Adjusting the Schedule to Fit a Family's Needs
Tsubata, Kate, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)
With the recent successes of home-schoolers in the National Spelling Bee and National Geography Bee, I suspect many families may be thinking seriously about joining the population of 1.7 million home-schoolers.
As one school year ends and parents and children evaluate its events, they may wonder: "How would our lives change if we were to home-school?" People frequently ask us, "What is your daily schedule? How do you juggle everything?"
Each home-schooling family is different. That's one of the best aspects of home-schooling, as far as I'm concerned. For instance, a family may contain all early risers and therefore might like to do the major studying in the morning. Another family might like to spread the work throughout the day. The nice thing is, the family can fit the education to its needs and desires, rather than the other way around.
We are late risers, as all of us like to read ourselves to sleep at night, so we tend to start school around 9 a.m. Our mornings are times for quiet, concentrated work. We tend to do our individual study work then: the mathematics, English or art.
When noontime comes, we take a full hour for lunch. What that really translates into is "free time." About 10 minutes is spent eating; the rest of the time is used for practicing the piano, reading non-school books, playing educational computer games, sending e-mail and occasionally watching PBS. We keep lunch-time activities within the general realm of "educational activity," but everyone makes his or her own choices.
Lunch itself is a freestyle event for us. The children have gained a certain level of culinary expertise, so they may decide to cook up some macaroni and cheese, hot dogs, pizza, omelets or french toast or just warm up some leftovers. I consider it a form of home-economics training, because each of them has become proficient at handling cooking temperatures, timing and measurement and following recipes.
Around 1 p.m., we reassemble in our home-schooling room, which happens to be the nicest room in our house. (I have to say how nice it is to have the luxury of one whole room just for home-schooling. All the books and materials are in one convenient place, and the atmosphere is much easier to maintain away from distractions.) Afternoons usually are a bit more convivial, with lots of joking and repartee.
The children have chosen to do their foreign languages, sciences and history in the afternoons. I may do a spot of writing in the adjacent room, and when they need me, they just call out, and I help them over the hurdle.
When they have finished a chapter or a lesson, they give it to me to check. I correct it and give it back with comments. Sometimes, I can see from a certain lesson that they have missed some important point, so I will go back and explain it to them.
The daily journals they have been keeping have been a huge success. Their writing styles have improved enormously, and they have been keeping a daily record of their activities, which also is a great memory-tickler. …