Thursday, May 01, 2008

A Working Schedule

In searching for The Perfect Schedule, I did a funny thing back in January. I didn't know if it would work, but it seems to be going well. I took the daily schedule of one of the weeklong summer singing schools we attend every year and used it as the basis of a daily school schedule for us. We have attended this singing school for more than a decade, and the schedule has made deep ruts in our brains. Since the routine I figured out has worked for us for more than a couple of weeks, I am sharing it:

* I get up at some point before 7:00 AM and have breakfast ready by 7:00. How early I decide to get up determines the kind of breakfast we have. Sometimes I don't get up until 7:00 or a little later, and then we have a very simple breakfast. But usually I am up by 6:45.

* I wake the kids when breakfast is ready. They eat and then get ready for the day. Sometimes one or more of them will get up earlier, but not usually.

* At 8:00 AM we have our morning assembly. This consists of Bible lesson and singing, and sometimes we look things up online that we have been wondering about. (Anything from the definition of a word to what a crab looks like to what other people think about the rule of Henry II.) Sometimes we get a late start and have to leave singing out.

* At 9:00 we have a fifteen minute break. This is for us to do whatever getting ready we needed to do that didn't get done before morning assembly. The kids sometimes go outside and play. Sometimes we don't get done with our morning assembly until after 9:00, and then we either don't have a break, or else we start the next block of time a little later.

* At 9:15 we have our first hour of work. I work with Cornflower during this time, and Mariel and Triss work alone.

* At 10:15 we have another fifteen minute break, just to stretch our legs. We have started taking a short walk at this time occasionally, but a lot of times the kids play in the backyard and I start some chores (laundry, etc.) or do a quick email check.

* At 10:30 we have our second hour of work. I work with Mariel at this time. Cornflower is pretty independent for a seven year old, and has a few things she does on her own. She generally does her math (we go over it during her hour and then she does the actual exercises on her own), her poetry and other memory work, italics workbook and copywork. Triss works alone.

* At 11:30 we either continue for another fifteen minutes, or else I insert composer study or artist study for fifteen minutes.

* Triss runs the girls through their Spanish lessons at 11:45 while I fix lunch.

* We eat lunch at noon and relax a little, then do a half hour of chores. Each of the girls has an chore area that is their personal service to the family, and they work on those things. I go through the house doing all the other things that pile up. I also look at what everyone has gotten done that morning and help the kids think about how to organize their afternoon.

* Our goal is to start our afternoon work at 1:00, but we generally don't start until 1:30. This is the hour in which I work with Triss. Cornflower is usually finished by this time and can play, while Mariel works on her schoolwork alone.

* At 2:30 we evaluate our progress and have a thirty minute break. If we have been running late all day (ie., if breakfast and Bible were late, and/or if other things have interfered with our regular routine) we skip the thirty minute break.

* After the break, we work on anything that needs to be done that hasn't gotten done already.

I have been using the Homeschool Tracker to keep track of assignments. I am able to generate assignment sheets for each child, and this saves me additional work. I hand the kids their assignment sheets and they check in with me at lunchtime and in the afternoon. They are working on staying on task without me hanging over them all morning.

They have certain assignments that are listed daily (musical instrument practice, memory work, poetry, copywork, etc.). My goal is for these things to get done at least three times per week. On the days they don't get done, I simply delete the assignment. Then they have reading and math assignments that must be done systematically. If they don't get one of those assignments done on the day it is due, the assignment pops up on the assignment sheet for the next day as a past due assignment. If one of these assignments is not done by the end of the week, I change the date due to the next week.

I can also copy old assignments and then alter them to suit the new assignment. This saves a lot of planning time.

I wish I could just go with a little general schedule, but running through the assignments mentally before the week starts helps me get my head in the game, so to speak. I do have to sweat over assignments and such beforehand in order to keep myself from sweating during the week. Mr. Honey says, "Plan your work and work your plan!" I do that and, with goals in mind, try to keep flexible enough to allow life to happen. My way of doing things may seem too rigid to some and too loosey-goosey to others, but it works for us.

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