Monday, August 4, 2014

Scheduling By Week

Now that we're more than a month into our first term and I've had a chance to "test drive" our plans, I'm going to do a few posts on what school looks in our home this year, with two third graders and a kindergartener.  (And, of course, four little ones too!  Since my preschool-aged kids outnumber my school-aged kids right now, our plans are influenced by them as well.)

First up: our weekly schedule sheet.


This is very much like the schedule format we have used for the last couple years, with a few small changes:

:: I added a column for my kindergartener's daily work.  She would be happy to "do school" every day, but my time is limited (and I'd prefer not to do much formal academics anyway).  So to make sure she gets the one-on-one time she wants, I aim for three days a week in each category.  (Obviously, she doesn't see this checklist.  It's to hold me accountable, not her.)

:: I organized our weekly assignments into various categories as part of moving my older two toward independence.  I don't plan on having them do all their own readings (though they have been and will continue to be doing a fair amount of them solo), but I do want them to start taking on more of their own scheduling.  So I have been creating lists for them that include all of the work they're meant to do independently for the week.  In the course of doing so, I reorganized my own schedule sheet so that I can simply copy certain boxes onto another page and print it for them. (More on that below.) 

:: I put two checkboxes next to each of their readings, one for having read it and one for having narrated it.   (I have added quite a few non-narrated items to our schedule; as you'll see, those only have one checkbox.)   This makes it easier for me to keep track of who has done what.

I use the back of the sheet to note people to add to our timelines, places to look up, and topics to discuss.

As I mentioned, our work for the week is broken into various categories:
daily tasks for each child, with four checkboxes next to each (we school four days a week)
weekly readings we do together
weekly readings they do independently
other work we do together
other work they do independently

I copy three of the boxes from my schedule (the "Independent Work" and "Independent Reading" boxes, along with their daily assignments) onto a new page to make the kids' checklists:


In the black space on the right, I have been writing their chores for that week, with checkboxes next to those as well.  They are training in new cleaning tasks this term; once those are formalized, they too will be pre-printed on their weekly sheet.

And a few other notes about scheduling:

:: I don't make a daily schedule; I much prefer working from the weekly one as it gives me more flexibility.  When we sit down to "do school" together, I pull out the weekly list, pick something, and start.  I don't have specific readings tied to specific days--it's all considered on a weekly basis.

:: I know there's a lot of e-conversations going on right now about scheduling based on a formal time table.  I don't schedule that way. ;)  So far, we have been able to manage short lessons and alternation just fine without a timed schedule.

:: We are still schooling in three main blocks (morning basket, naptime school, and independent work).  I occasionally move some of our more hands-on items (like drawing lesson or nature journaling) to the evening or weekend if Baby has been extra fussy that week.

:: In the past, I have had my two oldest come to me separately to narrate their independent reading.  But listening to their narrations was taking so much of my time--they are very detailed and talkative kids. And they're doing the same assignments, so I knew I should streamline that part of our schedule.  This year, we're doing it a bit differently: during their independent reading block, I encourage them to choose one narrated and one non-narrated book to read from that day.  I don't care which they choose as long as they read the same ones.  They trade off books, and then when both of them have finished, they come to me to narrate together.  This has helped me free up some time in a big way, and I also think they're benefiting from listening to each others' narrations even more often than they already were.

Next up: overviews of our third grade and kindergarten plans!

22 comments:

  1. I love this, Celeste. Thank you for sharing. I have enjoyed the discussions going around lately regarding daily scheduling of time, but we currently approach the schedule just like you do. In fact, the inspiration for my current manner of creating the schedule looks so very much like yours because...yours was my model. Really it was the method that really clicked for me after years of trying to figure out what I would do once we officially began. Thank you! Now you have fine tuned things on me, which may eventually led to me tweaking ours, too:).

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    1. Yes, Dawn--I have found a lot of value in the timetable discussions in that they have reminded me to make sure we're keeping to short lessons and alternating between subjects, so I've taken interest in them anyway even though I haven't gone that route for our family. Thank you for your kind comment--I'm so glad to be of help. :)

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    1. Thank you for stopping by, Catie! I'm no veteran just yet, but I'm glad to help. :)

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    3. Thanks! :) What I meant was a more experienced Mama. Whoops! Really like your blog!

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  3. I really like how you have the daily and independent categories. That's very helpful for me as I think about transitioning my eldest to independent reading.

    I've been following the conversations about timetables and I have tried and found that it's very very helpful for me to have a set number of minutes devoted to particular subjects, but I don't tie anything to the time on the clock. That would be crazy-making for me! Do you have a certain number of minutes that you aim for with the group readings and memory work, etc, or do you just let it take as long as it takes to get done for the day?

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    1. Hi, Lisa! You know, I timed a few of our reading sessions last week just to make sure they fall into the time frame I had in mind. They were all 10-20 minutes including narrations. When a chapter is long (one of Lamb's Shakespeare chapters, for example), I naturally chop it into two or three sections. So for our reading/narrations, I haven't felt the need to schedule beyond that. During our naptime school, we alternate between reading session, then another subject (like drawing lesson, art, math, piano, italian, etc.), then another reading session, and so on, so I also haven't needed to consider in advance the precise order of those subjects--I just stick to the principle of alternation and leave it at that. We do use the timer for a few things: penmanship, drawing drill, map drill, piano. I also always keep an eye on the clock for my kids' math and will break it into two sessions if necessary (so I'll often have them do 20 minutes, go work on something else, and do the last bit later that day--I have found this absolutely necessary to keep their brains fresh for their math work). Memory work just takes as long as it takes...but I'd guess 15 minutes total per day? I've been combining it with PE, actually, so the kids are doing jumping jacks and stretches while reciting their poems and singing their songs! LOL I should probably share more on that soon. :)

      Anyway, I definitely get the appeal of scheduling for time. But if we're able to keep lessons short without worrying about exact time amounts, I'm inclined to go the easier route. And my mind works so much better just finishing the reading when finished or when we're at a good stopping point rather than when the timer goes off. I'm sure that's very much based on personality and particular family routines. If the way we're doing it now wasn't working so well for us, I'd definitely be willing to give the time tables a go. But I don't want to make it more complicated than I need to. :)

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    2. Thats so funny about combining PE and memorywork... I've tried that on and off and it has failed dismally. I seem to have very uncoordinated kids or something - they just fell all over themselves when they tried to do memory work and anything physical! It was pretty comical though... :-) However, handicrafts and memory work combine well in my family - so I guess it is just the gross motor skills that do not combine well with memory work!

