Tuesday, September 6, 2011

My Current Homeschool Schedule

The key is not to prioritize what's on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities. ~Stephen R. Covey

You have probably noticed that homeschooling has been heavily on my mind of late. I confess that I do get revved up shopping the back-to-school sales and more so the markdowns afterward, but it is not just the time of year thing. We homeschool year around and I do not really confine our curriculum to terms, semesters, or even the September 1 to August 31 start and end dates on my Letter of Intent to satisfy our state requirement. My daughter's subjects have staggered beginning and ending times, which is to say we go at our own pace and not timetables.

I do, however, change the method by which we do our daily routines and how much I expect from my daughter as she matures. In the past year, I often heard my daughter say that I would add more to do on the days she would get her math done quickly and was not convinced when I explained that we were actually getting the other things in that I planned to do but rarely fits on days that she takes two hours to do math.

I began to see that we were in a Catch 22 situation. She was in no hurry to get math done because she thought I would add more, which was working in the wrong direction for both of us. She actually likes the other subjects that were being dropped in the day and I was not consistently getting all the other subjects as I would try to rotate them. So, for the summer, we worked on adhering to a schedule, particularly in the mornings with chores and a lighter homeschool load. The flash cards and drill work have helped her to focus her mind on math much better. We also use a timer for her math lesson which I usually set for around 25 minutes. She is doing math in a more timely way lately.


Weekly Scheduling

I also decided that she needs to see a schedule of each day with her assignments so that she knows what she is expected to do and also knows I am not adding anything. This coupled with the fact that she is able to do more independent work, I have changed things around. I bought a Trapper Keeper, a fancy, roomy three ring notebook with pockets, at one those back-to-school markdowns a year or so ago. I also purchased 3-ring dividers on sale. A couple of weeks ago I divided her Trapper Keeper by days of the week and then subdivided those days by subjects. What I like most about this is that I load up the Trapper Keeper for the entire week and I can adjust her lessons to even things out time-wise each day. For instance, if she has a quite a bit of translating in Greek for one day, which takes her longer, I might lighten her math load for that day. This week, is a short one day because my husband actually did have Labor Day off, so instead of doing the Classical Writing curriculum, which needs four days, I will use other resources for the week.

You are probably thinking I still have four days to do the Classical Writing, but the problem is that our regular week more like a four-day week and we have this big hole in it. Since the Princess was four, Thursdays have been busy with errands and her piano lesson, but this year I have given her assignments of independent work to do while riding in the van. In the last several weeks we have been working at the 4-H horse barn on Wednesday mornings, which takes up most of our morning and may take more when the tack room is done so I can match up the tack with the horse and there is picking up milk when needed at another farm a bit farther out too. All this means Wednesday we have a homeschool short day with lessons in the afternoon. Wednesday is truly a hump day for me with fasting and a Bible study on every first and third evening of the month too, that is, when we can get there.

At this time our homeschool week is heavy on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Fridays and light on Wednesdays and Thursdays. It feels very lopsided to me. I often have to push myself to get through a full day on Friday. I would much rather take half of the day to do housekeeping in preparation for the weekend or even just have a restful afternoon. This is because our weekends rarely restful; my husband and I almost always have a project of sorts to do, but lately we have been making time to just relax.


Day by Day

The Princess sets her alarm for 6:30 A.M. and usually emerges from her room around 7:00 A.M. to do morning chores. If all goes well, we begin our devotions and breakfast time at 8:00 A.M., except on Wednesdays when the Princess grabs a protein bar or an apple and we pick up another girl in the neighborhood as we head for the horse farm. We do devotions for lunch on Wednesday.

After breakfast and brushing teeth, the Princess practices piano from 8:30 AM to 9:15 AM. This is every day but Wednesday when we push our schedule down into the afternoon so she would do this at 1:00 P.M. to 2:00 P.M. instead.

Then it is math flash cards and drill, which takes us to 9:30 AM. The math lesson is given an hour although she rarely needs an entire hour except when I am teaching a new concept. I may also fit in lessons in logic if she will have the time, depending on the load in other subjects.

We then shift to Language Arts beginning with a vocabulary word from Daily Buzzword and if she already knows the word she can pick another from the archives. I also add one word in sign language and we spend a few minutes in review of both before spelling. All this is takes about 45 minutes.

For the next hour I currently use Classical Writing with other supplements for grammar. This is followed by Classical Languages, either Latin or Greek, which I choose depending on how it fits with the work load.

Lunch break should be about an hour and fifteen minutes, but sometimes is shorter, if she had difficulty with the morning lessons. I still try to be sure she has at least fifteen minutes free time before or after lunch.

After lunch is another half hour of piano. At this time she does exercises in Hannon and any theory she was assigned by her piano teacher.

History/Social Studies for 45 minutes on Monday and Friday is world history and on Tuesday and Thursday is a study of the states or History of the Horse, whichever she chooses as they are independent studies.

This is followed by science on Monday, art on Tuesday, and science and/or art on Friday. Right now we are using Considering God's Creation in science which is a crafty type of curriculum.

If all goes well, we finish around 4:00 P.M. on Monday, Tuesday, and Friday. On Wednesday, we do the math and language arts lessons only and finish around 5:00 P.M.

Thursdays are in the van all day so she is assigned one Classical Language lesson, Powerglide French on CDs, and whatever she has left to do on her state study or History of the Horse assignments for the week.


Reflections

I like organization, but I often find it too confining. I wanted our lesson time to not be so scheduled and flow, but that approach has not proven to be a good one for either of us and, to my surprise, this scheduled approached has been working out pretty well for the past few weeks. Sometimes she takes longer to finish everything but we are accomplishing much more than before in less time and we both are enjoying it more. The main problem I have now is keeping ahead of her with making up the spelling, history, and grammar lessons as I mostly create them myself.

Tonight was the first 4-H Club meeting and she asked about participating in the 4-H Horse Quiz Bowl...? We tried that last year for a few weeks she just did not study for it enough then and I just don't see that one happening this year either.

~ My Lord, thank you for guiding me sometimes in directions I think do not want to go but are necessary to better serve the purpose of homeschooling and make it work better for both my daughter and myself. ~

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