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Balancing field trips with the basics


amyrobynne
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As a first-time homeschooler, I've got that voice in my head telling me that my kids need to get out and see other children. So I joined two co-ops, one secular and one Catholic that offer field trips and outings (no regular weekly classes together). I'm nowhere near signing up for everything they offer. So far this fall, we have:

 

monthly 2 hr nature center science/art thing

a morning spent playing Bingo with elderly residents of a sr citizen home

monthly homeschool day at the indoor climbing wall

 

We have monthly Orchestra Hall concerts coming up in the spring, too. Then once or twice a month I have meetings for MOMS Club that I have to attend during the day (2 hrs) because I agreed to be the club treasurer before deciding to homeschool. And for a few more weeks, my 3rd grader has speech therapy mid-morning Wednesdays at the neighborhood elementary school.

 

When I signed up for stuff, it didn't seem like that much. A couple monthly things that were mostly academic. But we get a late-ish start to our day because we're all nightowls, so if there's a morning meeting/class, we don't get started until after lunch and suddenly it's 1:30 and we haven't done math yet. That happened 3 days this week and it's just not sustainable.

 

I guess I'm trying to figure out how many during-the-school-day activities others fit in. My toddler is starting to give up naps and once he does, doing afternoon activities will simplify things because it would be easier to finish things by 2pm and THEN go to the nature center. Now, if we did that, he wouldn't nap and he'd be a cranky mess while I was trying to help the big kids with their clay sundials.

 

So, how do other families with early elementary kids and littles balance it all? Do you say no to all morning out-of-the-house things? Get a babysitter and do afternoon stuff?

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I have a 7,6 and 4yr old. I only HS the 6 and 4yr old though. No I dont say no to errands or outings. We plan our HS day around it or make it PART of our day.

 

for example yesterday there was a Skating Party with the local HS group. Instead of doing school- we counted it as Gym Class.

 

You can do the same. Instead of School- the nature Center is science. done for the day. Etc. You DONT have to fit everything all in 1 day. :grouphug:

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Mostly I refused to go out in the morning more than once a week. I would make very rare exceptions for real excursions--science museum field trips or actual operas or plays from time to time--but by and large, no more than one morning per week away from home, and sometimes doing math on a Saturday morning as a make up item. This meant that we never participated in a regular park day, which was really just fine with me.

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Mostly I refused to go out in the morning more than once a week. I would make very rare exceptions for real excursions--science museum field trips or actual operas or plays from time to time--but by and large, no more than one morning per week away from home, and sometimes doing math on a Saturday morning as a make up item. This meant that we never participated in a regular park day, which was really just fine with me.

This.

 

All of our activities are in the afternoon after schoolwork gets done. Even park days here are afternoon events.

Edited by Snickerdoodle
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We try not to do too many activities. We go to the library weekly and the kids attend gymnastics midweek.

 

We don't start our studies until 1-1:30pm and finish by 5pm daily so that they can spend quality time with DH in the mornings before he leaves for work. The schedule works for us.

 

Schedules can be flexible. We also take wednesdays off since that is an off day for DH and we school on Saturdays as well... Flexibility is your friend :)

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Well, I only have one so do not have to work around nap schedules. (Except my own. ;))

 

But we go on 20-30 field trips a year, plus take a number of outside classes. I do homeschool year-round so that we can get all of the basics covered. I also do not do lesson plans on a weekly schedule. I plan lessons by day - Day one, Day two, etc. If there are weeks we only get a few days of "school at home" done, that is fine. Our lessons are designed where each day is independent of the others. (I do log our days and make sure we get in 180 or so days of school per year.)

 

I will also catch those educational moments and say, "Hey, we have two chapters of our American history book left. Let's sit down and finish them now." Or, "Hey, I want you to do a math lesson before you..." I wasn't able to do that when DS was younger, but he is older and more mature now and knows he needs to get his school work done.

