It Only Took Six Years

Warning: Boring Homeschool Post Ahead!

We’ve been homeschooling for about six years now. Maybe seven, but who’s counting? I’ve jokingly called myself a “Classical Unschooler” for the past couple of years simply because I never can seem to get a scheduling groove down, so our days ended up being a weird hodge-podge of get-something-done-at-some-point-today.

Now that Maddie is a 4th grader and we’re planning to put her in school in three years, I’m feeling this need to tighten up a bit and make sure things get covered and covered consistently.

The girls and I have been working hard every day and still not finishing up until 3 or 3:30. We’re a family who used to finish by 1 at the latest, so it has been both a surprise and defeat this year when, by 3:30, we’re all panting from the day we just put in (this, and the house un-cared for because we’ve been consumed with schooling all day).

Last Thursday, after yet another day like that, I just knew something had to change. Over the weekend I blocked time chunks for everything, only the time chunks aren’t as rigid as they used to be with the MOTH schedules I always tried (and never kept). Instead of saying that one has “Math” from 9-9:30 while another has a reading lesson then and two others play together, I’ve got something like this going on:

8-8:30 Chores – Do what you can off your list for 30 minutes. When 30 minutes are over we’re moving on and we’ll pick up the other chores later.

8:30-9:30 Reading Together – This involves Bible reading, Sonlight history readers, and Classical Conversations review. Once the hour has passed, we move on. This is helpful to me because that reading/review time can sometimes stretch to two hours, no kidding – when we’re reading a book we love, sometimes we don’t stop. This hasn’t necessarily been a bad thing, it’s just that then we don’t get to other also important things.

9:30-10:30 Individual Work – During this time, the girls pick off their assignment lists and I help whoever needs it. I usually give one/one tutoring to Katie during this time while also fielding questions from Chloe and Maddie. I’m giving them two periods like this per day and the understanding now is that if they don’t get all their work done in the time allotted, they will have homework later on that night. If they get it done faster, they have a free hour (or however much time there is left).

10:30 -11:00 Science – We’re going through Discovering the Human Body and Senses this year to sort of go along with some things we’re memorizing with Classical Conversations. I promised Chloe she would love science this year since after her time at the two-day school last year she ended the year hating science with a serious passion. To turn a kid like that into one who loves science is no small feat. I can’t say she LOVES it yet, but she definitely enjoys it more than she did last year. Progress, I tell you!

Anyway, with this science, we’re talking about less breadth and more depth (coverage is the enemy of understanding – I remember!). This has been good, too, because in the past when we’ve done science we’ve let it go for more than an hour. As a result we haven’t done it every day because I don’t usually feel like devoting an hour to it. Now we go for 30 minutes and at 11, we’re done.

11:00-11:30 Art – This is another thing that’s been so easy for me to let slide. I’ve either saved it for the end of the day, or the end of the week, and it’s become an easy “oh, that isn’t really that important, it can wait” thing. Now we’re doing it right at 11. And it’s an easy thing for me to introduce to them and let them work on while I begin making lunch. Thirty minutes into it, we put it away. We can always finish it tomorrow.

11:30 Lunch

11:53 Take Millie to Preschool

12:03 – 1:00 The second hour of Individual Work – Katie is usually finished or finishing by now and she plays.

1:00 – 2:00 Essentials of the English Language and Institute for Excellence in Writing for Maddie and Chloe.

2:00 WE ARE DONE!! A whole 60-90 minutes earlier than we’ve been getting done the past four weeks. Not only that, but we’re getting more done. Wow!
I give them an hour to decompress (we all need it) – we go pick up Millie from Preschool, then come back and hit another 30 minute slot of chores.

It’s not totally perfect, but for this week (all three days of it so far), it’s really working for me. I’m totally exhausted by the end of the day, but I’m happy to know we’ve been getting everything done. For once I’m not feeling that nagging sense that I totally missed something in their education this year.

That feels really good.

