One big question I have heard over and over through my years as a homeschooler is how to handle the spare time that comes from being able to condense education. I know some kids who rise very early (say, 6 a.m.) start school and work steadily until they finish at 10 or 11 a.m. Then the problem comes, what do they do with the rest or their day? Of course there are countless outside activites to be involved in. Those are all well and good and we have done many of them, but what do you do with your kids when they are done early, are home, and have the rest of the day stretched out before them? Most, if not all, homeschool parents don't want their kids on a screen all day!
I thought it might be helpful if I shared some ideas from what we have done to not only fill in those hours, but to UTILIZE them.
Once my kids were old enough, I met with them and asked them to help me come up with a list of things they wished to learn, hobbies they wished to start, interests they wished me to invest in. We spent a good week brainstorming and listing. I make sure when I am budgetting for curriculum that I am also taking these ideas into account. I am also always looking for ideas to learn and do these things for free.
~Visual Art. I tried to always make sure we had in stock plain white paper, lined paper, construction paper, cardstock, markers, crayons, colored pencils and sometimes chalk, charcoal pencils, watercolor and poster paints, stamps, ink for stamps. We had googly eyes, feathers, popsicle sticks, glitter, pipe cleaners, cloth, felt, modeling clay and anything else I could gather. I used to get old magazines from the library that could be cut up as well.
All manner of creations could happen with these items. We used to borrow craft books and art books from the library. They would sometimes be learning to draw anything from sports figures to dinosaurs, sports cars to animals, people to martians! They learned cartooning and anime'. Drawing was a huge part of their day for a number of years. We also got books with step by step instructions to make figures with modeling clay. They spent hours on that!
One of my kids liked to make movies on paper. He would videotape the pictures and narrate them. He made movies with characters made from modeling clay as well. He loved to write movies and stories as well (still does). My daughter loves to write stories as well and has branched into devotionals.
~Cooking. We took different cookbooks out of the library and the kids had fun picking out recipes to try. It was awesome because they could choose recipes from other countries as well. It sure helped me figure out meals and snacks!
~Music. We have invested in instruments and lessons. But once they had the basics there was really no end to what they can learn on their own. Youtube alone has tons of tutorials. My house is LOUD, I'll admit. Different instruments in different rooms playing different songs is pretty normal. But, honestly, MOST of the time, I don't mind!
~Knitting and sewing. My daughter went through and knitting and sewing phase (I hope she returns to it!). It's a great way to make gifts of course. I'd still like to make a quilt with her someday.
~Photography and scrapbooking. There are free programs online for photo editing. Just that alone is a great skill.
~Computer programming and blogging. If you google "Greenfoot" that is a great free site for learning JAVA programming where kids can make their own games. Blogging is a wonderful way to work on writing skills.
~The great outdoors. There's always the great outdoors for walks and sports, sledding and skating in the winter.
These are just a few ideas to fill in the hours constructively. Really those hours are an opportunity for them to pursue their own interests (or to find interests). I really believe that boredom is the mother of creativity. I have set a schedule of when TV shows and video games can start. So, if it is before that time, then these other pursuits are taken up. I am kind of a mean mom. A child who admits to being bored is a child who is asking for a chore. I never really had that complaint much. ;) At the same time, I have really tried to provide what I could to help them fill that time. In the end they are very creative and have definitely realized that you can learn anything you want to learn.
I'd love to hear more ideas! Please...share!!