Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Why we've had to streamline homeschooling in term 2

Friends, I have to admit, I was completely burnt out by the time I got to the end of homeschooling L last term. As much as L and I loved everything we were doing, I just wasn't getting enough downtime throughout the week to decompress.

This term I made the decision to streamline wherever I could, so I could put some much-needed margin into my weeks.

Busyness as a way of life just doesn't work for me. I quickly burn out, and learnt a long time a go to give myself grace and space where I need to.

Now that we are more than two weeks into the new school term and have had a complete run through of all our activities, I can tell you that this term is going to be a lot easier for me to handle. Hooray!

No more gymnastics
S has given up her Saturday morning gymnastics class, so now Saturday is a free day for our family again. Sleep ins are back on the schedule!

This term S is doing club netball as her sport instead of gymnastics. I've managed to get her into the same team as L, so we only have to go to one set of practises and games each week instead of two. Win!

We've also given up the kids' Dean Greenwood swimming lessons in favour of homeschool swimming lessons for L and J.

The homeschool lessons are a lot more affordable than the Dean Greenwood ones were. They also run during the school day and give the kids more socialisation and swim time, since L and J get to play in the splash pools before and after their lessons.

It does mean that S isn't doing swimming lessons this term - because she's at school during the day, so we'll need to make an effort to take her swimming in the weekends to give her a chance to practise.

Last term I was driving J half an hour away for his swimming lesson each week. I then had to drive the girls to their swimming lesson after school, which crowded into dinner time. Since netball trainings and games are going to take up two evenings a week, I was glad to drop the after-school swimming this term. 

L is continuing with her after-school art class, and has the exact same group of girls in her class as last term.

From what L tells me, the girls are all becoming good friends and laugh a lot. L really looks forward to her lessons with them. She's also bringing home loads of beautiful creations, so the class is a wonderful artistic outlet for her. L is able to walk herself to and from her lessons with our neighbour, so it doesn't involve me driving her anywhere or waiting around while her lesson is on.

Another change that has streamlined my week is that, instead of doing three half-days at Kindy this term, J is now doing two full-days. The change has been really beneficial for both of us, as he is much more settled going for the full day, and it gives me a longer stretch between drop-off and pick-up to tackle housework, run errands and get bookwork done with L.

On one of the days J is at Kindy, I take L to her Suzuki violin lessons. They are by far the most expensive activity she's doing, but her teacher is so wonderful and understands that the lessons are about building resilience and stamina in the child, not just violin technicality. Since it was a meltdown with her old violin teacher that caused me to embark on homeschooling, I'm happy to see such positive engagement between L and her new violin teacher.

Homeschool group one
L has also joined a Christian homeschool group this term, which offers one sports class and one arts class a week. We weren't able to get into this term's sports class, as it got booked up too quickly by existing families, but we did get L into the arts class, which is sign language this term.

There are several lovely things about this group. One is that we can walk to it from our house, which gives us a bit of fresh air and exercise. The second is that I can sit in on the class with L and learn sign language too. The third is that both L and I are getting to make lovely Christian friends through the group. Several of the people in the group also go to homeschool swimming, so we get to see them twice a week.

This particular homeschool group also offers two excursions a term. This term L, J and I will be going to the Stardome Observatory and to Kelly Tarltons, which we're all looking forward to.

Homeschool group two
L's favourite day of the week remains the same as last term. It's the one when she gets to go to a homeschool group that runs multiple elective classes every hour. This term L has again signed up for Dancefit and Creative Journaling, but she's given up Science and KiwiSports in favour of Brainplay Computer Coding and Jewellery Making.

J also comes to this homeschool group and is again doing Gymnastics and KiwiSports. I love watching his classes, not only because it's exciting seeing to his skills progress, but also because I get to chat with the lovely Mum-friends I made last term.

This homeschool group ran a sports day in lieu of classes on the first week of term. It was a beautiful, sunny day out, and L got to play a game of netball and a game of softball with other homeschool children. We didn't get to stay for the final sports game of the day (football/soccer) as we had to leave to pick up S from school. That's one of the downsides of having one homeschooled kid and one still in school - rushing back for the school pick-up.

Downtime and bookwork
Our new, streamlined timetable gives L and I two full weekdays at home (or out, if we want to go out), as well as a completely unscheduled weekend (apart from church). All the activities L, J and S are doing now fall into three days, which feels like a lot less hustle and bustle for me and gives me the space I need to breathe.

We fit bookwork into our home days, as well as into the mornings and afternoons before and after L's scheduled activities. L's curriculum hasn't changed much from last term, so you can refer back to this post to see what she's learning. However, we have added the computer game, Prodigy Maths, into the mix. This was recommended to us by my friend, Angela, and all the kids love it. Like, seriously love it. It keeps them engaged in maths like nothing else I've seen.

Questions you've asked
Will we continue homeschooling L? Yes, for the foreseeable future. L loves it, and it gives me the time to work with her on her specific struggles. With the streamlining we've done this term, I feel much more able to continue homeschooling her for the long haul.

Will we pull S out of school to homeschool her? I'm in the process of seriously considering it. There's every chance I'll be filling out an exemption form and sending it off to the Ministry of Education to get her ready to homeschool in term three. Watch this space.

Will we homeschool J? I don't know. I've given myself till the end of this year to decide whether I'll enrol him in school next year or not. If, by then, I have decided to homeschool S and it's going well, that will likely swing things in favour of homeschooling J too. Technically we don't need to make an official decision till he's six, so we've still got a year and a half before we would need to send in our exemption form. But I think that if I was enrolling him in school, I'd want to do it at the start of the year so he could get settled in with his classmates.

Do I enjoy homeschooling? Yes! Far more than I ever thought I would. It's so fun and interesting. I get to learn right alongside L. It also gives me the chance to meet other like-minded Mums, which has been a real blessing to me. I'm a bit weird, a bit alternative, but in the homeschooling community, I fit right in.


  1. Wow that sounds so much better than school! Good on you for making it work.

    1. It's pretty amazing! No wonder my kids all want to homeschool now.


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