How many different ways are there to schedule schooling options? As many as there are subject variations, I imagine. I thought I would share a couple that are working well for us. I have three children and each of them is working on a different schedule.
High School – 11th grade with dual credit for two classes a semester
This student is a slow-starter but a hard worker. She is forcing herself to get up to an alarm and get moving every weekday, even when she doesn’t have to. Last semester, she worked on a fairly traditional schedule. But this semester, she came to me and asked if she could work hard on one subject a day, planning to complete at least a week’s worth of work on the subject. She had a sound reasoning as to why she thought it would work for her. So, she scheduled math one day, biology one day, and literature one day. She is doing history and sign language through dual credit and so is working on those more than one day a week. She does her physical education daily (dance), also. But the beauty of this schedule is that it is what she sees as being a strong way to work on it for her and so she will work hard at it.
Block schedules are not a new thing. I remember as an elementary school teach using block schedules for math and language arts. The high schools have done this before also. Their schedule is not typically one subject a day but they block it into larger chunks of time, maybe 3 subjects a day, so that the students can get on a roll with an idea or concept and not have it cut off just as they start to understand. So, after listening to her reasons, I was thrilled to see her taking the time to consider, come up with a sound argument for her idea, and present it to me logically. Her ideas was granted permission so long as we see sound progress.
High School – 9th grade working with a boxed curriculum
This student is a go-getter to the max! She is one who embraces everything being done as well as possible. (I work really hard not use the word perfectionist with her!) She is working on a combo of daily work with a looping schedule. With a looping schedule, she is working for a set amount of time completing one lesson after another down the page of the curriculum guide. When she hits the end of the day, say Monday, she jumps to the top of Tuesday’s column and starts there, whether or not it is Tuesday. These are subjects like her history, writing, reading/literature, Bible, and science. Her math, Bible, physical education (dance), foreign language, and violin are daily work. She does each of these and then starts in on her loop for the day.
This has worked well for her. She makes continuous progress without getting overwhelmed at the sheer volume of materials. She will earn 11, yes 11, high school credits when she completes these courses. No wonder she felt overwhelmed trying to hit every subject every day and was spending hours and hours on it. She is not moving at one the pace of the curriculum guide – 1 calendar week = 1 curriculum guide week – but she is making strong and happy progress. It’ll take a bit longer than one year to get through the curriculum but that is okay. She’ll earn more than one year of credits for it.
I do probably need to address Bible for her since it is both in her loop and her daily schedule. For the loop schedule, it is whatever is assigned in the curriculum. They have several Bible items for the student to work on, earning a Bible credit with this curriculum. She also works on several projects and studies for church, as well as teaching one of the Sunday classes for preschool. So she works on Bible Bowl, Pearls (book study), debate, memorizing scripture, other Lads to Leaders materials, or Sunday school prep on a daily basis for a large part of the school year.
Middle School – 6th grader
This is one smart cookie who gets easily distracted. She finds things really interesting but can then get just as interested in something else. She is working on an eclectic curriculum. She is doing well with it. She works 4 days a week, doing each subject every day. She has a daily checklist in a spiral that she uses to help keep her on track. She has math (online), history (includes literature, vocabulary, and writing), science, Bible, sign language, and physical education (dance). She spends a good bit of time each day on her curriculum, often because she gets distracted or doesn’t concentrate. Hers is a “check everything off each day” schedule.
We also spend a good bit of time finding fun, short videos on things she is interested in to watch. She helps me cook and do laundry (sometimes on the laundry) and she loves to read (finally!!). She enjoys spending time with people and helping out. She has started spending quite a bit of time drawing for fun. All of these are learning opportunities, too. So, when I feel like this child isn’t spending enough time on “learning,” I remind myself of all these other things that she does that are also learning, just not out of a book.
My purpose in sharing this is to remind each of us that we are different. Even our children are different. As they get older, they can have more say in what works for them. Yes, I am still responsible in making sure that what needs to get done is getting done. I can, however, allow them the freedom to help decide how to tackle it. Just the other night (at 11:20 PM!), the two older girls were working together, evaluating each other’s Powerpoint presentations and teaching each other how to do some background work, edit and transition work, and copyright notifications for images used. I don’t have to worry about whether they are learning as I can see it, day in and day out. Or night in and night out as the case may be! 🙂
Go with your gut and find non-traditional ways of schedule so that your students are successful. After all, isn’t that what it is about?
The Homeschool Review Crew bloggers are writing about their take on a day in the life of a homeschooler. Head over to the post to find the links for the other bloggers additions. Linky is at the bottom of the post.
Lori, At Home.