May 8, 2010

Doing it all

One of my good friends will start homeschooling this summer. She told me that she is starting to second guess herself and worry that she can't do it all. Namely, she said my lists are making her feel like she'll never be able to read all those books. My advice to her, and anyone else out there is, DON'T. Don't read them all. These are just lists with ideas. Yes, I've looked at reviews and researched them and decided these were the best ones (that I could find) for my family. But we WON'T be reading them all. We read what we can find at the library, or from our bookshelves. If we really, really want to study something and can't find any books locally we might buy a few. But we will NOT be reading them all. They are suggestions. (For example, we're studying American History right now. We just finished Paul Revere. Of the 34 books listed thus far, we've only read 24 of them. Some we'll read the next time around or fit into bedtime stories. Some we just dropped.)

The lists are my GENERAL PLAN, as in, it will probably change. We start reading and move on when we're ready. I don't worry about reading a set number of pages a day. I just make sure we read.

When we were first married my husband worked for a company cleaning carpets. His boss explained that the time they take driving to appointments, measuring the rooms, talking to the customers, etc., while important, did not pay. It was the actual cleaning of the carpet that earned money. He encouraged them to do everything as quickly and efficiently as possible and to work the hardest at cleaning the carpets. "Keep the wand moving!" Keep cleaning the carpet because that's what brings in the money.

We've applied the same principle to our homeschool. Keep moving forward. Keep reading. Keep learning. Does it matter if you "fall behind" your plans? No. Will your children suffer terribly if they only make it through ancient history twice instead of three times? No. Everyone has gaps in their education. Everyone. Public schooled, private schooled or homeschooled. Everyone has gaps. So relax and understand that your homeschooled child will have gaps. Just focus on what is most important to you first and the rest will fall into place.

Here are my thoughts about "scheduling".

This is what my day looks like (normally, mostly, not always)

We wake up, eat breakfast and get dressed for the day.

We start school between 9 and 11.
This is what we do ------
Read the scriptures (right now it's the Old Testament)
Idiom of the day
History - we read whichever book we're on, whichever page, for about 10 to 15 minutes.
Picture book or song time geared towards the Littles. 10 minutes
Science - we read whichever book we're on, whichever page, for about 10 to 15 minutes.
Go upstairs for math.
The two Littles run off and play. I work with the two older boys for 15 to 20 minutes.
The Olders then work on handwriting/Explode the Code/Grammar or play or do chores.
I work with 6-yr-old. We do math (about 10 minutes), reading (10 minutes) and handwriting (5 minutes)
We break for lunch.

After lunch----
I read from our Read-aloud book. 10 to 15 minutes
We do our Elective (composer, artist, poetry, etc - 5 to 10 minutes)
I work with each older boy individually on reading/spelling (about 30 minutes each). Littles play with the older boy who is not working with me.
Then they play, I relax or clean or hide in the bathroom and cry. Depends.

It's taken me a while to get to this point of just going with the flow. I thought I had to fit so many things within terms or semesters or weeks or whatever. I felt like if I wasn't finishing something "on time" I'd failed. But those are false deadlines. They have no real meaning in life. Some states require a certain amount of days for school. They usually don't tell you how to structure each day though. You get to decide that. Relax. Just keep moving forward. Keep the wand moving.

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