People often ask me if I like homeschooling. My answer is an enthusiastic YES!! (You can read about how homeschooling blesses my family, why we homeschool, and what homeschool children like and dislike about homeschooling.)
Then they ask if it’s hard. My answer is another enthusiastic YES!! Nothing that is worth the effort is ever easy. Homeschooling is my job and therefore, it requires effort. Here is a breakdown of how much time I spend homeschooling.
When I begin planning for the new school, I follow this planning process.
Plan goals and objectives (1 hour)
I start by determining our goals and objectives for the year. Goals give us a clear vision and standard against which to measure success.
Plan subjects and time periods (2-3 hours)
Based on the goals and objectives I set in the step above, I determine what subjects we will cover this year and details such as time periods, composers, and artists. You can read more about the subjects we cover.
Choose resources for the year (10-15 hours)
Choosing the resources is a multi-step process because I do not use a boxed curriculum. I begin by requesting books from the library to preview. I choose these books based on recommendations from friends and other trusted sources. See my favorite sources on this post.
Then comes the fun part! I get away for a planning weekend with friends. We go to a lake house that is graciously loaned to us. We take loads of books…and books…and books. We enjoy fellowship, brainstorming, mentoring, and uninterrupted time to plan the next school year. Occasionally, I still need to preview a few books later if I need to read more of the book, but the majority of our resources are chosen and scheduled (see the next step) by the time I come home. This is what it often looks like:
Plan specifics (2 hours)
The first step in planning the specifics of the school year is to determine the days we will have lessons. I take a calendar and mark any vacations we plan to take (whether away from the home or just off school). Then I determine how the terms will fit into the remaining days. (We have three 10-week terms. Each term is followed by a week of exams. The remaining three weeks we fill in with trips and field trips.)
Next, I make a schedule of the ideal order to complete our lessons and how long I expect each lesson to last. This allows me to see if I have too much scheduled and if I need to move the lessons around to different days. I love using sticky notes for this part of the process because it is easy to move lessons around until the puzzle fits together nicely.
It’s annual school year planning weekend at the lake with friends. I tried a new method of planning this year I started with a mind map (and prayer!). Then I used white boards and color coded sticky notes to layout the schedule. This allowed me to move subjects around easily to see where they best fit into the day. I will use this method again!!
Finally, I plan which pages, chapters, or lessons of each book will be completed each week. I plan out the details for the year. Some homeschool moms like to plan six weeks at a time. I know my strengths and weaknesses. My strength is planning. My weakness is follow through. So I know that I must plan the whole year at once so I don’t have to think about what needs to be completed each week. I can just print assignments and off we go. I do not stick to the plan religiously. If something comes up, we are flexible but this gives me a good starting point. Use whatever method works for you.
Record plans in a Homeschool Planner (2 hours)
Finally, I enter our yearly plans into a homeschool planner. I waffle between using an online planner such as Homeschool Planet or a printed planner such as the Practical Planner or one I create myself . The key is to have it written down so you can follow through.
Update Planner (30 minutes)
Each week, I print a weekly assignment sheet if I am using the online planner or fill in the details on the weekly pages if I am using a paper planner.
Request books from the library (15 minutes)
I purchase most of our books because we love books around here and enjoy reading them again. (Here’s a list my favorite sources to purchase books.) There are some books I don’t purchase such as reference books for nature study each week and literature read-alouds. (I just cannot keep enough literature books on hand!) After looking at the plans for the next couple of week, I request whatever books we don’t have on hand.
Continuing education (roughly 15 minutes a day)
Each week, I try to read books, listen to podcasts, or watch videos that will educate me as a teacher, parent, and individual. I try to have a variety of subjects so I can continue my education as well as become a better parent and teacher.
I also participate in a Charlotte Mason Discussion Group each month. We read through Ms. Mason’s Original Homeschooling Series and discuss her teachings. If you do not participate in such a group, I highly encourage you to meet with a friend to do so. (If there is not one in your area, consider starting one.) The fellowship and discussion is wonderful for you as a teacher and as an individual!
Supervise lessons (3-4 hours per day)
We usually complete our lessons between nine a.m. and one p.m. When the girls were younger, we completed most of our lessons together as a family. Now, we have about an hour of family lessons and then they split apart to work on their individual lessons. I help her as needed and still read many of my younger daughter’s lessons to her. If you would like to see what a day in our homeschool looks like, you can read about it in my guest post at Joy in the Journey.
Supervise life skills (2 hours per day)
Life skills includes chores, meal preparation, tidying the house, getting ready for bed, grocery shopping, and anything else that comes up during the day. This is not done all at once, but spread throughout the day. I am not always directly involved, but am at least aware of their progress. I list these activities here because they are part of my children’s education, which is so much more than just academics.
Field trips and errands
I try to stay home at least two days each week. The weeks we manage to stay home three days are glorious! The other days we run errands or get together with friends. These activities can include joining our nature study co-op for a nature walk or park day, getting groceries, going to appointments, going on a field trip, or visiting friends.
End of Term Planning
Plan exams (1 hour)
At the end of each term, I plan Charlotte Mason style exams. This allows me to see what my children learned over the course of the term. I ask questions not only about the books we read, but also about field trips or special events we attended. Really, anything we learned during the term is fair game. Most of the questions are oral narrations and I typically type their responses while they dictate them to me, but we also incorporate written narrations and projects.
End of term evaluations (1 hour)
After exams for the term, I evaluate the previous term with questions such as:
- What went really well?
- What would I like to change next term?
- Are there any curriculum changes I need to make?
- Do we need to make any schedule changes?
- What character trait did I see strengthened in my child this term and what still needs improvement?
Plan next term (1 hour)
Based on the answers during the evaluations, I make any necessary changes to next term’s lesson plans and schedule and update my planner as necessary.
That summarizes how much time I spend homeschooling. Even though it consumes a great deal of time, I wouldn’t trade it for the world. This is truly one of the BEST jobs I could ever have.
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