Flexibility in the homeschool schedule is one of the most important keys to success. You should understand that there will be days when things won't go according to schedule. You may even find that several weeks go by in which things simply are not going according to the plan you had initially formulated. Don't worry or allow yourself to panic or become stressed. This is merely an indication that you need to look closer at your child's learning style and your family's lifestyle, and try a different approach.
Every family has its own homeschool style, and you'll find the one that works best for your family, too. In Chapter 4, several types of homeschooling are discussed. You may find one there that works for you, or the information may provide ideas or inspiration for developing a unique style just for your family.
Some families cover the core skills and busywork in the mornings. That leaves the afternoons open for “free time,” during which the kids explore their own areas of interest. For some, the earlier part of the day is free time, then the family gathers together in the evenings to spend time studying the core skills. This schedule works well especially for two-career families or single-parent families.
When unexpected situations cause the family to miss out on their normal study times, many make up for this by spending a few hours catching up during the weekend. Sometimes, events arise to upset the normal home-school schedule by several days or weeks. Remember that flexibility is your friend! You can take spring break a little earlier than planned, or you can take a midwinter break. Then spend a couple extra weeks in the summer, catching up if necessary.
Have a backup plan in mind for unexpected situations. Pick up an armload of books from the library that you know your children would enjoy reading. Keep a few puzzles, games, or models stacked in the corner of a closet. Your kids will be thrilled to get what they consider to be new toys, and they'll stay busy, having fun and exercising their minds during this unexpected free time.
If your child has been in school for some time and you remove him, he will need some decompression time, or time to adjust to his new lifestyle. Take Nathan, for instance. He had been accustomed to moving through his school day in time to the ringing bells. He was conditioned to focus on one subject for forty minutes, then put that topic aside, and immediately switch to studying another subject for forty minutes. Then he had to backburner that topic, and switch to another subject for forty minutes, on and on, throughout the day. For Nathan, education has been a fast-food compendium of information quickly ingested to the tune of ringing bells, with little time left for him to think in between, let alone absorb.
At home, though, the day stretches before him, undivided by forty-minute classes marked by ringing bells. At first, he feels somewhat at a loss. He's not sure how to go to class without the warning bells. He's not sure when to stop studying without the sounding of the bells. Even though he's been eager to homeschool, he's suddenly not sure how to make the transition from school to homeschool.
Previously, for Nathan, being at home during the school year had meant vacation time, holidays, summer break, and freedom. And as the day wore on, he felt a little guilty about not being at school. Now that he's home all the time, he still feels a little guilty, even though he's legally a homeschool student. Somehow, doing schoolwork at home feels a little strange to Nathan.
This is a normal reaction for children who have spent time in school. This is why they need to decompress and be provided with free time for them to adjust and become comfortable in their homes on a daily basis. You can help them by letting them know it's okay to do nothing for a few days. Let them get used to the idea of being at home and doing some of the things they've been wanting to do but haven't had the time. If they begin to feel bored, you can suggest some things to do, such as a field trip, a nature walk, a trip to the library, or going through some old toys they haven't played with for a while.
How do I know what to teach?
The Typical Course of Study for kindergarten through grade 12 is available from World Book at
Soon they'll be learning new things on their own, just by getting back in touch with themselves and with their surroundings. Then, gradually, you can begin incorporating your homeschool plans into their lifestyle as, together, you work out a schedule they are comfortable with.