Thursday, September 19, 2013

If We're Homeschoolers, Why Aren't We At Home? {Blog Cruise}

Here we go again. Another 'schoolday' during which we'll get precious little of the actual 'schoolwork' done because we'll be out running around and busy with other things. It's one of the ironies of homeschooling - aren't we supposed to be at home? Schooling? Of course, it's also one of the great benefits of homeschooling - having the flexibility to adjust the routines and even the deadlines to fit the realities of life.

To be honest, fitting school into busy days was easier in some respects when my students were younger. With kids in K-6, my expectations for their academics were much more flexible and frankly, they didn't have to spend quite as much time each day on schoolwork. If we had to lose a half-day here and there to go to appointments or run errands during the day, it was really no big deal. It was easy enough to 'catch up' in the following days, or to take along a couple of workbooks or some reading material and make good use of time in the car minivan or a waiting room. That was the theory anyway. In practice, I went with the 'catch up later' option far more than the 'take it along' option.
Once my students hit middle school and high school level work, I felt we needed to prioritize differently. They spend more time each day working on school; there is a higher importance placed on completing the coursework and meeting deadlines (at least at my house); and often their schoolwork is less portable. So how can we squeeze it all in when the calendar gets cluttered with things that interrupt routine and get us running in different directions? Here's how WE deal:
  • First, I have learned am still learning struggling to learn how to say "No". Education and family are priorities in our lives and the way we spend our days should reflect that. It doesn't always, but it should. Plus, gas is expensive, and we live far enough out into the boondocks that we have to plan on at least an hour's drive-time round trip to pretty much everywhere. I try to avoid making 'a quick run to the store' because there is no such thing. I say "No" to many of the field trips that are planned for our homeschool group because we just can't afford the time (or gas money) to do all of them. A great educational field trip that might be an hour spent at the destination generally means our entire day will be spent getting ready, getting there and getting back home afterwards, so we really do have to take that into account. If we do a field trip or an extra activity, I want it to be worth the time spent and the time lost.
  • Plan ahead if possible. This makes me laugh, because I'm a 'fly by the seat of pants' type of planner. But if I know in advance that we're going to be at a co-op meeting one afternoon (like today), then I can look at the rest of my to-do list and decide that we will take the entire day and do a bunch of those other things as well. And if the kids are going with me, that means putting in a little extra time in the days before and after to make up for a 'lost' schoolday. 
  • Leave the kids at home when it's my "busy" and nothing to do with them. If they're old enough and responsible enough, of course. Mine are, so if it's not necessary to take the whole gang along, they can stay home and do their schoolwork.
  • Consider taking some schoolwork along. This doesn't always work. Not in my house minivan anyway. But sometimes it's a good option. Most often we take along books - an audiobook that we can all listen to as we drive; a read-aloud book that somebody can read to the rest of us as we drive; and  individual reading material. If it happens to be something they can read on an iPod or a Kindle - even better. We rarely take along anything that involves writing any more, and we don't have a laptop or tablet, so we can't do computer or internet based study away from home. We can have great discussion without taking anything along though! Just talking about what we've been studying can be time well spent, and we can do that anywhere and in short bits. Some of the best conversations about homeschool logistics have happened during busy run-around days too - like whether we're going to do this or that field trip or co-op class; what our daily schedules should look like; or opinions about the curriculum or resources we're using. 
Somehow we always manage to get the schoolwork done. Sometimes it means homework! LOL It depends on the nature of the "busy" that is keeping us from sticking to a productive schedule. If it's me needing to get to appointments or meetings, then we work around it as best we can. If it's a kid wanting to do something that interrupts the routine, I try to make him/her responsible to figure out how to fit in the schoolwork. Mostly it comes down to flexibility and priorities - what things are most important to get done, and how can we make that work? I guess we're all learning some good problem-solving and time management skills. That's what I'd like to think, anyway, and I sure could use better time management skills!

How do you get schoolwork done when your days are hectic? Leave a comment and share your thoughts! Be sure to visit the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog (this link will be live on Tuesday, September 24th) to see how other Crew members "sneak school into busy days". You can also visit the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog homepage to see the reviews we are working on, past reviews, and past blog cruise topics.  

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chickensbunniesandhomeschool said...

We do Life of Fred on our Travel Tuesday's too!

Brittney said...

We also have 1 hour round trips, minimum, so I understand how an appointment or "errand" can eat up your whole day. My kids are young though, so I either have to drag them along or find a sitter. I've found those experiences are just as good for learning. Pawpaw watches the boys and they get to help cook, walk the farm with him or learn about his hobbies. :)

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