Tuesday, November 22, 2016

New, Color-Coded Routines

In Which I Share our New Routines, Taken from Confessions of a Homeschooler. (Click on her Organization tab to download a pdf by grade for your editing purposes.)

Now that we are enjoying a week-long Fall Break from school, I have time to share our pretty, color-coded school routines with my readers. I worked in tiny pockets of time for several weeks on revamping our school routines in order to counteract some chaos that had been stealing into our home school life, and then implemented our new routines for two weeks before now.

Part of the problem is simply that chaos (otherwise known as Life?) is always seeking to slip through the cracks and overtake the homeschooling family, but another factor (not problem) is that our parish recently introduced two new daily Latin Masses per week and our family is trying to make it a priority to go. If we're at Mass, we're not at home doing academic work, so I have to account for these kind of changes.

I am realizing that any change, no matter how small, requires time and must now be accounted for in our busy life.

1. Schedule our Time

I decided that right now, for our family, we each need a schedule that we're following down to the half-hour block. Each person's half-hour block was another puzzle piece that I had to make fit together, and it has been a real challenge!

Knowing that all our time is scheduled between 8:00 a.m. and, say, 3:00 p.m., that motivates me to truly be on time as the parent showing up for school at 8:00. If I'm the late one because I got sucked into email or laundry, then I have to decide right up front which subject(s) we're going to cut that day and not blame it on the kids.

2. How Long Will It Take?

I started last month by making lists of all the tasks I ask the children to do and calculating exactly how much time each task should take, down to the five minutes. I needed to know for sure I wasn't asking them to do too much: some items got cut.

I had to face reality about how much time actions require by acknowledging that we are not robots or machines. I am the most efficient, the children are varying degrees of inefficient, and there must be a great amount of buffer in each half hour to account for discipline, taking the time to develop their character, changing diapers, mopping up water spills, redirecting the three-year-old, and so forth. What I can accomplish alone in 30 minutes isn't at all reasonable to expect of these younger human beings in this bustling family.

3. When Will We Do It?

Next, I began moving around those color-coded puzzle pieces. For each family in each season, this will look different. Once I had drafted a schedule for each student plus myself, then I'd look with a keen eye at each person's schedule and think about what it would feel like for that person to walk through his or her day, and I'd make more adjustments. (For example, from the three-year-old's perspective, is he receiving enough attention so as to be emotionally fed? If not, he's going to wreak havoc all morning in order to get my attention, even negative attention.)

We've been using our new routines for two weeks and I think things are much improved. I know that when the half hour is up--ding!--we stop the subjects we're doing and move on. We've done enough. Time to get to the other subjects, or they will slip through the cracks, as had been happening. If a child is consistently not making good progress in the half hour or hour allotted for the subject, then that is a discipline issue coming to light so we can tend to it.

4. What Are the Considerations?

Factors for us were many!

  • What can I do or teach while the 16-month-old is climbing everything in sight, writing on walls, leaping off tables, perching atop the top of the piano, finding any cord he can plug into open jacks, opening the toilet to splash every time a sibling doesn't shut the bathroom door, and pushing chairs over to try to push the panic button on the alarm system or to open the door to the back yard by himself? The answer, in case you really don't know is: I can't teach anything! (But I must anyway.)

Baby climbing spinning chair and stealing microscope

Note baby climbing on spinning chair, stealing my AAS magnetized letters, in the background

  • How can I involve the three-year-old, and how can I provide him independent activities?

Joseph in cooking class

Playing Mass by himself

  • Is there any way I can provide supervision to the 5-year-old during piano practice, something she so desperately needs during this phase of one to two years so she can learn to practice independently and efficiently, like her older siblings?

  • Is there anything I can do during that piano supervision time to make the best use of that time? (Yes: do my floor exercises (not walking or elliptical), fold laundry, intentionally snuggle the attention-deprived three-year-old, etc.)

  • When can the three children practice piano without bumping into each other on the piano?

  • When can the two children who have some computer-based lessons do their work without bumping into each other? (One solution is that we'll be purchasing a second refurbished laptop as a second school station.)

  • Do all children need the same level of supervision, or do some personalities need more supervision in order to learn diligence? How can I maneuver the schedule to provide more to those who need more?

  • Are the children getting in their exercise (Physical Education)? Is time carved out and protected for them to do so?
Walking 3 miles before school begins

  • Which kids are early birds, which need some time to wake up? Does this affect the order of subjects that are assigned?

  • When is Mama going to do her direct teaching (rather than children doing independent work)? Is it during baby's nap time so she has one protected hour in which to really focus on teaching?

Below are the schedules we've been using, which fit our family, for this season. Again, thanks go to Confessions of a Homeschooler where I downloaded these templates and made them work for me!

1 comment:

  1. I love Confessions of a Homeschooler. I've used her literature units/lapbooks. She's so full of ideas.