One of the greatest things about homeschooling is the ability to have a flexible schedule. We don’t have a late bell, early release for the football playoffs, lunch schedules, or pick-up times. I am in control of how we schedule our days and I can take the day off for someones birthday too!
But, having a flexible schedule does not mean we lack routine. Quite the contrary, actually. We have a wonderful routine that seems to work very well for us! In this post I wanted to share how we “schedule” our days to optimize productivity. Instead of a detailed schedule with hourly entries, we have guidelines outlining what we hope to achieve that day.
At the beginning I was struggling to find the best way to organize our lives with the addition of homeschool. Despite the fact I had spent months before we started making sure I was ready, on the first day of school I discovered things that we could improve upon, change or just eliminate altogether. Of course, as the year progresses I find plenty more to add, change or get rid of. I realized early on, if I was not willing to be flexible, I would make life much worse for us. And honestly, I was homeschooling to make things better.
In Texas, the homeschool requirements are very minimal. Homeschools are considered private schools and therefore have no attendance requirements. According to Texas Education Code Ann. 25.086(a)(1): Any child who “attends a private or parochial school that includes in its course a study of good citizenship” is exempt from the requirements of compulsory attendance…. A court ruled that …Homeschools must be conducted in a bona fide manner, using a written curriculum consisting of reading, spelling, grammar, math and a course in good citizenship; no other requirements apply...
The very first question I asked myself is how many days we would attend school? The public school system in Texas attends for 180 days and after looking at a calendar, I realized 180 days was good for us too! I knew we wanted to stick with a year round schedule rather than taking months off for summer. A four day school week was appealing and seemed the right option for us. I finally settled on a schedule I love, even after five months of school.
This is what our schedule looks like: Monday-Thursday we school. Some days we start as early as 6:30 if we are all up and ready for it. We rarely begin later than 8:30, however, and I think there has been only one day where we had to run over into the afternoon. By 11:30 most mornings, we are done. After six weeks of this schedule, we have one week off. I generally use this off week to prepare myself for the next six weeks. We had about three weeks off after Christmas for a little winter break.
This has worked so well for us! We always take a break during our school day for some leg stretching, feeding animals, or just running around the ranch. If there is a day when we are needed horseback, we school after. Or if we just can’t swing school that day, we use Friday as a make-up day. We are part of a wonderful secular homeschool group that meets one day a week for gym class and we attend when we can. I love the socialization for me and the girls enjoy seeing the other kids.
On a side note: I went looking for attendance requirements and when I found them I was disappointed! Now, don’t get me wrong, I appreciate the flexibility of Texas’ homeschool laws. I am not a huge fan of government overreach as a general rule. I was hoping for some guidelines, though, and I really did not get any. No worries because the Homeschool Legal Defense Association really has a great website full of state specific homeschool laws, regulations and more. I would highly recommend browsing this website if you are considering homeschooling as an option for your family. There are lots of states with much tighter homeschool laws that include: maintaining a portfolio, keeping track of attendance, administering assessment tests and much more. While Texas does not require those things, we do keep portfolios and I track our attendance. We are not required to administer tests but we do have subject specific tests for Math and History that are included with our curriculum (more on what we use for both Math and History coming soon)!
Homeschool has been life changing for our family and one reason is the fact that I can make our schedules to fit our lives! In a life with one stress after another, not stressing about school is one less burden to carry around.
Have a wonderful week! Stay tuned for more about what we have going on down here at the ranch!