Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Why Rigid Homeschool Schedules Make Me Twitch

I hate detailed homeschooling schedules. To me they are a recipe for showing failure. Intentions to do math that hour fail when half the time is spent on the toilet in that hour. Now we are behind a half hour. It's like a domino cascade of failure as one typical thing after another happens as the day unfolds.

We have mostly used checklists by day of the week. Each day is an hour of math. Read an hour of fiction books of your choice before bed to unwind. Do one spelling lesson a day with Spelling Power. So forth and so on. That works best when Mom plans the studies and when the kids are only accountable to the parent-teacher.

When outside classes are used that require homework the vague checklists are useless. Now the work centers on deadlines. The top priority is to do what needs to be done on time. Second is do studies that Mom oversees which have softer deadlines.

Using online classes from home requires paying attention to the time when home. Our favorite days have always been when we could wake when our bodies told us they were finished, and when we had nowhere to be and learning just flowed. And we got to stay in our pajamas if we wanted. We could kind of forget time in general and had a feeling of freedom. We'd set a timer to go off in an hour to signal when to stop the history read aloud and move on to something else. When you have an important live class you have to keep a sense of awareness of the time and also give yourself preparation time to get online and ready the websites and have your notebook and pen ready for notetaking.

This fall each son has online live classes. They also each have online classes which don't meet at a certain time but deliver lessons with due dates via the Internet. My younger son is enrolled in a classical homeschooling group who uses one day of in-person classes but doles out assignment checklists, worksheets, and learning tools via a website. This fall we have the most appointments for home education than we ever had. This means we have to get more formal with our scheduling.

My grade 10 son's work is independent work. He does not need me or should not need me for this work. This lack of being taught directly and me not saying "It is time to do history together" puts him in control. I would like to see him organizing his own time and getting the work done under his own guidance.

The biggest struggle right now is that my sons are spending time doing things that are not homeschool related. When going online to check email to see what the teacher sent my son takes a sidestep into what I call time suck activities. He will go to Facebook and poke around. He will listen to music and go off into a daze. He will do other things like research song lyrics and ponder them. Next thing you know an hour went by and no academic work was done. He also will choose to do enjoyable easy work with a far out deadline (listen to Tom Sawyer on audiobook) instead of read the world history text that he is supposed to be prepared to discuss in today's class.

I am trying to figure out a way to organize the assignments that makes the due dates obvious and at the forefront. We also need assignments that are things they should do every day such as math which I oversee at home.

The student planners are organized by current day. Students are to write the assignments in the book on the day that the teacher gives them the assignment. This may be simple for school kids who meet five days a week and often have assignments due the next day but it is not ideal for homeschoolers. Some classes have already published their assignments reaching out one month from now and the deadlines are all over the place. Some assignments my son has now are due in 4 weeks, 5, 6, and one is due in 5 months. The large projects need to be doled up in smaller pieces that are done over time in doable portions.

I am trying an Excel spreadsheet which has a column for a due date. I think typing it in is faster for me or either of my kids, than using a paperback book based planner that requires handwriting in tiny slots. Let's not even get into sloppy writing and the problems that could cause.

How do you keep track of assignments due? Do you use a schedule? What format do you use?


tkdmammaof3 said...

We follow a similar format to you with regards to what needs to be done. To me, setting specific time to do a subject feels just too rigid to me and it did to my oldest as well (he's 12). Checklists seem to work much better. I also have the same problem as you about getting stuff done in a timely manner. I would be interested to see what works for your family.

LMuse said...

My daughter is still in elementary, but because I work part time outside of the home, I do have to "schedule" homeschool. I plan up to two weeks ahead in detail, but beyond that only generally. If it seems she is going slower or quicker through the work, I can adjust the coursework. As for school days, she knows that if she wants to do something fun, like go out to play with friends or go to the park, etc., then all her day's work has to be done first. Most of the time, she has it done by the time I go to work, except for what independant work there is I saved for her to do when I am at work.
Usually this means that Bible Study, Math, Grammar, Science, History, Georgraphy, and sometimes Art are done in the morning. Larger projects, like a science experiment or the like, plus group Phys Ed, outside-the-home lessons, etc. I save for the afternoon when I am not on a time limit. If she did not complete her morning work, then she cannot go anywhere until it is done.

Maureen Sklaroff said...

I use HST+, but it does get complicated in the teen years when the kids start taking outside classes here and there and you don't oversee it. For the most part, I chose to let my kids be 100% in charge of meeting those deadlines. After all, they wanted to do the outside classes, so there was intrinsic motivation for them to make sure they did well. The only time this backfired was when my eldest was in 12th grade. he has autism and time management can be a real challenge for people with autism. Also, language is an issue for him, so he would put off writing essays until the night before they were due and then freak out. I had to help him break the essays down into manageable chunks. The first time, I was up late with him so he could turn it in the next day. After that, i made sure I checked up on him so we didn't have anymore last minute cram sessions. He is now in the OLS program at BC and they oversee everything. So I only have a 13 year-old and 3 year-old, so am not dealing with so much. I check up on my 13 year-old's outside class work, but thus far, he has stayed on top of things w/o my needing to interfere.