We began homeschooling our boys in 2014 as an alternative to a less than desirable school district. What we’ve discovered through the journey of the past two years has been delightfully surprising.
We love homeschooling our kids.
The quality time we’ve gained with the boys has been invaluable. They are well-rested, well-adjusted, and learning at a quick pace. Homeschooling has given us the unique opportunity to implement our faith into all areas of study. For us, for now, this is exactly where we need to be.
There’s something inherently exciting and settling about finding a rhythm that fits the changing dynamic of family. Part of that rhythm for us this year has been introducing a four-day school week. In today’s post I’d love to invite you into a regular day and share a little about why this new schedule works so well for our family.
Curriculum and Logistics for a Four Day School Week
We use a complete boxed curriculum in the Charlotte Mason approach called My Father’s World. Each week’s lessons are laid out in a five-day unit of study with the majority of schooling happening on days 1-4. Day 5 is usually reserved for an optional nature walk and occasionally other more hands-on activities. When I look ahead for the coming week of school, I make sure to plan all activities – even Day 5 activities – onto our four days of schooling.
Yes, our school days are a little longer.
Yes, all the other household chores like laundry and cleaning and meals are a little harder to squeeze in on a daily basis.
Yes, we say NO to other opportunities in order to make this work.
But the pay off of a Friday field trip is so worth it in my opinion.
Scheduling for a Four Day School Week
A four-day school week is going to look different for every family based on their choice of curriculum, extra activities, and the ages of children in the home. For my family – comprised of a second grader, kindergartener, and one year old, all boys – we reserve the entirety of our morning and often our early afternoon to get school done on Mondays through Thursdays.
While our days rarely play out exactly the same, this is the framework on which we hang our daily schedule.
5:30-8AM | Wake up, breakfast, morning chores
Beds are made. The house is tidied. Breakfast is eaten and cleaned up. If I’m lucky and I’ve planned well, this is also when a crock pot is started for dinner. This happens on the super-awesome days, not every day.
8AM-11AM | Morning School Session, Baby’s AM Nap-time
Before the baby takes his morning nap, I work individually with the older boys (and often borrow the other to help with baby brother) on spelling and language arts. During nap-time (which lasts anywhere from 45 minutes to 2 hours), we work hard to finish lessons that are taught to both (history, science, music). We then switch back to individual assignments after the baby wakes up (math).
11AM-1PM | Lunch, Reading, Remaining Assignments
While I prep for lunch, the boys are often watching one of the videos assigned for the unit or a video from the What’s in the Bible series. If we haven’t finished our morning assignments, we complete them, the art curriculum, and any additional reading assignments.
2-4PM | Nap-time, Individual Play/Activities, Mom-time
Often the remainder of the afternoon (in conjunction with nap time) is spent on school prep, final dinner prep, and individual play. If I’m really lucky sometimes nap-time equals mom-time (this is rare, but lovely).
4-7PM – Evening Chores, Dinner, Winding Down
Because Daddy works at a school, he’s home by 4PM on most nights. This is when the meal actually gets on the table to be eaten and the house is straightened up (again). Baby’s bathed and in bed by 6:30PM. On a night there are no evening activities the big boys are given time outside with Dad, bathed and in bed by 7PM, and allowed to read quietly in their room.
7-9PM – Evening Activities
2-3 nights a week we have evening activities. This semester it’s baseball, Awana, and gymnastics. On these nights we try to get the older boys bathed and in bed by 9PM.
Friday Field Trip Motivation
I will be honest. Monday through Thursday wipes me out. The only reason we can handle this schedule is because of Friday.
Fridays are a necessary breath of fresh air in our homeschooling routine. We move slower in the morning, prep for lunch out, and leave space for relaxation. After baby is up from his nap, we go on a field trip or a playdate. We try very hard to make sure we get outside in the sunshine.
The guiding principle for our Friday Field Trips is that they be enjoyable and low stress. If it works out, we’ll coordinate our field trip with what we’re learning in school that week. We may try to include another family or take advantage of a free day at a local museum. With the baby, it’s difficult to remain out all day, but getting out and doing something special for part of the day has been a huge win for us.
Friday Field Trips also provide some serious motivation to keep us on task. The last two years I’ve held the beginning of summer as my motivation to keep us going, but a whole year of schooling is a lot to live through before the pay off of summer. Both the boys and I know, if we don’t get school done each day of our four-day week, we can’t do Friday Field Trips, and so it has been a joy to be disciplined and on point.
All the other things
I feel like I would be remiss to leave you with my neat and tidy perfect-world scenario without any consideration for all the other things that need to happen in life when you homeschool. We still have doctors appointments and grocery shopping and a house to clean more than a quick once over in the morning.
Sometimes Friday Field Trips have to be bumped for the allergist appointment or rescheduled because Dad’s got a Monday off work. Sometimes the weather will be bad, or someone will get sick, or the baby will make going out a near impossibility.
That’s okay. This is life – it’s imperfect and often unpredictable. But I’m also fiercely committed to making the boys’ education at home something memorable for them. Everyone has to go to school, but we’ve been given the privilege of doing it together. I want us to enjoy this season for the time we have it.
Our new schedule has helped me keep that in perspective.
Quick Tips for Considering a Four Day School Week
Perhaps a four day school week is intriguing to you. Here are a few quick tips to get you started:
 Check the homeschool requirements of your state.
Each state has specific homeschool requirements. Make sure you are following any regulations regarding days and/or hours of instruction. It may be that you can still meet their requirements with a four day school week but with a longer school year.
 Consider your curriculum.
There are several boxed curriculums that cater to a four-day school week. For your first year, I would strongly suggest getting the hang of a new schedule with a curriculum that has this flexibility already built into the lesson plans.
 Plan every week well.
When you’re working with a four-day school week, you’ll need to wisely plan the rest of your time. I’ve found it helps me tremendously to sit down at least once a week with both the school schedule and our family calendar to make sure that all-the-things get done. I’m also using that time to think about when weekly chores like grocery shopping and laundry will get done.
Remember every family is going to work this out differently.
The post How We Do School in Four Days a Week (and why you might consider it too) appeared first on Real Life at Home.