The Learning Room ~ Balance and Timing

Do you ever resist change because you just want your way to work so badly?

I have resisted moving our school time to the afternoon. I was hanging on to this notion that our afternoons needed to be free. But as I felt the prodding of the Lord upon my heart I gave that up this past week. We are now schooling in the afternoon only (from 1:30-4) four days a week and a burden has been lifted…a burden I didn’t even realize I was carrying.

The benefits of afternoon schooling ~

  • More time with the younger students because the baby and toddler are napping.
  • Distractions have disappeared. I have the morning to tend to chores and whatever else needs to be done that day (gardening, baking bread, getting dinner in the crockpot, mowing the lawn, getting bills done). I didn’t even realize these were distractions. Before I had the afternoon free to tend to these things but having them on my mind meant I was mentally pulled away from my children during the time they needed me.
  • Our schedule is balanced. Now instead of trying to figure out where school fits into our week, I am free to fit our week around school. Playdates can happen in the morning without guilt. Library trips can be planned into the week without it taking over a planned school day.
  • The kids enjoy free time. There is now a defined block of free time after morning chores that they get as their own. I’ve noticed that they are mentally more ready to work during the afternoon because of this.
  • We beat the summer heat. Now they can play in the coolest part of the day before the sun is blazing hot and I can tend to the garden watering and weeding without stressed plants. We are in the nice air-conditioned house during the worst heat of the summer.
  • My house is less messy. Because they are using their morning free time to engage in an activity (Monopoly this week) or play outside, less toys are dragged around the house. It has been easier to tidy before lunch and dinner time.
  • Quiet time is actually quiet. We were trying to have a quiet time in the afternoon and it was very hard for the 3-5 year olds who started getting wiggly after 30 minutes. Now their afternoon time is structured and the 3-5 year olds are with mommy and they think they are getting this extra special mommy time.
  • Work is actually getting done on time. I set up the workboxes for the older two and because they are mentally prepared to sit down and work, they are getting their work done in a timely manner. We have not fallen behind once this week.
On a slightly different note, we have officially started schooling Luc (5). Lilah (3) is joining him but I am, obviously, not expecting her to be on his level. Although she seems to be enjoying it as much as him. We do some picture book reading (fiction and non-fiction) before Ivy goes down for a nap and then they get mommy to themselves to do phonics and math. Luc is coming along marvelously with his reading. He is making that critical leap of joining the phonics sounds into one blended word. I think he will be a whole new person by the end of this year. I am always amazed at how reading opens up this whole other world for them.
     Timing has been key this year and I am much better about it a few kids down the pike.
     For instance, Lily (7) was having so much trouble at the beginning of this year understanding the abstract idea of place value. She just couldn’t get it and would end a session in tears. This impeded her moving on with her addition and subtraction. I put away the math books. I allowed her to work through a Kumon time and money book so she was still learning math but we did no addition or subtraction for almost this whole year. I admit, I was a bit worried. We were so far behind where she was suppose to be math-wise. But I’m smart enough now to follow her lead. I watched and waited. I noticed this past couple of weeks that she was adding in her head and getting more proficient when working with real money. So I sat down with her on Monday and showed her how to carry her numbers when adding. She got it in, like, five minutes. She spent the rest of the week practicing and did fabulous.
     I could’ve spent the whole year pushing her and plodding ahead…coming to the end of her first grade year hating math. I think I chose the better road.  She got to skip a whole year of drill work that would have left her dry and tired. Wait until her own mind is ready to learn. Then she will grab hold quickly and race ahead right to the point she needs to be at.
     Luc is showing the same thing with reading and math. I didn’t even worry about reading with him. Lily, who was a late reader, showed me that I just needed to pay attention and strike when the iron was hot. There is no hotter iron than when your five year old boy says teach me to read and hands you a book. Well, okay then.
     Sometimes I see our short school days and feel guilty. Maybe I need to push them more. Maybe they need to be doing more. But then I step back and just see where they are developmentally. I see how happy they are and how emotionally stable they are. I see how social they are and how not having the burden of their peers resting on their shoulders allows them a childhood.  I see how they are not boxed in by world standards and how this allows them perspectives and problem-solving skills they might never have tried. I see how they learn quickly when they are ready and how they are not afraid to learn new things. I see how they laugh and are not boxed in by others opinions. I see their confidence. I see all this and then the guilt goes away.
     Change can only come if something new is tried. I am trying something new and guess what? There is change and it is good.
     Joining with ~

The Homeschool Mother's Journal

12 thoughts on “The Learning Room ~ Balance and Timing

    • We shall see if we do switch back. We are planning on buying some land and doing the whole homesteading thing. I think mornings will still be mainly a chores period and afternoon a welcome sit down from the physical labor! Read about your bear…the darker side of country living can be a bit scary!

  1. And here I thought you were spending PLENTY of time schooling with your kids from 1:30-4:00! My 7th grader does about 3 hours of school per day and my 4th grader about 2 1/2 and my 1st grade 1 1/2. I think it all depends on what you want to accomplish during that time and how well the kids stay-on-task. It’s wonderful that you can be SO flexible! I have to work on that. We schedule our days into 3rds – mornings for school, afternoons for activities and friends, evenings for chores and family time. It works well for us most days! (I just need to limit those outside activities! LOL) I’m long-winded…Stopping in from THMJ! LOL


    • We never mind long-winded! LOL Yes, my 3-5’s I only do an hour with and then they go off and play again. I then answer questions to the older two and get some more mommy chores done or nurse. Yeah…usually nurse. That seems to be my main chore some days!

  2. This was really good for me to read because I am having to change from what I have always done to what will work better for my kids and I have been resistant. It is good to see that when you changed what you were doing, it worked better for you and for your kids.

    I hope the afternoon schooling continues to go well.

  3. In this homeschooling journey, there are seasons when you will make changes. Always keep in mind what works best for your family, and that every “home” school will look differently. I’m glad that you’re at peace with your decision, and found what works best for you! Visiting from the Weekly Wrap Up:)

  4. So glad you found something that works for you. I would love to be able to do most of our work in the afternoon since a few of us aren’t morning people. I tried a few times, but found I got distracted and didn’t start school when I should have. I don’t have nappers anymore though so I’m sure that would have made me more try harder.

  5. I’m contemplating the switch to doing more in the afternoons too. Although right now, I’m pretty desperate for an afternoon nap… We still have plenty of time after that as long as I can make my brain go there and not consider it ‘free-time’…

    • I do long for a nap but was never actually getting one. I think the mother instinct in me knows the chaos that will ensue if I shut my eyes for even a moment! But it is doing us so much good to move school to the afternoons. I am still on track and it is into week two. For me, that is a record! LOL

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