Friday, June 6, 2008

Heart of the Matter - How Do You Schedule?

Ah, scheduling.

The bane of the homeschool mother's existence.

I have heard from so many women how difficult it is to get a workable schedule. There are just so many things to do - both academically, extra-curricularly (is that a word?), and in just living life.

The schedule I'm describing below is the one that we roughly followed while living in the States. I'm still working on figuring out a schedule here.

First off, we homeschool through the summer. I know for some of you that seems like I'm torturing my kids, but remember that we lived in Miami - hot city. So we would take our long vacation from Thanksgiving to New Year's. We found that there is so much fun stuff to do during that time that we wanted to be able to really enjoy the season. Plus it was too hot to do much in the summer, so that time was well-used to continue our schoolwork. Lesson: Don't be tied to the traditional school schedule. You have the freedom to arrange things how it works for you.

Secondly, we only did school four days a week. This allowed us one extra day a week to do errands, attend a homeschool support group, and get what needed done done. We still finished our weekly assignments, we just did a little more every day to get that extra day off. Lesson: Having that extra school-free day scheduled in gave us freedom to not worry that everything else was intruding on our school life. You know that stuff comes up. Just plan for it.

Thirdly, we don't use clocks and set class times for our schooling. Most families I know don't, but some people come into homeschooling thinking this is the way to go. We work on something until it's done and then move on. History might take 10 minutes, math an hour. We just go through our assignments for the day and when it's done, it's done. Lesson: Don't try to fill your lessons with unnecessary fluff, just to make it an hour for each course. It's a waste of your time and your child's interest.

We use a curriculum (Sonlight) which provides weekly lesson plans, but if yours doesn't provide this, you can simply sit down at the beginning of the week and plan out what needs to be done for the week. I've tried all different variations of this theme - doing all math one day and all science another, letting my kids work through the assignment list at their own pace, etc..

So here's a small peak at what our day looks like:

We begin school around 9 am. This follows breakfast and chores. We start off reading the Bible and praying together, then I do the readings for history. Then we will do a quiz on the previous day's history. Then they do their math. They are responsible for checking their own work and correcting it (through the help of their curriculum Teaching Textbooks). Then they alternate between their reading assignment and science, each taking a turn with the reading book. Usually one will finish before the other, so while they are waiting their turn for the next project they work on either grammar or vocabulary. Then we will have a time when I read aloud an assigned novel which goes with what we are studying in history. Right now they are working on research projects, so I give them time for that. Occasionally we will go through a few lessons of Rosetta Stone for our foreign language.

We usually finish up around 12:30, they have lunch. After lunch they go to their rooms and spend an hour alone. I think we all need this break from each other since we are together 24/7. Then they have the afternoon free to enjoy. They may read, do games, draw, play video games, go online, etc.

Next year, it looks like I'll be enrolling them in an online school. Hubby and I both feel that they need more structure and, while they won't be attending private school this year (hooray!!) they may next year. Putting them in a setting where they have more accountability and structure will be a good way to prepare them for a more traditional school setting, I think.

So that's a pretty basic outline of our schedule - from the big picture to the daily nitty-gritty. Be sure to visit The Heart of the Matter to get a look at how other people are doing it. There's millions of ways, trust me!


Anonymous said...

Google had your post pop up on my screen this morning because it mentioned an online school.

I Head an online Christian school and encourage you to check it out.

We love to help.


Rachel said...

Love your ideas and "lessons" learned! Thank you for sharing!

Josie Kuntz said...

Sounds like a wonderful schedule. You do so much, Laurie. I admire your dedication to home schooling--I could not do it!

Tracy said...

I am giggling...we school the same! Sonlight, 4 day, year round, but we do 3 weeks on/1 week off. Thanks for sharing!

Heidi @ Southpaugh Homeschool said...

We school year-round, too. We also did a 4 day week last year - - I'm still pondering about it for this year. Summer is a condensed version of the rest of the year.
Thanks for sharing!! :)


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