Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Memories of a Homeschooled Homeschooler: the schedule

I have memories of my mom surrounded by books and tons of paper in the corner of our home that was her "office." Usually, she was either in the midst of taxes and bookkeeping or scheduling our homeschool. We went through a lot of schedules during my homeschool years, and like any great master, Mom was always sure we could do something better or more efficiently. Tweak this subject here, add a little more time there, take out this activity and move it to that time slot.

But we were kids, and school was—well—school, no matter where we did it. And I know we didn't give her an easy time, in spite of her schedule overhauls. Because of all that scheduling though, we did have time for a lot of really unique experiences that have made for fond memories.

As little kids, we did four day school for a long time. So as early as second grade, I learned how to take five days worth of assignments and work to get it all done in four days. Each one of those four days, I'd work ahead one assignment in at least one subject until I'd earned my extra day off. We loved those three day weekends!

When we got older, working ahead was much harder to accomplish each week, but we still plotted out our assignments and worked ahead where we could for that end goal: to finish school as early in the year as possible. When other kids took extra holidays, spring breaks, and snow days (in Texas, snow days rarely had the same significance as they might in other states), we worked tirelessly, though sometimes reluctantly, toward that goal. And it paid off. We often had the bragging rights of the neighborhood, having finished all of our school books in mid April or early May while everyone else plodded along for another 4-6 more weeks.

In high school, Mom's scheduling paid off significantly as she helped us plan our extra-curricular activities into our school day. My junior and senior year of high school, I had the opportunity to work part-time at our local newspaper office and have my own ballet studio where I gave lessons and planned performances.

Then, the real test came—college. All of Mom's hours surrounded by stacks of books and loose paper finally culminated in one great overall success. After watching my mom plan scores upon scores of schedules through the years, my first freshman college schedule was a breeze. Seventeen years old and 12 hours from home, I remembered all those lessons of scheduling and planning and breaking down large tasks, lessons that my mom probably wasn't always aware that she was teaching me.

And when I began to teach college English and writing classes, I was more often teaching my students how to schedule their time than I was tutoring them in the rudiments of grammar.

So for all of you homeschool moms who think you are "ruining" your children or their homeschool experience with all of your tweaks and overhauls to the schedule, take heart. Include your kids in the process. There's some valuable learning going on behind those wadded up pieces of paper.

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