I know I write an awful lot about how keeping your homeschool simple will save you a lot of headaches.
But one thing I feel the need to point out is that it will never be perfect. You may certainly find a routine that fits your lifestyle very well, but there may inevitably be a time when you find yourself feeling overwhelmed by the same schedule that you once thought was a godsend.
I know. I’ve been there.
Last year, after strictly focusing on only spelling and math with my ‘littles’ and doing unit studies and the three R’s with my older children (not the teens), I began to feel nostalgic about Five in a Row because that was the first curriculum I ever used, so I bought it and started using it with the littles, in addition to what they were already doing.
Now let me be very clear about one thing- Five in a Row is extremely simple to use and is not time-consuming at all, but…when I added it on to what we were already doing, it made our homeschool days very, very long. And if you’re familiar with me at all, you know that I prefer to keep our homeschool activities brief so that my children have plenty of time to pursue their interests.
I guess most people would have just stopped using it, but the kids and I were enjoying it so much that I found it valuable enough to tweak our homeschool schedule just a bit.
Since we are homeschooling ten kids, I’ve broken our kids into three groups, which is where I got the names I used above (littles, older children, and teens). Using unit studies in our homeschool has made life so much simpler and more fun, but because there are so many kids and such a big age difference, I use two separate unit study curriculums. (Our older kids use Konos.)
I assume you’re starting to see the problem here…
It was just too much to do both unit studies every single day. Due to our past experience with unschooling, I recognize how naturally kids learn from everyday living, so that gave me the confidence to come up with this solution:
Alternate unit study days.
This has been such a quick and easy solution, and we are all absolutely thriving with this new schedule. Here is a basic example of what our weekly schedules typically look like now::
M, W, F-
Littles- phonics/math; FIAR read-aloud; two FIAR activities
Older Kids- spelling/math; notebooking page for read-aloud; silent reading
Littles- phonics/math; read-aloud
Older Kids- spelling/math; read-aloud; silent reading; two Konos activities; Konos notebooking page
The following week, we’ll just switch days and have the littles do their unit twice a week and the older kids three times a week.
Keep in mind that this is a very simplified version of what we do. Some days the littles may do a lapbook. Sometimes the older kids will do grammar instead of spelling. And for those of you who may be gasping at what seems like a bare bones schedule- you’d be surprised how much can be covered simply by reading and notebooking. I don’t always choose the books my older kids read, but when I do, I choose them very carefully so as to make sure they’re being exposed to different concepts. Right now, they’re all reading biographies of scientists, and I’m reading Peter Pan aloud to them. For those of you who like to check things off, besides reading, these books are covering science, history, and classic literature. There’s no need to separate every subject. The real world isn’t like that anyway, is it?
Don’t use unit studies? No problem!
This solution isn’t limited to only those who use unit studies. The same could be done with textbooks (history and science might be good ones to alternate). In fact, you could even do this with one child if you’re feeling like your homeschool is too bogged down by school work and not enough time for free play and exploration.
Taking advantage of the flexibility available with homeschooling is crucial to finding something that works for your family.
Tell me…what are some of the most helpful changes you’ve made in your homeschool?