Category Archives: Scheduling

A Peek Into My Homeschool: Eclecticism for Two

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The way homeschooling works in our home has changed often over the years. When we began, my husband worked a crazy rotating shift, and I ran a home daycare, so one week rarely looked like the next.

These days, with a fourteen-year-old eighth grader and a ten-year-old fourth grader, our homeschooling schedule is more regular, though I wouldn’t exactly call it routine. My husband works all day Monday through Thursday, as well as some Fridays. Because Daddy is sometimes home on Fridays, I try to get the bulk of our work done by Thursday. Some weeks we don’t work at all on Friday and make it up over the weekend or the next week.

Read the rest at HEDUA.com.

A Homeschooling Primer

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So, you’re thinking about homeschooling. Maybe you have a tiny one, not yet in preschool, and you just know that this is what God is calling you to do. Maybe your friends homeschool. Maybe your child is registered to start Kindergarten at the local public school, but you have a niggling feeling that that isn’t what is right for him or her. Maybe you have a teenager, and something is going really wrong at school. You have to pull her NOW, and you just don’t know what to do.

Regardless of the reason, if you are just thinking about homeschooling, here is the nitty-gritty basics of what you need to know NOW to get started.

What to Do First

So, you have decided to homeschool. What do you need to do first? Unfortunately, the legal aspect needs to be taken care of immediately. Each state has its own idea of what this looks like, and it varies from low to high regulation, depending on where you live. Before you let that discourage you, let me assure that many, many people do this each year, so it is completely possible. But, unless you live in a state like Idaho, you will likely have to jump through some hoops in order to homeschool. In our state, we need to file several papers, including a proposed monthly hour count and a list of curriculum. If you aren’t sure what the requirements are for your state, you can check them out at HEDUA.

Be sure that you follow the letter of the law concerning your homeschooling paperwork. Do not pull a child out of school until you have completed whatever procedures are required, or you may be subject to truancy laws.

Find a Friend, Homeschooling Group, or Co-op

If you can find a veteran homeschooler in your community, it will help you immensely. For one thing, if you haven’t been at home full time before you may find it very lonely. Having another adult to talk to can be a real blessing. For another, she will understand the laws for your state and can help you navigate them (and if you live in a high regulation state you will especially appreciate this!). Most veterans are happy to lend a helping hand to a newbie, since they were there once themselves. If you don’t know any homeschoolers, try your local library. They often know families in the area that homeschool and can help you get in touch. If your area has a homeschooling group or co-op, get in contact with the leader. If you can’t find a local group, try searching for a state-wide group online. They will probably be aware of any smaller groups in your area.

After You File the Paperwork

Now that you have your paperwork filed, what should you do next? It’s time to decide what you are going to teach. If you are homeschooling a Kindergartener, this is pretty simple. Most of your child’s day should be spent exploring and learning in a very organic, natural way. Play dough, nature study, cooking lessons, listening to audio books, singing, listening to music, coloring, drawing, playing pretend. Lessons for a Kindergartener that require sitting and concentration should be short and include breaks in between. There are literally hundreds of homeschool sites online for early learning with free ideas and printables. If you want some regular curriculum as well, a basic language and math curriculum are really all you need.

If you are pulling an older child, your situation will probably be quite different. It depends on what caused you to pull your child, among other things. Leaving school, for whatever reason, will likely be emotional for your child. And, if you are pulling a child out of a bad situation, even more so. Allow both you and your child some grace in the early days. While you do need to teach-you have made a commitment to do so-you can still allow your child some time to ‘deschool.’ Others with more experience have written about this, but in short, take some time to read aloud, go on field trips, spend time outdoors, go on long walks, and TALK. Then, gradually add in school subjects. If you are pulling mid-year, you might consider continuing whichever courses your child was completing in school. But this is not absolutely necessary, so do what is easiest and best for your family.

