Thursday, July 28, 2011

The 2011 Fall Schedule

Well, everyone is talking about their schedules in the homeschool blogosphere, so I guess I will too.  Our summer schedule isn’t complete yet, but I should start thinking about the fall schedule I suppose.  I already have the schedules for our homeschool support group and science club; no sports this year or scouts.  I have most of the curriculum I am going to use, so I can start to plan

There are always changes to the schedule during the year.  You just can’t predict everything.  I find that when I try to schedule any more than 30 minute blocks the schedule becomes my master. I do need a schedule though.  If I don’t make one, I am likely to waste the day away blogging or surfing because the kids certainly aren’t going to insist we do school.

After I collect all the outside schedules I take a look at what my curriculum plans are for the year.  I want to incorporate many more unit studies this year.  When I first started reading about homeschool, doing unit studies is what appealed to me the most.  Instead of going with that, I went with an online curriculum for the first couple of years.  Last year we switched to workbooks which were fine, but I really want more depth in their education.  With that in mind, I made a list of topics I wanted to cover this year.  I also know I want to shore up math facts and spelling for my 6th grader, math facts and reading for my 2nd grader, and reading for my kindergartener.  I also want to promote more reading aloud and memorization for everyone with simple poems/readings and famous quotes. 

To limit the time they are spending doing core curriculum and make some room for more enrichment, I have limited core curriculum to just an hour a day.  The rest of the time I want their noses in good books, experimenting, arts/crafts, playing music, or playing games that promote rote memorization. 

One serious weakness we have always had is wasting time after core work is done.  We have been leaning heavily on unschooling in that area and although I really see the benefit of this, often they don’t choose to do enriching activities.  We also never really schedule chore times.  This must change.  They need to learn, and so do I, that education is something that should be valued greatly and comes with responsibilities.  Some of those responsibilities in homeschool revolve around taking care of the home.  So our schedule will reflect these values and ideas this year.

Here is the tentative plan:

8:30 Wake and wash
9:00 Breakfast and clean up
9:30 Morning exercise
10:00 Core studies (Math, Language Arts/ 30 minute lessons)
11:00 Reset room/Recess
11:15 Special Topic studies (music, foreign language, bible, keyboarding, handwriting, etc. /15 minute lessons)
12:15pm Lunch and clean up
12:45 Break
1:00 Group Unit Study
2:00 Reset room/recess
2:15 Games/Crafts
3:00 Independent Study (reading, music practice, hobby, etc.) and Tutor Time with Mom
3:30 Afternoon Chores and  Dinner prep
4:00 Free Time (naptime, errands, clubs)
6:00 Dinner
7:00 Dinner clean up
7:30 Free Time until Bed
9:00 Wash and pick up room
9:30 Lights Out 

  • Once a month we have a homeschool support group meeting at 2pm – 4pm.
  • Once a week we have a play group for young children at 10am. This may not work out for us.  Maybe when school starts again they will change the time of that group.
  • Once a month we have science club at 1pm - 3pm.
  • Once a month there is a field trip to go with the science club lesson.
  • Once a week we will be going to church during the week after we choose a new church.
  • In October we will start back at the Y and possibly do swim team or just take advantage of the pool.  They also offer a PE Homeschool class that we will likely enroll in this year.  It is once a week during the day.

Even without Soccer, our schedule will really be packed tight.  We won’t be bored. 

Now, as always, I like to describe how we can indulge the lazy girl within.  We can’t deny our true nature, but we certainly don’t want to let it take over our lives.  You will see on our schedule that we don’t get up until 8:30.  We don’t practice “early to bed, early to rise”.  My oldest daughter and I really like to sleep in.  My internal clock generally goes off at 7:30, but I don’t want to roll out of bed running.  I like to ease into it.  I read mail, check social network messages, read the news online, and if I have time, check in with blogs I like to read while I eat my breakfast.  If the kids happen to get up this early they are free to do what they want (within reason). 

You will also see that I do like to give the kids the opportunity for at least 11 hours of sleep.  Most parents really don’t appreciate the beauty of that many hours of sleep for their kids. I learned early on that my oldest daughter needed a good 12 hours of sleep.  If she didn’t get it she was terribly cranky by 4pm and was a major contributor to her struggles in school while she was still in public school.  When we switched to homeschool the first year I would just let her sleep until she woke up.  I discovered that she would sleep 11 – 12 hours.  The better mood she is in, the easier our day is.  This is true of all the kids, although my 2 younger kiddos don’t need that much sleep all the time.  My son still needs 10 – 11 and my middle daughter can get by on 9.  If they don’t get those hours they fight, whine, and generally get on my nerves.  So, my inner lazy girl says, let sleeping babies lie. 

There are free times scheduled in.  These aren’t just for the kids.  The lazy girl in me likes to know she can use those two hours for absolutely nothing, a nap, personal time, or whatever she wants – guilt free.  Guilt free is the key there.  If I take those breaks when I should be doing something that is written on my schedule I feel guilty and honestly, is there any reason why I, a stay-at-home-homeschool mom should feel guilty about taking a nap?  NOPE.  Often on the weekends or when my hubs comes home, he hits the bed for a nap before dinner.  After a long day, humans need naps sometimes.  What’s the big deal? If it give you the energy you need to be productive and attentive, who cares?

Schedules aren’t meant to rule your life.  They are there as a tool.  Be flexible!  If you are a homeschool family, this is one of the major perks.  If your schedule is so ridged every day you are struggling to keep up, what is the point?  Be aware of the natural flow of your lives and your bodies.  Be honest about who you are, and be purposeful about scheduling your priorities as well as your free time.

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