Does your homeschool change a lot from day to day, week to week?
It’s been a busy semester and the flow of our homeschool has changed quite a bit. That’s not really surprising, though is it? We’re always adapting and changing things up in our homeschools.
One of the joys and benefits of homeschooling is flexibility. We have the ability to go on tangents, dive deep, reschedule things, go faster or slower. Still, it can feel like we’re being tossed around in the wind at times.
One of the reasons this comes to mind is because last week the kids did their history presentations. They worked on those for about two weeks (but we had a sick days for each of the kids thrown in there.) They each had to research and do an oral presentation on one of the absolute monarchs.
ED, my youngest, did a poster project about Maria Theresa (of Austria)… Her poster included a word search and spot the differences! She did a really good job with her speech, highlighting some of the major events in Maria Theresa’s reign. It’s hard to believe she did all that and had 11 children!
Meanwhile, my older two created power-point presentations. I gave them a series of guidelines such as their presentation had to include 10 to 20 slides, photos, and had to be visually appealing. I made sure they knew how to do some of the basics, but mostly I wanted them to learn by doing! They also wrote up some index card to help them with their oral presentations.
My daughter, DD, had a lot of fun with the “animate” button. At one point, she told us that Frederick the Great and his wife had no children. She then clicked on the slide and that picture of the baby came up (see the picture below right). We all rolled on the floor, it was so surprising and funny!
I think they learned a lot doing these Power Point presentations. We’ll definitely have to do this again at some point. The time we spent on these was well worth it, but it took some (mental) adjustment along the way since they spent a considerable amount of time working on these.
Anyway, as I was thinking about all this, I began to think about how much our homeschool changes from day to day, week to week and beyond.
If you’ve read the blog this semester, you know that we did a Science Club on Fridays for 8 weeks this fall. That was really amazing, but took a lot of prep and also took quite a bit of planning. It definitely shaped the way our homeschool worked for those couple of months. We hadn’t done a co-op/club/class like that before and while it was totally worth it, it affected the flow of our homeschool the other days. That’s not a bad thing, but just meant that we had to be flexible. Also, I had some expectations about what I thought we would accomplish, but we wound up going a completely different direction than I had plotted out (oh so carefully) in the summer!
I’ve found over the years that the rhythm of our homeschool shifts and changes for any number of reasons:
The kids’ needs change: When the kids were younger our schedule ebbed and flowed around the need for naps and “quiet time.” In that period it felt like as soon as I felt like I was getting the hang of this homeschool thing, something drastic would happen – like someone would stop taking naps altogether! But even into the elementary and middle school years, I’ve found the kids mature and grow a lot of the course of one year. What works well at the beginning of the school year often doesn’t work well later in the year.
Outside Commitments: We have have to adjust to our outside activities when we have be places at specific times. Many of us homeschoolers juggle multiple activities outside the home. These might include homeschool classes or co-ops, sports, music, private lessons or social groups (like scouts or 4H). What that means, though, is that we are often shuttling our kids around. This can take a toll on our energy level, which in turn affects the flow of our homeschool routine, right?
The Focus of our Homeschool Changes (or Needs a Change!): The kids’ history presentations really highlighted how much our schedule changes over time. We are constantly changing our academic routine. No two days are ever exactly the same.
At times, we spending more time and energy on one subject (and consequently less time on others). This is often the case for history and science (where we really dive deep into projects in one subject or the other and let the other subject slide for a while). And, I’ve done this purposely with spelling and grammar. I just don’t have the energy it takes to keep both going. It works well for our family to work on spelling in the fall semester and grammar (commas, apostrophes, etc.) in the spring.
Often there’s a point when I know we need to shake things up. We need to find a way to make the material more compelling, hands-on and engaging. (Because we’ve slid into a rut!)
We need to work on a specific project (a research project, play, poster, power point presentation, or whatever!)… (which of course, then takes more time and energy away from other subjects).
The kids are more independent in a subject are for a while… but then that changes and they need my direct help (or need me to sit with them to make sure they are truly “diving in” and concentrating in the moment on that subject). I’m thinking specifically about math, but really that can be any subject.
Sometimes I think the kids are working independently, but things aren’t actually getting done. I have to step in and make sure work is getting done and getting done well.
Sometimes, things feel slightly out of control or chaotic because of things on my end. I need to spend time getting ahead of the kids (and plan out our units or prepare materials to make sure the kids really understand what we’ve covered). And of course, it’s always challenging when we are wrapping up one unit and moving onto another.
Disruptions: Then there are all those things that make it hard for us to get our (academic) work done for the day.
Illness – This is especially hard when it strikes the family one at a time!!
Errands and Appointments – At times these can encroach on our homeschooling time. Last week, two of our pets were sick and had to go to the vet. It was necessary, but ate into our day.
The “just a sec” excuse (on MY end!!) gets out of control – Maybe I’m responding to an important email, writing something on the calendar, paying a bill, finishing the dishes… whatever it is feels important, but honestly it takes me away from giving the kids my undivided attention.
We’re tired. – At a certain point, we all just get tired. Perhaps we’ve been doing a lot, working steadily for quite some time. We start to lose the energy that we had earlier in the semester. Often we need to keep moving ahead (because we have other plans later), but that sure can be challenging… sort of like running through molasses!
In those times when we’re being tossed around, pulled by other responsibilities or pressing matters, we just need to adjust the sail. We can’t beat ourselves up or feel bad about things. That’s just the way things are!!
The thing is, all of this change is expected, inevitable even, right? We just have to be flexible and make adjustments as we go. We can’t do everything, every day, perfect in every way. We need to be the green reed…
The green reed which bends in the wind is stronger than the mighty oak which breaks in a storm.
Does your homeschool change a lot from day to day, week to week?
What are your biggest challenges? Do you ever feel “behind” and start to feel stressed about your homeschool schedule or are you able to “go with the flow”?
Wishing you a very happy homeschool day! ~Liesl
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