Oh, and the chore thing? I printed chore lists for the girls from our Edu-Track software and that is working much better than the MOTC system I tried last year. I thought that system would work for me, but two weeks into it “we” managed to lose half their cards and I never followed through with it. I’m facing facts – we’re a family of list checkers. I even printed a chore list for myself off the Edu-Track system and yes, I get a huge kick out of seeing the smiley faces on days I don’t need to do certain chores, and love checking off the empty boxes on days I do. It’s the little things.

So I maybe needed to write up this long, boring post of what we’ve been doing lately because I’ve had nothing much else to write about that’s write-able. I may need to go freecycling again to spice up our lives a bit.

If you made it this far…wow. That’s about all I can say. Wow. Night!

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8 thoughts on “It Only Took Six Years

  1. Ed Eubanks says:

    Hi Megan,
    I think you’ve come up with a good solution to your problem (or answer to your question… whichever). Well done!
    As for the basic complaint/issue/problem/question: you seem to be saying, “Why can’t we get it all done as the girls get older?” And it’s natural that you wouldn’t know the more standard/traditional answer to that question, because you have home-schooled the whole time.
    But it’s quite simple, really: homework. You’re trying to get ALL of their work done during your school time, and the girls don’t have any “homework” (I know, it’s all homework…). But in any school past kindergarten or first grade, they would have homework, for sure. (Maybe even in kindergarten and first grade these days– what do I know?)
    Of course, my first reaction was: so, you’re finishing all of their schooling in the same time that every institutional school does, what’s the big deal? (And I know– you don’t have to battle the slow-down things that a whole classroom does– or do you? I’m not sure that holds up completely with four…) But there’s your time tied up in there, too– so that doesn’t quite fit. I’ll stick with the homework answer.

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  2. Catherine says:

    Hi Megan,
    Thanks for your “boring” (yeah, right – do you actually ever write anything boring? My husband and I are still laughing about that cat in the tent…) homeschooling post. I wish I could fly over to the US and pick your brains about homeschooling for an hour or two. We have recently come to a decision to start out with homeschooling with our oldest the year after next, though encouraged by your blog somewhat we are sending him along to preschool next year.
    So how DO you get your chores done as well as homeschool? I really want to know that, because I can’t even imagine how that can happen. I can’t get mine done even without homeschooling!
    Thanks for writing down your routine. It’s so encouraging to hear how it can happen, even though it is always “messy’ to some extent.

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  3. Lyra says:

    Not boring at all, Megan! It’s encouraging to see how other homeschoolers are doing it. I’ve also discovered a schedule this year and it is making such a difference to us. We have 3 longer days (finishing around 2:30) and 2 shorter days (finishing at 11:30). I’m even keeping up with it all in an online planner! Big steps for this girl!

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  4. Kristin says:

    Good for you! Glad to know I’m not the only list checker out there – and also that I’m not the only one who can’t incorporate MOTH into my life. Having a system that works takes such a load off your back. Happy schooling!

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  5. Jennifer says:

    I’m LOL at the comment you made about the website being way stimulating! I knew EXACTLY which planner you were talking about when you said that. I saw their booth at the EXPO and after he spoke at a SHARE meeting I checked out the website to see more, thought i really didn’t care for it anyways (if I sit at the computer to plan I forget that was my plan till oh an hour later or so, lol) And as soon as I went to his website, whoa….goodbye.
    I appreciate you posting your schedule! It gives me some great ideas. We are gone middle of the day on Tuesday and Thursday this year for classes the girls take and so far aren’t getting much other schooling done those days and it’s killing me.
    So tell me, in the individual work time, how are you doing the teaching of math, spelling, and English? How do you work those? I am really struggling with the independent school times– I really want to give K more independent time but I don’t see how or where it comes. I would love some insight from you on that.

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  6. Christy says:

    I’m a list-lover, too. Even though we aren’t homeschooling, I like to hear how others manage their schedules. I resisted a schedule for a long time but once Cole started Kindergarten, I knew I had to have a routine. And it has been great. Like you, I am beat at the end of the day but happy with our progress.

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  7. Keri says:

    MOTH didn’t work for me either – I had a lot of fun fiddling with little bits of paper for every fifteen minute increment of my day and making the perfect master plan, but… that didn’t really last very long. I even write things down that weren’t on the list just to check them off. 🙂

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