Tag: Homeschooling Schedule

How does it feel like to be homeschooled?

What is your daily routine? Is it easier or harder than going to a public/private school?

Here’s a parent’s response for our 11 year-old daughter. We’ve been homeschooling her now for almost two school years.

For a while, we let her set her own sleep schedule. She stayed up late (usually midnight), and woke up between 10:00–11:00. Lately, we have been requiring her to wake up at 9:00, since she has several activities that start at 10:00. Bedtime is still a struggle.

Schedule

  • Daily
    • Waking up at 10:00. Getting breakfast. Checking messages, etc. from her friends
    • Practice violin & piano
    • Complete homework for next couple of days
    • Additional violin & piano practice
    • Bedtime usually between 11:00 PM – midnight
  • Mondays
    • Reading class at 3:00 PM
      • 1–2 hours / flexible
      • Online (Skype) with her tutor
  • Tuesdays
    • Latin class 1:00 PM – 2:30 PM
      • Online (Skype)
      • 3 students
    • Mandarin class 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM
      • In person with tutor
  • Wednesdays
    • English grammar / writing
      • Online (Skype) with tutor 1–2 hours
  • Thursdays
    • Violin lesson 1000 – 1100
    • Piano lesson 1600 – 1700
  • Saturdays
    • Art class 1130 – 1230
      • In person with one other student (good friend)
  • Sundays
    • Badminton class 1330 – 1500
  • Open gym 3–4 times weekly (mostly just playing with friends)
  • Currently studying math and chemistry online (Khan Academy). However, will soon switch to tutor for math.
  • Free time
    • Drawing / animating on computer
    • Playing games / texting with friends
    • Reading

So, is homeschooling really easier?

I don’t think that is the correct question. Any learning activity can be easy or hard, depending upon the effort. However, with homeschooling, we have the option to choose not only the content, but also the manner it is taught and learned. This makes it more likely that the student will be engaged. In our daughter’s case, she has substantial input into these decisions. Therefore, homeschooling is more interesting, challenging, and engaging.

Certainly, the schedule fits our family life better. I think most homeschool families will agree with this one. It also gives us more flexibility to travel throughout the year.

I believe the most important aspect of homeschooling (concerning learning), is that it minimizes the trivialities, and frees up much more time for personal pursuits and leisure. Our daughter spends ours each day drawing and animating. She is part of a community of artists (online) that collaborate and share their ideas and work. She routinely mentors others (teens and adults). I don’t think she could pursue this passion to the same extent as a traditional student.

Is homeschooling easier? Not really.

Is homeschooling better? Yes.

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What is the best routine for homeschooling?

I love school phrase handwritten by color chalks on the blackboard

Written Apr 11

The easy answer is … the routine that works for your children and your family.

 

When we send our children to a traditional school, we have shifted the burden of responsibility for their education to a “system” that provides limited choices. And the limitations extend far beyond just the curriculum. The choice of when to sleep, eat, go to the bathroom; the choice of how long to read or study a particular topic; the choice of travelling at a particular time, etc.

Choice.

Do I choose to have my child start the homeschool day at 0800, and follow a specific schedule and curriculum? Why would I do this? I am only replicating the worst parts of a traditional school in my own home.

Choice.

How do I choose what my child should study? In fact, is it even appropriate for me to choose what my child should study? What are my child’s strengths, weaknesses, and desires?

Therefore, because of choice, there is no “best” routine for homeschooling.


So, how do you choose what is best for your child.

In my view, the first place to start is with goals. Some parents choose lofty goals such as “doctor”, “lawyer”, or “Ivy League school”. Others may choose “whatever makes her happy”. Yet again, another response may be “I have no clue”. Other goals may involve religion, sports, art, music, etc.

Once you decide upon a goal(s), the next step is to determine the optimum means to achieve the goal.

If the goal is an Ivy League education, then you research the criteria for the school(s) … (and realize they may be different for homeschoolers) … and then design a curriculum to achieve the goal. If music is the goal, then lots of time for practice, etc.

The actual routine you select is, again, whatever fits best with your situation.


In our family, our (11 year-old) daughter is a “night” person. It is almost impossible to get her to do anything productive before 1000. Therefore, no learning activities are assigned before 1000 … it would be pointless.

For the remainder of the morning, she is “assigned” piano and violin practice, and any homework due for her upcoming classes.

The fact that she has “classes” is interesting. After conducting research on different learning options, I found that my educational philosophy aligns with “unschooling”. Most people assume that unschooling means that kids are allowed to freely roam through the educational landscape, without purpose or goals – just see where the fancy takes them. However, in our case, unschooling has developed into a discussion about what to learn, and how to learn. Then, as a result of these discussions, we choose a means to follow the interest. In our daughter’s case, that involves Latin, art, piano, violin, writing, reading, etc. Therefore, we have selected some (mostly online) classes to address those topics.

So, most of her “classes” are in the afternoon. Later in the day, she again practices piano and violin. The evenings may involve discussion, reading, etc. Mostly it is her own time – she may chat with her friends, pursue her passion of (digital) drawing or animation, or play games (mostly online with her friends). She often multitasks, and does several of these activities at the same time.

