I wonder if you could share some thing about scheduling. I have a 16 month old, a 6 year old, a 12 year old and 2 scholar age High School. I want to have MOM time where I share/teach/inspire and I want them to have EXPLORE time too. I also need time to clean/cook/plan/organize/play with the baby–chase the baby. He is very very active type. I want to have Mentor Meetings and Family Reading. But we have to plan so much when the baby is asleep. I need some help. Thank you
I don’t know that I feel qualified to answer this question–particularly because I don’t have kids spread between so many ages. But as I thought about it, here are some general questions that came to mind that might help.
1. What are the “big picture” goals you have for your children? I don’t mean “learn to multiply by age 9.” I mean things like be happy, productive adults. Learn to love the idea of learning. Know how to make a difference in the world. Get a college education. Treat other people and themselves with respect. Once you have that picture in your mind, you are able to hold up ALL your family/educational choices against it. If it fits, great. If not, toss it or save it for later. This will help you prioritize.
2. What does the discipline system look like in your house? Are your children generally obedient? Do they know how to work? Are they respectful? If you have discipline under control, it is much easier to maintain a schedule. It also frees up time to spend on what you have determined to be most important.
3. What are the rhythms in your home like? Do your kids know what to expect at certain times of the day? This can be really hard to accomplish–particularly with a baby! Start with something simple and flexible. The rhythm will change as the kids get older, but it will still feel like a rhythm. (I’ll give you an example of ours in just a minute.)
4. What kind of distractions are in your home? Is the television on all the time? Do the kids have lots of access to media and technology? Are you constantly running in and out to go to the store? Do you talk on the telephone or text a lot? The world is a very busy, very distracting place. I personally believe that to effectively homeschool you have to guard against distractions like a hawk. Media and mom’s “social” distractions are two of the biggest ones. Your children can sense when you are not fully present, and they will definitely take advantage of that. (I personally struggle with getting distracted, and I KNOW that my home suffers when I don’t stay on top of it!)
Now . . . here’s a really basic outline of our day. After years of trying all sorts of schedules, we’ve settled into this one now that I don’t have napping little ones. Before, we did things that required limited distractions during naps.
Remember–my kids, right now, are 11, 9, 7, and 5.
6:00 I get up, read my scriptures, shower, get dressed, and plan my day (menu, outings, cleaning for the day, school activities, etc.)
7:00 Kids get up. They do personal chores (like clean rooms, get dressed). I fix breakfast. We eat together. They each have a few cleaning assignments I hand out. I clean up the kitchen while they fan out to do other cleaning.
9:00 We gather for devotional/reading time. We take about 10 minutes to do a basic pledge, prayer, scripture memorization. Then we take about 45 minutes to read a variety of things together (poetry, literature, non-fiction, etc.). [This was THE hardest part of the day when I had a busy baby. We just did the best we could–and sometimes he spent time contained in a high chair so that we could make it work!]
10:00 We may or may not spend time doing some other school type activity together–science experiment, board game, art project.
After that, they work on their other assignments. [WARNING: Prior to this year, we did not have “other” assignments. They were free to work on whatever learning activities they wanted to do–and I was very free with my definition of “learning activity.” But that’s how I felt my family needed to be. (We focused most of our attention on those “core” attributes of respect, work, obedience for a LONG time.) Now, I feel we need to work more on some basic school skills and it looks more “school-like” than it did before.] Their assignments are some basic Language Arts copywork and some math work. The older three also practice an instrument.
12:00 We gather again for lunch. We usually watch something educational while they are eating (Liberty Kids, Cyberchase, How It’s Made, Animal Planet, Magic School Bus, etc.)
12:45 Lunch is cleaned up. The kids finish up whatever didn’t get done before lunch. They are free to do whatever they want after that. I focus on “my projects.” I’m still available to help them if they are still working, or I move on to the other things that I need to do.
4:30 I start fixing dinner. The kids are usually still out playing with public-school friends.
6:00 We eat dinner. Clean up the kitchen. Get ready for bed.
7:30 After family scripture study and prayer, I (or my husband and I if he’s home) snuggle with the two little ones. My 7 year old is learning to read, and she needs it to be quiet and calm. So I do her reading at night during her snuggles. We don’t do ANY reading during the day.
8:30 Younger three are in bed. 11 year old reads until 9:00 then also goes to bed. I have one or two hours of quiet “me” time to do what I would like.
There you have it. Our life in a list. Next week, it might be different. But hopefully for now, it’s helpful.