For the last 12 months or so I have had one day a week that has been called a ‘workshop’ day. Going to a ‘workshop’ is something that we as adults are familiar with. We may go to a workshop to learn something new, be exposed to a new idea, or to be motivated along. These types of workshops are usually short term – they achieve their goal and we move onto into regular life hopefully with a new skill. We may also sign up for regular workshops – maybe once a month – to practice a skill already learnt – like a scrapbooking workshop, or a quilting workshop, or a cardmaking workshop etc. These two models are the basis of our Workshop Fridays.


I started having workshop subjects to help me break away from the habit of thought that something needed to be studied all year. We can put aside a short block of time, focus on one thing, and then after having gained the knowledge or skill we are then able to weave that into every day life and move onto learning something else.

Our workshop days are for the more interactive lessons. One of the things I so enjoy about our workshop lessons is that depending on the topic at hand the older children will pause in their studies and join us. This becomes important especially as the children get older and move into independent study on topics of unique interest. Workshop days give me an opportunity to pass on the things that are important to me (or the family) but don’t fit in the regular academic study schedule. We try and keep our workshop days a balance of learning and relationship time (during which of course there is still learning happening!)

Today is Friday and the kids have had such a good day – we’ve just had people knock on our door and as they saw the kids sitting at a game table at the front door asked if they were on ‘lunch break’. “No” I replied – there are still working.” My kids all cried out “are we?” What a laugh – they didn’t even know they were learning!!

This is our Workshop schedule for this study block – these are the subjects that I felt we needed to do over this study block. They may well be different next study block.

  • Bible or Character – this is just a continuation of our regular days so in once sense it doesn’t count as our workshop days – but we start our day off that way anyway.
  • Auslan – Jessica, Nomi and Daniel are learning Australian sign for the deaf from dvd lessons.
  • Living Math – at the moment we are reading through a book called Number Rumble by Cora Lee and Gillian O’Reilly which shows different aspects of math in everyday life or other subjects. One of the things we read about today was that bees can measure distance and communicate distance and direction to others in their hive by their dance. Sometimes I get the kids to notebook what we’ve read about / learnt but I didn’t today.
  • Writing – this workshop goes for 1 hour and all four kids were together (all the other sessions only go for ½ hour.) This term we are looking at Mind Mapping. Today we talked about it in terms of brainstorming, using our left and right brain functions, and seeing how a mind map converts to an outline. I used a book called Mind Maps for Kids by Tony Buzan.
  • Geography/Mapping – for our specific geography studies we are spending just 10minutes or so doing map copywork – a phrase coined by Sonja at Simply Charlotte Mason. We are looking at Australia at the moment. I gave a blank map to the kids, they filled in States/Territories/Capitals – as many as they can remember and then they opened the Atlas and filled in any they missed. Not a hard activity. We’ll repeat it next week and hopefully they will remember more and need prompting less. We will repeat this simple and gentle activity for a while, and once all of them can label these things on an Australian map we will move onto something else – maybe continents.
  • Game time – I have chosen a board game for each Workshop week – today the kids are playing Yahtzee – Josh has paused with his studies to play too. My hope is that this one time slot will stimulate them to play more games amongst themselves. Sometimes I will join them in this time slot but I didn’t today. Games give such great opportunities to work on loving each other, and dealing with disappointments let alone the more tradition learning such as working with numbers (as in Yahtzee)
  • From here on in our day completely changed from our expected plan. I had planned that we would pause for an early lunch (and the kids would plan the game for Daniel’s birthday party on the weekend) and then we would go to the Garden Nursery to pick up some vegetable seedlings for our veggie garden. But….I had a phone call from a very special friend and that took up our time. So no seedlings just yet. We will usually have a “Nature” time slot next for Nomi and Daniel (Jess usually works on a delight subject – graphic design – and Josh studies).
  • Our workshop day finishes with lunch – our Friday afternoons are usually fairly quiet – the kids like to just work on projects while listening to audios, I usually go to town for mail, and groceries for the weekend. One of the kids often makes pizza for dinner.

It was a very productive Friday. We hope to have Workshop Friday’s three times a month. The fourth Friday is spent with our homeschool co-op.

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