Plot twist! I feel like we have declared that in our lives over the last few years. Homeschooling has dramatically changed the way we respond to the ups and downs of daily life. I want to share with you now how our flexible homeschool has worked for us during the 2018-2019 school year. We are serious homeschoolers with lots of wiggle room. We have routines, a loosely based plan, and a love for home education.
You may be newer to homeschooling, or just considering it as a “maybe” for the future. If you are like many parents I have encountered, you don’t think you have time. You and/or your spouse may work outside of your home full-time and have several other commitments. That makes it a trickier priority, but it is so very possible. I follow a homeschool website and global Facebook community, Rock Your Homeschool where so many moms juggle homeschooling, work inside and outside of the home, and some are even higher degree seeking students themselves. I encourage you to check them out! I have found advice and encouragement from this safe and active community, from curricula recommendations to weekly share and support posts, where homeschool mamas can promote their own blogs and websites.
I write about the beginnings of our homeschool journey, and a remote service I offer to homeschooling and homeschool curious families, here. It’s a journey where we will always be evolving. I love sharing what has and has not worked for us. Because we continue with a frame of mind that has us willing and eager to adapt to change, we have a great attitude about growth in our homeschool. A flexible homeschool operates outside of the box.
When we decided to bring our kids home from public school last Spring, we had no idea how homeschooling would quickly snowball into the best parenting decision we have made. On the specific topic of flexibility, this lifestyle change has been blessing after blessing! As soon as the public school year ended in May of last year, I was at work in my mind and in my heart, to think of what a homeschool schedule would look like. While there has been a lot of tweaks to our routine and schedule, we are definitely in a place where our homeschool is working for us. Several times over the last few months, I have proclaimed “we seem to be finding our groove.” I have learned to start my sentences with “Right now _____ works for our family.” It sure does take the pressure off of me. Mostly pressure I put on myself, but pressure nonetheless.
I should elaborate on that a bit. At the beginning of the school year, I set alarms, started school at the same time every day, and tried to shove too many things into each day. That did not work for me! I had an immediate resentment to our schedule. Then I reminded myself that I started this and I certainly had the freedom to stop it. I had the opportunity to exercise our family’s flexibility and ability to adapt to anything, and I was setting alarms and panicking when our times overlapped for certain subjects. Since then, I have thrown caution to the wind. We work entirely on daily anchors and flexibility. I run this show, fueled by Jesus, coffee, and good intentions. Our children are thriving!
When school starts, the kids are my primary focus. I leave my phone and laptop in my office and we get to work. We usually meet at our big dining room table or in our living room, for a little time in our morning basket. We are gentle homeschoolers. Our day is full of learning opportunities, but we don’t sit at a desk for hours on end. We are more comfortable moving around indoors and out, with transition time, and short breaks. We are eclectic in our style, heavy into read-alouds, read-alongs, and a holistic approach to learning.
I can’t remember a recent day when we weren’t finished school by lunch time. Our school time usually occurs about an hour after we wake. Sometimes we are ready earlier. There are days when we are dressed and ready to go and there are days where we stay in our jammies until noon. There’s something comforting about staying cozy as the wind howls across the Prairie in the coldest months. On the other hand, we are equally as comfortable to be dressed and headed for a walk downtown to our public library right after breakfast on a warm, Spring day. There are days where the kids wake and automatically grab a “learning game” from our stash. That is a signal to start our day. There are other days where I have to tell them that “tablet time” on their Fire HD 8 Kid’s Edition Kindle Tablets is over for the day. I share more about our limited screen time here.
We don’t touch on every single subject daily, and we go through seasons where different routines work better than others. Flexibility is our mantra. If a method or practice doesn’t bring us joy, we find a way to do it that does. Flexibility in homeschooling also lives outside of the walls of our home. Recently, snowstorms followed by subzero temperatures had our district’s public and private schools shut down for days. We homeschooled through the goofy weather. We would rather snuggle up and carry on with our school day now, and enjoy those gorgeous Spring days later. Also, we take school on the road with us. So far, we have traveled to Wisconsin, Iowa, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Maryland since we started homeschooling late last Summer. We have also enjoyed exploring more of our state, from hiking and learning more about our town to a day trip to Chicago and the Shedd Aquarium. We can visit family and friends and we are more available when unexpected things pop up. A few weeks into our homeschool, we had a surprise visit from our adult daughter and her fiancé, recent college graduates. It actually led to them changing their plan, moving from his hometown outside of Pittsburgh, PA to our town in Illinois. As you can imagine those first few weeks of having big sister home were more like a vacation than school. Later nights, pool days, crafts, outings…but we managed to learn through it all.
We are flexible but dependable. As a family that has grown through adoption, some things need to happen daily. Dependable and flexible need to exist together. We can’t thrive in chaos or disorder. My kids are programmed deep in the recesses of their mind, to shut down in chaos. So, we take our flexibility with a dose of reassurance and calm. They need to know they will always have certain things: love, meals, some structure, safety, a proper amount of sleep, play time, etc. In our home and homeschool, we have double the opportunity to provide that. How does your family thrive in your flexible homeschool? I’d love to hear from you!