Treat your schedule like a check-list.
Our curriculum is Sonlight, which includes a daily schedule. Instead of being a slave to it, we use it like a checklist–we check off each activity as we get it done. Sometimes we get ahead in a subject for the week, sometimes we have to catch up. Since it is a 4 day a week schedule, we usually use that 5th day to catch up on whatever we may be behind in–or play if we aren’t behind at all.
Set the books free.
I used to try to hold my oldest back with reading, so that she was reading her books along with the curriculum schedule. Now I give her a shelf of all the books she has for the year, and my only rule is that as she finishes a book, she writes a paragraph about it in her reading notebook.
Don’t push hand-written essays.
The girls write just fine, and they develop and tell stories just fine, but they find writing out essays (like our curriculum requires) to be tiring and tedious–their hands can’t keep up with the stories in their minds. So I try to encourage them to write as much as they can, but this isn’t a hill worth dying on to me–if they are really despairing of writing it out, I just have them narrate.
Stick with a curriculum.
There are so many beautiful curriculum out there; its tempting to try something new every year. But I’ve decided that I feel like consistency Does make a difference–as long as the curriculum is Working for the girls, why change? I don’t research new curriculum unless something is clearly not working for the girls.
Get it done early!
For my girls, the longer in the day we go, the less that gets done (and the more frustration, and the more tears). So if we get to around noon and there are still things not done, I decide that whatever we Do get done that day, Great!, but if it has to wait til tomorrow, that is ok too. I’d rather they enjoy their work than sludge through it.
Don’t forsake beautiful weather!
So we get a good taste of each season here–hot in the summer, snow in the winter–but when there is absolutely beautiful weather out, you are Not going to find the girls stuck inside with school. Part of the beauty of homeschooling is the ability to bend the schedule to what is going on in our actual lives.