 

We are on our sixth year homeschooling and I am now very, very critical of what outside activities we sign up for. It has to be really fun or very educational and on my son's ability level. This year we dropped several outside classes that DS enjoyed, but they weren't the best fit for him educationally. We will probably pick them up again next year, when he is old enough to go into the next level of classes. (Classes were geared for 1st through 5th, then 6th and up. I didn't feel the younger classes were challenging him enough to take up our valuable school time.)

 

I do think after you have homeschooled a few years, you figure out the socialization/outside classes thing, find your own balance and what works for your family. :D

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Why is doing math at 1:30 non sustainable?

 

On field trip days that aren't all day, we still do math and reading (and/or another subject that I need us to not get behind in..) Often we do something on the weekend, or a whole day of school on the weekend to make up for time out of the house. But my kids are older than yours.

 

This time of constant field trips will have to go away when they are older. I would enjoy it now.

 

And just so you have an idea. We do a full day of co-op once a week for the "school year" (traditional year) During that year we take a couple of field trips a month too. So there are a couple of weeks a month that we have 3 full days of school, a co-op day which has a couple of educational classes, 1 non core class, and P.E., and the field trip day where we might still do some work like I said.

 

We do a year round schedule to make sure we get everything in. Our year round is more like 10 mos of school, 8 wks off in the summer. And with that, I can break our subjects like math up and make sure that we get 15 or 16 lessons a month done and we finish in that time period. So it all gets done, and the kids and I get out of the house.

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Why is doing math at 1:30 non sustainable?

 

If we don't start until then, we don't finish before 4:30, at which point everyone's patience has run out and I need to work on supper. I don't do every subject every day (and yesterday's nature center morning took up both science and art, which are 1-2 times a week things for us) but I expect to do math, spelling, history, and religion every day and they've been getting squeezed out.

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As a first-time homeschooler, I've got that voice in my head telling me that my kids need to get out and see other children. So I joined two co-ops, one secular and one Catholic that offer field trips and outings (no regular weekly classes together). I'm nowhere near signing up for everything they offer. So far this fall, we have:

 

monthly 2 hr nature center science/art thing

a morning spent playing Bingo with elderly residents of a sr citizen home

monthly homeschool day at the indoor climbing wall

 

We have monthly Orchestra Hall concerts coming up in the spring, too. Then once or twice a month I have meetings for MOMS Club that I have to attend during the day (2 hrs) because I agreed to be the club treasurer before deciding to homeschool. And for a few more weeks, my 3rd grader has speech therapy mid-morning Wednesdays at the neighborhood elementary school.

 

When I signed up for stuff, it didn't seem like that much. A couple monthly things that were mostly academic. But we get a late-ish start to our day because we're all nightowls, so if there's a morning meeting/class, we don't get started until after lunch and suddenly it's 1:30 and we haven't done math yet. That happened 3 days this week and it's just not sustainable.

 

I guess I'm trying to figure out how many during-the-school-day activities others fit in. My toddler is starting to give up naps and once he does, doing afternoon activities will simplify things because it would be easier to finish things by 2pm and THEN go to the nature center. Now, if we did that, he wouldn't nap and he'd be a cranky mess while I was trying to help the big kids with their clay sundials.

 

So, how do other families with early elementary kids and littles balance it all? Do you say no to all morning out-of-the-house things? Get a babysitter and do afternoon stuff?

Um....that's way too much time out of the house.

 

My rules of thumb: no activities on a regular basis with other homeschoolers until after 2 or 3 in the afternoon. In fact, no outside activities before 2 or 3 in the afternoon at all. One monthly park day.

 

And I say this as someone who left the house every Thursday for a field trip. :D But that field trip day was part of our schedule, and it was only the three of us. I didn't do field trips with my support group unless it was on Thursday.

 

I'm thinking you should give notice to your MOMS group; give up the science/art center; give up the playing Bingo; choose one group (are they support groups or co-ops???) to be part of. The monthly wall-climbing would be fun, and it's only *one* thing, and it's monthly. Wednesday could be a light day--speech therapy, and then maybe the library, if you have one nearby. Don't worry about academics on that day.

