1. Daily flexibility – We start when we start and finish when we finish. We often will do morning work, eat lunch and take a big break (and sometimes a nap), and then finish our school day well after traditional school hours. And if we don’t finish everything today, we’ll catch up tomorrow. We’ve actually structured our weeks so that Friday is a catch-all day. Anything that we’re behind on or anything we missed gets done on Friday. If we get all of our work done by Thursday night, Friday is a completely lazy-daisy day! (Those are my favorites!)
2. Overall flexibility – We need a day off? We take a day off. An opportunity pops up to take a trip or visit someone? We can do it. We have time to do a project with Daddy on the weekend? We can count that towards our learning hours, too! I was able to take special trips with each of the big kids that never would have worked if we’d been in a traditional school setting.
3. Pace – Carter is in 2nd grade. Lydia is in 1st. Both of them are ahead of schedule for at least one subject. Once they finish all their grade-level work, they can go ahead and start on the next level!
4. Fund Raisers – None! I don’t have to feel guilty about asking people to buy overpriced stuff that none of us really need anyway.
5. School Politics – There are certainly things I care about (see also: Amendment 1) because I believe that public education is very important and the best option for many, many children, and I imagine that we will re-enter the brick-and-mortar public school system at some point, BUT that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about the nyey-nyeying and blah-blah-blah that goes on locally. We are zoned for a great school (which we loved) and a nice district, but still…there are always things that make you want to beat your head against the wall.
6. Variety – We aren’t chained to one location. We have been known to pack up all our stuff and do school at the playground or park. We use mundane chores (like grocery shopping or even cleaning the house) as learning opportunities. Twice now we’ve been in the middle of studying something and I realize I’m not explaining it well and we hop in the car and go on a field trip.
7. Family time – When my kids were in a traditional school setting, mornings were horrible. Lots of crying and whining and complaining. Lots and lots. From them and me. Our mornings now aren’t perfect (I’m SO not a morning person), but I can’t remember the last time there was an all-out morning meltdown. (Those were fairly common for my sleep-loving Lydia the past few years.) And then afternoon pick up would often interfere with naps and everyone would be tired and grumpy. When they’d come in, I’d want them to start on homework; they would just want to play. And I’d have an internal debate about giving them a break after a long day at school versus having to do homework later in the evening. And then by the time it was time to make dinner, we were all grouchy and miserable because either I’d pushed them to do homework and they were dragging it out or I’d let them have the break and now struggled to get them started. Blech! Now our afternoons and evenings are a lot smoother and more comfortable. When Marshall gets home, I’m not (as often) frustrated and haggled as I have been known to be. (There are still moments, I assure you! But overall it is much, much better!)
8. Pants optional. (You knew I had to mention that, right? Because it’s totally awesome!)
9. Nap Time (or Quiet Time) – If we need it, we take it. The big kids rarely need to take naps, but I do! 🙂 We most often use that time for reading. Sometimes the little kids and I nap while they read. Sometimes the littles nap while we read together. Sometimes I get things done around the house while they read aloud to me. I’ve discovered that a little downtime in the middle of the day does wonders for what we manage to get accomplished in the afternoon!
Same subject, different thought process: If the littles are sleeping, I don’t have to wake them up to go get in car-rider-pick-up line. That is a HUGE blessing!
10. No homework!