Today is Technique Tuesday, where I share something I have (sometimes painfully) learned. Today, I’m talking about the details….
When I first started homeschooling, I decided to set up a schedule for our household. I have always been a list-maker, and so it came quite naturally. (a little too naturally my husband might add.. 🙂 )
Anyway, my first schedule and many others have since been thrown out the window. They were just too hard to follow. Until a few months ago….
Here’s what has worked well for us:
I thought that a more general schedule would allow us flexibility and more opportunity to stay on track. I was wrong. We ended up very inefficient. When one task was done, it was unclear to each child what came next and so instead, they would get distracted on something and it would be difficult to reign them back in. Our new schedule is broken down by half-hours AND by person. I have an excel spreadsheet that lists the time on the left, and a column for each of us. I spent some time thinking through our day and scheduling each child (even the baby! – although he just has naps – who wouldn’t want his schedule?). That way, at the onset I knew we had a very efficient schedule, and more importantly, each person can check the schedule during the day at any time and move on to their next task without constant direction from me. (Keep in mind my kids are 7, 5, 2, and 1 so I am mostly talkking about the 7 and 5 year olds). I even scheduled time in for each of them to play with their younger brother. This way, I am assured he is getting interaction while I am instructing, and the kids each have scheduled break time. I thought that being this specific would be difficult to follow, but it has really been freeing.
Train and Expect the kids to follow their schedule:
I taped the schedule low enough for the kids to easily be able to read and showed them how it worked. Then, whenever they were not sure what was next, rather than telling them, I asked them to check their schedule. This gave them practice using it, and responsibility to see that they could move through their schedule without direction from me. This is very helpful when I am juggling the little ones in the morning! I still tell them to check the schedule rather than telling them what to do. Now, they seldom ask, but instead move on to the next activity.
Toss up the Time slots:
Make sure when you schedule the time slots to have a shift in type of activity. For example, our kids do some phonics work on the computer, math book-work at the table, and then piano – I am adding variety so that they do not get bored or frustrated, which leads to greater distraction. If it is only a 15 minute activity, they can fairly well stay focused until completion…. (Since my schedule is in 30 minute increments, some sections have more than one activity in them).
Enjoy the Results!
Encourage your children to be responsible for themselves and enjoy the results! My kids love the independence it gives them. I would say the most difficult thing is for ME to stay on schedule! There is always one more load of laundry I can quickly get done, one small project, etc calling me away from our schedule. But I have found without exception that the days we follow our schedule are the most peaceful, effective and joyful ones! In addition, the kids have gotten so effective at their schedule, they are completing things much more quickly than they have in the past, with much less resistance. I am now finding myself with the unexpected blessing of being able to add a couple of subjects to our school day, without burdening our time resources (I am adding one at a time of course).
Share some techniques or resources you use that help your household stay on track!