 

I think y'all should work to be satisfied being at home together, especially since this is your first year homeschooling. It's *home*schooling, and you need to be *there.* :) After a while, you can see which things you can add in the afternoon, but you still don't need to be gone every.single.day.

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we have a similar situation. We signed up for a few things with our hs group that has given us a crazy week now and then. I had to evaluate the value of those things verses the value of more time at home. We are doing Bible drill, (only meets every other month), Spanish co-op (meets every 2-3 weeks), and Lego engineering class (8 weeks), but they are all in the afternoon and not all every week. I decided they were worth it. The benefit is enough and my kids are small. Plus, those things are working TOWARDS my goals for the year, not against. We also do Fun Friday field trips two Friday afternoons a month. If my kids were older we might not be able to do all of it, but for now, I am adjusting because I find value in it. Also, our hs group tries to plan everything after 1:00pm which helps.

 

Choose what brings more value than distraction. Evaluate each activity individually and re-assess often. And try to put some basic parameters in like, not before X time of the day...(unless it is something super important). I love the flexibility of homeschooling, but sometimes you do have to say, ok this is not working. You do have to choose to stay home some. ;)

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I try to limit our outings to once a month. So last month we had a frog dissection co-op. This month, we went to the pumpkin patch. We had opportunities for another co-op day, an educational river boat ride, and a story telling festival this month. But no, I'm not doing any of those. We did our one outing (though my 3rd grader didn't get to go, as he was diagnosed with strep that day :tongue_smilie:).

 

Though I also have 3 kids all 2.5 years apart in age, so they are built in playmates and I don't feel like they need outside "socialization" with other kids. So if we go on a field trip, it's for the trip, not being with other kids.

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This board, in my opinion, tends to lean against going out, against doing classes and co-ops, and against doing many field trips. So, just keep that in mind. :) Anyone who says it's too much time out is speaking for themselves, not necessarily for you and your family.

 

I think it depends a lot on you and your kids' personalities and needs. Some families need to hole up and are introverts, but others are happier when they're out and about more often and having a slightly busy schedule helps the school times be more meaningful. I think it also depends on your school style and philosophy. Some people feel the heart of school is the work you do on reading and writing and math at home, while some people feel that the ability to take advantage of opportunities around you and really engage with the world and others in a different way is the heart of things. I think it also depends on the activities. Sometimes there's a real value in some of the things out there.

 

It has to be a balance. But everyone's balance is different.

 

We are out and about most days. We have something nearly every day, including field trips, friends, sports, dance, piano, Destination Imagination... I find it goes in spurts and I am a bit of a pendulum about it. Right now, we're clearly overbooked, but soccer ends soon and two of my kids' classes will end before Christmas. I won't schedule things more in the winter and we'll have more time then. I find it's useful to try and pile everything into a day and carve out days when we don't have to go out at all, but that's just us and others may feel differently.

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Last year was our first year and I purposely tried very hard to keep a regular, stable home schedule/routine, without too much interruption. I knew we had to get used to homeschooling, in general. I also did not know yet how much outside of the home we could do without feeling overwhelmed and still be able to get our work done.

 

Last year I planned our schedule for a 4-day work week at home and we had co-op on Friday's. We went to 2 or 3 field trips the entire year. Everything else we did was in the afternoons, after we had finished our school work. It worked out very well for us.

 

This year we also have a 4-day work week at home and co-op on Fridays, which is working out well for us. Most of everything else we do is in the afternoons, with the exception of Tuesdays. Tuesdays we have a flipped-upside-down day, as the boys have swim lessons at 9:30am (we have to leave home by 9:00am and one son has violin lessons at 11:00am. So our morning in shot on Tuesdays.

