Home schooling when you aren’t home

We spend a good bit of our time away from home.  Mark has speech and physical therapy twice a week, and occupational therapy once a week. (For more about that read here.)  The five appointments, plus the time spent traveling to and from and getting everyone ready to go, add up to over five hours per week.  That takes a pretty big chunk out of every week for us.

Although I consider Mark’s therapy to be part of his schooling, it doesn’t count for his siblings who are just sitting in the waiting room.  Matthew is in tenth grade this year, Maggie is in eighth, and they do a lot of their work independently.  They usually bring some of their school work with them to work on during Mark’s appointments.  They usually bring it, but whether or not they do any of it depends largely on whether or not the television is on in the waiting room.  Last Thursday it was off and they both quietly worked their way through their math lessons.  When we were here last Tuesday, the television was on; and although they had their math books out, they didn’t really accomplish much. On days like that, they have to spend more of their afternoon on schoolwork  instead of having free time to play or read (unassigned books) or work on other things.  They are old enough that I let them make the choice to waste their time in the morning and suffer the consequences of an afternoon spent on school work instead of fun.

At six, Micah is young enough that I really don’t push a lot of “school work” on him.  We do have a math curriculum that we use and a phonics workbook.  I mostly let him go through them at his own pace as he is interested.  Some days he does four or five pages in his workbook, some days he does one.  He likes to take a backpack with him to therapy, but he rarely does any of the work he brings.  He likes to watch the TV and most of the shows that are on while we are there actually are educational for a six-year-old.  He also reads a lot of the books in the waiting room, most of which are about his reading and interest level.  This way he gets some reading in, too, and doesn’t even realize he is doing “school work.”

Sometimes we listen to audio books in the car on the way to and from therapy.  Some of our favorites are from the Lamplighter Theatre Series, such as “Sir Knight of the Splendid Way.”  They are really well done and entertaining for all ages to listen to,  and they are such incredible stories.  We also listen to classic audio books that we have downloaded from LibriVox.org for free.  They are as well-dramatized as the Lamplighter ones, but they are free and have a wide selection.  (One word of caution, they have all kinds of audio books on LibriVox, so you may want to monitor what your children listen to from there.)

I try to lower my expectations of what we can actually accomplish on therapy days while trying to balance that with what I know we need to get done on a weekly basis to reach our goals.  Do you home school away from home?  How do you manage it?