A friend recently asked for a brief description about how my family homeschools. Not being a model homeschool, not too much press worthy generally happens. I don’t make lesson plans or follow a set schedule. True deep and wonderful discussions are few and far between. We don’t do myriads of amazing crafts and cool science experiments.

Mom guilt complex sometimes rears its ugly head though, so a few times a year I try and plan a project or two to throw into the mix. About fifteen minutes in I quickly remember why I don’t facilitate many crafts and science projects, and we are good for the next 3-6 months until guilt comes creeping up again.

I will let you in on a wonderful little secret here: my kids who like crafts do them anyway, way better ones than I could concoct. My kids who don’t, still end up doing crafts at other activities here and there, and use their time at home for other pastimes they enjoy. It is a beautiful and wonderful thing. I wish I would remember that they next time the craft bug starts itching.

So now that what we don’t do is out of the way, what do we actually do? Well, on an ideal day I would be up at 7:00 a.m., do a little non-yoga (as in stretching and breathing but trying to think of something else to call it so I don’t offend my sensitive friends), settle in with the kids for family devotional at 8:00, and then everyone would be off and running, starting the day off strong with math, a foreign language and progressing blissfully on from there.

That ideal day has never happened. Why? First, I have a really hard time getting up on time. Second, sometimes my kids like to have entrees like pancakes for breakfast. Not too hard, but most assuredly requiring more preparation and clean up than a bowl of cereal and milk. They cook and clean up for themselves (except when they don’t) but still there is that element of time involved.

More true to life…Between 8:00-8:30 (hopefully) I appear in the kitchen, get some coffee going, and then move onto to my yoga mat for a few minutes while the coffee brews. 9:00 will often find me at the kitchen table drinking coffee and writing in my devotional journal while my three girls are engaged in school work (or maybe the youngest is not if I am tired that morning and didn’t feel like roping her in). I would call this quiet time, but that wouldn’t really be true. There are a few quiet moments interspersed with questions about geography or rhetoric or…But I am reading the word. The coffee is hot. The kids are (mostly) working. I have had a few minutes of movement in my day. We are off to a good start.

Sometime between 10:00-11:00 I corral everyone (at least those still at home) into the living room for family devotional. We work on the scripture memory verses from Sunday school, read from a daily devotional, and share three things we are thankful before wrapping up in prayer. Sometimes I follow this up with poetry, art or music appreciation while everyone is all together, but so far this year it hasn’t happened. Hopefully that ball will get rolling again soon.

Between 11:00-12:00 is a good time for music practice and then some time outside while I prepare lunch. After lunch I either send them back outside our we buckle down and try to finish up for the day by a reasonable hour such as 2:00. So far this year that hasn’t often happened. My 12 year old has just started the Classical Conversations Challenge A program and is still adjusting to the big jump in work load. Her least favorite subjects, math and Latin, tend to get pushed last in the schedule. She is tired. I am tired. You can imagine the rest. If I can accomplish one goal with her this year it would be to tackle those subjects first and get them out of the way. Everything should then pretty easily fall into place.

My 10 year old is in her first year in the Essentials program. This is a big jump in work for her as well. She is progressing at her own pace in math and language arts, but her drummer is marching a little bit slower than many of the other kids in the class. I am satisfied with her pace and see consistent growth from year to year, but it is hard when she compares herself with what others do and then labels herself as “behind”. After our first session this year (just 4 short days ago) I had a huge moment of second guessing the wisdom of enrolling her in the class. But she has really stepped up the plate and is willing to put in the work (at least so far) so I am excited to see how the year will progress. The beauty of homeschool is that I am able to modify assignments and assist as much as needed to allow her to be successful.

My two teens work fairly independently. My 15 yr. old is doing most of her school online this year. We have found some wonderful creative, interactive options as well as some more traditional classes. It is a good mix. She is busy with sports, hobbies, volunteering, and everything else she does, so we have opted for a slightly lighter load academically to keep her schedule sane and allow her to put real time and effort into her classes.

My 17 year old son is enrolled in the early college program at Portland Community College. His term starts next week and he will be attending classes two days a week. A part time job may also be on the radar for this year, but we will see how the Lord leads and provides in this area.

So if I don’t schedule and lesson plan for my girls (my son is supposed to make his own schedule), then how do we know what to do every day and how do we make sure everything gets done? Somehow it just all works out. As the kids have gotten older I have found it necessary to really protect the time that we are home for school. Long gone are the days when school was wrapped up by noon and we could take mornings off as often as we felt like for field trips and enrichment classes. (I really miss those days, but looking back I remember sometimes feeling like it was hard to fill up the days and that someone was always crying or making a giant mess when I was trying to do school with an older one, so I guess the grass is always greener). We look at our assignments for the week and plug away at them until they are done. Math and foreign language need to be tackled every day. Everything else fits in as it can. We often end up using part of Saturday as a mop up day to finish up bits and pieces that we didn’t quite get to in the week. Maybe it is a family rhythm, that we get up and do school, which we have been following so long that it is just part of the way the family functions (thank you Charlotte Mason and the formation of habit.) We are far from perfect but we keep on trucking.

Goals for this year (besides the math and Latin thing): 1)Spending more time reading aloud to my 10 year old. The days of snuggling and reading together are waning and I really want to be purposeful about this portion of our day. 2) Planning more family outings that involve my 17 year old son. He will be leaving the nest soon, so creating intentional family memories is really important now. 3)Being intentional with all the kids with regard to working on life skills. Cooking, cleaning, money management, car maintenance for the older ones. I hope my children are a little bit better prepared for adulthood than I was.

How do you mange your school year? What are your goals and dreams?

All men dream, but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds, wake in the day to find that it was vanity; but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act on their dreams with open eyes, to make them possible.

T.E. Lawrence