Another important aspect is to realize that your routine is likely to change over time. This is completely natural. Many families go through a period of adjustment before settling into a “routine”.

Should I let my child go to an online high school?

He will still get his diploma, but I am hesitant. What are the advantages and disadvantages of online high school?

Written Oct 7, 2016

Why online high school?

Does your child have a particular reason for wanting to go to online high school? Is it because of academic reasons, or bullying, or introversion, etc?

If your child is very motivated to study; has the capability to work on or ahead of schedule; has an interest in a particular area out side of the normal curriculum …

then online school MAY be an appropriate choice.

Observations

There are different types of online school.

For example, our state and local school district each offer online high school. These programs essentially mirror the curricula available in the brick-and-mortar school. They both have teachers who monitor, assess, grade, and are available for advice. They both are accredited and offer high school diplomas. They are both FREE to residents.

There are also online schools available which offer all of the above. However, they charge for tuition.

There are several other online options (such as Khan Academy or Coursera) which can provide an excellent education. Many of these are available free, or for a nominal fee. They are not accredited, and do not offer a high school diploma.

Advantages

These have mostly been mentioned by other authors, and include schedule flexibility, and possibly greater curricular choice. Additionally, consider:

  • better sleep schedule. It is well documented that learning is facilitated when the student is well-rested. Additionally, there is research that teenagers sleep cycles really are optimized for sleeping later.
  • flexibility in scheduling vacations. This depends on the specific schedule of the online school.
  • the ability to do things during the week, when everybody else is locked up in school.
  • ability to pursue unusual hobbies or passions. For example, music, art, sports, etc. Online study can allow your student to practice for hours, or attend performances or competitions, etc.
  • ability to study a particular area in depth.
  • ability to participate in extracurricular activities, such as band, sports, etc. As an online (or even homeschooled) student, you can generally participate in these activities (check with your school for details).

Disadvantages

  • the online high school packages offered by the school district tend to be just as rigorous and time-consuming as regular school. I know some folks who have experienced this. Check to find out if there are others in your area who have done this, and ask them about it.
  • the teachers may not be very responsive. Again, this is what I have heard from others who have done it. Same as above, check with others in your area.
  • if your student is not able to complete the work on time, then this could be a disastrous approach. Think carefully about this one. If you decide to try the online route, have a bailout strategy. You can always send your child back to regular school, ANYTIME. (This may also be a good threat to hang over their head, to keep them on track).
  • To do this effectively may require you to spend time monitoring and assisting to make sure things go well – especially in the beginning.

My opinion

If you select the online option offered by your local school, you are essentially just duplicating the school’s curriculum in your home. I am not convinced that the standard curriculum, and the way it is taught in our schools, is effective. Therefore, I do not see the advantage of duplicating the school in my home.

If your goal is to get into college, be aware that a high school diploma is not necessarily a prerequisite. Check on the admissions criteria of the colleges you are interested in, and tailor your child’s curricula to achieve your goals. If you pay attention to what the colleges are looking for, you may be surprised – and come to the conclusion that there may be better options than the prepackaged online high school curricula.

Conclusion

Ultimately, the decision is yours. Only you know your child’s personality and learning habits. Carefully research the options, and determine the best method to meet the goals of you and your child.

How is technology changing the way students learn?

Written Sep 28, 2016

5th Grade Homeschool …

  • Online classes (Skype/webmeeting)
  • Online learning (e.g. Kahn Academy, Wuzzit, BrainPop)
  • Research (Google, YouTube)
  • Videos (YouTube e.g. vSauce, Veritasium; National Geographic, PBS)
  • Writing projects (Wattpad)
  • Drawing & Animation (Apps on computer posted to YouTube or DeviantArt)
    • SAI; drawing tablet; PhotoShop; MovieMaker, etc.
  • Collaborative projects (community of artists on Skype, YouTube, etc)
  • Learning games (Minecraft, ST Math, etc)
  • MOOCs (Coursera, etc)
  • Online books from library

Our daughter spends about half of her learning time on the computer/online. The rest of the time, she is either practicing piano, violin, or engaged in discussions regarding Roman History, math, etc. She also takes regular classes in 2 sports, piano, violin, art, and Chinese.

How do you unschool?

Written Sep 16, 2016

Unschooling is like a smorgasbord – it’s different for everybody.

In my view, there is a spectrum of unschooling approaches, from “free-range” (radical) unschooling to what I refer to as “blended” unschooling.

