This post originally appeared on Soaring Arrows and is reprinted here with permission from the author.
One of the best things we have done to have a more restful homeschool is to have a 4 day homeschool week. Some people hear that and think I am crazy, they ask, how do you get through enough work? Well we homeschool, we make our own rules! Who said schooling has to be done within five days instead of four? In that four days each week we get through a lot of school work.
When I was ready to begin homeschooling our kids I would wonder, how am I going to keep up with the housework and homeschool? Because I used Sonlight in high school and loved it, I planned to use it with my kids right from preschool age. What I did not know is that Sonlight had the option for a four or five day schedule for the elementary packages!
From the time my oldest was in first grade I have used the four day schedule and it has been such a relief to our homeschool routine.
After using Sonlight from the very first year I started homeschooling, last year I was approached by them to write for the Sonlight Curriculum Blog which has been a great joy for me. This year we are using HBL levels B & E and loving it as always. (Disclosure: As a Sonlight Ambassador, I’ve received curriculum in exchange for my guest posts.)
1. Extracurricular Classes
Each week we have a drama class, American Heritage Girls, piano lessons & baseball in the spring. It can be a challenge to fit all the extra curricular classes into our homeschool routine, I know we will likely add even more to our schedule as my younger kids get older.
When I was homeschooled my parents always made time for us to be involved in outside activities, especially homeschool classes. As an adult I am especially grateful my mom made the time to drive us to our activities, in addition to our homeschool schedule. As important as reading, writing & math are these additional skills are the ones I carried joyfully into adulthood. I still play the piano, gained confidence performing drama on stage and writing has become a huge part of my life. These skills were nurtured through extra lessons, teachers & classes.
Leaving margin for those extra curricular activities is also important for your kids developing friendships with other kids. I don’t think socialization is a problem for most homeschoolers but we do have to be intentional. The journey is a lot more fun with others who are like minded and following the same journey!
2. A Day for Cleaning & Life Skills
Getting through these years homeschooling many young children all at once, it has become my saving grace that I still have a day to clean every Friday. It allows me to focus as much as I can on teaching my kids during those four days each week. I give them everything I’ve got and then on Friday, I recover our home.
Now it is part of our home routine, we all wake up and practice life skills while getting things clean at the same time. Because I’ve already had four solid days teaching school, I am completely focused on cleaning and teaching my kids how to clean as well. My two oldest kids are now fully capable of decluttering their own rooms, folding laundry, vacuuming and wiping down the bathrooms. The youngest two kids get their own little jobs to do but they are all learning skills that are important as they get older. So many kids grow up never knowing how to wash a load of laundry, but it’s not going to be my kids!
3. The Ability to Survive the Early Years
Homeschooling with babies eager to be held or toddlers eating the busy bags isn’t for the faint of heart. The last two years I have taught my kids under the most chaotic of toddler trouble and noise. Honestly stretching our lessons out to five days each week would do me in. We won’t always have the loud, bustling activity of a toddler among our lessons but right now we do and I am very glad to simplify our schedule.
The four day schedule leaves me enough time to teach my older kids and care for my younger kids as well. I always encourage moms with young children not to stress over maxed out school days. Less work done with quality and focus is often much more productive anyway.
4. Time for Unstructured Education
During these early elementary years it is important that we are giving our kids time to have unstructured play time. Because we are reading such high quality literature from Sonlight each day, it spurs this amazing creativity in their play. When I give them a few hours to have unstructured playtime I am amazed at the things they are teaching themselves. I think they could put me out of a job sometimes. Even a movie night turns into my kids creating a movie theater complete with a cash register, money, menus for snacks and stuffed animal customers. They write stories & design comic books. Having a four day schedule simply leaves more time for this kind of organic education to happen every day.
When we remember to add margin in our homeschool schedule it gives us the freedom to include other benefits to our life as well.
How Does Sonlight Fit all the Subjects Into Only 4 Days?
For some subjects your kids just do a few extra pages during your 4 days, getting the extra day of work done during other parts of the week! For the read alouds, it simply includes a few less books to read each year. Since we love the read aloud books so much we typically order them anyway and read them over the Summer at our own pace. For subjects we don’t have scheduled in our Sonlight Instructors Guide, we just do them for four days and finish it when we finish. We may not finish the entire book but that is OK too, traditional schools do not finish all their curriculum either.
Once you reach the higher levels in Sonlight, past elementary school, the only option for your schedule is a five day schedule. But by then I expect my kids will be working more independently! When I was using Sonlightin high school I was able to do most of it on my own. My Mom would discuss the books and read them along with us, but I am pretty sure she wanted to anyway! I know I am looking forward to reading those books with my kids when they are older and revisit childhood memories I have of reading such awesome literature!
Sonlight has given this homeschool Mom an incredible blessing with our more relaxed homeschool weeks. Instead of taking away, it has added to our homeschool week! A home routine that works, time for educational extras and a chance to focus on my younger kids! Did I mention I am more sane as a result of all of this? Just an added bonus.
How many days a week do you homeschool? Do you have a day off each week? If yes, what do you do with that extra day?
I would love to hear your thoughts!