What makes a successful homeschool week? Is it lots of academics packed in? Getting out of the house every day? Making it out of your pyjamas?
Well, I guess that’s up to you! The beautiful thing about homeschooling is that we all have unique families with different needs. Since you’re opting out of the school system and opting in to living life on your own terms, you can do whatever you want.
What’s a great homeschool week for our family? One where we feel connected within our family and also our community, where we have time for current projects and interests, where there is enough play and rest, and where we are occupied doing the things that make us feel good without being rushed!
None of these things are about specific goals or achievements. What feels good to us is simply enjoying our life with the people in it and working towards our own personal goals based on things we’re interested in. No time limits. Sometimes people can get caught up in all the things they ‘should’ be doing while homeschooling and I think that often leads to stress. Homeschooling works because it doesn’t feel like school.
Keeping that in mind, these are the things I like to try and include in every homeschool week!
8 Things to Schedule Into Your Homeschool Week
1. Group bonding time
I like to include something (or multiple things) in our week that all the kids enjoy together. Something to strengthen the sisterhood here! They do well with more time together. The more time they spend together that they all enjoy, the better they get on. For us, this includes things like poetry teatime, baking together, board games, creating art together, working on projects alongside each other, a day out together, and ample time to play. They also have certain afternoons each week where they get one on one time with another sister while the other two are at dance. These things nurture connection and help our week feel good.
2. One-on-one time
Some one-on-one time is important for connection, an opportunity to talk over things that are on their mind, and showing children you really enjoy your time with them! If you have more than one child, this can feel hard to fit in. But, think of it in simpler terms. You do not have to dedicate a couple of hours to one-on-one time per child each week where you do something out of the house. In my opinion, this is unrealistic. There’s 6 people in our family. Just one hour per child for each of us is 8 hours a week we’re trying to find! Firstly, we don’t really need that. A bit of time with a parent for yourself is helpful, but having the rest of the family around does not make things less special.
We take moments of one-on-one time. Whether it’s waiting in the car and chatting with one child while waiting for another at dancing, a trip to pick up some groceries with just one child, or even just a walk around the block with one of them. These are things you can more easily incorporate into the week. If you’re aiming for special outings every week it’s probably not going to happen, but seizing the little moments can. Days and weeks flow nicely when people are connected, and homeschooling is about relationship. This is one way to nurture that.
3. Planning time
We unschool, and I know that can be associated with no plans! That’s not how we roll here. Generally, I find that great things happen because they are planned for and life is lived intentionally. Even this list of things to do every week is a plan! We are not afraid of plans, we embrace them. I fit in some sit-down planning time every week. Either on a Sunday night, or Monday morning. I want to help my girls do all the things they want to do and that is unlikely to happen without some conscious effort. So I find out what their plans are, and I make sure I’m organising our week in a way that allows for all of them. Supporting their learning includes planning for me. You can read more about my planning process here.
4. Friend time
This is crucial for us. My kids need community and lots of time to hang out and play with friends. We see friends at least twice a week and spend the whole day with them. They need plenty of time for playing, they need to feel connected to community, they need to contribute meaningfully, and they need to share experiences. These are all things that make for content kids. Unless we’re sick, we’re getting a whole lot of friend time every week.
5. Read aloud time
Read-aloud time is one of our favourite times of the day and I always recommend it. You can read more about how we do read-aloud time here. This is such a connecting way to start the day. Breakfast, books, and conversation. We enjoy read-aloud time and it’s a staple here. You could do it at bedtime instead and end your day with connection. Reading is important to me, and my kids really enjoy stories, so we make time for this every week.
I also find this time is really helpful for getting our day started if some people aren’t sure what they want to do that day. Often something we read about will spark an interest and then that will lead them off in a direction for the day.
6. Family adventure time
Some kind of whole family activity! Probably on the weekend, when we’re all home. This doesn’t happen every weekend, because life. We often have kids’ things on we have to get to. But, I really like when we do something all together on a weekend that isn’t just cleaning and shopping and preparing for the next week. Too much of the weekend spent on life admin means we miss connecting all together as a family at the end of a week and it doesn’t feel like a break before you’re back into another week.
An ‘adventure’ can be anything and doesn’t have to be expensive, a bushwalk or trip to the beach even! Just time together, having fun.
7. Nature time
We are lucky to have a backyard the kids can play in every day, and our homeschool group meetups take care of a lot of nature playtime too. We usually meet in outdoor locations and the kids spend the whole day playing. Regular sunshine, fresh air, and movement is really important for happy kids here! It’s really hard to concentrate when you have a lot of built up energy you need to get out.
8. Family rituals
Rituals and traditions make things feel like home. They make you feel connected and a part of something. We rely on our daily rhythm, and also our personal family traditions. Sundaes on Sundays anyone? There are certain fun things we include in every day or week and these are the things our children will remember from their childhood and homeschooling. These shared memories, intentionally created, connect us all forever.
And that’s it. Those are our weekly staples. Maybe they don’t sound like they’re about homeschooling, but they are the foundation. Homeschooling should feel enjoyable. Often when people are first learning about this new way of educating children they’re focused on the ‘schooling’, and that turns out to be quite stressful. What you need to focus on is the ‘home’. That’s what makes it great.