Many homeschoolers prefer a four-day school week to the traditional Monday through Friday routine. In years past, I have followed this shorter school schedule that BookShark uses, having four full days of school from about 9 a.m.to 1 p.m. and taking Fridays off from normal lesson plans.
I found that the fifth day offered a treasure trove of time and space for fun with my kids. It’s still a weekday, so everyone else is at work or school — everyone except you! Not sure if this schedule is for you? Here are thirteen different ways you could be spending your fifth day without BookShark lessons.
Note that while I'm assuming your fifth day is Friday, it certainly doesn't have to be. Your fifth day may be on Wednesday or Monday. Or it may fluctuate from week to week depending on your needs. It's your fifth day! You get to choose!
1. Cook or bake
There’s a lot of learning to be had when baking or following a stove-top recipe. Plus you get to enjoy a delicious meal or snack when the project is complete!
Let each family member choose a dish to research and select. For example, one child can find a baked chicken dish. Another child can select a salad recipe while a third child chooses a dessert. Grab everyone’s chosen recipes, make a quick grocery run if needed, and spend the rest of the afternoon in the kitchen. Listen to an audio book or classical music while you work if you like.
2. Take a field trip
A great way to spend a Friday while everyone else is in school is at the museum, the zoo, or even the local park. Save those excursions for your fifth day, and enjoy the day without worrying about math lessons or read alouds.
3. Have a catch up day
I know, I know; we’re talking about things to do on your fifth day that aren’t regular school. But if you had a busy week, a sick child, a doctor’s appointment, or some other crisis life threw at you, use your fifth day to catch up on the necessities so that next week finds you on top of your schedule.
Having an extra day each week gives you margin to avoid that dreaded feeling of being behind.
4. Make projects
How many history, art, or science projects do we never get around to? At the beginning of the week, make a list of what you need to have a fantastic project day when Friday rolls around. Then on Friday, do a project or two!
5. Hold a movie day
Watching television programs and documentaries about things we’re studying is a great way to tie things together visually. Save all those great documentaries for your fifth day and have a movie marathon.
Of course, your movie day doesn't have to tie into your lessons at all unless you want it to. Let your children's curiosity set the theme of the day, and explore whatever they want to learn about.
6. Do a fun activity someone has been asking about
My kids are constantly asking to do certain activities that I put off week after week:
- visit the trampoline park
- go to a movie
- tour the local newspaper
- learn how to embroider
- go fishing
There never seems to be enough time in the day. Jotting down a few of their requests and saving them for Friday is perfect.
7. Complete errands or housework
I know, kind of lame, right? But it’s a great feeling to have a clean house and a full fridge going into the weekend. There's nothing wrong with using your fifth day to spend on household tasks, chores, and repairs.
8. Allow free play
Here's a novel idea. Let the kids have free play! No plans, no agenda — just good old fashioned play. The younger your children are, the more essential this free play is.
If you are afraid your children need guidance, then discreetly strew a few inviting objects around the house:
- a box of costumes, hats, capes, and other dress up clothes
- a box of tools and loose parts or old (but safely disassembled) machines for tinkering
- a box of paper, envelopes, stamps, stickers, rubber stamps and ink pads, postcards, and markers for letter writing
9. Meet friends
When friends have the same schedules as your family, get together at the end of a long week for a dose of homeschool socialization.
10. Declare a nature day
I find nature walks hard to fit into our routine during school days. With sports practices to attend and and math lessons to complete, nature takes a backseat most of the time.
With a fifth day free from lessons, I feel freer to invest several hours each month to simple nature walks at a local wildlife preserve.
11. Play games or do puzzles
Pull out all the games and puzzles that you purchased at that curriculum fair last spring that you haven’t opened yet! Today is the day to play them.
Kids may also want to make up their own unique rules for store bought games or even design original games complete with a board, playing pieces, spinner, and cards.
12. Follow an interest and read about it
Head to the library and check out a pile of books about dogs, cooking, butterflies and any other interest your child has at the moment. He’ll know that his interests aren’t merely a frivolous thing, but a desire to learn that could lead to a long-term hobby or even life's career.
13. Do a science experiment...or three!
It’s not my favorite thing to do, but when I have a free day, doing science experiments is actually pretty fun without the pressure of having to complete our homeschool lessons.
Whether you use BookShark and have a four-day school week or modify some other curriculum plan to fit into four days, be sure to use that fifth day for something really awesome once in a while. Homeschooling gives us incredible freedom. Taking a fifth day free from homeschool book-work is one of them!