My kids are eclectically homeschooled. They participate in sports, music and group homeschool activities. They enjoy learning, and at home they like to do science and history and Life of Fred. I require that ds practice his piano & violin for about 4 hours per week. We also do journaling and crafts and writing as we feel like it.
My difficultly lies in getting it all in, while also having enough free play time, and outside time and hiking time and field trip time. They grab short free play time between each activity, but then complain when I ask them to come back to the next lesson. But if we don't do the lessons, they complain of being bored and ask to do more. If I give them longer blocks of free play, then "school" takes all day, and we don't have time for a trip to the pond or the library or wherever.
Maybe a visual schedule. . . make strips for each thing that they need to do and arrange them. You could put the scheduled ones (group activities that have a set time) on the paper and make strips for the rest. Let the kids arrange the strips within the limits set by the rest of the day. That way, if they prefer to have a large chunk of free time all at once, they can put all their lessons together, or the opposite. Show how some activities are "optional" like the pond or the library and let them make the choice to include it on the visual planner or not. Sometimes having some control over their own time helps them move quickly between activities.
I guess this really comes down to what your priorities are for their homeschooling experience... kwim? Like, is it a big deal if they skip the lessons? If they claim to be bored, can't you just do the work then--when they're bored and looking for it?
And how old are they? Can you talk to them about this quandary (of them being bored without the lessons)?
For us, we attempt schoolwork on mornings that we don't have other stuff going on. We have a co-op class on Monday mornings that should've been 2 classes but one was canceled. So we're kind of driving more than I'm happy with for one class because it eats up the morning. But that leaves us with playtime after lunch because seriously--my kids are generally school-useless after lunch (although today the 8yo did some math practice problems and a part of his "homework" from co-op--his first homework EVER!!! LOL!)
Tuesdays we do schoolwork in the morning for a bit and then 8yo has an art lesson nearby and comes home to a piano lesson for both kids.
Wednesday we do schoolwork in the morning for a bit and then we go to a playground/open gym gathering for the afternoon.
Thursdays we meet with a group that is more nature based doing outdoor activities--hiking, etc. but it kicks off around 10 or 11am and runs through 2-3pm. Needless to say, no real work gets done. And twice/month, Thursday nights are Scouts.
Fridays we have intermittent stuff. It varies by the week. We can hit up a museum or participate in an activity/event by one of the various homeschool groups (last week it was a Halloween party in the afternoon). My 4yo will start with a 45-min park district class that runs on Friday mornings, but that still leaves us open for the afternoons. In the winter, I won't drive into the city for the museums so I put the 8yo in a homeschool gym & swim class at the Y. But we can often do "schoolwork" in the mornings.
Saturday my 8yo has a 2-1/2 hour class that usually runs about 8-9 weeks at a time (fall, winter and spring sessions) and they're usually something math/science-y. This term is Scratch programming.
Most of the sports stuff is in the late afternoon/evening or weekends and we don't do many in the fall. But we don't do schoolwork at that time of day anyway so it's not interfering.
We also work differently in different seasons. The kids have a lot of summer camps so in the summer, we do less schoolwork because their camps are usually academic or I can at least tie them to either academic of physical fitness goals. The 8yo racked up half a year of science hours between 2 weeks of a half-day camp plus what he did in Scout day camp for a week. Needless to say, I didn't worry a ton about science getting crammed in the rest of the year.
When we do schoolwork, it's mostly Life of Fred (we just finished Jellybeans and I'm taking through the end of the year to practice computations and learn more computation tricks before we move on), handwriting, science, and foreign language. We intermittently practice IEW keyword outlining and rewriting but mommy needs to review the DVDs so we can move onward; and 8yo is less than interested in history at the moment.
But for me, I feel like this is enough! If we miss stuff, I don't really mind. If they tell me they're bored, I generally require that they find something to occupy themselves because they need to figure it out. For a while, we had the "I'm bored" jar--where they could pick something to do from the jar (and about 50% of it was cleaning tasks!). If they really push me about being bored, I remind them that they have the option of doing schoolwork like their public-schooled friends are doing at the moment, or they can play... which they do is their option but they need to choose for themselves.
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So, our mornings are dedicated to homeschooling projects, followed by free play, then lunch/quiet time, 30min of practice work, followed by more free play or enrichment classes or sports practices.
We have a solid evening rhythm as well, which is basically dinner, bath, stories, and bed, with piano practice during dinner prep time. It's actually very relaxing to hear my son playing the piano while I make dinner!
We rarely start from this rhythm. We simply turn down activities that would cause us to miss quiet time, or that happen in the mornings during our project time. And, knowing how much my boys love to play outside in the afternoons with the neighborhood kids, I'm reluctant to sign them up for too many outside classes, which would take up that time instead.
Is a nice balance. And although our rhythm is set by me, our morning homeschool time is led by their interests, so they are very engaged. The only required work I ask of them is during the 30min afternoon practice work, which is when we work on their skills.
When our year began I had this big schedule. Its now morphed into more a rhythm for each day. If we get really off track I can always divert and go look to see what we are to be doing.
I am also learning how to prioritize what needs to be done and do those things first.
They're 6 & 8.
I think that that's what we're lacking: a rhythm to our days. Part of it is that I don't know if they're going to get up at 8:30 or 10 or sometime in between.
The visual schedule idea is great. I'll try that and see how it works. Perhaps that will help add a rhythm to our time.
Thanks for the ideas.
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