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Some days I'm just not sure what we'll do next, and other days, I wonder what the next interruption to our plan will be. Because there is always something. Most of the time, in our homeschool, it works best just to have a general idea of what comes next and what we need to accomplish in a given time period rather than have a detailed schedule.
Usually, the days of the week fall into a predictable pattern. Monday will be Kennady's guitar lesson. Tuesday will be only a half day because we have gym class in the afternoon (and then choirs and Civil Air Patrol in the evening). Most weeks Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday will be full school days. But you know... because of Labour Day.... our first week with lessons and gym class is an exception to the pattern, because we moved the guitar lesson to Tuesday. Now I'm just hoping we have enough time to get something done and have lunch before we have to leave for gym class.
A long time ago I had a schedule that spelled out specific blocks of time that we would work on certain subjects. It looked something like this:
7 - 8 AM - my coffee and computer time by myself
8 - 8:30 - Kids get up and get breakfast
8:30 - 9 - Family Bible reading and/or Read-aloud time
9 - 10 - Social Studies or Science
10 - 10:45 - Language Arts
10:45 - 11:30 - Math
11:30 - 12:45 - Lunch
12:45 - 1:45 - Bible/Piano practice
1:45 - 3 - continue schoolwork
3 - 4 - household chores
You want to know how much of that schedule ever worked on any kind of a regular basis? The first hour of the morning.
And maybe lunch. I gave up on that schedule because it was unrealistic for us, but I still have it by my desk, almost as a joke. It didn't work because my kids are not morning people, and they dragged themselves out of bed at the last possible moment, or slept in, and nobody was awake enough to pay much attention during reading time together. We would try to get started on our first subject of the day at 9am, but some days it would take longer than an hour to get through what we had planned, and other days it wouldn't take half that long. Same with the other subjects. And the kids might all be off working on Math on their own, and then two of them would need help at the same time; or one would be finished and couldn't move on because I was busy with another kid. We'd start our lunch break late, and then we wouldn't start our afternoon school on time.
So what does work for us? Well, I'm sure it will take some tweaking as we settle into a new school year, but now it goes something like this. (Keep in mind that my kids have been old enough to do most of their schoolwork quite independently for a few years!)
I still enjoy that first
The kids have to be ready to start schoolwork at 9am. Generally, I let them decide whether they want to get up at 8:30 or earlier and have a leisurely breakfast, or if they would prefer to get up at 8:55 and munch on toast while they start their reading.
They can work on whatever schoolwork they would like to, in pretty much whatever order they would like to, from 9am to noon, and then from about 1pm till 4 or so. If they need the computer for anything, they just need to give everyone a heads-up to make sure there isn't a conflict. I do expect them to work on math every day. We will be doing the IEW Student Writing Intensive together, so the days on which we watch the DVD lesson, I will let them know what time we will do that and they will have to plan around it. Usually it will be right after lunch.
So what comes next? That's up to them. The big challenge is this one:
We're all good at that, and we need to just stop.
I've learned that there's a difference between routines and schedules. A routine is a predictable order for activities, but not necessarily a specific time slot. A schedule designates the time slots for the specific activities. We do better with a routine, knowing what needs to happen next in our day, but not tying ourselves down to a specific time frame - except that of course we need to be at lessons or gym class on time!
I'm planning on giving assignment deadlines for about a month at a time this year, and hopefully we'll be able to stick within a day or three of the planned deadline most of the time.
What works best in your homeschool? Does it change from year to year? Leave a comment and let me know! Right now I need to finish lunch so we can leave for gym class - we don't want to be late the first day!
This post is also linked to the Schedules, Routines, and Extra-Curricular Activities Round-up on the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog.
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