One of the top reasons for homeschooling that I hear time and time again from families is the opportunity for flexibility. Oddly enough, most of the families that state this as one of the top benefits have such stringent rhythms and routines that when opportunities arise to use that flexibility they freeze or turn down the opportunity for fear of wrecking their week. This shouldn’t happen. There must be a balance between rhythm and flexibility.
Finding your homeschooling rhythm is necessary. Without a rhythm to your week, every week is a struggle. But one thing we don’t want to do is create a rhythm that keeps us stuck. How might one go about finding the balance?
The first thing is to create your enough list. An enough list is simply what HAS to happen every day in order to call it enough. This list doesn’t include every subject or every little thing you would like to do rather it is the bare minimum. In our house the enough list includes our morning Bible time, our comprehension strategy talk, 20 minutes of reading and 20 minutes of math work. Remember this list is not everything we want to get done, rather it is what must get done in order to consider a day complete.
The second thing you need to do is make your ideal day list. This list is all the things. This is the list that shows what you would ideally get done during each and every school day. This is the list that likely only happens on the best of the best days. Why do you need this list then? Because just like needing to know what the minimum is, you need to know what you would ideally like to see happen.
Step three is to spend a couple minutes to realize that 99.9% of your days will fall somewhere in between these two extremes. For some of you, this will feel like a relief. It will be the permission you are searching for to not get all the things done every day. For others, this will feel like mourning. It’s bursting your Pinterest perfect homeschool day bubble. However you feel, is fine just settle into the feeling for a couple of minutes and then move on.
Four – when an opportunity arises ask yourself “Am I willing to give up an ideal or nearly ideal day for an enough day to do this thing?” If the answer is yes, the opportunity is worth messing up your rhythm for. Chances are, that a yes means it fits your curriculum, your vision for your family, or it is an opportunity that you don’t see arising any other time for your children. Our most recent opportunity was the chance to go with my husband’s father to a semi-professional hockey game where they were also going to do science demonstrations before the game and between the periods. While this doesn’t fit our curriculum at ALL, it does fit with our vision of extra time with family members that we don’t get to spend much time with. So we said yes. The opportunity before was to join some other homeschooling families to do a favorite book character wax museum. While this would have been fun and could have tied into our reading curriculum some, we chose to say no and hold on to a nearly ideal day.
Fifth and finally, when you come upon a yes opportunity, you need to decide just how much of your ideal day you are going to give up to make it happen. Do you need to drop all the way back to your enough list or can you meet somewhere in the middle of the two. Whatever you do, don’t try to do it all. In our hockey game example, we will be using our enough list plus our geography research project to round out our day. Chances are that the children will do their math and reading in the car on the way to the hockey game and that social studies will happen after we get home late afternoon. It changes our timing for certain but because our library books are due later this week, we need to keep on track with our research projects. I’m just not willing to compromise that for the day.
Keep it smart. Keep it simple. Allow opportunities to interrupt your rhythm on occasion.