I am a list maker by nature. I make lists of my lists. So naturally, when I started homeschooling seven years ago, I had a list for everything. I had a list for goals, for assignments, for ideas I’d like to use sometime in the future. I had a daily list and a weekly list and everything went into my planner/calendar.
My oldest son is a list maker too. He prefers to have a ‘to do’ list to work from. It helps him structure his day. My husband on the other hand totally stresses over lists. I think it all has to do with perspective and learning how to make something work for you, instead of rule you. This was so evident when I made changes in our daily schedule a few weeks ago.
Typically when I make our schedules for the day, I schedule the children’s day according to subject or task individually. This had worked fine for several years when I was only homeschooling my oldest son and my younger two children didn’t have a full load of academics. For some time though this way of scheduling hasn’t been working well for us. We were rarely getting everything accomplished that had been scheduled, and at the end of the day we often felt exhausted with not much to show for our day.
I came across some blog posts about scheduling and I read some great books on the subject as well. Here are some of the ideas that I thought would work well for my family:
Schedule the Family
The biggest change, which seems so simple now, is that I scheduled our family instead of each person individually and separately. I made our individual obligations and goals part of a bigger picture. For example, in our home we use different rooms for our learning activities. If Michael is needing to watch his Math lesson on DVD, then that is not going to be a good time for the younger two to be reading out loud in the same room. Likewise, three people can’t be on the same computer at the same time. I take these kinds of things into consideration. It was very enlightening to see where everyone was at each point in the day. From viewing how we all intermingled, I found new opportunities and possibilities that I didn’t realize where actually there before.
Schedule in Teamwork
Another big change is that I scheduled in teamwork. My youngest two children work together most of the time, but now my oldest, who is attending college part-time, now has a 1/2 hour scheduled daily with each of his siblings. He helps his sister with some reading exercises on the computer and he has some read aloud time with his younger brother. Not only was this easy to fit into his schedule, but it really benefits my schedule and creates a bonding opportunity for my children.
Make Time Work For You
Even for a list maker like me, the thought of filling in time slots was stressful. There was no way I was going to be happy slaving away for some time-slotted schedule. Then I realized, I can schedule in flexibility, not just field trip flexibility or sick child flexibility but regular flexibility by allowing buffered time in each slot. We have a morning block which includes Religious Studies, Handwriting, and Math. Religious Studies takes 15 –30 minutes. Handwriting at our house takes around 15 minutes. Math takes anywhere from 15 – 45 minutes depending on if we are working on a new concept, playing a game etc.
I scheduled a time period of 1 & 1/2 hours for this block of school work. We have found that on occasion we are working the whole time period, but most of the time, when the children focus and work steadily, they are finished early and will often have a 1/2 hour of free time until the next scheduled time period. This rewards them for focusing and working hard at the task at hand.
Jump In When You Can
Some days life plays havoc with schedules and the best laid plans fall by the wayside. Other days we take advantage of the flexibility that comes with being a homeschooler and skip our plans for some grand opportunity that has popped up. Either way, whenever we are ready, we can just jump right back into the schedule, knowing that we will cover those missed subjects another day. This is where I have to decide whether our schedule will be a tool to help us in our progress or whether it will enslave us.
These simple changes have made a huge difference in our productivity, our moods and have definitely made better use of our time.
What changes have you made to your schedule to make it work for you?
Dana♥ and her crew are happily making their schedule work for them @ Noggins & Nonsense.
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