 

By the time we get home, it is time for lunch, we are all a bit tired and the boys are ready for some play time. So we have lunch, they play and I take a break. And then none of us feel like doing school because it is already 2:00 in the afternoon, or thereabouts. It is our most difficult day and it is usually not a happy day for any of us in the afternoons. I am usually left with working out a way to make up for some work on another day. I will try to change this up in January and will not be doing this again in the future. It is just easier to get the school work done in the mornings.

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Anyone who says it's too much time out is speaking for themselves, not necessarily for you and your family.

This is true of everything, which is why I never qualify my comments by saying that. The OP asked our opinions, and so we're giving them. We all understand that her mileage may vary. :)

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We never do more than 1 morning activity per week. We have a monthly zoo class, usually go on a fieldtrip or two, and always have at least one doctor/dentist appointment. That fills up all four weeks in the month right there. I just have to have at least 4 mornings home each week to feel like we are making good progress. We also have a weekly park day that we attend, but it runs until 2:30 so we can finish a full morning's worth of work before we head to the park (with a picnic lunch in hand). There is a ton of stuff going on locally for homeschoolers and in our support group during the day, but we just have to say no to most of it.

 

We schedule extra-curricular activities in the late-afternoon and evening. I know we could do everything during the day, but it would eat into our homeschool time and limit us to classes full of homeschoolers. I feel like doing regular classes (versus special homeschool classes) works better for getting our schoolwork done and it gives my kids opportunities to meet local kids who attend b&m schools. It has helped us to make more public school friends who live in our own little suburb, instead of having only homeschool friends who are scattered all over the metro area.

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I'd also add this-don't feel like you have to do everything a HS group offers, even if it's a small group. I ran afoul of that my first year-I was one of the organizers of a small HS group and felt that I had to have DD at everything to support the group. And it led to a lot of time out of the house doing fun activities that might, possibly, fit into the plan, maybe, if twisted and tweaked-but it's hard to call the 8th zoo trip in a year that gets mostly spent playing in the fountain and on the playground "science".

 

 

Now, 2 years later, I'm very choosy, and tend to do activities in the afternoon, not the mornings. And what I've found is that there are STILL enough people who want to do the fun, less academic activities that they still happen, and that DD and I really aren't missed.

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We *must* use mornings for focused skill work. I wouldn't ever schedule a regular outside activity for the mornings for this reason. We sometimes do all-day field trips, but I don't schedule a morning thing and then come home and expect to do math and writing in the afternoon. So stuff scheduled during the day is very rare for us.

 

Miss P does theater, a summer day-camp and two main stage productions during the "school year" which include 5-6 weeks of evening rehearsals. This is her main extracurricular, and a great way to keep up with friends. She also does a lot of one on one playdates with a couple of close friends who live nearby. These obviously happen late afternoons and weekends because of the girls' school schedules. This helps preserve our days for focused schoolwork.

 

We haven't made a specific effort to seek out other homeschoolers for socialization or for co-op style learning. It seems like we are on a different path from a lot of the homeschoolers in our area, and my focus is on choosing activities that meet our goals for learning/schooling. Each activity is evaluated based on that.

 

Also, I try and provide Miss P a lot of free time for play, projects, free reading, etc. and if we filled our time with activities, she wouldn't have that. It is a precious thing.

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We have Classical Conversations one day a week. We have a co-op every other Friday that is more social than academic. And we go out for some activity every single afternoon (soccer, fine arts co-op every other Monday, dance, AWANA, gymnastics, swimming, etc.).

 

 

We meet with a dyslexia tutor 4 days a week for 1.5 hours, and the kids who aren't with her always do school during that time. We also have therapy appts 4 days a week for 1 or 1 1/2 hours, and the kids who aren't in therapy at the moment do schoolwork.

 

 

We still get plenty of schoolwork done despite being out of the house so much. As long as we get reading, handwriting, and math done, I count it as a day. History is often listening to the SOTW audio in the car, and science is often just books in the bookbasket. I realize that isn't the ideal way to study these topics, but we do history activities related to the reading in our co-op, and science experiments at CC, and so for now, I value our time in activities more than I do more time at home for better history and science.

