Thursday, October 13, 2011

New Schedule

We are trying out a new schedule this week.  So far, it seems to be going well.  I was feeling too pressured by our old schedule of "cram everything in the morning so we can have free time all afternoon".  Well, it was a little more organized than that.  But I am NOT a morning person - even half a pot of coffee can't change that!  And we all seemed to be continually frustrated throughout each morning. 

I love hearing from other homeschool families that they do all their schooling in the morning and are done by lunchtime.  Accomplishing it all in a much shorter school day than a traditional school.  And as much as I wanted to lay claim to that benefit of homeschooling, it just wasn't happening for us!  So I relented and rescheduled our day to include schooling after lunch. 

To see this load before us that we were trying to accomplish in just the morning hours left us feeling defeated by lunchtime.  So our afternoons ended up being as rough as our mornings.  Now with our new schedule spreading things out more, we are able to include some fun things like going for a walk with the dog each day.  And I think some of the things that had before seemed like just another chore, now are a lot more enjoyable. 

So here's our new schedule:

By the way, I don't assign times to my schedule.  I try to just focus on the order of things, not what time they are supposed to occur.  Assigning times just adds stress when you find yourself behind schedule.  Having just an order for things provides structure without the stress of clock watching.

Wake and start morning chores - which is just dress, make bed, brush teeth, pick up toys - basic stuff.
Breakfast - followed by a few other chores. 
I tend to eat faster than they do, so I have found this to be my ideal devotional time.  I sit in the dining room - well within view of the breakfast counter and do my daily devotions while they finish eating and start their chores.  And I haven't missed my daily devotions for 2 weeks now!!!
Prayer Time - I moved our Bible time to lunch, so I wanted to make sure we were still starting our day off right.  I am hoping to start assigning a prayer list to each day to teach the kids more about praying for others. 
Handwriting - My oldest 2 can get started on this with little attention from me, allowing me to get Little Squirt going on something or look over my plans for the day or just refill my cup of coffee.
Math - I start with my Curly Girlie since her handwriting is usually less than my Little Buddy's.  We do her math drill and work on some flash cards or a new skill.  Then I make sure she knows what to do in her math book for the day and I move over to my Little Buddy.  I do the same with him.  Once he is going in his math book, I move back to Curly Girlie to check her math work.
Phonics/Language - Then I do her phonics lesson for the day and get her started on her Letters and Sounds and Language books.  Again I move back to Little Buddy.  I check his math work and go over his quick language lesson. 
Spelling -  Same routine - I check Curly Girlie's books and do a spelling lesson with her, then switch to Little Buddy and do the same.
Reading - Same routine.
All that usually takes us to lunchtime - especially since we don't start super early.

It's a LOT of bouncing back and forth!  But so far it's working.  It's very nice to have them each on the same subject - keeps things more organized for me.  I also like going back and forth better than trying to sit with one child at a time and going through everything all at once.  That always seemed to make it harder for the other ones to stay on task, especially my Little Squirt.  Too much time not focused on him leads to trouble!  Which reminds me, I should mention that this morning schedule has a lot of short breaks  built in where I am able to stop and do something with Little Squirt.  These breaks vary, so I didn't write them in.  Like when I am waiting on one of them to finish a worksheet, I take the time to get out a new activity for Little Squirt or put together a puzzle with him or help him get the mid-morning snacks for all of us - which is his job, of course.

Since mornings were dedicated to our core subjects, I have dedicated the afternoons to our curriculum My Father's World. 

Bible - I do this at lunchtime, since, again, I always finish before they do. 
History/Geography - After lunch we head right back up to do our geography lesson.  I thought this would be "pulling teeth", but they haven't balked at it once.
Science - We lead right into science on some days.
Art - I usually save the best for last!  But, sadly, this needs some improvement on my part.  The ideas are there, but the drive to do it is lacking.  I'm working on it!  I have to get over my fear of art being messy.  The house is already a mess, what's one more!

Since we usually eat lunch around 12:30/1pm, we are usually done with all this by 2:30/3pm.  So we have been going for a walk all week with our dog.  Great exercise for us and our dog!

I have been amazed that I haven't had my normal afternoon lag this week.  I won't say I'm not tired, but at least I am not falling asleep while they read to me!  We still are covering the same amount of work, but breaking it up has helped the load not feel so burdensome.  And I actually feel like we've had just as much or more free time.  Maybe it's just been more enjoyable free time now that we are actually completing our tasks each day!

Homeschooling is an amazing adventure no matter how our days are scheduled.  Thank you, Lord for giving me the courage to step outside what I thought to be my ideal schedule and come up with something that works better for my family.  Please help me to stay sensitive to the needs of our family and be willing to adjust when you call me to.

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