On the one hand, I cherish the freedom I have as a home educator to set our learning schedule according to what works for us. After all, there's nothing sacrosanct about the public school calendar; it's simply the schedule that apparently works for someone in the system. So I enjoy the fact that I can arrange the girls' studies around what suits us and take breaks when we need them, regardless of what institutional schools in my area are doing on any given day.
On the other hand, I'm also committed to providing the best possible education for my children, and that requires due diligence and effort. In other words, we can't make a habit of copping out on scheduled days of bookwork just because one or more of us doesn't feel like getting down to it.
That said, there's also room for making spontaneous adjustments, and that's just what we did today.
I had a full day of bookwork slated and had made sure on Wednesday evening that everything was set to go. Unfortunately, I found myself less than motivated early this morning and even considered giving the girls a day off. After all, I reasoned, we've got this beautiful Indian Summer going on; it'd be a shame to not give them as much outside time as possible, right? But I knew that would be a mere excuse for my mood so I willed myself to begin at (nearly) our appointed start-time.
And, as is so often the case, once we got going, I was fine. Anna and I did her first few activities while Rachel and Abigail folded their laundry, and then we all launched into history together (well, Anna did a craft at the table with us while the other girls and I worked on our timeline and each one's Book of Centuries). Then, in lieu of mapwork, we sketched out a family tree of the biblical patriarchs.
The girls were very engaged in the task, and I was pleased that we had quite a bit of good discussion along the way. But, when we were close to finishing, I glanced at the clock and noticed with alarm that it was nearly 11:00. Just an hour before lunch and they hadn't even had a morning snack, let alone begun any of their individual work! We often finish for the day by 1:30, but their scheduled individual work would take a fair amount of time, and I also wanted to have an additional group time for science. How would we manage it all?
I surveyed their individual assignments - laid out in workboxes near the table - and wrestled with myself. We'd worked very hard on Wednesday and had gone later than usual. They'd not complained about the long history lesson. Most of the other stuff could conceivably wait. And, yes, it was a beautiful day.
So I compromised. I gave them a break after history, and then we did science after lunch. But we didn't do our lunchtime read-aloud and I allowed them to skip their workboxes for the day. And, once science was finished, I shushed them out the door to make the most of the weather.
As I said, I don't make a habit of those kinds of adjustments; I purpose to build in regular days off but also generally stick to our scheduled work days in order to develop (in us all) the character traits of diligence and perseverance. But I'm also glad I feel comfortable shootin' from the hip when circumstances seem to warrant. I believe I struck the right balance today and am so thankful for the freedom to do so.