Your state may have curriculum requirements as well. Ours requires language, math, social studies, science, and health. Start with those and Bible, if you intend to teach it, first. If your state doesn’t have subject requirements, start with Bible, then “reading, writing, and arithmetic,” and then move on to social studies and science. The extras can be filled in later. You can choose ready-made curriculum for the core subjects. We’ll discuss that in a minute. But, you can also use free resources online. There is a ready-made course of study for each grade at World Book Encyclopedia that is helpful for creating your own curriculum.

Finding Resources

There is so much homeschool curriculum out there that it can be overwhelming. As a beginner, know that no curriculum is perfect. If you find yourself emergency homeschooling in the middle of the year, keep it simple. One tendency of beginning homeschoolers is to think that they have to do it all, teach it all, and not miss anything. As a former classroom teacher, let me assure you that even the best public school teachers skip things, miss things, or run out of time to finish a book before the end of the year.

Ask homeschooling friends (or online groups) what curriculum they use. Get their input, but don’t choose it just because it is what your friend uses. Choose what you think will be best for you and your child. Also, know that most homeschoolers make choices in curriculum at some time-often more than once-in their homeschooling career that they are not happy with. It is perfectly acceptable to realize that something isn’t working for you, ditch it, and find something else.

Here are some of my favorite resources for purchasing curriculum:

Getting Ready to Teach

Now that you have your paperwork taken care of, decided what you are going to teach, and purchased curriculum, it’s time to prepare to teach. Spend some time looking through your curriculum. Then, set up a basic weekly schedule. Be flexible. It may take awhile to figure out what works best for you.

Set up a teaching area. For some families, that means a schoolroom. For others, it means a cupboard. For our family, we have a closet and a dresser that contain the majority of our “active” school supplies (we have bookshelves and boxes in the basement, and tubs in the attic for supplies we are not currently using). We mostly school at our kitchen table and in our living room, with the kids doing independent work in their bedrooms. If you are just beginning, start simple and allow yourself room to grow. You do not need a full-fledged classroom with a chalkboard and school desks. I repeat, you do not need a chalkboard and school desks. Start simple. A table or regular room desk will work just fine. If your child is like mine, you will spend most of your time sitting on the couch or floor anyway!

Once You’ve Gotten Started

After you have your homeschooling under way, it is helpful to learn more about homeschooling. There are many resources on this blog to help you, including my list of top homeschool how-to books.

A Final Note

If you are thinking of homeschooling, especially if you are considering pulling an older child, I’m guessing that you might feel overwhelmed right now. Take a deep breath. I want to encourage you that YOU CAN DO THIS! Just take it one step at a time and don’t worry about trying to make it look like what you think everyone else is doing. You will soon be the homeschooling veteran offering help to those who come after you.

 

 

 

Our 2014-2015 Homeschool Schedule

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Our ballgame days are heading to the finish line, so I have been turning my attention to getting everything in order for the start of our new school year. I am planning to start the last week of August. While I actually have been doing some planning for months now, particularly for Boo’s high school classes, the next month is the time I focus a concentrated effort on it.  So far I have most of Buddy’s assignment’s scheduled and about half of Boo’s. Because I decided to write my own literature and geography curriculum for Boo (WHAT WAS I THINKING! Smile ), I am still working on writing up questions.

This year looks very different from other years. Between Boo being in high school, my working part time, and both kids becoming more independent, the kids will be doing more work independently of me and each other. This makes me a bit nostalgic for the days of working together on various projects and reading aloud, but I am also very excited about the different possibilities.

Our Schedule

Although this is our pen-and-paper (or in this case, word processor) schedule, one day rarely looks like another around here. I am also giving Boo the freedom to rearrange her independent classes to whatever suits her best. But this gives us a general guideline:

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Pink is Boo’s independent color, blue is Buddy’s. Boo with me is orange, Buddy with me is purple. All of us together is green. You can see that after 1 PM consists of independent work for the kids, which will allow me to get my own work done.

So, how about you? Do you make up a schedule? Is it very different this year or pretty much the same?

Making My Homeschool Unique: Blog Hop and Giveaway!

