October 8, 2012

Scheduling Life

I have written several posts about scheduling over the past few years.  One is here and another is here.  I like to go back and read what I have written on the subject periodically because otherwise I forget and start making the same mistakes I have made before.

Scheduling is a huge issue for homeschoolers.  If you always go with the flow things are left undone.  If you over schedule, everyone eventually freaks out.  If you have everything going smoothly--you get pregnant.  The circle of life.   Or something like that.

This year I borrowed an idea that I saw at Chocolate on My Cranium.  You can read her post here.  Basically I organized our days into 30 minute blocks from the time we get up until we go to bed.  I then had my hubby help me put it all into excel--a program at which he excels (seriously overtired pregnant woman here who thinks she's hilarious) and I do not--and added a very basic color code.  The blue part of Monday is when the kids go to the charter school.  Yay!  I should really post about that.  Yellow is play time, green is school, and red is chores.  You can see that my hubs and Lady Harriet didn't get added to the list.  Have you tried to schedule a man or a baby?  Exactly.

All of this begs the question of how well does this type of schedule work for us.  Well . . . it doesn't really.  I still get up later than I would like because otherwise I feel queasy all day and so we never do things when they are written on the schedule.  Also, we hardly ever do chores during the week.  I've found that getting all the kids to do their chores well enough to pass them off takes too much time.  I have them tidy up before Dad gets home (when I remember) and we focus on cleaning the house on Saturday.

Inspired by Chocolate on my Cranium, I scheduled in one-on-one time with each of the children throughout the week.  That has never happened.  Neither has being dinner helper.

On the flip side, it works brilliantly with Miriam.  She gets up, I get her started and she can look at what subjects she has to do that day and then she does them.  They don't get done during the designated time, necessarily, but she likes the independence of reading the schedule instead of asking me what she should be doing.  So do I.

Which brings me to the best part of my new balancing act--the designated hours with each child.  This is not on the schedule and happened rather by accident but it is the best thing ever.  I realized that MOST of my frustration came from a litany of voices asking me for help all at the same time as we sat around the table and worked on school together.  I used to go bananas trying to keep up with everyone at the same time.

I don't do that anymore.  Miriam works independently on almost everything.  While she is working I take first Cowen and then Emeline and work with them individually.  First we do spelling, reading, and sight words and then we do piano.  While I'm working with Cowen, Emeline does xtramath.org and Rosetta Stone spanish on the computer.  When I'm done with Cowen he does computer work while I work with Emeline.  Then I take both of them to the table and help them with their math work.

Then I go over all of Miriam's work with her--without the problem of trying to help the younger kids at the same time.

In the afternoon we do science or history together.

This has made such a huge difference in my emotional stability.  We have our together times, the kids have lots of built in rest periods as I move from child to child for individual work, and I don't feel like I'm being pecked to death by a bunch of noisy ducks.  Well . . . less often anyway.

As for the whole scheduling thing--I really love the idea of 30 minute increment planning and I'm not tossing it out, but during the pregnancy and first year with baby #6, I'm pretty sure it will mostly be on the wall for Miriam's benefit and as "inspirational literature" for me.

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