Balancing Play, Learning and Anything in Between

Today’s school is very competitive. There is a constant pressure for kids to get ahead or get straight A’s. Even when we are confident that our children can make it through the school year on average level, a parent can start to be competitive  once other parents compare their kids with ours.

Homeschooling helps me shut down all these noises and pay attention to our children’s balanced play, lifetime learning, character development, real-life experiences, and anything in between.

More Sleep, No Morning Rush

Our kid’s day starts past 8:00AM, which gives them ample time to sleep.  We  have always emphasize to them that sleep is important to their wellness, and health. Unless it is an emergency (note emergency is different from urgent), sleep is more important. I noticed that if they get more sleep, they are more productive throughout the day. We all know, it is hard to deal with cranky kids because of their lack of sleep.

We have no morning rush. Kids wake up, eat breakfast, learn, perform chores, then play in betweens. There is no shouting of “let’s go, we are late!” Instead, we get morning kisses and hugs. Simply because we have a lot of time for it. The only line I get to remind them in most morning is, “Don’t forget your chores.”


Teaching about Learning Responsibilities

Their day-to-day learning schedule is their responsibility.  This is a second grader and a fourth grader. We  enrolled them with Abeka Academy which has daily videos for them to watch and participate on. I, as their homeschool teacher, only assisted them during their first month to get them acquainted with  the materials, and routine. After that, I only need to administer their tests to them from time to time, check their daily work at the end of the day, and teach them concept they can’t understand.

If they are lazy, and not finishing their lessons, it is all up to them.  They would still make up for it because they can’t go to the next video lesson unless they finished the previous one. In other words, there is no such thing as “absent”. They still have to go through the 170 lessons required by their curriculum. They set goals for their school day and it is up to them to accomplish those.

Based on their pace, they would usually finish beyond 3PM. They are allowed to play in between subjects to help them more productive on their next subject. This is for as long as it is not watching TV or playing video games. It should either be a creative free play or playing outside or taking care of their younger sister.  After 3PM, we usually have kids in the neighborhood knocking in our house for outside play. If they are not finished at 3PM, they can’t play. So that makes them motivated to finish early.

Interacting with Real Teachers and Mentors

Homeschool kids needs a lot of interaction, too. Not only for socialization purposes but for them to learn how to respect a real teacher, how to value a mentor, and how to learn with real classmates.

This is done through Taekwondo as their sports activity which happens three times a week. This  gives them a lot of work out and learn martial arts cum self-defense at the same time. It teaches them how to respect a master, and a mentor. As a bonus, their Taekwondo class comes with discipline and right character to use the martial arts they are learning.

They go to their music class once a week to improve their musical voice, and experience a one-on-one interaction with a real teacher.

They go to Faith Development class every Wednesday in church to learn more about Christian Faith, and interact with more kids their age.

They join Junior Bible Quiz – a Bible based quizzing to teach them about leadership, sportsmanship, team work and hard work. Not to mention the amount of Scripture they get to memorize.

Interaction at Home

Perhaps one of the best socialization happens at home. The dynamics in our home is superb. Just because all of us stays at home all the time. There is no need to break out in the morning, go on our separate ways, and come back again together at night.  We eat breakfast and dinner all together without the need to be in hurry. We indulge in simple conversations – called brainstorming –  that would lead to big dreams, several ideas or simple push for character development.

We talk about love in deepest way possible. We brainstorm about a story that one of them is wanting to write. We talk about life. We talk about my childhood and my husband’s childhood. Even simple conversation such as like those becomes a learning activity. I learned about them and what their views are, and they also learn from our experiences.

Nightly Routines, Weekends and Vacation

The rest of the night and in betweens are spent with their assigned chores, and more free-play before bed time.  If it’s a weekend, we allow them to watch TV or play video games.

Weekends, long weekends and vacation is geared towards learning outside of the books. We travel and invest in experience. The traveling itself allows for more play as they are stuck in the car. We allow them to be creative by conceptualizing a community. So that along the way, they would know what they need in a city – a shop, a church, a school, a food store, a library, etc. As we travel and see establishment, they would learn what is missing on their imaginary community.  They plot these missing elements on their miniature community they have created by recycling boxes.

During vacations, we make sure there is play and learning all together. This is our opportunity to go beyond books and apply what we have studied in our academic learning.

Owning our Schedule

The best part of homeschooling is that we don’t have to adjust to school’s calendar. We have our own calendar. We vacation when other kids are in school and get to experience awesome accommodation for less price. Sometimes even free when we use our credit card points. This gives the entire family more opportunities to learn outside of their curriculum.  If it’s part of their curriculum we deep dive and experience the lessons outside of our books.

We stay at home during summer when the vacation prices are high. We explore nearby parks, create our own garden, or anything that we can get ourselves into. We delve into sciences and continue learning even during summer.

I once mentioned this routine to my collegues at work and the feedback I got was, “At least the kid would know that they can learn outside of school. Because they thought that once they are finished with school and done with homework, they are done.”

Another one says, “There is a study that kids who does learning during summer retains more of last years lessons that those who don’t.”

While it is tempting to set our goals to have them get high scores and high grades, we drop them all together. We want them to learn. We hope for them to discover their own natural intelligence and genius. We hope for them to develop a character of lifetime learning and experiences that would prepare them to lead the world.

While we arm ourselves to be productive and be passion pursuers everyday, we also don’t forget that we have children to raise. What is your story look like? 


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Published by Cris.Joy

Information Technology Director, by day. Writer and website builder at night. Mom, Wife, and homeschool teacher in between.

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