Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Schedules: Yearly, Monthly, Weekly, Daily

Since I've started sharing about the importance of planning, I've spoken with a good number of 'new to homeschool' moms and a couple of experienced ones about planning and just what planning consists of.  For my local homeschool group, I'm putting together a workshop with another experienced mother, to give some specifics and benefits from taking the time to plan and then continuing to make the time to do so.

In talking with my husband, who's also an educator, we've decided that the rhythm of 6 weeks on--1 week off flows well for our family.  Just when we'll need a break, we'll have it.  I have my calendar out and will be making two of those days during that 'off' week planning days.  Time for reviewing what was planned, how well it's working and what things I'll modify.  Of course, these are things that take place regularly with teaching, however, when starting new things you have to give yourself and your children time to get used to things and time to see progress.

After planning the general schedule for the year (what months you'll teach what, what holidays and breaks you'll take) the next thing you can do is look at the themes you'll be teaching and how they fall within your year plans.  This can help you with field trip ideas and perhaps you'll tweek your schedule so that important dates (in history, in your family, etc.) can be used to assist with gaining interest in a particular lesson, activity, etc.   As you can see, each family's schedule can look very different, indeed.

Next I would suggest putting together your daily schedule.  I've seen many variations on this, and again, I believe each family new to this should try a couple of different ones to find the one that works for them.  I've seen a lot of mothers try to simply copy another's schedule and then wind up overly stressed out, not always realizing that the schedule just doesn't match her family's rhythms.  Definitely try a couple if you're not sure and make adjustments that meet your children's pace and needs.

Case and point: I have a really good friend who is always telling me how she's done with school by noon, 1pm at the latest.  I've found it rather challenging to do myself.  We end up upset with one another and feel overly rushed.  I had to realize that although we may be up early, well, the children at least, I like to ease into the day.  I had to accept that my natural rhythms don't match up well with early, "rise & shine" schedules. (smile)  And that's ok. My family's schedule of getting started later and going longer isn't a bad thing.  It's just what works for us.

Another thing I've learned is that many of us make a schedule for 'school' or 'learning time' but don't factor in all the other things we need/want to get done in any given day.  Making a daily schedule that includes your person time, meditation, cleaning/chores, exercise, errands, dr appointments, etc. would probably be more realistic and also give you a better idea of just how your day will go--or the goal for that day. (smile)

A few years ago, before I was doing anything formal in learning, I had a weekly schedule and did a pretty good job sticking to it.  Everything got done over a week's time instead of just a day or few days.  Here's what I used to do:

Sundays--Straighten up from weekend.
Mondays--change & wash bedding and bath linens
Tuesdays--Library Day, Errands & grocery shopping
Wednesdays--laundry (everything else)
Thursday--Park Day & an hour of what I wanted to do (I had sitters who'd watch the kids)
Fridays-Thorough Cleaning of Entire House
Saturdays--Rest & Family Fun

I have tried to stay pretty close to this same schedule, adjusting a few things like which day we go to the library. Since the children are older, I've divided up the chores and we work on them throughout the entire week instead of just one day now.

Here is what I'm planning as a daily schedule.  Let me also say that I'm not big on following a schedule to a tee.  I love flexibility and will allow for that, but will be using this as a general guide, hopefully on most days. (smile)

I'll start with the 'Non-negotibles' (I remember reading that on another homeschool blog, can't remember where, now. Sorry.)  The things that must be done each day before 1pm.  These are also the things that we'll do regardless of the day if we have something outside the home to do.  Adjustments will be made to the time, in those cases.

Meditation/Devotion/Memory Work
Daily Exercise
Morning Chores
Spelling Power
First Language Lessons

After lunch, we'll have a quiet time--yes, I so believe in this and probably will for some time!!  The children will be able to either listen to stories on tape/CD or read quietly to themselves on their beds.  I will take this time to blog, catch up on email, and/or rest myself.

After quiet time we'll do either Science or History depending upon the day as well as the intensity of the learning of a particular unit.

Then we'll do:

Piano Lessons/Practice
Dance Lessons

Again, depending upon the day.

Ending the day with:

Evening Chores

Things will be adjusted on the days we have activities with our homeschool group.  Those are monthly activities: 1st Thursday: Park Day; 3rd Monday: Group meetings; various field trips mainly scheduled for Tuesday or Wednesday; Science Workshops: Fridays in October & November.  I've been trying to keep our weekly library day, but this year I am thinking that we'll do it bi-weekly maybe the 2nd and 4th weeks of each month.  I've just learned about a weekly P.E. class open to homeschoolers that is offering free classes for an hour each Tuesday.  I will be looking to see just how that will work for us. (Already it is making me tired of thinking about all the running around and being out of the house--so perhaps I'll rethink that. lol)

My goal this year is to find our rhythm and stick with it.  Last year we spent many days out and about. Quite honestly, that just wasn't a good rhythm for us.  As much as we enjoyed what we were involved in, running all the time just wasn't good for us.  This year I'd like to be more grounded--flexible, but grounded.

So how are you putting together your schedules this year?  Have you thought about all the things you'd like to do and how you'll get them done?  Yes, it can seem overwhelming, but if you follow my suggested steps I'm sure you'll find success and put together a realistic schedule for the rhythms of your family.  Let me know how it's going!!

Happy Home Learning!

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