Friday, August 14, 2015

Finding Time For Activities

Unexpected Homeschool: Finding Time for Activities

New homeschoolers are often advised to be mindful of the number of activities in which they participate. It can be overwhelming to be out of the house every day of the week for scheduled sports or other events. Not to mention disruptive to a set lesson schedule. Unfortunately, there is no magic formula to create the right balance for your family.

When we began homeschooling nearly four years ago we were cautious in our scheduling for approximately one month, yet ultimately decided it suited us to be outgoing. I pointedly ignored all the advice I'd been given and did things our way. Amber had spent so many years in parochial school where she had little free time due to school work and early bedtimes. We wanted her to have the opportunity to explore her interests. 

Admittedly, having multiple nights a week where we were gone at or close to dinner time was not ideal. Still, it was Amber's only childhood and this was the way she wanted to spend it. We took our scheduling cues from Amber. She let us know when she felt her days were full and we helped her prioritize the classes. 

Unexpected Homeschool: Finding Time for Activities
Volunteering, music lessons, and many cultural events.
Until Amber became symptomatic with her dysautonmia and EDS, we were out of the house for a least one activity a day. Successful school lessons still happened every day, as well as numerous field trips each month. Our required school hours were exceeded every year without even using creative tracking methods. We were all about following Amber's dreams and passions with our new found homeschooling freedom. 

Even now, although we must take care to allow sufficient rest time for Amber, we still provide her with the opportunity to explore as many hobbies as possible. The goal was never to turn her into an elite athlete, musician, or artist - and she knows this. She participates in activities for as long as her interest is there. We do desire her to keep commitments made, but that is the extent of our expectations.

It does get harder as she ages to find time for middle school / high school level lessons, numerous outside classes, and rest. However, she has a strong personality that doesn't like to be harnessed by illness. She will go until there is no energy left in her body, which means her dad and I must be vigilant schedule keepers balancing health and fun.

Unexpected Homeschool: Finding Time for Activities
Teen group activities, field trips, and art classes.
Where do we find the time for activities?
It's really all in the attitude for us.  We know Amber thrives on activities, not only for the socialization aspect but also for the shear enjoyment of the selected hobby. We choose to make it a priority to schedule classes out of the house throughout the year, and then work our core lessons around those times. Granted, I try my best to find the most convenient times, but there comes a point when you have to just take the available slots. 

Making it Work:
There really is no magic button to make scheduling activities easy. I don't have a secret method that allows us to do everything Amber desires. We miss out on many things, and rotate classes.  What does make it easier is our mindset.

For example, this upcoming semester:
  • I'd really rather not set aside an entire day each week for enrichment classes at our homeschool co-op, yet I do it because Amber is interested in numerous offerings there. And the classes change every semester giving her even more opportunities. And while Amber isn't gone all day to co-op, nevertheless the energy requirements for the classes mean we lose the remainder of that day.  It's an entire day lost to core lessons!
  • Flute lessons are ideally situated in our schedule, although still take time away from home lessons. However, Amber can't fathom a life without music lessons and so we make them happen.
  • Our new water aerobics class and Amber's physical therapy are at an entirely inconvenient time and disrupt our days horribly. Yet for her condition safe exercises are a priority, and we can restructure our days to accommodate these classes. The disjointed days are not by any means perfect, but work.
  • Art classes sometimes feel like just one more outside activity, but Amber is a creative child who needs time set aside for expression. I can either provide her with the occasional session of art classes, which are also perfectly scheduled, or set aside that same time at home for art.  
Unexpected Homeschool: Finding Time for Activities
Homeschool co-op drama class performance
Amber still manages restful, slow days at home along with all the needed lessons. We may be creative with our schedule some days, or need to be focused and diligent for the majority of our home time other days. Still it always manages to work out because our goal is simply to enjoy life. 

That's the big secret to our schedule: everything is viewed as an equally important part of a full life. Lessons, activities, rest, leisure time, and even household care are all simply ways to enjoy life.  We aren't squeezing activities between lessons, or visa versa. We are experiencing through them all. 

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For more fun and informative posts, please visit a few other participants in this year's Back to Homeschool Blog Hop.  Today I'll be visiting:


  1. I really enjoyed reading this post Christy. Its a great way for me to learn about you girls and its a great way for me to learn new ways of dealing with my own homeschool and teaching methods. I know that not everything works out the same for everyone, but just hearing how you manage your days gives me a better insight on how to better mange my day. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Glad to help :-) I do have to remind myself some days that the goal is joy in the journey.

  2. I agree that this is inspirational. We're just getting started in the early primary grades and it is great to see what kind of things we might include in our future studies.