Our family tends toward the “blended” side of unschooling. My (10 year-old) daughter and I frequently discuss the topics and methods of her learning. In this manner, I am able to tailor how and what she learns. We even created a list of the different ways she can learn about things, and she prioritized her favorites.Learning

I learned that one of her favorite methods is to read things with me, and then follow up with discussion, practice, and assignments. Examples of this approach:

  • Math. We are now using the Art of Problem Solving textbooks (PreAlgebra). We previously tried Khan Academy and ST Math, but have found that interaction and discussion are necessary.
  • English/writing. We are currently using “Models for Writing” to stimulate ideas to improve her writing. We previously tried studying grammar, but I gave up on that. I have concluded that her knowledge of grammar (probably from reading extensively) is adequate.
  • History/Social Studies. She got interested in Ancient Rome as a result of watching some BBC videos on YouTube. We have followed up by reading and discussing Mary Beard’s “SPQR”.This has led to a variety of interesting discussions on topics such as geography, politics, laws, etc.

She also likes watching videos. Examples include:

Online courses:

  • Oceanography and Latin. She likes the format of the online courses because, if she gets bored, she can “chat” with the other students. I have to monitor carefully to ensure she isn’t playing games during the classes.

Instructor led:

  • Piano; violin; swimming; badminton.

Blended Unschooling

The reason I refer to our method as “blended” unschooling is that I work with our daughter to choose the best methods for learning, and provide some guidance on topics. She has significant input into “what” she learns, but I reserve the right to guide her selections. For example, she told us she wanted to learn violin, so we facilitate that by providing lessons and ensuring she practices. On the other hand, I want her to learn math, but we collaborate on how she learns. Another example – I came across an online Latin class which looked interesting, so I presented it to her as an option. She agreed that it looked interesting, so we signed her up for it.

Summary

The key to unschooling is student-led interest. However, in my opinion, that does not mean that a student can be left completely to their own devices. I view my role as similar to a mentor, providing experience to help guide our student, and to make her aware of the various learning opportunities available to her. If done properly, she retains the passion for learning, while the possibilities available to her are exploited effectively and continue to expand. So far, in the last year, the journey is going well.

How common is it for homeschooled / unschooled students to watch TV all day?

Written Sep 16, 2016

Nothing is common for homeschooled children – since every homeschool family is different.

 

After all, that’s one of the great strengths of homeschooling.

Our family does not watch “TV” (in other words, we don’t have a cable or satellite subscription). We do have a Netflix subscription. Once or twice a week, we will select a movie or series to watch, but it’s not on a set schedule.

Our daughter has pretty open access to the internet (probably 2–4 hours per day). She has several email accounts; several YouTube channels; a number of game accounts (including her own Minecraft server), and an account on Wattpad (where she posts her writing). She has two screens, and she will often watch “goofy” videos (such as the crazy Russian guys) while she is doing other things.

She also practices violin, piano, and swimming daily, and reads 4–5 novels per week.

So, the answer is, she doesn’t watch TV all day.

How do I make a homeschooling schedule?

  1. I use used textbooks and Khan Academy.The last time I got some was 2 yr ago!
  2. When I talk to my mom about my homeschooling,she constantly ask me to repeat what I said.Every blue moon she or my sisters will try to help me with my studies,we end up arguing.
  3. I have a lot to learn, I want to stay on track.

 

Written Sep 9, 2016

You are not really looking for a schedule – you are looking for a homeschooling plan that will get you to where you want to be.

 

Start with goals

What do you want to accomplish?

Is your goal to get into college? If so, what kind of college, and what area do you want to study?

Is your goal a specific career, or to get a high school diploma? Perhaps you just want a general education. Just remember, if you don’t have a goal, then you will never get to where you want to be.

Next, the plan

  • Research

If your goal is a specific career, then you need to research to find out the requirements, and what kinds of skills are needed for the career. The Occupational Outlook Handbook (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics) is a good place to start. Also, there are often professional societies and other resources available on the Web. Google your field of interest. Don’t be shy – contact them if you have questions.

If you want to study something specific in college, get online and research your field of interest. Go to the college websites, and study their general admission requirements, and also their requirements for particular fields of study. Pay particular attention to admissions requirements for homeschoolers.

Don’t ignore your own preferences or passions. If you want to pursue music, or art, or sports, etc. research that also. Be prepared.

  • Document

Make a list of the requirements you need to achieve your goal. For example, this might include three years of math study, and/or two years of language study, etc.

  • Schedule

Lay out a timeline for all your requirements. Fit other activities in. Leave room for other stuff, like vacations, trips, etc. Don’t forget about getting exercise – that’s important.

Start with a long term schedule, and then break it down into smaller chunks as needed. It may be easier to do this on your computer or online. So you could have a grand plan, a yearly, monthly, weekly, and even daily plan. Whatever works for you, because if you don’t use it, it is worthless.

  • Monitor and track

Make sure you are keeping on schedule. Adjust the schedule if needed.

Summary

That plan should get you where you need to be.

However, there are a couple of other things you should consider:

  • Is homeschooling the right choice for you? Sure, you have lots of freedom, but if you can’t get the learning done, then maybe the structure of school is a better choice.
  • Find one or more mentors. You need someone who can help you make your goals, stick with your plan, and give you encouragement. This doesn’t have to be an adult. It could be other homeschool kids online, and you guys could discuss your difficulties, and share ideas about what is working. So get involved with other online communities or homeschool groups in your area. You are not alone.

Good luck!