 

My kids have some gross & fine motor problems, and we are in so many activities as a supplement to their therapy. But to be perfectly honest, I *like* them being in all these activities, and it somewhat pacifies my anti-homeschooling mother, so I would probably do it this way even if my kids' motor skills were perfectly normal.

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We go to co-op one morning a week for 25 weeks of the year (5 weeks of class, one week break), during the "school" year. I teach dance in the evenings 4 days a week, MTTHF. On Wednesday, the kids go to gymnastics. My oldest goes to the studio with me 3 days a week; youngest goes 2 days a week.

 

We went to the zoo a week ago for a field trip with family and we will go to the Pumpkin Patch this coming Tuesday with our co-op group.

 

In elementary school, it is the best time to take extra field trips. When they get to middle and high school, field trips will need to serve a more focused purpose. A 3 day week every now and then is fine. Run math drills in the car. Get a CD of memory work to listen to, SOTW on CD is great for the car, or classic literature on CD. Car schooling is great for a busy day!

 

We listen to SOTW and Classical Conversations Memory Work when we spend the day in the car.

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I'll start by saying I've got a toddler that I am trying to balance with schooling and I understand the naptime issue. Boy do I understand it! We try and squeeze as much out of each nap for reading aloud that we can (and he isn't the best, most reliable napper to begin with).

 

We've discovered recently that we far prefer being home to being out. In fact, I just recentely dropped all of our homeschool groups and, I have to admit, it was quite the relief to see it all go.

 

I used to feel like I needed to 'do it all' like every other homeschool parent out there. I'd say in the last year I've realized that I just can't have much scheduled on my regular calendar because it leaves me feeling frazzled that we aren't doing all that we talk/dream about doing with our time. In the past year I have become very, very selective about how we spend our time.

 

My kids each of classes that they chose, and love. We have the opportunity spend 3 complete days at home each week if we desire (and we often do - getting lost in science experiments, read alouds, cooking, or other random projects). I'd say on those days we might plan something with close friends 1-2 times per month at most. Field trips we have learned are much more fun if we can make them family trips on the weekends.

 

The best thing I did this year was stop worrying about what everyone else was doing and only worry about what we were doing. Evaluating our happiness, our goals, our dreams, our time. It really feels good to finally have found balance.

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It's *home*schooling, and you need to be *there.*
See, I'm weird here because I hate the term "homeschooling" for that reason.

I loved the idea of "community based schooling" as presented in "And the skylark sings to me." Home is the center of our schooling, but I prefer to get out in the community.

I purposely plan our school around outside activities and classes.

I base part of our literature on what plays are being produced locally. I base our art studies off the gallery exhibits. Great exhibit at the science or history museum? We will add in some books on the topic. We love learning this way! But - after six years of planning our schooling this way - I am very selective and know (give or take) how much time to allow for these rabbit trails so we get the basics covered.

 

I notice that my 6 yo does well completing worksheets and such in the car. So we'll do our math or grammar lesson at home, then she does her work in the car with a clipboard. She actually completes it faster in the car because she can't run off to play. That has made lots of trips manageable.
We do some car-schooling as well, plus will stop by a coffee shop or the library to get in some extra math or spelling. Sometimes it is easier to get the school work down outside the home if we have been out for an appointment or activity.

 

The best thing I did this year was stop worrying about what everyone else was doing and only worry about what we were doing. Evaluating our happiness, our goals, our dreams, our time. It really feels good to finally have found balance.
:iagree: Every homeschool family will have different dreams and goals. What is important is finding your own balance. Know, too, that what is "right" one year may not be right the next year. Your schooling will look different as the children age and mature.
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I think it depends a lot on you and your kids' personalities and needs. Some families need to hole up and are introverts, but others are happier when they're out and about more often and having a slightly busy schedule helps the school times be more meaningful. I think it also depends on your school style and philosophy. Some people feel the heart of school is the work you do on reading and writing and math at home, while some people feel that the ability to take advantage of opportunities around you and really engage with the world and others in a different way is the heart of things. I think it also depends on the activities. Sometimes there's a real value in some of the things out there.

