Friday, March 02, 2012

New Plan of Attack

I can’t believe it took me until mid-February to figure out a way to make my homeschool day more efficient and keep myself more sane. I am a slow learner!

We usually always start our day with bible, memory recitation, and then we read God’s World News and sometimes a little poetry. After that, if Meredith hasn’t already started it (she is a very early riser), we do math. Then we try to conquer language arts. Then we move on from there if we can!

Up until last month I had been starting her off in math and letting her finish her math worksheets on her own, while I cleaned up the kitchen and took care of the other kids and tried to work with Clara. Then, I would start her off on reading comprehension and copy work worksheets, and then let her finish that while I did other things. Then, we would spend about 15-20 minutes doing English Grammar, and she completed those worksheets on her own after that.

So, our pattern has been: I work with her, she works on her own, I work with her, she works on her own, etc. We would completely finish a subject before we started another one.

To be honest, there have been days where I am ready to go crazy. They are the days when she is distracted easily (two hours to do three math problems) and we are interrupted constantly (yes, I have a toddler), and it might be 2:00 and we still are not even done with BASIC school. Forget about all the other stuff I had hoped to do with them.

It is not realistic to expect that there will be no distractions or no interruptions when you homeschool. It’s a package deal. I realized I had to be smarter and figure something else out that would work better for us.

Now, I do it differently.

After bible, I sit down with Meredith and I do all the teaching I need to do with her for the whole day at one time. I introduce her math concept and make sure she understands it. Then I take her math worksheets and put them in a “to do” pile. Then I introduce the new English Grammar. Then I take those worksheets and put them in the pile. If I get interrupted by the younger two kids during this time, I grab something out of Meredith’s “to do” pile and have her work on it while I take care of her sisters. So, Meredith always has something to do and there is not any wasted time. Then, when I am done with the interruption, I have her stop where she is at, put her unfinished work back in the pile, and I keep teaching her where I left off. Usually I can be done with ALL of my teaching responsibilities by 10:30 or 11:00 except for the reading aloud that I do with the kids. After that point in time, Meredith can do everything on her own (although I still monitor her closely) and I am free to either work with Clara or do other things.

I cannot even tell you how freeing this new approach has been for me.

I am much less frazzled. More of my time has been freed up. I have more time to stop and read aloud to the kids, which is what we all love! And, if it takes Meredith until 4:00 to finish her school, it won't be the end of the world. She will still be done with school before the neighbor kids are done with homework.

Does anyone else have any tips or ideas? I know there are a lot of ways to homeschool and there is no one Right Way. I love hearing what other people are doing.


Queen of Carrots said...

I have finally switched to doing the intense work with the older kids during the twins' afternoon quiet time. (Not nap time any more, alas.) I don't like it as well as being done in the mornings, but there are (slightly) fewer interruptions. And I do housework better early in the mornings anyway. We still do memory work and some read alouds all together.
D1 is really good at staying on task and getting things done. D2 is not, and although he can handle the same level of mental work doesn't write as well, so I usually expect to sit with him and keep him on task the whole time. So his written work is very limited (four words to copy, four math problems to answer), and I will write the rest for him. He stays on task much better with discussion.

Diary of an Autodidact said...

This is the beauty of homeschooling - you can find what works for you and your kids - not what works for a classroom of 30...

Catherine said...

I was just thinking of posting on this topic, although we do it differently - we recently switched to having a written out schedule of the order each child does their core work and adopted a chart system so that the kids can earn Legos for doing certain amounts of work. It's motivating for the kids and cuts down on the daily discussions about what subject to do first and cajoling to get work done. Hopefully it will work for a couple of weeks before we have to switch to something else!

Monica said...

Sounds like you have a great plan. I've found when I'm willing to give the kids my undivided attention first thing in the day that they do so much better. This means that I no longer mutitask in the mornings. So if I want to get any of my chores done than I have to wake up early or live with it until the afternoon.