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!