 

It has to be a balance. But everyone's balance is different.

 

:iagree:

 

This is our first year, too, and I was also a bit over-zealous about the outside activities. After one week, I knew I had to scale back. I am personally very introverted. Being out and about zaps all my energy and makes me feel all out of sorts, like i don't have a handle ion anything. So I agree that it has to be very different for every family.

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You definitely need to find the rhythm that works for you! I find we can do an an afternoon activity 1-2x per week, and maybe twice a month we ditch regular school work all together in favor of a field trip for the whole day. For me, being home in the am to do school is more of a non-negotiable...I will sacrifice a younger child's afternoon nap first before giving up our morning school time. But I have friends that can spend the morning out and still get all their school work done in the afternoon. It varies so much.

 

A few things I have kept in mind while making our extra curricular / co-op / field trip decisions is that 1, you can't do everything every year, but most things will be right there waiting for you next year if you pass this year. So we don't get memberships to every museum/zoo/etc every year - we do some every other year. One year we might go to the Nutcracker, the next year a play and the next year an orchestra concert. One year we do pottery class, the next year we might do gymnastics.

 

2, I try and pick activities/field trips based on interest and educational goals, and look to other venues for social interaction and friendships. We are super lucky that our kids have friends on our block or within a block or two of home they can play with. But if we didn't have that I would be looking to set up play dates or meet friends at the park more often. That kind of social interaction is way more flexible than a class or organized group outing or "park day" or whatever, and I think my kids tend to get more of their relational needs met through these informal settings anyway.

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Thanks everyone for your viewpoints! Our whole family tends toward the introvert side (when we told the kids we were homeschooling there was no outcry of "but I'll miss my school friends!") and my oldest in particular would be happy as a clam to never leave the house. Never leaving doesn't seem healthy and we have the long MN winter coming soon. But now, 6 weeks in, it's getting easier to see how things fit together. Programs that would have been awful last year like late afternoon swimming lessons fit in perfectly now -- by 4pm, the toddler is awake, school stuff is done, the classes are tiny because no one else wants to sign up for that slot, and we're home in time to make supper. I think I overlooked all the incidental stuff like doctor appointments that inevitably need to get added in somewhere and start crowding out the week. Peter will be done with speech therapy within the month and we only have one more nature center class that we signed up for. The Bingo day was a one time thing -- if we're going to volunteer, we'll save it for evenings/weekends. I can't get out of MOMS Club, but going forward, it'll only be one 90 min meeting a month. I suspect we'll end up with a full morning out of the house once every other week no matter what I try cutting out, but that would be much easier than how things have gone so far. Originally the nature center classes were going to be in the afternoon but I was planning on having my mom watch the toddler and she's now going through chemo until January, so I switched to morning.

 

Anyway, I appreciate seeing how all of you pull things off. I think I'm surrounded by a lot of unschoolers locally (at least they're the visible ones) and I need to remind myself if I'm not choosing to educate that way, I shouldn't expect to attend all their field trips.

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This year we are doing 4 full school days a week, which mean we do not leave the house on those days until all school work is finished. We go to swimming on those days after 5. On Fridays we are doing a little school in the mornings and meeting with my sister, SIL, and cousin for nature study/science.

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I have my 2 year old on a different sleep schedule than the older boys. She doesn't wake up from sleep until 11:00. By that time we are almost completely done with school, or only have a few more things to do. I make sure my K child gets all his work done first (since he needs my help with every subject) and then Literature, Grammar & Spelling are done with my 3rd grade child. After the toddler wakes up, we have lunch (breakfast for her) and then are able to go out & be a part of all the activities we want that take place around 1 pm. When we get back, toddler naps from 3-5 and my husband gets home at 2:30. If there is anything we want to do early evening he's home so I can just take the boys.

