schedule

How to Plan a Year of Memory Work Your Kids Will Love

You found lots of resources, now it's time to plan memory work, and not just learn about it. You've got to do what's best for your family. Let's work on that together.

Take all the materials from the past 4 days and put them together to plan memory work that will be effective and your kids will love and look forward to doing! Easy plan, step by step, walks you through to customize for your homeschool.

Start to plan memory work

There are some things you going to need to know before you get started.

What you're going to do. When and how you'll do it. Plus, you'll also want to know what you're going to work on at any one time.

Will you do one category for a month straight, a semester? Will you work on a different type of item each day? Will you work on 4 different items for one week straight?

Where will you store your memory work materials? How will you use them?

Since we've got lots of questions to answer, let's get started right now!

Gather Materials

I've given you 4 days of materials to use quickly and easily. All you need to do is copy each item and paste it into a word document for quick access.

Have them all in one place, separated by category.

If you're using videos for some of your memory work, be sure to write the title and url on the document for quick reference.

This may take you some time up front, but you'll be glad you did it when it comes time to use it.

 

You can do a whole year's worth all at once, or just do terms, semesters, or months at a time. Do what is going to work best for you.

Do you like to be flexible? Then do a month or two at a time.

Do you like a plan, but not too rigid? Then do it by term or semester.

Do you want to do it once and not have to think about it again? Plan the entire year in one go.

Scheduling

Okay, here's where it might get tricky.

Do you have all your materials together? Are they broken up into categories? Good.

Look through them. How often do you want to cover each category?

Here's the categories from the 4 posts in this series: Scripture, hymns, doctrines, poems, quotes, history, science, math, language arts, and extra materials.

Now, let's decide how you'll go through each category.

Wait, did you pick the categories you want to do? I'm doing all of them, personally.

Do you want to work on one category for a specific amount of time? Work on a few each day? Work on one each day, but of varied categories?

Here's what I mean.

Monthly:

  • Sept - Poems
  • Oct - Quotes
  • Nov - Scriptures
  • Dec - History
  • Jan - Language Arts
  • Feb - Poems
  • March - Quotes
  • April - Hymns
  • May - Math
  • June - Science
  • July - Doctrine
  • Aug - Extra

Multiple a day:

Each day work on:

  • Religious (either scripture, hymn, or doctrine)
  • a poem
  • a quote
  • one educational (LA, math, science, history, etc) item

Go through each until they're memorized before adding a new item from each category.

One a day:

  • Mon - religious
  • Tues - poem
  • Wed - quote
  • Thurs - educational
  • Fri - religious
  • continue the pattern

When & how long?

For my family, the ideal time to do memory work is during our Morning Time. We do a lot of our group work together in the morning to set the tone for our day, including memorization.

You can do this during a group work block, during lunch, after lunch, after dinner, or at the end of your school day.

If your schedule is hodge-podged throughout the day, then pick the time that will work WITH your schedule and not when you think you should be doing memory work.

The length of time devoted to memory work is up to you and your schedule. We do at least 5 minutes, or if we're doing multiple items, we devote 5 minutes to each category and then stop when the timer goes off.

We're switching to 5 minutes with new material and 5 minutes of reviewing older material.

 

If you want longer, do longer. You can start out doing the time you want. Give it a week for everyone to get used to it and then adjust where you see the need. Longer? Shorter?

You'd be surprised. My children love memory work and beg to work on it for longer periods of time, especially songs. I was shocked outside my mind when we started it.

 Setting it all up

There's a few different ways you can do this. We'll explore your two options (and you may come up with a different one altogether) before you get started organizing it all.

Index Cards

We started off with index cards.

You get an index card box, dividers, and index cards. We used different colors for different categories.

You can put your items on your index cards like so:

  • Hand write each passage to be memorized
  • Type it out and print it onto the index cards (can be tricky)
  • Type it out, print it on paper, cut and glue onto index cards

You'll label the dividers as DAILY, SUN-SAT (or MON-FRI), EVEN & ODD, 1-31.

Memory Binder

You can also skip the index cards and use a memory work binder.

Print out each passage on its own piece of paper.

You'll need a binder, dividers, page protectors (optional), and paper with each printed passage.

Label the dividers: DAILY, MON-FRI (or SUN-SAT), EVEN & ODD, 1-31

OR you can label them like this:

DAILY, POEMS, QUOTES, SCRIPTURES, DOCTRINE, etc of the categories you'll use. You can put the EXTRA as one category, or break it down into math, science, history, etc.

Learn & review

Now, for the DOING part of it all.

If you use the index cards or the binder here is how you learn and review.

