Things go a little bit differently for each child depending on the grade level and learning abilities. Our oldest daughter has graduated from college, the second daughter is away at college, and we have two high-schoolers, two elementary/junior -high students, and a preschooler.
During the summer I think about and explore options for the upcoming school year, planning field trips, perusing catalogues and curricula to find the best option at that time, and generally figuring out where we’re going to go in that year. Every weekend during the school year I spend time writing lesson plans and correcting schoolwork. During the week we have the day to day routine which will be described below.
The high-schoolers do a pre-packaged curriculum for theology, history and literature. Each student has his own lesson plan--in high school my children are given the freedom to decide how to distribute their schoolwork. As long as they get the required amount done within the week, they can decide whether to power through it and finish in two days or spread it out evenly throughout the week. They take science and English classes at a cooperative high school, going to class one day a week and completing assigned work at home during the remainder of the week. They have semi-private tutoring for math in which they meet with a tutor and several other students once a week. This enables them to learn new concepts and review corrections for work that they have turned in. Foreign language requirements are fulfilled by taking classes at the local junior college. P.E. is done through our support group, where they play seasonal sports. Extracurricular activities like theater, choir and art are offered through outside organizations like the local youth theater. There are opportunities to volunteer through our home school support group which runs boys and a girls groups and works with the youth group for food drives and other charity efforts.
The elementary/junior-high children are doing a charter school program. They take history, language arts (including English grammar and writing), math, science, literature and reading for comprehension, vocabulary or phonics depending on grade level, and extracurricular activities such as piano lessons or P.E. They follow a pre-packaged curriculum course for religion. At the beginning of each week the lesson plans are done and the children can get ahead in their work if they want to. I work very directly with them for history, science and religion. They are more independent in the other subjects and just check in with me when they have questions or need help. Most of their work is done at the dining room table, allowing close interaction with me. But it also may be distracting to them since the preschooler will come try to do her own ’schoolwork’ alongside them. Although this can make it challenging to get work done at times, it is also one of the beauties of homeschooling that adds to the family bond and closeness between siblings as they work and play together.
In general, each day begins at 8 am with prayers, the Pledge of Allegiance, and a family meeting about how the day is going to go. The elementary/junior-high children sit at the dining room table to get work done while the high-schoolers go to their desks in their room or the den where the computers are. I do dishes or laundry and work with the preschooler, helping the older children as needed. There is no bell between classes, so everyone works on each subject until the assigned work is done. Midmorning we often take a break to have a snack, go outside to play or get some chores done. Then everyone goes back to their studies until lunchtime. The children prepare and eat their lunches together while I do errands for the day. In the early afternoon the preschooler takes a nap. This provides some quiet time for me to sit down and get concentrated work done with the children on subjects in which they need more close attention. By mid-afternoon the younger children are finished with their work. At this point they do their chores, extracurricular activities, play outside or just have unstructured play time. The higschoolers usually do not finish until the evening, but that varies depending on their schedule for the day. Their schedules are such that, while challenging, they can maintain a part-time job while completing their academics. The day comes to an end with a family dinner at which the children share what they’ve learned or done during the day with their dad.
Homeschooling is not just teaching your children classes at home--it is a way of life. It is a big commitment in choosing to homeschool. The parent who does the homeschooling sacrifices his chance to work outside the home, while the other parent must work hard to provide for the family on one income. The children are with the homeschooling parent almost 24/7, meaning that the parent has very little privacy or “me-time”. Everyone has to learn to work together and share all the highs and lows of life as a homeschooling family.