As we think about planning for the new homeschool year, I am remiss if I didn’t talk about the new normal for homeschool planning that we are facing. It isn’t exactly a normal that I want to be facing, but it is here nonetheless.
When the whole pandemic started, and people were forced to bring their kids home from school and they called it “homeschooling,” most homeschoolers knew that was not real homeschooling. Real homeschooling is getting out into the community, field trips, going to the library and co-ops, not staying home all the time.
I also had friends that said that nothing much had changed for them because they already homeschooled. However, for us it did change dramatically because we were no longer involved in the public school music program.
What is the New Normal for Homeschool Planning?
What is the new normal for homeschool planning? For us, it is completely stepping back from the public school music program for next year. Emma has been participating in band since she had just turned 9. She started a year earlier than most kids in the local district because she was ready in 4th grade to start playing an instrument.
We started to think about having her step back from band right after Christmas. She had been having a difficult time getting up and getting going. The band was significantly bigger this year, and she was not playing as much as she wanted.
It also took a large chunk out of our days three times each week.
We prayed about it extensively, and then the pandemic hit, and it gave us the break that we all wanted.
View this post on Instagram
Emma has band at the public school. So while she is in practice we wait in the car. Today Jack is working on a #lego #stopmotion movie. Lucy mainly climbs all over the place 🙈 #onedayhh #onedayhh2019 #homeschool #homeschooling #middleschool #homeschoolmomlife #carschooling
When we were out of the house three days each week for band practices, it was a struggle for us. Honestly, I could not figure out why it was so difficult to get to a 35 minute band practice. And you would think that a 35 minute band practice would not throw off our entire day, but you would be wrong.
Our weekly rhythm felt rushed. My kids had no desire to get up and start school at 6:30am so we could get some of our work done before bringing Emma to band. Nor did I want to! Instead, we would get everyone up and out the door just before 9am, and then get back around 10:30. This meant that I needed activities for Jack and Lucy to do in the car while we sat and waited for Emma, and then everyone would need a snack when we got home.
View this post on Instagram
Emma did a great job at the spring concert! It has been a challenge to balance homeschool with public school music, but she loves it and I am so happy that she is so passionate about it! One more concert to go this year 😊 * #homeschool #homeschooling #music #saxophone #kids
By the time everyone was settled after band, it was almost time for lunch, and half the day had been lost. It wasn’t as dramatic as that, but around Christmas, that is what it started to feel like for all of us.
The New Normal Homeschool Planning: Weekly Rhythm
Now that we have decided to not participate in band, this opens up so many more opportunities. Opportunities that we have put off because Emma was in band. These are opportunities for homeschool meetups, homeschool tennis classes, other music opportunities, as well as relaxing our homeschool days a little bit more.
I know that there are a lot of people who successfully go from one activity to the next, however, my family does struggle with that. My older two kids are definitely introverts, and while they enjoy social interaction, it drains them physically. They need that time to recharge, and we were not getting it recently.
Join the Townsend House Community and learn to implement systems and strategies in order to overcome the chaos and Cultivate Simplicity in your Home & Homeschool
Why we came to this decision
Now, obviously, from what I have said, it sounded like we should take some time off from band. The pandemic provided that time off. However, as we started to work through our normal days, without any sort of activity to take us out of the house, we saw a huge change in not only attitudes but energy and consistency in school with all of the kids.
We were able to catch up on a lot of work that we fell behind in during the moving process from our old home to our new one. In fact, it was a breath of fresh air. I couldn’t remember a time where we were able to sit down and get through all of our work first thing in the morning and be caught up.
What we had been doing was trying to fit school in during all the free pockets of our days.
Originally I thought that this small break would give us the boost we needed and we would get back to normal in the fall. But, Emma has thrived in this new normal, and I want that to continue.
The New Normal Homeschool Planning: Uncertainty
What really solidified our choice though, was the uncertainty of what is to come in the fall. I like to have as much information as possible when I make decisions, seems reasonable, right? However, right now, we do not have a lot of information about what the public school is going to look like in the fall.
I understand that there is a large amount of stress on administrators and whomever is making those decisions, but I can’t wait to plan out our homeschool year until that information becomes available.
As of right now, our state is not planning to give guidance on if and how public schools will re-open until August, and the kids go back to school at the end of August. What I have heard is that most likely there will be some sort of hybrid model with some kids going to school some days, and other kids going other days. And lots of mask wearing.
With all of the restrictions, I believe that band/chorus will look very different going forward. I’m not sure how the kids will be able to socially distance while in band, and I certainly don’t know how they will play instruments with a mask on.
Drawing a line in the sand
Instead of waiting to see what happens, I have decided to be proactive. I want to make sure that I set my kids up for success, and taking a year off from band is going to help with that path. I know that Emma will miss it. She will miss her friends, but we will have other opportunities to get together with friends and be social.
It doesn’t mean that she will stop playing an instrument, or it could mean that she will stop playing an instrument. But, for my kids’ sake, I want to be proactive and provide them with some certainty in these uncertain times.
Will she return to band in another year? That is a good possibility. But, she may find something else that she enjoys more, or enjoy the fact that she wasn’t governed by the public school calendar.
How does this decision Cultivate Simplicity?
In my creating margin workshop, I talk about taking a good, hard look at your weekly time inventory. Where are the places that you can make improvements? This is one of those places for us right now. Taking public school off the table for additional enrichment opens our rhythm up for new opportunities.
But, more importantly, it gives us a chance to lean into what matters most to us. A love of learning. When the learning at home is rushed and not fun because we are rushing to finish it all, that is not cultivating simplicity. Rather, that is forcing something that isn’t quite there. Instead, by taking a step back, even if it seems as though the decision was made for us, will allow us to figure out what we want our daily/weekly rhythm to be.
The Bottom Line
I want to make sure that my kids have consistency in their days. Part of this is to help me as well, but with all of the unknowns about the upcoming school year, it seemed like the perfect time to step back and re-evaluate how we want our days to run.
Homeschooling allows us so much freedom. Because of that, I want to make sure that I give my kids some of that freedom as well. Being tied to the public school calendar hasn’t given us that freedom to explore. Even though it is something Emma has enjoyed participating in, I know that it isn’t her favorite thing. And we need to make room for some of those favorite things.