I have a few dilemmas in the natural flow of my day. No matter how hard I schedule or plan, we continually seem to hit the same walls. I need some time to myself in the day. I have learned this the hard way. If my mornings are for work, my day time is for my kids/home and my evenings are for my husband, that leaves me not one single second for myself. This isn’t healthy and it isn’t the message I want to pass on to my children. However the fact remains… there is too much to do, my kids need me, and I am simply the last priority, like it or not. It is also really important to me that our entire day isn’t scheduled. I have long admired the Montessori philosophy of education… allowing my kids to learn through play and exploration by creating an environment that fosters this. Well, in one meandering walk with my mother (who homeschooled myself and my 5 siblings by the way) she casually stumbled upon the solution as if it were the simplest thing in the world.
Why we are Using a Homeschool Loop
I don’t think my mom even knew what looping was when she suggested this, but that is EXACTLY what she was talking about. A big circle of activities that are constantly switching out so that the kids don’t get bored. Boom. This is my golden ticket you guys. Looping is an amazing tool that can be used for pretty much anything that you alternate. The beauty of a loop is that it doesn’t play into the whole Type A personality thing. I naturally like schedules however they kind of kill all joy and freedom in the homeschool. I am constantly battling my own natural tendencies and that means staying away from strict schedules that give me unrealistic expectations… which leads to pressuring the kids… which leads to frustration –> disappointment –> guilt. Enter the loop. There are no days. There are no times. It is just a cycle. Whatever you did last, do the next thing after that. It is SO simple you guys.
How we are Using the Homeschool Loop
Ok, so now that you know what a loop is, how are we using it with quiet times? I am going to set up stations, kind of like a big kindergarten classroom. But instead of having ALL the tables set up every day, there will be two. Table A and Table B. Here is my loop in detail (using the loop pictured above).
Table B- Lego
I might add more to this loop, these are the main ones we are doing. This is not my main homeschool loop, this is my quiet time/child directed learning loop. You can see more about our main homeschool loop here. My kids wouldn’t be able to play iPads again until Day 4. Day 5 would be the same as Day 2, but then we are on to the next week. Each table will have 2-3 children at it and both tables will have a timer for 45 minutes. The kids will get to play at that area for 45 minutes and then the timer will beep and they will have to do a tidy up of their mess before moving on to Table B. Then the kids would switch stations.
How these stations work into child directed learning
So how does this fit in with child directed learning? There will be no control from me. Let’s go through each table and how that will look for us.
Play dough is kind of self explanatory. The kids will be building and creating and this is always a favorite. I will set this up at the kitchen table and have 3 kids working here. 45 minutes is the perfect amount of time and I will expect the entire mess to be cleaned up (which will take up to 15 minutes, including sweeping) so that there is no fighting about cleaning up someone else’s mess.
iPads have no games on it other than Minecraft and educational ones. My kids play Minecraft pretty much exclusively, though they do enjoy Reading Eggs as well (get a free 4 week trial for a limited time here). Through Minecraft they are building and creating and designing the most complex buildings and worlds, it really is a thing of beauty, and there is no input from me!
At the craft station, there is no formal art curriculum (we’ll do that with our homeschool loop). This is child directed so they can make whatever they want. I have a bunch of A Beka art books that I will let them choose what to make, we have a whole drawer system full of cheap art supplies that they are free to use and make. Something like this tape on backpack my 8 year old made for my 2 year old today 😮
Lego, no words necessary. My kids can play this for HOURS. They’ll get to save their creation until bedtime to show daddy.
Journaling might make some people cringe. What kid would like doing this? But you haven’t done journaling in our house! It is AWESOME! Each of my children have their own passport sized Traveler’s Notebook with little notebook inserts inside. They spend a lot of time in their little notebooks coloring, sketching, writing little notes, painting, putting in stickers, or doing Bible Journaling with some of my supplies. I like to make a nice cup of tea and let them at it. They always make something amazing!
We end our loop with Magformers. These magnetic tiles are different than others because they are hollow, which means they are light, and the magnets are STRONG. You can make ANYTHING with these, they last forever!
What will I do during these two hours?
I am probably going to fit in some work during this time as well as some time in my planner or worshipping or reading (ah!). I’m a bit giddy! My kids are going to be learning and exploring in a way I am passionate about AND I get 2 extra hours in my day? Is this even real? The thing is I KNOW it is going to work, because I know my kids can play each of these for 2 hours alone. But now they will be alternating and taking turns with them. So mom, if you’re reading this, your genius! And we definitely need to take some more walks 😉