But for us, this is not just an unstructured free-for-all (that comes later!). This is time set aside to focus on other skills that we have decided are important for our children, and they tend to fall in four categories (again, we do not do all of these every day, but everyday we do something!).
It's no secret that kids today have a tendency to be too sedentary, and parents, too! We try to go against that flow as a family by taking walks and going for hikes together. More formally, we use a local YMCA program called "Homeschool Swim & Gym" where our daughter gets to swim and learn about sports in a class that meets for two and a half hours a week during the school year. We also participate in the YMCA's recreational sports so when we have soccer or baseball practice in the evening, we count that as part of our homeschool day.
We want our kids to learn about music and art. Classical Conversations makes this easy to include, because each quarter of our CC year is dedicated to a different aspect of fine arts. We draw in quarter 1, learn the tin whistle in quarter 2, do art projects that mimic great artists of the past in quarter 3, and learn about famous composers and their music in quarter 4. We do those things during our community time, and sometimes we follow up with them at home the rest of the week. We also include church music activities in this, and if we had our daughter enrolled in dance or music lessons or something similar, we would count that, too.
If you are unsure of teaching your children fine arts, there are incredible materials out there. I love the approach of SQUILT (Super Quiet Uninterrupted Listening Time) for helping our children develop music appreciation. We also love Ed Emberley books and the Draw Write Now series that we also use for penmanship.
Children need to learn skills for living. I want our daughter AND our son to know how to cook, sew, make basic home repairs, and take care of themselves. It might be a time where they help me make dinner or a special treat, or a time when we teach them how to sort clothes and put them in the washing machine. It also includes learning how to handle finances and anything else that keeps a home running smoothly.
What? That doesn't sound like "school"? Do you remember home economics classes? It is the same idea, and is a very important part of a child's education! (And if you are like me and don't feel so confident in this area yourself, one of the bundles on sale this week is a $10 Homemaking Bundle that includes books about cooking, freezer meals, and organizing tips, along with tips to strengthen your marriage).
One of the best choices we have made over the last few years, along with homeschooling through Classical Conversations, has been to put our daughter in American Heritage Girls, a Christian scouting program that emphasizes developing skills and a strong service component. There is a boys group called Trail Life that our son will join when he is old enough. In AHG, the girls earn badges by learning different skills in six different "Frontiers": Our Heritage, Personal Well-Being, Family Living, The Arts, Science and Technology, and Outdoor Skills. We often fit the "Heritage" and "Science and
Technology" badge work into the reading and writing time on our history and science days, but the skills that are more in the area of domestic arts, fine arts, and outdoor skills fit perfectly in the "Recreation" part of our homeschool day.