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I am participating in a blog hop with the rest of the Home Educating Family review team every Friday in September!  And if that weren’t exciting enough, each week I am going to be able to offer a giveaway for a product from Home Educating Family!  You can find out the details at the end of this post!

There are both advantages and disadvantages to homeschooling.  In my opinion, one of the greatest advantages is the flexibility it offers.  Flexibility in methods and resources we use, classes we teach, and even when we homeschool.  Our state does have some requirements that we need to meet, such as a minimum number of hours of instruction and certain core subjects we must teach.  Still, there is a great deal of flexibility available to us.  Today I am going to talk about how I take advantage of this flexibility in our scheduling to make our homeschool unique to us.

When we began homeschooling I pretty much followed the local public school’s calendar for my teaching schedule.  There are some good reasons to do this, the most obvious one being that we were out of school on the same days so I didn’t have neighbor children ringing our doorbell to play on days that we were in school! Smile  When I first started homeschooling I also had a home daycare and following the school calendar meant that the school aged children I kept were not at our house during school hours.  Later on we moved and I quit doing a full day care.  I soon realized that modifying our schedule would meet our needs better.

Over the years our schedule has evolved as our life changed.  My husband’s schedule has changed greatly since those early years.  I now school two students rather than one.  My son definitely does better with a routine and he learns better when we don’t take huge breaks.  We currently use a modified year-round schedule.  We start a new school year the third week of August and we school full days until two weeks into May.  We school all of September and January.  We take one whole week off each month in October, November, February, March, and April and two weeks off in December and May.  We school half days in June.  This gives us all of July and two weeks of August off.  I need that time to enter all of my information into my online planner and for my copying, filing, and organizing.

This schedule fits us very well.  We are off during the weeks that our extended families plan family reunions and other events, as well as major holidays.  June tends to be very warm here and my kids choose not to be outdoors most of the time, so schooling then seems natural to us.  And getting a WHOLE WEEK off during many months of the school year gives all of us time to recharge our batteries and get some extra housework done without having the re-entry issues we sometimes have when beginning in August.  Having that six week break, however, gives us a true “beginning of the school year” day, so we can take those first day photos right around the same time everyone else is heading back to school as well.

Having been a public school teacher it took me awhile to let go of school looking like public school.  But when I did, it brought a great deal of freedom.  We are not limited to certain months, days or hours for schooling.  Some weeks we do some of our schooling on Saturday or occasionally Sunday.  I prefer to work in the morning and early afternoon just because we are often busy in the evenings and my energy level is low, but every so often we will do some school work in the evening. 

If you are a beginning homeschooler, or if you have homeschooled for awhile but just really feel that you need a change, try to let go of the school mindset and think about how you can make your homeschool work for you.  Your homeschool does not need to look like anyone else’s.  It can be uniquely yours!

Now, for the giveaway information! 

I randomly chose the winner using http://www.random.org. Congratulations to Angela, whose comment was the second one on the page!  You have won a one-year subscription to Home Educating Family Magazine!  I will be contacting you to get your mailing information so that you can begin receiving your magazines. 

This week, thanks to Home Educating Family, I am able to give away a wall calendar to one of my readers! 

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You have until midnight next Thursday (September 20th) to enter.  I will be using random.org to choose a winner, which I will announce next Friday (September 21st).  If you enter, please be sure to check back on Friday to see if you are the winner.  I will need to forward the winner’s name and email to Home Educating Family so that they can send you the prize!

Here’s how to enter:

You may have up to three entries per person.  Any extra entries will be deleted before I determine the winner. 

1. You may have one entry just for leaving any comment on this post.  I’d love to know more about you, but even just a “nice post” will do!  Smile

2. You may have one entry for “liking” Crestview Heights Academy on Facebook.  Please leave a separate comment noting that you have done so.  If you already like CHA, just let me know that in the comment.

3. You may have one entry for tweeting about the contest or posting about it on Facebook.  If you don’t have Twitter or Facebook, you can email about the contest or just tell a friend.  Leave a separate comment for completing this activity as well.

