Friday, September 4, 2015

The road to success is always under construction.

This was our first week of our second year of homeschooling.  I have to tell you guys, it has been AMAZING.  I know it is just the first week, but I'm thrilled with our new schedule (and I'm sure that is going to blow up in my face for bragging about it).

I'm the type of person who wants to work on one thing, until I'm completely done and then move on.  Last year, I was trying to push the kids to "get done, get done" and trying to convince them to multitask and read during breakfast or practice math facts during lunch.  We were all stressed and angry and we staggered across the finish line in May, beaten and bloody.  

This year, I've decided to be much more intentional with our schedule.  I've always known that homeschool doesn't need (and probably won't) to take as long as a public school day, but I felt really rushed that we HAD to get done sooner.  I created a Google calendar and blocked out our school hours.  I've scheduled breakfast time, lunch time, a study hall, and assigned periods to all of our subjects. 

I decided that the kids should get up at different times, to prevent a bottle neck in the bathroom and kitchen each morning.  This kicks the day off without the sibling squabbles that have plagued us in the past. 

I've also blocked off an hour of time for morning activities, including breakfast, dressing, pet care, etc.  They can chose to take that entire time and eat a leisurely breakfast or watch TV before school or whatever or they can chose to get right to work and get on with their day.  I don't say a single word to them about school until the scheduled start time.  That also gives me time to work one on one in subjects that require it, while the other is eating breakfast.

I've scheduled each subject for 45 minutes.  If the kids get done with something early, they have the option to take the rest of that time as free time or move on to the next subject.  Spelling is a particularly good example of this, because I've scheduled it for 45 minutes but it hasn't taken more than 15 yet.  So far, they've been choosing to move on to the next subject and get done, but if they don't that's fine too.  

The other thing I've done is schedule an actual lunch break.  For 1 hour, they can do what they want (no electronics), except for 10 minutes, that I made them go outside and do something that isn't sitting on their butt in front of a screen, I've been calling it "recess".  I don't ask them to do other things or try to work during that time.  They can take their time and cook their meals, eat a reasonable pace, and spend the rest of the hour relaxing, if they want. 

At the end of the day, they have a study hall time, where they watch  CNN Student News and do 30 minutes of free reading.  They can use the rest of the hour to continue reading, complete subjects that didn't get done earlier or do an art project or study (spelling words, math facts, upcoming tests). Basically, it is quiet time and takes the place of "homework time" from public school. 

Their days start at either 8 or 9 and if they decide to take all the free time, our day would end around 4.  It is a long day, but includes a lot of down time, if they want or need it.  Because they've been choosing to keep working, our day has been ending around 12:30. That is about when I'm happy ending and gives us plenty of time for afternoon activities and classes.  

I know when I started looking at scheduling our days, I read dozens of blogs and none of them had a schedule.  They all talked about the "flow of the day" or their "routine" but nothing that said "here is our schedule" so I'm saying "here is our schedule, for your inspiration". Homeschooling doesn't have to be "school at home" but I need a solid schedule I can count on and my kids do so much better with clear expectations for their time.  This puts them in charge of how much or how little they get done, in a time frame I am comfortable with. It is the illusion of choice, like when they were toddlers and I'd tell them they could wear either outfit A or outfit B!

MT's Tuesday/Thursday schedule looks like this:
8-9 Breakfast
9-9:45 Spelling
9:45-10:30 Science 
10:30-11:15 Social Studies
11:30-12:30 Writing
12:30-1:30 Lunch
1:30-2:15 Math
2:15-3:15 Study Hall

Monday/Wednesday/Friday switches French and Reading for Science and Social Studies.

WF's Tuesday/Thursday schedule looks like this:
9-10 Breakfast
10:00-10:45 Spelling
10:45-11:30 Science 
11:30-12:30 Writing
12:30-1:30 Lunch
1:30-2:15 Math
2:15-3 Social Studies
3-4 Study Hall

Monday/Wednesday/Friday also switches French and Reading for Science and Social Studies.  

So far, everything has gotten done, with no fussing or fighting.  The kids are in charge of their time and I'm not constantly rushing them to hurry and get finished.  I've said several times that they have the choice to keep working or take a break, so they are reminded that I'm not the one forcing the issue.  

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