Monday, December 26, 2011

Schedules, Planning, and Managing Our Time

Welcome to our Homeschool Holiday Open House! 

This week, we are opening up a little bit more
about the details of our individual homeschools. 
We'll talk about how we organize our homes, manage our days,
tackle technology, and still find time for ourselves!
No, we certainly aren't superwomen,
but are simply sharing what works,
or doesn't work, for us in our homeschools. 
We hope you find encouragement in these posts,
and invite you to join the discussions
and enter the giveaways. 

When homeschool moms get together, several topics always surface.  One I've asked and been asked often is 'how do you plan your time to include all the tasks of life plus homeschool?'  Sometimes this question is worded slightly differently, but the intent remains.  Most people want to know how homeschoolers plan their days.

When asked, Aurie, Jessica, and Tracy responded with
planning techniques and schedules that work for them.

"I use a schedule that has some flexibility, but for the most part stays the same.  The girls get up, are dressed, have breakfast and play by 9am. {while they are playing I get the breakfast dishes washed and do any lunch or dinner prep}  Sophie starts school at 9am, with Bella still playing in the other room.  We break for snack time at 10:00am, and then Bella comes in to color while we finish up.  Lunch is at 11:30am, and the girls are down for naps/quiet time from 12:00-3:00pm.  Since Sophie is preschool, we don't generally do school in the afternoons.  We'll work on some crafts, some fine motor skills, or go outside and run around.

What really makes this schedule work is me getting up an hour before the girls do in the morning.  I have my quiet time, jump online to check email, blog posts & twitter and then get ready to start my day while the girls are still asleep.  This change has really helped to keep me on track!"

"I do my scheduling in small, adjustable blocks.  Our school year is 36 weeks long, usually beginning in early August and ending in late April.  (State requirements would come into play for homeschooling families here; my state requires a similar number of days and the same required subjects as public school.)

Next, I plan a month at a time.  Each month offers an opportunity for me to tweak the scheduled extracurriculars my children participate in.  My oldest son is in band at the public school, which has an already set schedule, but most of the other lessons and sports are scheduled on a monthly basis.

Each Sunday, I catch up on bookwork for our Farm and plan for the week ahead.  I have a school binder where I keep all our plans and papers for the week.  Each child has a section of the folder where I keep their work yet to be done, and a pocket where I keep their finished papers.  I check off items in the lessons plans as we complete them.  At the end of the week, I remove all the papers and file them (I also keep an item or two that is an example of their best work separate, which we then display at our end-of-the-school-year party) and place next week lesson plans into the binder.  I front-load our week, with most of our activities and heavy academic work Monday through Thursday.  This way, Friday is a short academic day with more time for whatever we need that week (catching up around the house, meeting friends, going on a field trip, decorating for Christmas).

Each evening, I set out all the assignments and materials for the next day at their places.  I also set out my own supplies, the read aloud books we are working from, maps and tools.  I like to set out craft items or coloring supplies as well, if we are going to have a lot of 'listening only' activities the next day.  I also like to set up a CD to play the geography songs, memory verse songs or math facts songs we work on.

I also use the evenings to look ahead at what activities are the next day, and pack the items we need to take along with us.  I also think about (and if I have time, prep ahead a bit) what we are eating the next day.

The most important part of my planning is flexibility.  If we are behind on an assignment, or something comes up, or someone is feeling poorly, or a friend needs our help, we can adjust what we are doing.  School can start earlier and end later (in a day or in the year!), we may push some work back to the end of the week, or we may work ahead if we know things will be busy the next day.  Having a general outline and being able to change it each day is one of the greatest benefits of homeschooling for my family."

"We typically have a very structured homeschool day.  I plan exactly what we will do, and because my children are small, I allow for about 15 minutes per activity.  We use hanging file pockets to organize the activities.  Each pocket will include the worksheet, reading book, or other activity, along with all of the necessary tools to accomplish the task (scissors, crayons, pencil, etc.) I set a timer, and we work our way through the pockets one at a time. Sticking with a strict schedule has taught the kids to work hard even on tasks they don't prefer, because they realize it's only a short amount of time before the next activity.

However, I have had to organize differently this year since becoming pregnant.  For instance, I have become very flexible with our start time, often starting our school day close to 10 or 10:30.  And when I do have a rough day, we work only through the essentials and skip our opening pledge and calendar activities.  It's really forced me to evaluate what my priorities are for each day, what must get done, and what can wait for another day.  It truly is amazing how flexible you can be, even with a structured school schedule!"

~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Every homeschool operates on a slightly different schedule or routine.
We'd love to hear how you organize your days to teach your children,
clean your home, cook meals, and visit with your neighbor?
{By commenting, you will automatically be entered in today's giveaway.}

Today's giveaway:

Educating the WholeHearted Child -- Third Edition
Educating the WholeHearted Child
by Clay Clarkson with Sally Clarkson

~courtesy Aurie~
This giveaway is open to all residents of the USA
and ends Saturday, December 31 at 11:59 PM  EST,
To enter, simply leave a comment on this post.
Winner will be announced on Monday, January 2, 2012.

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