The homeschooling thing on my mind this week is trying to figure out a way to switch from our daily homeschool lesson assignments to a weekly plan and holding my kids feet to the fire to complete their work.
The daily assignment list that I began using in September 2009 is not working out. I made a generic list where each day is the same. A challenge is our appointments for outside paid classes with subject matter expert teachers, Scouts and sports interferes with getting all of this done. At present the list is the same list, not different by day of the week.
It would not work either, to have a list by each day since some things we do are once monthly, twice monthly, or 'one off' things. Then there are enough orthodontist appointments and other random medical or dental appointments (for the kids or me) to mess up that too. Let's not even get into illnesses (the swine flu really knocked one son out last fall, and me too).
I was trying to not do a list every Sunday for the upcoming week in order to reduce my own time spent doing administrative prep time.
My biggest concern is my seventh grader. He likes the lists; there is no problem with that. He likes the freedom to decide what to do and when. The issue is there have not been consistent consequences when the work is not done. My son, at this age, should be able to handle some time management. Honestly school kids have much more time management practice than my two kids do. I see this with my son's friends and the Scouts I know.
Part of this is not over-scheduling outside classes. Since the start of 2010 I have declined some excellent opportunities for my children in order to have more free time in our lives. This means we now have more free time at home to do lessons at home. I am setting priorities and trying not to let the fun extra-curricular stuff take the place of The Three R's. Some is okay but too much of the extra's and not enough math and language arts is not good.
We already limit TV and video game playing, and computer/Internet time. I am curious what other homeschool families do that works.
The people who criticize me for being 'too strict' and having too many limits let their kids do a lot more fun things (video games etc.) but also have lower academic standards (at least for quantity) than I do. The thing is I do limit screen time already but my kids are finding ways to dawdle in between lessons to drag the day out and then by 4pm they claim they are so tired they can't learn anything else. I've given them a pass but lately am thinking, the school kids have to do homework at night, some of their friends decline invitations to do things with us at night due to homework, so why can't my kids do some academics at night if they didn't finish in the daytime?
Another example is sometimes when we're at my mother-in-law's (nearly every week for a meal that my husband prepares) my kids will sit and watch TV but my niece will show up with homework in hand and is made to sit and do homework. Why are my kids not touching any academics on the weekend if their work was not done during the week?
I've put some feelers out to ask for input, detailed information like how many hours of TV is watched Monday-Friday and can they still watch it if the lessons aren't done? Are the work lists weekly or daily? What other privileges must be earned after finishing the work rather than viewing entertainment as an entitlement? I mean, my kids saying, "Today's Saturday so I get to play my video games just because it's Saturday!" (even when only half their home lessons were completed).
I've asked for real feedback from families who have these standards and if they are working. I don't want to hear pie-in-the-sky ideals that the mom is not making work in her home. And of course I'm not hearing from anyone with low expectations or no expectations.
I have about a handful of detailed responses. Most are contacting me privately afraid to post their "strict" guidelines or personal information to an email discussion list I guess. This list has a sad history of some people getting slammed by the ones who don't like what was said, i.e. ask for a math curriculum idea and an unschooler says something about just making recipes using fractions and that's good enough. Or ask for a sample schedule and someone says, "no parent should mandate assignments, let them do what they want and they will naturally learn wonderful things".
Anyway I'm open to hear what you have to say if you are willing to share it via a comment at this blog.
Perhaps what I'm really looking for is permission to not only have a certain standard for home education academics but also to have some kind of parental follow-through to make sure those expectations are fulfilled. I need to take responsibility for the part of this issue that is my fault.
I think part of this issue is with me, that I don't necessarily like feeling like a drill sergeant, taskmaster homeschool mom. Honestly leaving most of the pacing to my kids has not fared as well as I'd have liked. I think my kids need help learning time management skills, and that will be half the battle. I'm trying not to cop out by taking the easy route. I need to do what is best for my kids, that's all, and right now I think it's time to tweak the way we're doing things.