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Homeschooling rhythms

I was talking today with a couple of other homeschooling moms about how we keep everything together. They perceived that I was very organized (though I had to admit that by my own standards, I’m frustratingly disorganized!). So they were asking me how I do it. It sounded like a really good idea for a blog post… one of these days when I get organized enough to do it.

The thing I can talk about today is Being Busy. I’ve decided that needs capitals, in order to distinguish it from normal busy-ness.

Busy-ness is when you have a kid like my daughter. In some ways, she’s the perfect unschooler: She’s always engaged in something. These days she’s too often engaged with her computer, but aside from that, she’s incredibly productive. Today I sent her off to watch a video on Brainpop.com so I would feel like we’d done something academic, and she came back with a quiz on translating decimal numbers to binary numbers… for me. Yes, other people’s kids go to school so they can take quizzes. My daughter stays home so she can give me quizzes.

You might want me to explain this, but I’m sorry that I will have to disappoint you. Please read on.

The big problem with Being Busy in our house is that I have two very different children. My son thinks that Being Busy Enough is having one event outside of the house for, say, a couple of hours during the day. That’s enough to satisfy him and to remind him that home is where he’d rather be, working on his projects, playing piano (when we ask him to), and being outside (when we force him to).

My daughter, on the other hand, defines Being Busy another way. As in, you can never Be Too Busy. We started this school year with a pretty manageable schedule:

  • Homeschool program 2x per week
  • Piano lesson 1x per week
  • Horse riding lesson 1x per week
  • Spanish class 1x per week
  • Book club 1x per month

We were well within the possibility of sticking with my rule that homeschooling families need to have one day of the week completely at home. Then a friend asked if she wanted to start a gymnastics class with them. She’d ride her bike from her brother’s history class, so it wouldn’t be any extra driving. Well, OK:

  • Gymnastics class 1x per week

She was enjoying that, and I loved how mellow the biking and gymnastics made her on Monday nights.

Then she found out that students in her homeschool program were eligible to join the band at the charter school next door. The band leader brought her instruments and let her try out a clarinet. It was love at first squeak. I have to admit, I’m a pushover for anything musical my kids want me to spend our money on. So, OK, the band meets 2x per week and about 1/4 of the time we wouldn’t be able to make it, but why not? Add:

  • Band practice 2x per week

Things hadn’t gotten ridiculous yet. In fact, she decided around the time that gymnastics started up that the Spanish class wasn’t for her, so we got to take one thing off our schedule. But could we relax? Of course not!

Enter softball, which she played and loved last year. Add:

  • Softball practice 2x per week
  • Softball games 1x per week

Sometimes, just for variety, there is only one practice but two games.

You may think that at this point she was just simply full up. Did I mention:

  • Assorted fieldtrips 1-3x per month

And then, enter IRIS. A new science education center opened way too far from our house, in a town I swore I would never drive to for classes. We went to the open house. “I so have to take a class here.”

  • Energy and the Environment 1x per week

All along, remember I have the Greek Chorus in the background, my son saying, “Really? We really have to be out 4 hours today? Can’t I just stay home?” Because of course some of the time, his activities piggy-backed on hers, and I wasn’t going to waste the gas to come all the way home…

Our homeschool rhythm is something like a building wave: At the beginning of the year there’s me and my son saying, “Let’s keep it simple this year. Let’s be home some of the time.” I schedule a reasonable number of activities outside the house. And then it starts to pile up. My girl can go go go all day long. In fact, she’s happier when she’s doing that. I end up not being able to turn down various great opportunities. And by the spring, we’re ready to crash.

I am very much looking forward to this summer, when my daughter is only doing horse camp, soccer camp, Camp USA, the homeschooling conference, and swimming.

Until she finds something else she just can’t live without.

Posted in Parenting.


2 Responses

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  1. Leah Mastilock says

    So many great things that can’t be missed around here! We always wind up too busy as well. And though we’re just starting, my kids have similar personalities to yours- son happy to be home, daughter ( only 2) begging for more classes! I’m dreading when she’s older and they’re both trying to go in different directions!

    • Suki says

      Yes, do appreciate these early years when your little one is happy to go along and play while her brother is doing things. You may get lucky and have kids who are OK doing the same things a lot of the time, or you may end up trying to figure out how you’re going to split yourself in half. The good thing is that homeschoolers are always there to help – I occasionally have to send one child off with another family to do a fieldtrip while the other child has a class at home. It all works out in the end. (And today, I had the great luxury of having my children both picked up and dropped off by other people – a whole day without having to drive them around! Yay!)



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