Monday, October 10, 2011

Journey Through the Week

Morgan and I sat down together and made up a weekly routine for her homeschool studies. It was a fun experience and, with her permission, I wanted to share what we came up with.

To start off, I should probably explain a bit about why this wasn't done before now. And not just with Morgan, I mean, but I have never done anything like this with Ryan (yet?) who is pushing 9.5.

There are many advantages to homeschooling, and among them are:

  • flexibility (in terms of time, type of studies, method of studies, etc.)
  • the ability for the child to shape his/her own learning (meaning, what they learn does not necessarily have to be driven from the top down)
  • pacing (they can proceed at their own rates of speed, and proceed through different areas of learning at different rates of speed)
  • efficiency (without the inefficiencies inherent in institutionalized schooling, the whole business takes less actual time than it would otherwise)


Combine those aspects with my general parenting philosophy which includes the principle set limits only if and when necessary, and you get a recipe for a very relaxed kind of homeschool. Basically, as long as they are making some kind of progress, I stay out of their learning to a great extent.

I want to take pains to clarify that "relaxed" does not mean there's nothing going on around here, or that I'm not paying attention to what's going on, or that I'm not offering guidance, resources, suggestions, and my opinion about various topics like The Value of Math, and Why Grammar Saves Lives.

I do keep an eye on who is learning what and assess how they are doing and what I think comes next in the logical progression. I have no real concerns about how anyone is doing in any subject. My main concerns with Ryan have more to do with a certain tendency of his to want to avoid putting effort into anything he is not automatically good at (that, he inherited from me) and his resistance to any direct suggestions (um, I have NO clue where he might have acquired that obstinacy from--probably he got a double dose of that from both parents). In fact, he and I had a long talk about just that this morning, which I might turn into another post if he agrees to it.

So anyway, because of all of these general reasons, I have never felt the need to sit down and plan out a homeschool schedule (daily, weekly, or monthly) for my children to follow. With Ryan, such efforts would be utterly wasted and have resulted in various explosions (mostly from me). And Morgan has always been super self-motivated and independent. And, Sean is only three (not to mention, super self-motivated and independent . . . but mostly, he's three).

However, I've noticed that Morgan has been at something of a loss in the last month or two. She has SO VERY MANY THINGS she wants to learn and do and, at 6.5, no sense of time in which to accomplish these VERY MANY THINGS. And she feels frustrated when she forgets to do something she'd like to do. And the fact is that, despite being Brendan's Mini-Me, she is actually a very listy planny person.

Self-motivated to accomplish lots of things + a To Do List a mile long + No sense of time + Frustration at lack of accomplishing things + Loves lists and plans = Time for a Weekly Homeschool Schedule

Yes? :D

As the provider of resources and holder of experience (not to mention, a fellow list- and plan-lover), I suggested this homeschool schedule to her and she latched onto it like . . . well, something really latchy. Leeches are the only latchy things I can think of just at the moment, so we'll go with it. I think I just called my daughter a leech.

So yesterday we had a meeting and created her weekly schedule. She calls it her "Journey Through the Week" list, after a class she took as a preschooler at our homeschool co-op called "Journey Through the Months." I really love the name because I love the idea that learning is a journey.

What we did first was list the subjects that she wanted to make time for during her week. These subjects are (in no particular order):

  • Piano Practice
  • Piano Lesson
  • Multiplication practice (I haven't exactly figured out how we'll do that yet; I'm thinking flashcards)
  • Reading for her Classical Book Club class next session at co-op
  • Classical Book Club homework
  • Crime Scene homework (she's taking that with Ryan next session at co-op)
  • Life of Fred math (bonus group activity, as this seems to attract the brothers whenever we read these aloud and do the exercises.)
  • Read-alouds with me (currently Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban)
  • Spelling (I have a couple of websites/programs I'm going to check out for this, thanks to suggestions from other homeschooling moms, thank you!)
  • Handwriting (she still needs some practice here, so I suggested this topic)
  • Gymnastics classes
  • Co-op classes


She is a very busy first grader!

Next, we figured out how many times a week she wanted to do each activity. Then I took a sheet of paper and wrote the days of the week on it. We filled in the gymnastics classes and co-op classes, since they are known and fixed, of course. We talked about how we like to keep our Fridays and weekends kind of light in terms of scheduled activities so we can see our friends and hang out with Daddy.

Here's the final schedule we worked out:

Sunday

  • Piano Practice
  • Multiplication
  • CrossFit Kids


Monday

  • Classical Book Club Reading
  • Life of Fred
  • Piano Practice
  • Read-alouds
  • Spelling
  • CrossFit Kids


Tuesday

  • Crime Scene Homework
  • Classical Book Club Homework
  • Life of Fred
  • Piano Practice & Lesson
  • Handwriting
  • Multiplication
  • CrossFit Kids
  • 5:00 Gymnastics Profile Class


Wednesday

  • 10:30 Roberts School (our homeschool co-op is informally known as "Roberts School")
  • 3:30 Gymnastics G2 Class


Thursday

  • Life of Fred
  • Piano Practice & Lesson
  • Multiplication
  • Read-alouds
  • CrossFit Kids


Friday

  • Handwriting
  • Spelling
  • CrossFit Kids


Saturday

  • Piano Practice
  • Multiplication

Isn't that a great schedule? Each week, she'll print a new one and put it on the fridge. And each morning she will look at her list for the day and check off her accomplishments. I'm sure we'll tweak it a bit, because Tuesdays look especially difficult, but really, tweaking is part of the fun of planning.

I put the things I need to help her with (Life of Fred, read-alouds, piano lessons, etc) in MY planner, so now I won't forget either. Because that's something that happens--I get busy and I forget to get my part done. So now we both have accountability! And you KNOW I love to check my accomplishments off my list, too. 

She's already checked most things off of her Monday list, and now I need to go because I have to do MY Monday Journey Through the Week jobs, too.

If you have thoughts and experience about making homeschool plans collaboratively with your kids, I'd love to hear about them!

1 comment:

Kevin McAllister said...

"… tweaking is part of the fun of planning."

I wish I had learned this before I was in my 30s.

For the longest time planning was a hard activity that took a long time. And any time the plan wasn't exactly right I just chucked it all because it wasn't worth re-doing. If it was I would have gotten it perfectly right the first time!