The homeschool community is a diverse group. With all of the possible approaches, from classical education to unschooling, and the freedom to make your own schedule, school often looks very different for one family than it does for another. The beauty of that is the ability to find what works for you, and that flexibility can come in handy at times. For instance, when my husband was too busy to take time off from work this summer, we simply postponed our family vacation until October. Homeschool families can do that!
I have found that what works best for us is having a set routine. What that routine is can change from year to year and be adjusted as needed, but it is much less stressful for me and my children if we have a plan for each day. Usually, this means getting up at pretty much the same time, eating breakfast, getting dressed, and beginning our school day at a set time. The main reasons this works for us are:
- My children tend to cooperate more and offer less resistance to transitions when they can anticipate the next step. Knowing that there is an order to their day gives them a sense of security. Leaving things too flexible makes them behave in an aimless manner – wanting to do one thing one moment and something completely different the next, while leaving a trail of toys behind them! They’ll also fight requests to sit down and do seatwork, because they think that they can talk me into something else.
- Unexpected obstacles WILL happen sometimes. When we returned from our vacation on a Sunday evening, I tried to start school up again on Monday morning. However, because we’d been away for a week, there was hardly any food in the house, so a supermarket trip interrupted our school day. The next day was a holiday. We still did school, but there were some preparations that needed to be done for that. Next, my little one tripped and smashed her face into the kitchen floor. A visit to the pediatrician and the ear, nose and throat doctor rounded out my week. Then, both of my children caught a cold. Some weeks are just like that, and if we hadn’t been productive in the weeks leading up to that crisis week, I would have been even more stressed. Knowing that we are sticking to a schedule the rest of the time helps me ride out the crazy weeks a little better.
With the holiday season approaching, I know that there will be days that sticking to the regular schedule will be difficult. Generally, the week before Christmas, we follow an adjusted schedule that looks something like this:
- We continue to get up, get dressed and start school at the same time, although we usually make this week “half days.”
- We have a lovely K – 3 Christmas learning packet that incorporates language arts, math, copywork, art and the Christmas story. I place whatever pages are grade-appropriate for the child in a binder and they take out their binders in the morning and we do a little from each subject area. They enjoy the change from their regular curriculum, but they are still learning.
- We spend time reading about the birth of Jesus and discussing it.
The goal is to keep things as normal as possible, so the transition after the holidays is smoother.
How do you handle the busy week before Christmas? Do you stick to your regular schedule or do something completely different?