We also school 3 weeks on & 1 week off. That way we can sign up for the once a month activities and do it all in the week we have off. Our off week is also when I schedule doctor appointments, dentist appointments and any other once in a while things. We also make use of our community memberships during our off week.

It's a little unconventional, but it works for us!

Edited by MeghanL
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This board, in my opinion, tends to lean against going out, against doing classes and co-ops, and against doing many field trips. So, just keep that in mind. :) Anyone who says it's too much time out is speaking for themselves, not necessarily for you and your family.

 

I think it depends a lot on you and your kids' personalities and needs. Some families need to hole up and are introverts, but others are happier when they're out and about more often and having a slightly busy schedule helps the school times be more meaningful. I think it also depends on your school style and philosophy. Some people feel the heart of school is the work you do on reading and writing and math at home, while some people feel that the ability to take advantage of opportunities around you and really engage with the world and others in a different way is the heart of things. I think it also depends on the activities. Sometimes there's a real value in some of the things out there.

 

It has to be a balance. But everyone's balance is different.

 

We are out and about most days. We have something nearly every day, including field trips, friends, sports, dance, piano, Destination Imagination... I find it goes in spurts and I am a bit of a pendulum about it. Right now, we're clearly overbooked, but soccer ends soon and two of my kids' classes will end before Christmas. I won't schedule things more in the winter and we'll have more time then. I find it's useful to try and pile everything into a day and carve out days when we don't have to go out at all, but that's just us and others may feel differently.

:iagree:

 

I'm one who tends to stay home but I'd say don't read any comments with indictment that there are some hs police or rules you have to follow.

 

However, imo you need to be careful that *your* schedule is one that allows you to meet whatever hs'ing goals you have(along with any regulations). I don't schedule anything because I think we have to *socialize*. I schedule things because I want to and think we will enjoy it. Sometimes we cannot do everything I think we would like because it is too much money, or to much time, etc, then you have to prioritize what you do.

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It has to be a balance. But everyone's balance is different.

 

 

:iagree:

 

Last year I was very concerned about getting the kids out and "socializing". We had bowling Wednesday, gymnastics Fridays, baseball twice a week, field trips, park days, plus I started a 4-H group. It ended up being too much and I realized that being out around a lot of people was hard for my son (I'm definitely an introvert but I didn't realize how much of one he is too). I also found that I hated having things scheduled for specific days - it seemed like someone always got sick or the weather didn't cooperate (and we're wussy when it comes to rain), or something went wrong.

 

So this year we do 4-H which is twice a month - a meeting and a field trip. Everything else is spontaneous park days or field trips that we can do whenever we feel the need, the weather cooperates or we have an unusual opportunity. This works much better for us at this stage of life.

 

Around here, busier seems to be the norm for most homeschoolers. Most of the ones I know are out of the house every day doing classes, field trips, and activities. Although, most also seem to lean toward unschooling or extremely relaxed homeschooling.

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I like to make an overall schedule for our year and include what our vision, mission and goals are. Goals fall into 4 catagories: physical, mental, social, spiritual.

 

I choose curriculum and outside activities based on these goals. Goals depend on the ages, stages, personalities of the kids along with our academic pedagogy and goals. Life is seasonal and things change from year to year and sometimes from month to month, or week to week.

 

Having a year long plan (that is flexible) gives me a greater sense of being able to manage what I have going on with the kids academically, along with major house re-build projects (we are re-building from a fire).

 

We are committed to training our kids academically and I believe that that takes structure and time on task. We are also very committed to giving our kids a broad range of experiences. This year we added a 2 hr/week clay class for our 9 yo. It wasn't part of the plan in Sept but if fills a need for her and actually works into my running around schedule.

 

DS 18 is actually out of town/state for a month this academic year for camps. This creates a crunch for his academic work (he wants to graduate by a specific date) but that's a choice he's made in order to get both the academic work we all agreed to get done along with unique life experiences.

 

Like others have said, it's a balance. Finding the balance is easier for me if I have a grid to work from.