      I really like how you have all of your weeks work on one page. I miss doing that, but I haven't figured out how to do that with 3 years without making something that makes me want to run and hide (or get out a magnifying glass!). I feel like I have to schedule things out more as to who is doing what when so as to make sure everyone is making the best use of their time and not overdoing any particular area too much. I do better thinking it through in advance rather than on the fly. There's just so many moving pieces these days!

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    3. In terms of fitting it all on one page: my plan is actually that I won't need my big kids' daily work listed there next year since they'll be fairly independent on those items--I'll be able to just look at their checklists to see what has been and is left to be done. That will free up room for my next students' daily work and reading schedule. And I won't need to break my big kids' readings into independent and together when they're older either--they'll either be doing it alone, or we'll be working as a family. So I think my categories will change as my older kids become more independent and that will leave some room for new ones coming up. At least that's my plan. ;)

      I absolutely agree that a more complicated planning schedule is useful to make things *less* complicated during the year with multiple students in multiple grades. I'm happy I'm not there yet! :)

      I love that you have combined memory work and handicrafts! I haven't been able to do that because we're still in the learning-to-do stage right now, so there are way too many interruptions. That would be my ideal, though. We have also combined memory work with drawing lesson/art project/nature journaling at other times, and that has worked well too. But I'm laughing at your PE-memory work failure--that actually sounds like something that would happen to my kids! ;)

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    4. I think the main reason I want my daughter's work on the same page is not so much to be checking up on or directing her, but so that I can stay on top of what she's reading. I try to read almost everything she's reading and think about questions she might ask and things we might want to look up together. I sometimes think this is a ridiculous thing to try and keep up with... but I also know what a difference it makes to her to be able to have someone to talk to about her reading as well as narrating it - which is very motivating for me!

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    5. Yes, I'll definitely be keeping my big kids' weekly readings on my sheet, just not broken up into sections and not with their daily work as well (math, penmanship, etc.). I'm really inspired by all those that are reading along with their kids and am determined to do so as well--I hope I can keep up! :)

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    6. I'm trying to figure out not only how to make time for the reading, but also how to make sure I remember reasonably well when the next child is reading these books! I'm always narrating to myself, but I think I need more than that. I'm trying to write narrations and make some notes too, but I'm concerned about keeping up. I'm trying to decide if it is enough that I have a general idea about what happened (which is all I'll be able to remember using just oral narration!), or if I really do want to be able to have a more detailed description based on the chapters. I'm also trying to keep a BoC this year in tandem with my daughter. So far we're a little bogged down in the numbering and labeling, but we're just about over that hurdle. I should have started that before the beginning of the school year!

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  4. I looked all over the internet for inspiration on scheduling and finally settled on your weekly checklist and it has been working wonderfully for my family! With just my oldest doing AO 1 this year it seemed overkill to make a whole timetable just for him (although all this timetable chatter going on has made me feel like I'm doing this whole homeschool thing all wrong!)....maybe once I'm juggling multiple years together I'll need the structure of that method but for now I love the weekly checklist. It is a lot less stressful to me to just look at what we need to do each week and pick whatever we feel like reading and narrating that day and just doing it :) I ended up printing three terms worth of blank weekly schedules, binding them into a planner and now I just look at the weekly schedule from the AO website on Sunday and fill in what we need to read that week and check it off as we go. Thank you so much for sharing your schedules--they really saved my sanity when I was trying to wrap my mind around how to make a workable AO planner!

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    1. Yes, exactly, Cristina--as long as I'm holding to the principles of short lessons and alternation without a timetable, I don't think I need to complicate things. :) But I can definitely see needing something more complex down the road when I am schooling seven (or more!). (Seriously, it freaks me out even thinking about it! LOL) Love your blank schedule idea!

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  5. This looks very similar to how I'm trying to plan (with my first), but your page us much neater. Do you have a template you could share? :)

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    1. Rochelle, sure--email me (link in the sidebar) and I will send you my current template. :)

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    2. Is there any way you could gift me your template also? I've loved your weekly plan since I first saw it! I work from home 3 days (and not the same three) every week, so weekly scheduling seems to be the way to not make this Momma crazy! I just love your blog. It has such a sweet spirit about it while also providing great info.

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    3. Sure, Allison-- email me at joyouslessons (at) gmail (dot) com and I will happily send you a copy. (The link is over there on the sidebar too.) And thank you for your kind words! :)

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  6. "I don't make a daily schedule; I much prefer working from the weekly one as it gives me more flexibility." That's always worked better for me also, Celeste. Older children also they can slot in what they want to do on certain days & they learn to work independently & manage how they use their time. Nicely done schedule btw. Hope everything is going well with your little one.

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    1. Thank you, Carol! He is doing great. :)

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  7. This is also how we plan. I agree with Carol, we work by week, with daily things we know happen daily, lol. I also find it more flexible too, but like Rochelle, my page is not as neat either, lol. I will surely use yours for the next planning pages and improve on mine.

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