Of course, what works for one may not work for another, but I wanted to share the rhythm that we have found for homeschooling in the elementary years, and that is working well for us. I've written about this idea enough that it's becoming a regular theme for me, but I keep tweaking it, so thought I would put a summary of it here again, especially with how we are doing this with children of different ages - for us, a fourth grader and a kindergarten student, and how we have tweaked it over the years. For the details, you can click on each topic and read one of my past posts about the specifics.
Redemption (30 minutes)
This is our time to learn about God and His word. One of the big reasons we homeschool is so we can incorporate our faith into everything our children are learning, so this is a very important part of our routine, and it involves three activities: Bible reading (my daughter reads independently, using this simple chart to track her reading, and I read to my son), Bible learning (currently, we are doing the New Testament overview from Grapevine Studies, which we all do together), and Bible living (reading together from a book that emphasizes Christian growth and character).
Recitation (4th grade - 30 minutes; Kind. - 15 minutes)
This is our time to focus on memory work. We go over our current New Grammar memory work from Classical Conversations together. Then my daughter goes back and reviews her memory work from the beginning of the year, focusing on a different cluster of subjects each day (for example, Timeline and History) while my son takes a break to play. We also try to work on Bible memory verses at this time, including the ones they are learning for Awanas.
Reading (4th grade - 30 minutes; Kind. - 15 minutes)
Reading is divided into "learning to read" and "reading to learn". "Learning to Read" for my fourth grader has her reading aloud to me, either from a book she chooses or from the Fourth Reader from McGuffey's Readers (yes, the old ones). For my kindergartener, this is when we do a page from his phonics workbook or read from his phonics-based readers. "Reading to learn" for my fourth grader means reading independently about something in the topics of history, science, literature, geography, or biographies. For my kindergartener, this is when I read to him about those same topics.
Writing (4th grade - 30 minutes; Kind. - 15 minutes)
Writing is divided into the physical act of writing, and then learning to express oneself with the written word. My kindergarten uses this time primarily to work on his letters and also to draw, using those small muscle motor skills. My fourth grader has a variety of activities: cursive, and assignments from her Classical Conversations Essentials class that focuses on grammar and sentence structure, and also writing paragraphs and essays for different purposes and following different styles. She may not do everything everyday. We stop after 30 minutes and pick it up again the next day.
Recreation (30 minutes or more, if they are having fun!)
This is our "extra-curricular" time. It includes outside activities, such as our YMCA homeschool PE class, or the American Heritage Girls and Trail Life activities. It includes life skills, like cooking and sewing and home repair. It also includes time focused on fine arts, typing/keyboarding, coding, or other things they want to learn. It even includes Legos and blocks!
This is my reminder to my children and myself that we need to schedule rest into our rhythm and routine. We take a break between our different sections, we take time to rest during the week, we take whole days off from school when our family schedule requires is or to just enjoy being together. And we STOP SCHOOL by a certain point during the day, even if we haven't finished, even if they have "wasted" the whole day, because we NEED breaks and times of refreshment, whether we "deserve" it or not.
That's it. Our homeschool rhythm that keeps us going throughout the year. I'll share more in the coming days about how Loop Scheduling has changed my whole approach and made me a much more relaxed homeschool mom! If you are not currently a subscriber, sign up HERE so you will see that when it comes out!