Most of you that know me or have read the bio Mandy put here, know I haven't been homeschooling long.. but honestly I have changed my curriculum enough times to have been homeschooling for 20 years..I have jumped around trying things out with everything from all work done on the computer (with Time 4 Learning) to unschooling.. everything from a tight 8 hour schedule to no schedule at all. And this is what I have found - no curriculum is perfect.. and most often you will have to make a mixture - or "gumbo" (as said here in Louisiana) - of curriculums to fit your family.
Personally, I think a semblance of a schedule is necessary - not one that's planned to the minute, but at least an outline of your flexible plans... here's a look at our current daily schedule:
1. Bible Reading/Discussion
2. Read Aloud
4. Unit Study Reading and Activities
5. Copy work
6. Start work on science project
7. Check email/webkins
Notice that I have not got 20 subjects - spelling, vocabulary, social studies, etc. That is because our unit studies generally cover most of those subjects.. the large amount of reading we do covers a lot of the vocabulary, critical thinking, syntax/grammar, etc. I believe in a foundation of the 3 R's, and the rest is lagniappe. I also include email and my daughter's webkins account, because being computer literate is just as important in this day and age - there aren't too many jobs that don't have at least a small amount of work on the computer. We also love shows like "How It's Made" and National Geographic documentaries. We don't do a lot of "busy" work either - I really don't find it necessary to waste time doing endless worksheets.. and 200 math problems in a day.. I would rather have her do other fun/educational projects and activities that don't bore her, but encourage her to learn and want to find out more.. I like Charlotte Mason's school of thought of keeping lessons short and sweet to keep the child's attention.
I generally try to start school about 8am - but I am somewhat flexible about that. If we were up a bit later, then our next day starts a little later.. I had once tried to set up time periods for our different "tasks" (some might call them "subjects") but I found that I set my self up for failure, and we would both (my daughter and I) be frustrated. I think when you try to compartmentalize everything, those unexpected things that inevitably come up each day keep setting you farther and farther behind. And it sets off a continuous cycle of failure, leading to frustration, and even possibly setting you up to ultimately quit on what God has lead you to do. We also take days off in the week periodically and don't do any school work that day.. The way I look at it - we do school all year long, and don't necessarily take "vacations" when school is out for public school - so we can afford to take days off when we feel like it.
I guess the key to all facets of homeschooling is to RELAX.. allow God to guide you in the questions of "how much?" and "how long?"...you are not trying to keep up with what the public schools claim to cover.. you are fulfilling your duties as parent and teacher according to the Word and His will. He designed their minds to naturally desire to learn.. and while I don't take totally to the unschooling notion that it needs no guidance at all - I believe we could relax a little on our expectations that were molded by our own experiences with public school. You would be suprised what happens when you relax and let nature take it's course, you will see your child begin to WANT to learn and take up researching subjects on their own, and it won't be such a hair-pulling session everytime you sit down to do some "school work".
For those of us who attended college, you can probably back me up when I say - the only things I really carried over into my college years from public school was my reading and math skills.. the rest was taught to me as if it was the first time I ever heard it.. so when we begin each day I remind myself of these things when I want to feel pressured to follow lesson plans to the "T" or pressure my daughter and myself to finish a book in a certain period of time..
It breaks my heart when I hear homeschool moms ask how they can fit fun stuff in with all the school work they have to do. I say - try slowly, taking away busy work here and there - and see the difference that "fun stuff" makes in your child's ability to retain what they learn, and their attitude in general. Lapbook/Notebook one subject at a time as you are comfortable.. Pull subjects into your unit studies one at a time - starting with reading, adding in social studies by covering a historial topic, adding math by using manipulatives related to the story being read or subject covered. Just step out there and try it, there is nothing that says if it doesn't work for you that you can't go back to the way you were doing it. You will never know until you try.
Well I hope this rambling of mine makes sense and perhaps helps someone out there getting frustrated and wondering how they will go on homeschooling. May you have less hair-pulling, white-knuckling, and frustration - and may you have a lot more joy ;-)
Until next time, Much love and God bless.