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:iagree:

 

Last year I was very concerned about getting the kids out and "socializing". We had bowling Wednesday, gymnastics Fridays, baseball twice a week, field trips, park days, plus I started a 4-H group. It ended up being too much and I realized that being out around a lot of people was hard for my son (I'm definitely an introvert but I didn't realize how much of one he is too). I also found that I hated having things scheduled for specific days - it seemed like someone always got sick or the weather didn't cooperate (and we're wussy when it comes to rain), or something went wrong.

 

So this year we do 4-H which is twice a month - a meeting and a field trip. Everything else is spontaneous park days or field trips that we can do whenever we feel the need, the weather cooperates or we have an unusual opportunity. This works much better for us at this stage of life.

 

Around here, busier seems to be the norm for most homeschoolers. Most of the ones I know are out of the house every day doing classes, field trips, and activities. Although, most also seem to lean toward unschooling or extremely relaxed homeschooling.

 

:iagree: This is my observation as well, and a big part of the reason we don't make a more concerted effort to socialize w/in the homeschooling community. Our goals are different, our methods are different, and given all of our goals and the method we are choosing to reach them, we simply don't have time for multiple homeschool-group type things. I choose our extracurriculars for the purposes of enrichment (i.e. symphony, plays), interests (i.e. theater) or educational value (i.e. field days studying/collecting for biology) rather than for socializing. Socializing happens when we get together with friends that we have chosen because we enjoy their company and have things in common - and the common has to be more than the fact that we all happen to be homeschooling. Just sayin'.

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Different schedules work for different families, and it might take a few years for you to figure out what works for your family. If you're feeling exhausted and worn out, perhaps you're running too much.

 

I was homeschooled, and my mom was known as "The Field Trip Lady". She was constantly organizing and running field trips (there weren't really co-ops back then.) I can't remember a specific thing I ever learned from textbooks, but I remember so many wonderful, educational field trips. Therefore, we do a lot of field trips in our family. I am gone almost every day - museums, library, nature center, zoo, hikes, park dates, lessons, etc etc.

 

To balance it with the textbooks, I remember that field trips *are* learning. Would you rather your child read about dissecting a frog or actually dissect a frog? Therefore, some parts of the text books may be skipped if you have covered that in a field trip. Sometimes we read the corresponding text in the car on the way to the field trip.

 

OTOH, sometimes I realize that I really am exhausted, and we are falling behind. When that happens, I take stock of what we can cut out.

 

Field trips are extremely valuable for younger children. My oldest is now in Jr High, so she doesn't always accompany us on all of the trips. The petting zoo, for example, doesn't teach her much at this age, so she can sit that one out. But as long as my littles are engaged in the learning process, field trips will be a very important part of their lives.

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I try not to schedule too much for mornings, but sometimes it doesn't work out not to.

 

I schedule work for four days a week. So co-op is the fifth day some weeks; other weeks, the fifth day is for science, music, art, or catching up, or for park day with our co-op friends. All of those things count as school days, though.

 

We currently have speech therapy for two of our children one morning a week, and since that's every week, I can't just skip school those days. That's also our library and grocery shopping day, so it's a full day, with a 30-minute drive each way. So everyone has a clipboard and a backpack, and I will bring work for them to do in the car or while waiting for a sibling at speech. (While my preschooler is working with the speech therapist, I have time to do history with my older two.) They can also work on stuff at the library; while some of them play/read, I can work with others individually. We also listen to good literature (well, currently, they're on an Encyclopedia Brown kick -- we'll call that logic instead of literature) or music in the car. It's not a day we'll do art or history projects, but plenty gets done that is useful in advancing through our curricula.

 

This week, we have no speech, but we have an appointment and a field trip that will take us out of the house two days, so I planned a lightish week of stuff that can be done while traveling.

 

And really, we school year-round so that we can take breaks when needed. It's not the end of the world if we don't do bookwork one day. We never have trouble getting our 180 days in.

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