Our local homeschool group is revving up again. Luckily it’s a group we all enjoy participating in so we are making an effort to be there!
However it means we have less time during the day for the other things we want to do… which means after much thought we decided to go back to schooling in the evening. Breaking from the normal routine we set for ourselves this last year means the kids’ time with their neighborhood friends will be cut short but it also means if they’re on their holiday school break they can come over earlier without distracting us from our activities. I promise to spend a little time on Instagram this week sharing some of those changes.
The transition was a little rough because the kids wanted to know how their tokens played out. Once they realized nothing in that department changed, except that their game time opportunity would be limited between Noon and 5 pm, they all jumped on board.
I admit that Lil Man had the hardest time with the transition at first. He was accustomed to jumping out of bed and being the first person to knock out his schoolwork. He is definitely my little creature of habit but once he got the swing of things he is good to go!
Some of the elements of our new schedule were implemented slowly over the last 6 months.
That’s because I noticed they have a harder idea understanding what the new things is and easily stress out when things are dumped on them all at once. When I think about adding something to our homeschool, I think about our commitment level to the idea or activity. If it’s not something fun or at least engaging, it simply is a waste of time.
Why did we make an effort to change our routine?
For some reason at the start of the New Year the kids started to take all day to do their work. They liked what they were doing but they were easily distracted by their friends coming by or the antics of their Chihuahua. I found myself having moments, lots of moments, where I was trying to keep my cool. Then two things happened at once. The first was dealing with kids who were obnoxiously alert between 5 and 11 pm. Uggh! The second was a comment by a homeschooling friend who reminded me that WE use to homeschool at night. Duh! Why am I striving for a bedtime when we have the flexibility to educate during hours that work better for them?
What does our new schedule look like?
-Children are invited to breakfast.
-When they are done they cleanup their area before heading to the living room where they have a morning basket or their morning books waiting for them.
Morning baskets and strewing were a couple of things we did when we were more Charlotte Mason Homeschoolers.
What are Morning Baskets?
- The main idea behind Morning Baskets is having a moment in the morning, without pressure or planned purpose. I’ve seen people get crazy with them. Loaded with crafts that kind of remind me more of a “busy basket” kids can dip into. For me it replaces the scripture/religious study we use to do and allows the kids to meditate on something that gently enlarges their mind. Take a peak over at Up Above the Rowan Tree, for a Secular Charlotte Mason Homeschool snapshot at what her baskets look like.
What is Strewing?
- Strewing materials is basically making sure interesting and inspiring materials are available in your child’s immediate environment. When done right it means naturally learning and absorbing information from their environment.
- At home it is about placing the items in a casual setting and allowing kids to check it out at their leisure. Sometimes you will see homeschooling parents structure what they make available in this casual setting… I find it works much better if I provide materials that is align with my kids’ interests. I try to use the questions they ask about something they want to know more about.
- If you have a new subject matter you want to throw in the mix this would be an ideal place to introduce it! However keep in mind strewing doesn’t guarantee kids will pick up the stuff laying around.
- We don’t have the space to strew without our home quickly looking like we’re hoarders. Instead I point out the materials available to them and invite them to try it out. It’s what works for us.
My Morning Books are a combination of these two ideas, because as an unschooler I see them more as a reminder to set aside time to explore materials which present something that enlarges their world on their own terms. Sometimes that means we use this time to read a book aloud or listen to an audio book. Simply said spending 30 minutes to an hour in each other’s presence sets the tone for the day.
-After morning books we get dressed and the kids are encouraged to pursue their own interests.
-Around 11 to Noon we come together for lunch and we listen to an audio book until they are ready to move on.
-Noon to 5 pm is free time.
- Great for outings.
- Playing with friends.
- If they have tokens they want to spend, it’s Minecraft and Little Big Planet time.
-Around 5-6 pm;
- It’s time to come home.
- Shut down the t.v.
- Help get dinner ready. Some of the kids like to use this time to pitch in and help either with dinner or a chore.
- This is the best time for us to start any other schoolwork the kids can do independently.
-When dinner is ready;
- We stop what we are doing and have our meal.
- we clean up and address any chores that didn’t get done that day.
- Using the Curriculum Guide if anyone has any schoolwork left we use this time to do it.
- Otherwise we entertain ourselves until about 10 pm.
- Then we clean up, get ready for the next day, and go to bed.
What do we like to keep in mind?
- If children want to do their evening schoolwork earlier in the day, they can.
- If there are things we have planned for an early morning, we cut our evening activities short.
- If our schedule is overwhelming or stressing us out, we take the day off. We pare it all the way down to reading and chores or skip it entirely to do something that recenter us.
I notice that the more intuned I am to my kids and my own stressor signals, the better I am about communicating ahead of time to an instructor or tutor that we are unable to attend. When we are caught up in our own little homeschool world, it is sometimes hard to see how not showing up when we say we are affects others.
My only real concern right now is in regards to my teen. He is allowed to govern when he goes to bed and when he does his work. Which means he can stay up for as long as he wants, as long as he is able to get up and go with us in the morning. Sometimes he joins us in the morning and sometimes he chooses to sleep in. It’s a struggle for him right now because he wants to do it all. We are hoping he learns to self regulate and prioritize his life better. What better place to learn how to strike a balance than at home?
What is the hardest part about our new schedule?
I’m going to keep it real and say, meeting with our local homeschool group. Getting anyone out of the house on time before 11am is a miracle, but if it’s an activity they want to do then they know they need to make an effort. Even with all the strategies we have employed we are getting there 5-15 minutes late. We like our homeschool friends and we appreciate their efforts so we are working on being respectful of other people’s time by trying to improve on that.
Now that you’ve had some time to ease into the New Year, have you found yourself changing up anything?