I’d love some input on daily home school scheduling. We started homeschooling this past January (boys ages 8, 8, and 10) and I feel like it was a complete disaster! We are part of a public charter school. Somehow I managed to submit enough paperwork and documentation to make it through the semester, but I don’t feel like the kids accomplished very much. Yes, they learned TONS, but not necessarily what I envisioned them to accomplish. We didn’t finish any of our curriculum (I didn’t expect to since we started midway through the year) and I don’t really feel like there was much growth where math and language arts are concerned. I think partly because I’m so unsure of myself and partly because we were decompressing from traditional school. Also, we were not able to take part in placement tests (everyone was sick that week), so I wasn’t exactly sure where they were academically. It was like pulling teeth to get the kids to actually do school. I felt like I was drowning in complaints and chaos. We are done for the school year and I’m giving the boys a couple of weeks to just chill, but I want to continue on with reading, writing, and Math (strongly advised from our EC) this summer. I’m determined to create and keep a schedule this summer that I will be able ease into the school year with. The boys are also expected to complete a list of “jobs” (chores) before they are allowed any screen time or playtime with friends. I need a way to help them track their daily school work, as well as, their jobs. Our charter school provides a couple of templates, but I don’t like them and I can’t seem to come up with anything good on my own. I’d like a lot of detail, such as time slots, but not so much that it overwhelms the kids. I’d also like to include their daily jobs. For 2 of my 3 that would work well, but for one of them, that would be too much pressure and he would shut down. I don’t know what direction to go.
@mrsfyrema what a year you guys have put in. I think a break is certainly in order for all of you! We follow Charlotte Mason’s philosophy in home education so I don’t have too much input regarding charter schools but I do have two kids that have been in public school.
As far as schedules I have resorted to making my own, but here are a few places to try. Some are editable and others may just give you ideas so that you could create your own.
Erica has several planner options available. This chore chart is editable with some time slots and not too overwhelming. My favorite so far and one that I have modified for our own use is edSnapshots I placed two sheets on each kids’ clipboard, one sheet for school, one for home duties.
For school work may I suggest to keep it low-key for a bit this summer. If the boys are that frustrated, how about easing back in with some games and fun reading. Pam Barnhill has some great ideas from her podcasts and blog that might work well. A summer reading program Traveling through the Pages Race Across Space looks like a lot of fun. She provides tons of book options for each category. Kate Snow was on one of Pam’s podcasts recently with math games, books, practice, and ideas recently.
We get up do basic morning chores followed by “morning time” where I read aloud from several selections. Then we take a quick break. We begin our table work starting with bible, followed by math etc. For us sitting down and completing everything is not possible. My kids need breaks. I try to alter subjects to use different parts of their brain so for example after math we might do another read aloud or spelling. Then latin followed by reading aloud or a break. Sitting at the table for extended periods equal angry kids at my house. We also switch up where we do our work. We begin on the couch, go to the school room, then sometimes to the porch…
While your on break maybe you could do some research, @erica has some great Tip Tuesday videos that I always enjoy. Pam Barnhill has a wealth of info on her blog too. Do you want to stay with the charter school? Is there another option that may fit your family better? What do your boys think? What do they want? My kids have shocked me with some of their answers. We sat down and figured out most of our daily schedule together. I hope something in here is helpful to you, I truly understand how frustrating it can be!
The first year is hard. Give yourself and them lots of grace :-). If you are getting lots of push-back, find out why. Is the work too easy or too hard? Different than they expected? Too much like school at home? Is it just normal kid-complaining that they are used to doing at school (ie, something to mainly ignore), or is something deeper going on?
I used to do an end of the year evaluation with my kids, where they get to give feedback on what they like and don’t like (but not simple feedback–they need to say why, and how they would change things if they could etc…). I explain how and why in this blog post, and have a form in this post (if your kids don’t write much, go over things orally–you want to really know what they think).
It’s important in this process to mainly listen and ask questions (and not be defensive about your school but just hear them out. Then later you can decide if there are changes you can make). I let my kids know that we wouldn’t change everything they wanted (for example, we can’t drop math!), but I would consider their ideas and suggestions (for example, we could change how we do math–more manipulatives, more examples from mom, or conversely less of mom–just let me do it–or change curriculum, etc…)
As for our schedule–at those ages we did many things together. I liked to do together-subjects first, and then one-on-one subjects alternated with independent work. A good schedule will help you to see what one student can be doing while you work with another. We typically did something like this:
Get up around 8:30-9, eat breakfast, start school around 9:30 give or take.
Bible: 20 minutes
History: 30 minutes (I read to them, they might notebook)
Science: 30 minutes (I read to them. Once a month or so we would do experiments on a day with maybe only math and reading–I just couldn’t get to experiments on a random, daily schedule).
Switch at this point to independent/time with mom subjects. I used workboxes starting the next year, but they helped organize my kids so well, I’d have started them sooner if I’d known about them. They kept my kids on track, like a 3-D schedule).
Their individual work included:
Handwriting: 10 minutes
Spelling (one on one with mom, 15-20 minutes)
Language Arts (a copywork or writing assignment, or a grammar book): 20-30 minutes
Reading: (alone if ready, with mom if still needing work) 30 minutes
Math: 30-45 minutes. I would have the kids read the instructions to me and tell me what they were to do on each section, and I would go over anything they didn’t understand, then they did the work, but I was available
Memory Work: 10 minutes (Usually AWANA verses)
Music Practice: 30 minutes
PE/Exercise: 30 minutes (walking, biking, running around, whatever)
Family Service: 15-30 minutes (they had a job for the day such as sweeping/mopping a room, cleaning in a bathroom, vacuuming a room, dusting, emptying the small garbage/recycle containers around the home, etc…)
The times were not exact, but gave me something rough to aim for. If a lesson was taking too long, I could find out why, and either help or have them move on and we could try again the next day. If they were dawdling and not just struggling, I gave 5 minutes to finish up and then the rest was homework. Homework is done after all other school subjects are done, during “free time.” This makes it more concrete. They didn’t want to give up free time!
At the 8-10 range, my kids were moving towards independence but still needed lots of 1 on 1 time, so I alternated with them a lot. Part of why you may have felt the year was chaotic was that dynamic–it’s hard with 3. Now that you’ve gotten your feet wet, take some time to evaluate what each child can do independently and what each one needs help with, and try to set up a routine that has one or two working independently while you are working one on one with the other one or two children. Think through what you can teach together, and what needs to be taught individually. You may be able to do math together for example–I tried but mine didn’t get work done that way. Home dynamics are different than the classroom, and you may need to divide up workspace to make it work.
Our Fridays were “friend days.” I tried to do field trips on those days, or half-day school and then go to a friend’s house in the afternoon, or do a park day in the afternoon, etc… We did mainly skill subjects (math, reading, maybe handwriting) on Fridays.
This was one way we took advantage of the freedom of homeschooling, and I played that up. Work hard M-Th, and Friday we get a shorter day and something fun to do.
You may find that it works better to get a couple of writing-oriented things done first. Think about how your kids work–you may want to get feedback from them on this. Do they care about the order of their subjects? (One of mine really did, one didn’t–so I worked preferences in when I could). Don’t do hard things back to back–maybe alternate something harder with something easier. The perfect routine for someone else may not be the perfect routine for your family.
I did a series of posts on organization–thinking through how to set up our daily routines, what subjects to teach etc… on my blog, starting with Priorities and Passions. You might find that helpful.
Hang in there!