Tuesday, August 12, 2014

My Back To Homeschool Checklist: Schedules and Routines

This week we are starting to try out some aspects of our school schedules and routines. I am trying to get the kids out of bed earlier in the morning. And reminding them that they need to listen to their own alarm clocks. Apparently this skill has been lost over the summer, and it was sketchy to begin with. We won't start school till next week, but this is just one of the ways we ease into it.
When I reviewed the book Flourish by Mary Jo Tate several weeks ago, one thing I noted was the difference between routines and schedules. A routine establishes an order for activities but not a specific time slot, while a schedule designates the time slots for specific activities. We tend much more towards the routine approach, but some things do need to be scheduled. Everybody needs to be up and eating their breakfast by a specific time so we can get started with our day. Lunch needs to be prepared and eaten within a predictable time frame. And when we have outside activities such as music lessons and gym class, we need to plan ahead and get there on time, or it just doesn't work.

When we plan our routine and schedule, we start with the non-negotiable things - the scheduled things that are going to happen on a regular basis. This beautiful blank calendar page won't stay blank for long!

And just like that, the Tuesdays are full.
Tuesdays have turned out to be our "drive all over the county all day long" days. This year, Kennady will have her music lesson on Tuesday mornings. Thankfully, it's only about 5 minutes away from home, so it affects only her morning, not Landon's. Tuesday afternoon is gym class, and Tuesday evening is Civil Air Patrol and choir practice. So for Kennady, there is very little time on a Tuesday for any academics - maybe just the first hour of the day. I have to plan accordingly, so it's rare that I will have a Tuesday due date on any assignment. I made these weekly timetables as a general guideline so we could get an idea of how the school week would look. 

I blocked out times for the main subjects, but in reality, the kids will be able to decide for themselves how to manage their time in each subject area. Kennady will be working with me for some of her science and social studies, so she and I will need to agree on a standard time to do that. Probably first thing in the mornings, while Landon is likely to want to work on Algebra, for which he needs the computer. Since we only have one computer that we can use for schoolwork, that's a factor in deciding on our routine as well. Landon can't do Algebra just whenever he feels like it - having a specific time blocked off for him to use the computer for Algebra means that he is "guaranteed" access to the computer, and that the rest of us know that we need to do something else during that time.

Even though I encourage the kids to choose for themselves how they will organize their schooldays and get through their assignments, I do set some parameters. They need to meet the assignment deadlines, and they need to put in a minimum of five hours a day on schoolwork. I expect them to work on Math four days a week. And I require them to keep track of what they're doing and the time they spend. In the 2013-2014 school year, I gave them each a cheap student planner (cheap, as in I spent about a dollar apiece on them!) and told them to write down their start and end times as they worked on each subject, to prove that they were putting in the required time. This year, Kennady will be trying something new to keep track of her assignments and time - My Student Logbook. We'll be reviewing this for the Schoolhouse Review Crew, so check back in a few weeks to see how it's working!
My student logbook: freedom
I think it's important to get kids to take responsibility for their own record-keeping as much as possible. By middle school for sure, kids can keep track of how they are spending their time and they can check a list of  assignments or tasks as they complete them. They can keep a log of the books they read, and the activities they do that count for school. This is especially important for high school students who will be getting credit based on hours for courses like Phys.Ed. or music study.
Which works better for your family - a routine or a schedule? Leave a comment and let me know! Then be sure to visit the other Crew members that are blogging about "Back to Homeschool" this week! You can see all the participating blogs listed at the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog - or you can start by visiting the blogs I've featured below.
Back to Homeschool Blog Hop
Check out these blogs for more Back to Homeschool ideas and encouragement:

Tara @ This Sweet Life
Laura @ My (re)Viewpoint
Alyson @ Family Style School
Kemi @ Homemaking Organized
Karen @ Tots and Me
Anne @ Upstate Ramblings
Julie @ Nurturing Learning
Beth @ Acorn Hill Academy

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Tess said...

I recognize those tools! I am in the midst of setting up schedules and checklists too. I need to be more strict with assignment deadlines.

Kym said...

Oh seriously. I am such a pushover when it comes to the deadlines. Sshhhh... don't tell the kids! o.O

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