Ever since I decided to homeschool my children I have struggled with what a typical homeschool day would look like. I knew that I did not want to send my kids to public school, however I imagined having our homeschool set up just like a public school. I thought we would start at 8:00 in the morning with the pledge and circle time. Then at 8:30 we would do this, and at 9:00 we would do that. After lunch we would have a thirty minute recess. We would finally be done at 3:00 and go back to life. The only difference would be no homework once we were done with our school day.
Slowly I have realized that if I don't want to send my kids to public schools then I don't want to model our homeschool after them. I have been reading the book "Educating the WholeHearted Child" by Clay and Sally Clarkson which has given me peace of mind when it comes to doing things differently then they are done in public schools. I should know that because we have already done things differently and my daughter has made wonderful progress and my son has learned his entire alphabet and a bunch of the letter sounds without us following a curriculum for 7 hours a day. I haven't actually spent over an hour a day with my daughter using any written lesson plans yet.
This past summer I went to our local homeschool conference and there were two life changing (or homeschool changing) things that I got from it. The first thing was learning about Sally Clarkson and the book I mentioned earlier, "Educating the Wholehearted Child". I love Sally's whole book method. I love the idea of learning from real books rather than textbooks. I loved reading as a child, but not once did I have the desire to pick up a textbook for enjoyment.
The second thing I learned was that no subject or bit of information is more important than my relationship with my children. If I am fighting and struggling with my child over a subject then it just isn't worth it. For example, I purchased an English textbook for my daughter at the conference this summer thinking my daughter would like it. She did like it at first, but as time went on she ended up hating it and I would get into a struggle with her. I am now selling that book and we will be learning grammar by reading and writing during elementary instead.
Another struggle I have when it comes to a typical homeschool day is that I hate routine! Routine to me means boring! I am spontaneous and don't want to do the same thing twice. However, I believe that a routine (not schedule) is beneficial to my kiddos. Recently I have made progress in developing a routine for our family. I have realized a few things that have helped us. First thing I realized is that we are homeschooling! We live in Texas and do not have to report to anyone. Our routine is ours and ours alone. It doesn't have to look like anyone else's. The first thing I decided to do out of the norm was change bath time from night to right after lunch. No one I know takes baths after lunch, however that is the time that works best for us. I am not happy in the morning so morning doesn't work. At night time I am pretty much done for. Is that bad to say? I love my children, but I am exhausted at night and ready for a little bit of alone time. After lunch works great for us.
The rest of our routine is very loose. I have been slowly adding things in to where we have a bit of structure, but not too much to where I lose it and throw out my whole routine. Now that the kids know what to expect they help to keep me on track as well because they love what we do.
In the morning I wake up and make breakfast which now consists of either Cheerios or whole wheat bagels with Nutella, fruit, and milk. The kids are happy, and I don't have to cook. I am sooo over hot breakfasts! Did I mention I am not a morning person?
After breakfast we do a devotional and my daughter practices reading to me from her Bible. she then do math which takes 15 minutes or less most of the time. My son will play with some of the manipulatives in our math basket while she works. Then sometimes she plays some of the math games with him which helps him to learn his numbers, counting, patterns, sorting, etc. She loves the idea of teaching her brother, and I am happy to let her do it. Maybe one day she will grow up to homeschool her babies as well.
After math we do whatever we want to do until lunch. This is convenient because my daughter has ballet one day a week in the morning. We are easily able to eat breakfast, do our morning routine, go to ballet and be home for lunch and our afternoon routine. Also, if we want to meet up with someone at the park, or go do something fun nearby we are able to do so without messing up our routine. And if we do mess up our routine - so what? We just start again tomorrow.
After lunch we read. We read together, but we will also have silent reading. The kids love to grab a book and a snack before running off to their rooms to get comfy in their favorite spots to "read". My daughter is a good reader so she is able to read her books and she will come to me afterwards to tell me about what she read. My son will be in his room just looking at the pictures, but I am very happy with that. He is developing a love of books. One of my favorite things to see is that at night once in a while I will go into his room after he has fallen asleep and he will have a book open on his tummy going up and down with each breath. So sweet!
After we read we do science and then are done with our structured learning. Just because we are done with structured learning doesn't mean that we are done with learning. We can never stop learning because it is part of our life. When they are not directed by me they are choosing their own stories to read, playing in the different learning stations I have put together for them, or upstairs playing with their toys or make believe.
I love how things are going, and can't wait to add in some new things such as Spanish, history which will alternate days with science, and writing. Thanks to many other homeschooling mom who blog I have many great ideas for these subjects. And if my great ideas turn out to be duds then so what? I can decide one day that something isn't working and do something completely different the next day. One of the many things I love about homeschooling! :)