Each school term I write out on a piece of paper a new daily home schedule that we do together as a family to ensure we spend quality LEARNING time together. This schedule seemingly fits in with all of us having our own free time, normal family time, children’s after school clubs (which currently span: ballet, jewelry making, guitar, and athletics), and children’s homework tasks. An exception to the schedule is if one of our little tigers goes to play at a friend’s house after school or vice versa (at which point they don’t need to do what is required on the list). I find it imperative that we balance everything they learn at school with alternative learning at home because let’s be honest, school’s can’t cover everything and if they could… would we really want them to?!
Monday: Kung-fu & Silent Reading
I used to train in Wing Chun Kung-fu under master Austin Goh and it is now something that I am passing on to our children to improve their stamina, well-being, confidence, discipline, and self-defence abilities should they ever need it in the future. Our silent reading moment is quite lovely, because although we all read in our own time naturally… this time puts us together in one room where we all read silently and hear each other giggle at the adventures within our own respective pages… we then talk about what we’ve read after.
Self-study gives a chance for our children to catch up on any school homework that may need doing or learn something new of their choosing with our support or by way of the Internet.
Wednesday: Piano & Meditation
My wife has some technical skill on the piano, whereas I lack the skill, but have a good ear for style and emotional connection with sound. Together we take turns to teach our children the basics in piano playing. Meditation is key because it’s a chance to slow the mind down and give it time to rest from always being busy. Our process follows from stretching into basic tai chi and breathing, followed by meditating. We sometimes use energy crystals. This is done right before bed.
Thursday: Conversation Night
This is a really cool time. I’ve written on pieces of paper dozens of topics for discussion. Each week we pick 4-5 topics and speak on them for around/at least 10 minutes each. Every week are new topics and it’s interesting listening to ideas and thoughts from our children, and my wife for that matter that may never usually come out in general conversation.
Friday: Board Game Night
Snakes & ladders, Key to the Kingdom, Twister, Chess, Charades… you name it… we play it! Our dedicated night of joy and sometimes frustration… haha!
Saturday: Outdoors & Creative Writing & Wii Night & Take Away Night
Although the children play outside at the local park and we always try to go for walks, etc…. Saturday however is our dedicated Outdoors day no matter the weather we get up early and get outside for some quality family nature time and sometimes a spot of tennis or football (last two adventures took us to Highgate Woods and a cycle along the canal). When we get back we relax and then the children write up a short story or poem about their adventure (and add a little magic to it). In addition to the usual Saturday antics that may happen… it is also our dedicated Wii night… where for an hour or two we all play together after eating take away food. Well, cooking 6 days out 7 in a week is not bad at all I reckon.
Sunday: Arts/Crafts/Design & Japanese & DVD & Meditation
A time for letting the imagination go and making things whether it be by use of Lego, paper, old cardboards, and so on. It’s also the dedicated chill-out learn Japanese and don’t forget half of your heritage day. Sunday is also our DVD day where we either rent a DVD or scan our collection, kick back, relax and eat good food and desert (only desert on a Sunday… they seem to treasure it and enjoy it more when it’s once a week). The evening is followed by meditation as explained above to get them relaxed and ready for the week ahead again.
– Note: There is no TV during weekdays (which means they are not that interested to watch it on weekends), and we read a book before bed every night. Presently, we are reading ‘The Silver Chair’, by C.S. Lewis. And naturally, the children help around the house cleaning and shopping as well as looking after their little brother. Phew, they are busy little cubs.
My wife and I have gone for a balanced free-flowing schedule that fits in nicely with everything else we want to do as a family, and that our children want to do as individuals. All sessions last at least 30 minutes, but in general no longer than an hour unless we are having super fun doing it. It’s also been taken into consideration of my son’s heavy homework commitments given for the first half-term of school which involves weekly spelling handwriting followed by a Friday test which he practices for, as well as doing research and homework (in a dedicated book) on the following topics: Ancient Egypt, Rocks, a religion of his choice (we picked Buddhism) which included making a leaflet, and online maths assignments. Apparently, there was supposed to be a fifth topic, but that got scrapped because the homework packs were given out a week later than planned. Personally, I think the homework is far too much for a child in year 3. I’d rather homework focused on getting the children out of the house, but also schools should foster a homework ethos at such a young that promotes wellbeing and creativity above all. I would be delighted to design a new curriculum based on this… but then it’s a long road to getting a job and making change inside the Department of Education. Still, I will write my son’s teacher a brief letter requesting some more clarity on the length and specific schedules relating to each topic, which may help for the school next term.
I would be very interested to read what other parents do to maintain a holistic academic and life learning balance for their children at home. Or equally interested to hear what sort of home routines others have gone through growing up. Thank you for reading!