As the kids get older our homeschool gets busier and busier. It is a lot of work providing a decent day of learning for four kids – much more work than I ever could have imagined back when I only had one in kindergarten! I cannot even begin to imagine how moms of even more do it, but they definitely have my utmost respect.
I am trying very hard to protect several hours each day for our structured learning. Right now those hours are from about 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and 8:30 – noon on Friday. This actually looks way more impressive than it is because we always have a tea/snack break mid-morning, plus lunch, taking care of animals, and at least an hour outside. And the younger two have even more free time because they often finish early. So don’t be thinking we are at the books all that time, because we are not! It is just that I consider homeschooling to be the priority during those hours.
To that I end, during this time I….
- Try not to schedule appointments until at least 2:00. Definitely no morning appointments if I can help it. Late afternoon appointments would be better in theory, but they are more likely to conflict with extracurriculars or dinner. I prefer early afternoon because we can still get a decent morning in and not be too rushed for lunch. I also like to make appointments for days we are out and about anyway. Free days are my favorite days and I try very hard to preserve them!
- Don’t answer the phone (except for my husband). If I need to make or return calls, I do it after 3. I also keep the phone ringer off or super low so that it will not be disruptive. I hate having the phone ring in the middle of a read-aloud!
- Don’t check my email or use the computer for anything except school-related activities. What starts out as just a quick check often turns into a big time waster. If I absolutely need to check email, like to see if an activity is canceled, I do a quick check on my phone and I don’t open any other emails. This definitely took some discipline, but now I really enjoy being able to just focus on the work at hand.
- Don’t try to take care of my to-do list, except for basic cleaning and work on my housework loop during free moments.
- Don’t sign up for morning field trips or classes. If there was a really stupendous opportunity, of course I would reconsider. But in general, I feel much happier when we can stay home in the mornings and save our outings for mid-to-late afternoon.
I am definitely not perfect about following my own rules, but I am making progress. Most weeks have at least one day where our routine is “messed up”, which is totally fine with me, especially if I know in advance. Last week we took a half-day to hike with friends, this week we have to stop early one day to take the dog to the vet. The point is not to keep the hours sacred to the point of not allowing any disruptions, the point is to hold the hours for our learning adventures when possible.
Till next time!