Due to international sweepstakes laws, this giveaway is for US entrants only. This giveaway is not tied to any social media site. All prizes must be claimed within eight weeks. Thank you!

I can’t wait until next week, when I will be able to announce the winner of this contest and tell you about next week’s prize!

Please go check out the rest of my team’s blogs and read about how they make their homeschools unique.

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A Day in the Life

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Since I posted our actual schedule earlier this year, I thought that I would take you through what our day is like and how it is going.  I really, really like the way our schedule is working so far.  They kids are..ahem..less than thrilled about getting back into a routine, but the routine itself works great.

We start our morning off with chores.  I get the kids up around 7:30 and they are supposed to do all of their chores and be ready for Bible time at 8:15.  We aren’t always exactly on time, but we come close most days.  Here are our new chore charts that I made using this idea that I found on pinterest:

 

I put all of the chores I want done that day on the “to do” side and they move the pins over to the “done” side as they finish, so I can quickly check and see what has been done. 

Next up is Bible time, which lasts somewhere from about 8:15 until 9:00 and includes quiet time, together Bible study, and character lessons. 

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From about 9:00 to 10:30 we do language.  Buddy and I work together first while Boo does her independent work and then we do vocabulary together before we switch. 

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10:30-11:10 is Math time.  I start with Buddy while Boo spends some time on the computer.  Then, we switch again and Buddy gets his turn on the computer while Boo and I work together.

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Before lunch we also do our history or geography work from Explorations to 1850 and our Canada Study time.

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We have lunch at 12:00, followed by our literature time.  By this time it is around 1:00.  At 1:00 we do art or music, depending on the day of the week.  Starting next week , we will be going to Homeschool Co-op on Thursday afternoons.  We finish up the day with Science, Life Skills, and piano practice.

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My original schedule had us getting done around 3:30, and most days we are done about 2:30.  That gives us time to go to the Y and swim or have a walk before we get ready for our evening activities.  So far we are just back into Tae Kwon Do on Tuesday and Thursday nights.  Soon we will add AWANA on Wednesdays and piano on Mondays. 

I always enjoy seeing how other people schedule their days.  I hope you enjoyed a peek into ours!

Creating a Daily Schedule

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Hello!

If this is the first post you have read, I am currently working on a series about homeschool planning.  If you click “planning” on the menu bar, you can find all of the earlier posts.  Last time I discussed scheduling your school year.  Today I am going to talk about making a daily homeschool schedule.  Next time I will give you some tips for ordering your curriculum.  I have been trying to do these posts in a step by step manner, but this post and the next one are somewhat interchangeable.  For some people it will make sense to create a schedule and then purchase curriculum for these classes.  For others it will be better to purchase curriculum and then use it to create your schedule.  You will need to decide which is better for you.

In my opinion one of the greatest benefits to homeschooling is being able to be flexible and meet your child’s needs.  For some people that can be done without a true schedule.  If that works for you, that is perfectly fine!  In a minute I am going to show you the schedule I have developed for us for next year.  I use my schedule as a guideline or a goal.  It is not as rigid, nor as intense, as it may look.  We generally finish earlier than it says on our schedule.  If an activity finishes early, we just go on to the next thing and enjoy an early day.  Occasionally something takes longer than anticipated.  I don’t stop everything just to keep our schedule.  When I first started homeschooling I wrote down lesson ideas but did not have a schedule.  I find that by writing out a schedule we get so much more done, even though we rarely follow the schedule exactly.  Your schedule is meant to be a helpful tool, not something that stresses you out.  And if it isn’t working…CHANGE THE SCHEDULE!  Smile

There are several things I think about as I sit down to create my schedule:

  • what time I want to start the day (be REALISTIC!)
  • what time our day needs to end
  • legal requirements
  • outside responsibilities and appointments
  • which classes I need to teach

I highly recommend teaching as many of your children together for as many classes as you can.  Bible, History, Read-Aloud, Character, Lifeskills, Science, Poetry, and several more lend themselves to combining children.  If you have several children and you try to teach each class individually to each child it is going to stretch you.  Language and Math generally need to be taught individually unless you have two or more children who are very close in age.  Once you have teenagers you may need to have them work independently.  Also, little guys usually need their own time even for things like History and Science, but they also need very short lessons. 

