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Homeschool life has many perks, but these usually are paired with pitfalls than can cause us to stumble. This post is the first in a series sharing some of the ways I have found to enjoy the perks, while trying to avoid the pitfalls of homeschool life. Stay tuned for more to come!
We’ve been homeschooling our children since our our teenagers were in preschool. Some days, months, and years have been fun, with a few struggles along the way. Some days, months, and year have been struggles with a little fun to keep us going. I am trusting that God led us to homeschool, and that all of the good and bad days will come together to produce good fruit and create positive lifelong memories in everyday moments.
Homeschool Life Perk: A Flexible Schedule
We love the flexibility of homeschooling. I like being able to start when we want and stop when we want. Our family vacations in the off season when it is less expensive and less crowded. If we’ve had a late night, we sleep in a little bit before getting started. We sometimes take off on a spur of the moment trip to see grandparents or ride to the store with my husband. When company drops by unexpectedly, we rearrange our schedule for a quick visit. Sick days will not alert the truancy officer.
Homeschool life Pitfall: A Flexible Schedule
The flexibility comes with a pitfall, however. We LOVE being able to sleep late. The beautiful spring and fall days tempt us outdoors to the park or bike trail. By the afternoon, we are all ready to be done and want to put off unfinished work. We live thirty minutes away from the nearest Wal-mart, so when my husband goes to “town,” everyone wants to go, and it’s usually a half-day trip.
We easily take too many sunny days outside, get in the habit of sleeping late, and become stressed because the school days are overfilled due to too many off or half days.
How to Avoid the Pitfall of a Flexible Schedule in Homeschool Life
- Plan regular “catch-up” days. For us, the best way to avoid the flexible schedule pitfall, is to build in intentional catch-up days or at least light load days. I try to schedule most of our work in four days a week and make one day a light load. Fortunately, our primary curriculum, My Father’s World, makes this easier. (If your curriculum has five full days, you can try to double up one subject a day on the other days.)
- Unless something else is happening another weekday, I plan to have our light day on Friday. If a day starts rough or ends early, is too nice to stay inside, or just we didn’t have have time to finish, we try to catch up on Friday. Sometimes we schedule an all day field trip on our light day. Then we have to work harder to finish our work or our “light day” will not be light the following week, but we won’t be too far behind.
- Plan ahead for for predictable days off. We take off for birthdays, field trips, doctor’s visits, etc. It seems something is always interrupting the regular plan in our homeschool life. When I make our weekly lesson plans, I try to look ahead on the calendar and add in a little more work on the other days to lighten the load on our busy days.
- Build good morning habits. This so hard for those of us who are not morning people! I hit the snooze until I have to get up. My boys and one of my girls like to get up early, but I have to wake up the other three everyday. Take advantage of the flexibility of homeschool life when really needed after a late night or sickness, but on other days remember, just because we can sleep late doesn’t mean it is good to sleep late.
- Turn on some “morning music.” When I wake up my late sleepers, I turn on morning music. I created a playlist of upbeat Christian music. I play it loud enough to keep them from going back to sleep easily. Then it is less likely I will need to go wake them up again.
- Go to bed and get up at the same time most days. Our bodies and brains like routine even if we do not. When we keeping regular sleep patterns, our body knows when it is time to get moving.
- Create predictable morning routing. For us, it’s get up, make your bed, get dressed, pick up things on your floor, read your Bible, eat breakfast. Doing these things in order everyday means we don’t have to take the time to think about what comes next.
- Advertise your regular school hours. Be sure your family and friends know your regular school hours so they will disrupt less and mostly when planned ahead. Avoid emails, unnecessary texts, and social media during those hours.
- Work a little just before bed. For those night owl teens, perhaps they can stay up a little later and choose one subject to work on ahead of schedule. We have our family devotion at 8:30 pm, then send the little ones to bed (except for the Leader of the Day). Sometimes our teens will get a head start on the next day’s work.
- Reading is a great subject to work ahead or catch up at night. They can lay in bed with a lamp with a good book, whether assigned or chosen. Just remind them of your official “lights out” time.
- Just before bed can also be a good time for one-on-one help. Maybe a child skipped a few hard math problems and ran out of time for help during the day. Maybe mom or dad can help them review for an upcoming test and help solidify the information in their mind just before bed.
Jesus Valued People Above Schedules
In Mark 6, Jesus hears about the death of John the Baptist. His disciples recently returned from ministering and they are all worn out physically and emotionally. Jesus calls them to a time of rest together, but the needs of the crowd take precedence. He changes his schedule to spend time teaching, healing, and feeding those who are “like sheep without a shepherd.”
What a great example! In our homeschool life, a we can take time to minister to others (most often to our family members), by keeping a flexible schedule.
Don’t be afraid to enjoy the perks of homeschool life.
Some homeschool families work well on a more strict schedule; however, a flexible schedule is one of the reasons we homeschool our children. With my personality, I need freedom to be spontaneous. But, as with most of life, too much of a good thing can lead to harm, or even chaos. Be mindful of flexible schedule pitfalls, and you can have your cake and eat it too!
When my children grow, up, I want them to remember their homeschool life with a pleasure that makes them want to homeschool their own children.
How do you enjoy the homeschool life perks of a flexible schedule, yet still avoid the pitfalls? I’d love to hear from you! Comment below.