When you write a book on homeschool planning, there is a certain expectation that you have things together. *Ahem* I tell you, I can make a mean homeschool plan — everything is nicely organized, lined up in pretty boxes, and ready to rule the day.
Where things get difficult is that spot where the plan meets reality, where my pretty boxes butt heads with not-so-pretty attitudes — sometimes even my own!
So how do you find the holes in your plan? And once you do, what do you do about them? The first step is to take a good look at everything you are actually doing each day (as opposed to what you planned to do).
Fortunately we have been doing school already for about a month, so the glimpse I am about to give you into our day is a real one. Here’s how a day shakes down:
[6:00]ish – I wake. I want to wake at [5:00]-[5:30] and go for a walk and pray. I did that for about a week and then was just so sleepy during the day that I stopped. I may try it again soon, but it is going to take some discipline on my part in the evening to make it happen. The problem is, my quiet time is guaranteed in the evening. It is not in the morning. I shower and dress.
[6:30] – The boys are almost always awake by this time — no matter how late they stayed up. Drives me nuts, because you can tell by the way they wake up that they really could use another hour of sleep. The new rule this school year is that they have to stay in their room and be quiet until 7. It is a struggle to get them to stay in their room still. They are not quiet.
I spend the first bit of the morning trying to get some quiet writing time in while I have a cup of coffee. Sometimes it works, most times it doesn’t.
[7:00] – Boys can come out of their room and fix themselves some breakfast (I help.) They dance about, play, fight, and generally raise a ruckus.
[7:30] – My drop-dead deadline for closing the computer. We begin chores, and I rouse Olivia if she is not already awake. We have a family list of chores we do in the morning. Everyone has to clean his or her room, brush teeth and get dressed first. Then the first person out can choose what they want to do from the list.
We all work together until the list is done. They mess around a lot, I yell more than I should some days, and I tend to do more chores than anyone else. During this time we: unload/load dishwasher, swiffer or sweep kitchen floor, dust mop wood floors, do a Flylady-style swish and swipe of the bathrooms, start a load of laundry, and pick up the living room.
The list may seem excessive for a morning chore list, but days can go by in this house where that list is all that gets done. The list keeps us from sinking.
Homeschool Planning: Mornings
[8:30] – School should have started by this time. Some days we do great and begin earlier, others we may start a few minutes later, but I try to keep it around this time. The kids grab their clipboards and begin with math and handwriting.
The beauty of starting with independent work is that any slacker can still be finishing chores while everyone else goes ahead and gets started. We are never waiting on someone to get done in order to begin.
I start the day by working with Thomas (4.5) first. He is doing All About Reading Pre-Level and MUS Primer. We love, love, love the All About Reading. We have a zebra puppet. I get to talk in a funny voice. Thomas tells the puppet all kinds of thing (like he is real or something) and it is so darn cute.
Working with Thomas takes a total of 30 minutes or so. Due to his age, we only work together on days he is interested. I don’t force a 4yo to do any kind of “school.” So far, most days, he has chosen to do something with me. After he is done he spends some time on Starfall or running amuck being loud until John is finished.
After morning time we continue with our table work. I alternate working with Olivia (9) and John (7). John does reading, and Latin in addition to his math and handwriting. His checklist also include Xtra Math fact practice each day. It usually doesn’t take him much longer to finish and then he is free to play with Thomas. Sometimes they play outside, but lately it has been so hot that they have been playing Legos in their room with an audio book.
Once John is done, I continue working with Olivia. She also has a reading lesson, does independent reading, Latin, grammar, writing, spelling, Xtra Math, piano and typing. We do not do all of those subjects every single day. We do the subjects where she needs assistance first.
[10:00] Around this time we break for a brief snack. Usually it is only Olivia and I working at this point.
[11:00] By this time I try to be at a stopping point with Olivia — hopefully if we started on time we are done with everything we need to do together. She may have a few independent subjects to do in the afternoon. I call John back to the table, and we do our loop subject for the day. This video shows a bit more about how to do a loop schedule:
Our final loop ended up including science, history, Shakespeare, nature study, mapping, and geography. I have a detailed loop lesson plan (post coming soon!) that tells me what to do each looping session. I open it, see what is next on the list, and then mark it off when we are done.
Olivia is the only one required to complete all the work. I am usually happier if Thomas is occupied elsewhere (sometimes he is, sometimes he isn’t). John only has to listen to the readings, and complete the science notebook (because he asked for it specifically) and the map drawing.
Homeschool Planning: Afternoons
Lunch – Dad usually comes home, and we stop and make sandwiches or have leftovers and eat as a family. The kids eat quickly and then run off to play.
If we did not finish in the morning we get right back to things after Matt leaves. Olivia finishes up the individual things on her checklist including her reading time. Ideally the boys would play outside, but with the heat in the summer, they play the Wii more often than not.
We use the afternoons for karate, piano, and errands. Some days we go to the pool (will be the park when it cools). We attend Mass on First Fridays and every Tuesday we are at co-op.
On alternate weeks we have co-op until [1:00] and [3:00] so it is an all-day endeavor for us each week. We love it though. That is where two weeks a month Thomas gets a fun preschool unit-study-type experience, while the bigs kids have science experiments, fine arts study, and memory work. Olivia has writing and grammar there as well.
The other weeks they have messy history projects and nature study or handicrafts (right now the big kids are learning leatherworking).
Doing What Works
Our plan is working very well for us at the end of the day. I am happy with most things, but there is always room for improvement. One way to ensure success in planning is doing an honest evaluation of what is working and what is not on a periodic basis and then revamping the plan. Since we have been doing school for about four weeks, now is a good time for me to do that.
Come back tomorrow to see how I evaluate the weaknesses in our day and what I plan to do about those. Or better yet, subscribe so you don’t miss a thing.
For more great Day-in-the-Life posts check out the Not Back to School Blog Hop with the bloggers of iHSN. Be sure to link up your own too!