I have created some forms to help me think about all of the things that need to go into my schedule.  Below I have examples of how to fill them out.  (These are SAMPLES only, as you will be able to see when I show you my real schedule later on!  Smile)

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Next, I write down all of the classes I need to teach.  I figure out how many days and minutes I need/want to teach them.  Then I divide the number of minutes by the number of days to get the number of minutes I need per class.  Here is a form to make this easier for you and there is a sample below:

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Next I fill in my schedule planner.  I like to use the format in Educating the Wholehearted Child to plan my day.  They divide classes into five different types of studies: Discipleship, Disciplined, Discussion, Discovery, and Discretionary.  There are lots of different models for how to schedule a school day.  If you and your children are morning people you will want to do your language and math classes in the morning.  However, if you are more energetic in the afternoon, you may want to schedule those classes later in the day.

Use the schedule planner to begin plotting out your day.  Begin by writing times in the left hand column.  If you want to schedule by the half hour, one sheet will probably be all you need per child.  If you are going to schedule in fifteen minute increments, you will need to print two sheets per child.  You may want to print them for yourself as well.  Next fill in your meal times and all regularly scheduled outside responsibilities and activities, such as coop classes, sports, and appointments. 

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Now look at your class list.  Decide what order you want to have classes in.  Also think about which classes you will need to conduct and which can be done independently by your child.  You may want to offset a class for one child that you will need to be teaching with a class that can be done independently for another child.  In our house we start the day with Bible together.  When we get to language arts, however, I need to spend individual time with each child.  I schedule handwriting, journaling, keyboarding, independent reading, and half of Boo’s reading for Boo while I am doing phonics, reading, writing, and spelling with Buddy.  Then we flip and Buddy does his independent work while I do composition and grammar and some reading with his sister.  Later in the day I scheduled computer time for one child while I worked with the other one. 

Begin filling classes in on your lists, laying out the kids’ lists side by side so you can look at them together.  I recommend using pencil for this step.  Another suggestion is to write the classes on index cards so that you can move them around and once you are happy with the results you can record them on the sheet.

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I like to use Excel for my final schedule.  By typing it, and because I only have two children, I can make a sheet with the kids’ activities side by side.  I also use color to code it and help me keep track of what where I am supposed to be.  Pink is Boo, Blue is Buddy, Purple is all together (Blue+Pink), Green is Buddy with me (Blue+Yellow) and Orange is Boo with me (Pink+Yellow).  Below is a copy of our schedule for next year:

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Next time I will show you how I plan my curriculum purchases and keep track of my curriculum orders. 

Scheduling Your Year and Choosing Classes

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Welcome!  This is the next in a series on planning for homeschooling that I have been writing.  If you haven’t been here before, you can find the previous posts by clicking on “planning” on the menu bar.  We have discussed homeschool visions, long-term planning, learning styles, choosing a homeschool philosophy or method, and choosing curricula.  Today we are going to work on planning out a school year.  Next time we will discuss scheduling your week or day.  Today we will discuss scheduling out your year and choosing the classes you will teach in each subject.  It will be helpful if you have your homeschool vision and long-term goals available, as well as the table of contents or scope and sequence of the curricula you have chosen.

There are several things that you will want to keep in mind as you plan your year, some of which include:

  • the requirements of your state homeschool regulations
  • holidays
  • vacations
  • work schedules
  • special events
  • testing or portfolio evaluations
  • ages of your children
  • your own preferences
  • your curricula

So, let’s get started!  Your state may have certain requirements that you will need to meet.  If you don’t know these, you will need to do a search for your state’s department of education and homeschooling or exempt school regulations.  Common requirements will include either a certain number of days or hours, specific subjects, certain tests or portfolio reviews, and plans.  In our state we need to complete a certain number of hours each year.  We also need to have a plan to teach language, math, science, social studies, and health.  We need to turn in our plan every year by a certain date, along with some other forms the state sends to us each  year.  Some states have a rigid testing policy that must be met.  If you live in another country, you will need to follow whatever laws and requirements apply to your location. Here is a form to use to keep track of your legal requirements.

