Some children and families do better with a regular and structured routine. Everyone may be happier if they know what to expect at a certain time on a certain day. A curriculum that incorporates regular amounts of work in a predictable style may be a good fit for these families.
Other families prefer a free-form sort of day where they can adjust to the needs of small children, outside activities, and household tasks. A curriculum plan that focuses on goals to be accomplished over time, with a variety of ways to accomplish those goals, may be a better fit for these families.
For example, a child who prefers structured days might work on learning multiplication by doing a few problems from a math book each morning and practicing using flashcards with Dad each evening. A family with a free-form day might throw some homemade flash cards in a bag to use in a waiting room one day; do a worksheet printed at home from a free internet site the next morning; and let Junior work on his times tables using acorns in the backyard on another afternoon. Both children are working on the same skills, but the curriculum and methods supporting their efforts might be very different.
As a homeschooler, you don’t have to divide your days into different subject areas. You can adjust your schedule to suit the needs and desires of the learners in your home. Some children have their most intense focus in the morning. Other children need to tire their bodies out with lots of active play before they can focus on the world of ideas; these kids may do better with math or reading in the afternoon or evening. Some families focus on one subject at a time for days or weeks, then move on to a different subject. Some families prefer to spend short by regular amounts of time in different subject areas.
As a homeschooler, you don’t have to ask yourself if something is “schoolwork.” Instead, you can ask yourself if your child is learning because learning is the true goal of education. All learning “counts,” including the learning your child does through play and real-life activities. It doesn’t matter if the learning takes place in the morning at the kitchen table, in the afternoon at the park, or in the evening curled up on mom and dad’s bed at story time.