Saturday, August 20, 2011

It's a Matter of Time

In our homeschool, I am very much outnumbered. There are 5 small people who need my help, my attention, and my time, and there is only 1 me. In order for everyone to get what they need educationally and emotionally from me, I have to have a plan for our school day.

T is for Time

About a week before we started school, I started working on our daily schedule. After hours of sitting at the computer working over the schedule, I finally settled on one that would work.

Here are my keys to successfully scheduling our time:

Combine, combine, combine. There is absolutely NO way I could have everyone doing their own thing for every subject. There are just too many of them and too few of me. All of the small people are together for Bible and History. The girls are together for Science and Calendar Math.

Utilize technology. This year I've added some classes via internet or DVD for The Boy and the twins. For the past couple of years, The Boy has done Spanish on the computer using Rosetta Stone; this year the twins are also doing Spanish. The Boy is using Chalkdust for Pre-Algebra, so one day he watches the DVD and the next day he does the assignment in the book. He is also using Apologia General Science. A friend of mine found a free on-line class for this (Thanks Audra!), and he watches the class and does the assignments during the time I'm teaching science to the girls.

Independent work. Realistically, a good bit of their school work can be done independently. Allowing the older ones to work independently as much as possible frees me to work with the younger ones more, in addition to fostering responsibility in the older ones. We have a variation on workboxes that we use. Each child has a set of folders numbered from 1 to 12/15, depending on how many things they have to do independently. Each day, I put an assignment in each folder for each child, either written on an index card or a worksheet. Folders include activities such as:
  • Morning chore list
  • Devotions
  • Vocabulary pages (using Wordly Wise)
  • Spanish assignment
  • Journal writing
  • Math fact practice
  • 30 minutes of Wii or computer time
  • 15 minutes of soccer drills or dance practice
  • Do an activity with Sassy
  • Practice guitar (flute and piano to be added this year for the twins)
  • Handwriting practice
Activities for Sassy. Left to her own devices, this girl can get into some trouble. In a 3 day span, she 1) thought my Bath & Body Works body spray was hair spray and heavily spritzed her hair with it (boy, did she smell good!), 2) got into my lipstick and proceeded to paint her entire face, and 3) painted the bathroom floor with fingernail polish. To keep my house in one piece and my sanity intact, I have activity bags for her to do, while she is sitting next to me on the floor. If you have a busy toddler or preschool child, I highly recommend Preschool Activity bags; if you have enough people interested in making them, you can organize a swap where each person makes a set number of 1 type of bag and then everyone gets a variety of bags. (If you are interested in doing this, leave a comment and I can coordinate one. We would need at least 10-12 people for a good swap.)

Structure. Some people can have a successful homeschool day without a schedule, just working on whatever they decide at that moment. I am NOT one of those people. I need my day planned out. I can be flexible within that structure, but I need structure. To Robb's chagrin, I've conditioned my children to be this way also. They like having a schedule and knowing what comes next. There is a downside to that, though; they aren't very flexible with it. If the schedule says snack time is at 3, they will be in the kitchen AT 3 to have their snack. I've also shared how I create our schedule and why having a schedule is so important.

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