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Now, look at your calendar for the year.  On this form record any holidays, events, birthdays, or vacations that will affect your school year. 

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Next think through what days you want to school.  Do you want to school all year round or only during the “regular” school year? Will you school Monday through Friday, take Fridays off, school on the weekends?  Does your curricula require a certain number of days or weeks to complete it?  Is it important to you to complete the curricula in one year?

You can print an overview calendar for the year here.  Using your calendar begin putting an x on any day that you know you will not count toward your school year.

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  Decide when you want to start and stop your school year.  Put a box over those dates. 

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Then begin circling the dates that you want to use for school.  Start with the ones that are most convenient.    When you have done this, count how many days you have.  If you need more to meet your legal requirement, you will need to figure out which ones to circle.  After you have met the required number of days for your school year you can put an x through the rest of the days.  You now have your school year calendar.

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For the next part you will need your state requirement and long-term goal sheets.  You will use these to help you decide which courses you will teach this year.  Record the classes on this form.

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Next time we will work on developing a daily schedule to use in your homeschool.

The Card Box Chore System Available at Currclick

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I have used a cleaning and organizing system on and off for years that is based on both Flylady and Sidetracked Home Executives (S.H.E.).  I recently decided I needed to get “on” the system again.  I also created a chore system for my kids that is modified from the system I use.  You can see some photos of the system below.

My original system:

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The kids’ system:

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You can purchase The Card Box Chore System here at Currclick for 3.00.

Planning to Plan

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Hello!

I didn’t mean to drop off the face of the earth, but I have had several projects going the past couple of weeks.  Some of them I will be sharing soon.  I have two major projects that I am going to put into my store in November.  I have something else exciting that I hope to share soon and I am also helping a friend with a special project, too.  And keeping up with our schooling and the housekeeping as well, whew!  I’m tired just typing it.  Doesn’t it seem like everything always happens at once? 

I am also planning a blog series on…planning!  Smile   The planning series will start later this week.  I am going to talk about how I plan, from overall picture to daily work.  I have a list of topics I am “planning” to cover:

  • homeschool visions revisited
  • long-term goal planning
  • putting your child into a grade..or not
  • learning styles
  • choosing a homeschooling method
  • scheduling the year
  • choosing classes
  • choosing and ordering curriculum
  • breaking yearly goals into semester and monthly goals
  • Homeschool Tracker and how I use it
  • creating a homeschool planner
  • printing and filing
  • assessment and evaluation
  • record keeping
  • portfolios

If you have any other planning related topics you would like me to discuss, feel free to leave me a comment and I can add them to my list.  Everyone needs to have their own way of doing things.  I don’t know one other homeschooling mom that does things exactly the way I do.  But I love to hear how other people do things.  I get so many good ideas that way!  I hope this series will give you some good ideas as well.  I am also going to have several additional planning forms that I use as freebies throughout the series, so be sure to stop by!

Flexibility

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One of the biggest benefits to homeschooling is flexibility.  It’s been raining for a week and today it is finally sunny?  Let’s do school at the park!  Too many reading worksheets?  Try narration for reading comprehension.   Want to attend a concert on a Wednesday night?  No problem, switch Thursday’s school for Saturday…or double up assignments on Wednesday and Friday.  I LOVE this part of homeschooling.  This week has seen several instances of flexibility in homeschooling.  Here are a few:

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Concrete work on a Friday morning?  Buddy got to go along with his dad and start learning an important lifeskill.

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Instead of filling out another worksheet, my kids acted out The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe’s first couple of chapters.  Not only did I know what Boo remembered from her reading…I also was very entertained.  Smile

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And Music class was never this much fun when I was in school……