Thursday, December 13, 2007

Daily Schedule

A little bit about my experience with our homeschooling daily schedule this year. Last year was kindergarten and I basically spent 1/2 hr each day on phonics and 1/2 hour on math. Some days we hit and some days we missed. Jefferson soaked it up quickly because that's what little kids do, and I stressed about how little time I was actually spending teaching him.

Fast forward to this year - 1st grade was a daunting task for me since I didn't quite know what direction to go with curriculum. But what I did know was that we couldn't dawdle around as much, or Jefferson wouldn't just 'get' all that he needed to be exposed to. So as I adjusted his curriculum, I also planned out a daily schedule to keep us on better track.

And it worked well for us (before the baby was born 10 weeks into the year)! I thrive in structure and since Jefferson is my photocopy, he does also (not that he knows it yet). I looked forward each day to knowing what we could get done and not having to spend all day wondering if we could get it all done. Jefferson just liked knowing when we would be finished so he could get back to playing. Except for a few hiccups (sickness, unexpected errands), we accomplished great things with this schedule! I would recommend putting your schedule on paper if you are the type of person that would gain benefit from this practice.

However, if this type of structure doesn't suit your personality (or that of your child), it may well box you in instead. Or it may make you feel more stress if you find yourself being inflexible within it. Some days I've had to step back and remind myself that my goal in each day is not to checklist "The Schedule" but to make sure that Jefferson is comprehending the topics of the daily lessons. And now, I am finding that in the weeks since we've had the baby (our 4th), the daily schedule is not working nearly as well for us. After all, a baby doesn't know how to tell time, right? :-)

So instead of working with my original daily schedule (shown below), I'm wondering if I need to revamp it and reprint it (it hangs on our bulletin board so that the kids can see it). Or maybe I'm finding that I don't need it as much since I've gotten used to fitting in the lessons any which way around the baby's feedings and naps. And Jefferson hasn't shown much concern that we don't do everything the same way as before Lincoln came along - again, he just wants to know when he can play! I think that the solution here, since I am familiar with just how much time that he needs to be spending on each lesson, is for me to make a more generalized schedule showing only the subject matter along with the amount of time we should spend in it. This may also allow us to breathe a little more freely each day.

Again, for you experienced homeschool moms, this may seem like a silly or unimportant blog topic. But for me, with four kids, structure always improves life (especially as I seem to be losing brain cells with each birth!). I want to figure out what works best for me and for my students, as well as staying flexible enough to change when necessary.

So feel free to take a look and see what you think!