Homeschooling on the Weekend
We follow our own particular version of a year-round schedule, initiating a new "school year" on January 1. We then use a 6/1 format, studying (usually on weekdays) for about six weeks before taking a week off. We follow this model from January through the end of June, getting breaks in mid-February, late March, and mid-May, before taking our summer vacation during the month of July. Then we start the 6/1 pattern again in early August, tweaking a bit so we get a week off in mid- to late- September and then another during Thanksgiving week. And, depending on when Thanksgiving falls, we study for a week or two after that before taking our year-end vacation for most of December.
Though we're always open to change as needed, the schedule works very well for us right now. The girls don't mind having lessons in June and August because, on average, their work takes roughly four hours a day, leaving them plenty of other time for play and other summer activities. So it doesn't matter to them that we have three more weeks of scheduled lessons while other school-aged kids in our city began their summer vacations Friday afternoon.
But we faced a slight bump in the road when my dear friend Lacy, whose two-year old I currently babysit, asked if her six-year old could spend three days with us next week. Turns out that, though Anna - the daughter - finished up on Friday, Lacy has three days of in-service training for her teaching job before she can start her summer vacation. Now I would never say no to Lacy; she is like family to me. And, besides, Anna is one of the girls' good friends because she spent most of her first six years of life with us, and they cherish any time they get with her now (which is, by the way, another perk to homeschooling - i.e., homeschooled kids feel comfortable with children and adults of all ages, not just their same-aged peers). So agreeing to host Anna was a given; in fact, she'll have a sleepover one night as well.
We manage our lessons quite well with Anna's sister, Leah, here each day. And when Anna came here every day before starting kindergarten last fall, we'd developed a wonderful schedule that included preschool work for her. But now she's coming as a guest, and I knew the girls would want as much playtime with her as possible. Yet, I had made plans for what I wanted to accomplish by the end of June, and I hadn't accounted for three days worth of playdate.
I, of course, do feel it's essential to be diligent with academics. But one of the hallmark advantages of homeschooling is flexibility. In fact, homeschooling has taught me - "Rou-Tina" - to learn to go with the flow. So I pulled out my June planning sheets and got to tweaking.
For history and science, we squeezed in a few more lessons than usual this past week, thus enabling us to comfortably set aside both during Anna's visit. Composition is incorporated into history, so that's set, too. And I wasn't worried at all about reading because, even if the girls take a couple days' break from their current "official" literature books - Melissa Wiley's Little House by Boston Bay for Abigail and A Tale of Two Castles by Gail Carson Levine for Rachel - they both read voraciously on their own time. I couldn't prevent them from reading for three days if I tried.
We'll take a field trip on Wednesday - to a very promising, new-to-us venue, Bookworm Gardens. If Anna weren't visiting, we'd save that trip for July, but it's a perfectly viable educational outing, and I've opted to "count" that as one day of "school." It's an hour's drive from here so it'll be a full-day adventure.
Which left two days' worth of math, spelling, and grammar. None of those takes very long - each girl can be done with all three lessons in about 45 minutes a day - and the girls could rotate back and forth, one playing with Anna while the other did the lessons. But I gave the girls the choice: they could do each of those three lessons on Monday and Tuesday with Anna here, or they could each do all three lessons today and tomorrow instead, even though that would mean having lessons on the weekend.
I'm glad they chose the weekend. Neither complained this morning; in fact, Abigail started her math during breakfast. And they had a full afternoon of "unschooled" nature study, helping their grandma in her garden.
Tomorrow the lessons will have to wait until after church, and the girls will have to clean their room and playroom as well. But I don't think it'll be a strain as they think about what they get in return.