One of the joy and difficulties of homeschooling is the flexible schedule. Sure we can get up whenever we want and laze around all morning in our jammies, but does that mean we should? For a while now we have started our school day with our group learning (read alouds, experiments, activities, etc.) and then worked on our independent work after. But because I cannot seem to get my butt out of bed before 8am and I like to leisurely get up and check my email, exercise, shower, etc., etc., etc., our school starting time has gotten later and later. This was causing me serious guilt issues and it was taking us well into the afternoon to finish school. and then wasn't really working for me.
One day a few weeks ago we had an afternoon activity and as usual I had gotten up late and knew we weren't going to have enough time to finish our school work before the activity, so I asked my older 2 to work on their independent stuff (practicing piano/violin, reading on their own, writing - print or cursive copywork or freewriting, typing, and math ) in the morning while I was exercising and showering. I told them that if they had any trouble and I was unavailable to help them, like I was in the shower, to just make a note and I would help them later. Then when I was ready, we did our group school stuff. It worked out so well that I decided to switch our whole schedule around.
I had also been thinking that doing spelling and grammar with Sierra and Kali together was not working, so I needed some individual time with each of them. And of course, Arwen needs individual time with me everyday for math and reading. This is the plan I have come up with. Ideally - ha, ha - our daily schedule would look like this:
8 - 9:45 everyone wakes up and eats breakfast (I know, we are seriously lazy and it takes us all a while to really feel awake)
9:45 - girls do their morning chores - get dressed, brush teeth, brush hair, make beds. I have also have recently given each of them a rotating chore where they take turns 1. making sure the pajamas are put away 2. the breakfast dishes are put in the sink and the food is put away and the table is wiped off 3. the toothbrushes are put away and the sink is wiped out (So far the girls are having trouble remembering to do these last chores, but we will keep working on them until they become habit.)
10 am Morning School Time - Older girls do reading, math, writing, typing, and practice instruments
11am - Group school time
12pm - Lunch
12:30 - Individual school time - I take turns working with each kid. For Arwen that means helping her with a few math worksheets and working on phonics and easy readers with her. For Sierra and Kali, this is the time I will do grammar lessons with them, work on spelling lists, and help them with any math problems that are having trouble with or really anything else that I want to work with them on one on one. During this time, the kids who are not working with me will do any "learning" activity that they want. They are not allowed to play or watch TV because that would be distracting for the one that I am working with. I have planned for about 3o minutes per kid which gets us done with school about 2pm. That gives the kids plenty of time to play and me time to work on my own things.
We started this schedule this week and it is working out GREAT! I no longer feel guilty that the girls are playing around all morning while I am doing the things that I need to do to get ready for the day and we are finishing our school time early enough that we have our afternoons free.
The only negative so far is that Arwen has nothing to do in the morning and so she sometimes follows me around all morning, but that is a small price to pay for freeing up my afternoons.
I am also really loving the one on one time with the girls especially when I need to work with them on math. Before I would have them all work on math at the same time and I would hang around being available to help them. This worked OK when they were all working on problems that they understood how to do, but it always seemed like they all needed help at once. Now the other 2 can work on the problems they understand in the morning and then I can help them during our one on one time. Much nicer that frantically running from kid to kid...
For more details of our homeschool world, check out my other blog, http://behindanorganizedmess.blogspot.com/