another subject. While I certainly agree that math and reading are imperative, I also (as a creative person) believe that the creative classes, like art and music, are just as vital. I make sure that we cover these at least once a week, and usually 2-3 times. My oldest son has shown some incredible talent for drawing and possibly painting, so I definitely want to encourage that. Music, as most of us have discovered, can do amazing things. It can calm you when you’re angry or hurt, energize you when you’re feeling lethargic, lull you to sleep when you’re wide awake. Music can inspire a mood, a feeling, make you dance. It plays such an integral role in life, and I make sure my children are exposed to it. We have a somewhat organized music period, where we discuss various music styles, musicians, the history of music and songs, and other things of that nature. But I also make sure that I simply expose them to music daily. We listen to all genres of music, from classical and opera to the newest stuff today. Not all of it resonates with us, and sometimes after we’ve listened to something once, we decide we don’t want to hear it again. But the exposure is there.
We have the occasional field trip as well. In the next few weeks, there is a tentative plan to go with our homeschooling group on an outing to the local museum. We also do our own family field trips. Sometimes we go for a hike in the woods, and attempt to identify animals, trees, and various other plants. We take our cameras and take photos or videos (thus, fitting in some art). We come home and write up a short little report on what we did and saw. Other trips might include a day at the beach, or even a trip to the pet store.
The key thing to remember about homeschooling is that everything is educational. Even playing a video game can be educational, if done right. It can help improve fine motor skills, as well as visual tracking skills. If you talk to your child about the game, how it is made, how it works, etc., that not only makes it educational but it just might spark enough interest for your child to investigate how to make their own video games.
PE is probably the simplest thing to cover. We simply go outside and play! We all go for a walk as a family in the morning, but then in the afternoon, the boys just go outside and play. They ride bikes, run, toss a football back and forth, shoot hoops in front of our garage, play hide and seek using their tree house as a base or a hiding spot. They don’t have to be ordered to run laps around a dirt track, do jumping jacks or play dodge ball. They find plenty to do on their own, and they enjoy it because they choose to do it. One question I’ve been asked is how they learn sportsmanship and teamwork if they aren’t playing organized sports or participating in an organized PE class. My answer is really very simple.
Sportsmanship and teamwork aren’t learned just from playing baseball or football. These are skills used in many other places besides a sports team. This means that these skills can be learned other places. They learn sportsmanship (a/k/a, being a good loser or winner) by playing Monopoly, Scrabble, or Uno. They learned very quickly that if they were sore losers, Mom wouldn’t play with them anymore – and I also wouldn’t play if they were going to be sore winners. They learn teamwork by working together on a science project, cleaning up their bedroom or baking cookies together.
Homeschooling is not a matter of simply taking the classroom and replicating it in your home. It’s about tailoring your child’s education to him or her. It’s about considering the needs of your child and how best to accommodate those needs and provide your child with the best education possible. However you accomplish that – that’s your typical day.