Pull out the passage.

Read it aloud, or have a child read it aloud.

Break it up into sections and start with the first. Add the next section. Go until you think that's enough for the day or your time runs out.

We generally set aside 5 minutes to learn a new passage and then 5 minutes to review the old passages.

Now. Add this new passage to the DAILY section.

Pull out the other passages under the DAILY section. Review them for 7 days, or until they're memorized fully (even if it takes longer or shorter).

Once you've reviewed it for 7 days move it to the EVEN or ODD tab (depending on what day it is). If it's January 15th, put it under ODD. If it's the 16th, move it behind EVEN.

Now, on even days, be sure to review those behind the DAILY and EVEN tab and visa versa for odd days.

Once you're done with that for another 7 days of review (7 times with even or 7 days with odd) move it to the day of the week that it is.

Now, you'll review: DAILY, EVEN/ODD, and whatever day of the week it is. You do this for a month.

Then you move the passage behind the number day it is. If it's February 23, put it behind 23. If it's the 2nd, move it behind the 2.

Now you'll review: DAILY, EVEN/ODD, day of the week, and Day #.

You leave the passage behind the number for 12 months (you'll review it 12 times). Then move it out into another box for all the passages you've finished. You can leave them there forever, or review them as you wish to.

 

If you put it in the binder or index cards with the label DAILY and then categories here's how you do it:

Review under DAILY tab for 7 days (or until it's completely memorized). Then move it behind the category it belongs to.

Each day review one passage from each category. Mark with a bookmark, post it note, or some other method where you left off.

 

You could also do a varied version of this:

DAILY, EVEN/ODD, and then categories.

This way you'd get a bit more review with each passage before moving it to the category section.

Okay, this is all sounding super complicated, and I apologize. If you're ready to shake me until I take it all back, I don't blame you.

 

Here's a quick synopsis to hopefully explain it much better and more simply.

Pick a storage system:

A: index cards

B: memory binder (we're switching to the binder)

 

Pick a schedule system:

A. one focus at a time

B. one category a day

C. each category a day

 

Pick a "learn & review" method

A. Daily, even/odd, weekly, monthly

B. Daily, 1 from each category (daily)

C. Daily, even/odd, 1 from each category (daily)

Add it all up and you've got your final plan.

Take all the materials from the past 4 days and put them together to plan memory work that will be effective and your kids will love and look forward to doing! Easy plan, step by step, walks you through to customize for your homeschool.

Other review methods

We're pretty simple and boring and just do verbal recitation and singing. Nothing fancy. Because of this I'm going to look to some other creative geniuses and send you to them to get even better ideas.

I am planning on adding the popsicle stick review method for sure.

  1. You write actions and funny voices on each popsicle stick.
  2. A kid draws a popsicle stick before each passage to be recited.
  3. You will all do the voice or action on the stick.

So fun! Volcano voice, mouse voice, march in place, etc. I love it. It would be super fun to come up with new ideas every once in a while to add to the collection.

Solagratiamom has a great list of ideas that she's used.

I think my favorite is #12- Emotional Wreck. You have them recite their memory work while they act out an emotion. For instance, sobbing, laughing, surprised, scared, worried, etc.

Another is they get to catch a super squishy toy and squeeze and pull on it while they recite. Great for those that love to be doing things with their hands while they work.

 

Half a Hundred Acre Wood has a ton of practice ideas.

Including, write it on the dry erase board and erase a word at a time, hand motions, hide and seek and more. She has ideas broken up by category-- even better!

Brandy has even more review games for teams, co-ops, or larger families. They look like so much fun !

 

That's it!

Okay, we've been through a lot together these past 5 days. I just want to end with one last thought.

Plan Memory Work time with things that will be of great value and use to your children. Don't memorize things just for the sake of memorization.

Memorize that which teaches, inspires, uplifts, encourages, and is beautiful. Really sit and think about what you want your children to gain and know and work backwards from there.

If there's something they're struggling with start there first.

Always always always make it work FOR you. Do what you need done in your home and not what someone else (including me) tells you to do.

 

I certainly enjoyed these past 5 days and know our own memory time has vastly improved because of it. I hope it blesses you similarly.

 

Parting gift

If you haven't already....

Grab the ASL Memory Work packet

[convertkit form=4901805]

and join the challenge!

50 IN 5 challenge

 

Catch up

Main: The Best Step-by-Step Guide to Memory Work

Day 1: Improve Your Child's Relationship to God with Memory Work

Day 2: 75 Quotes for Memory Work

Day 3: Phenomenal Poems to Rock Your Memory Work

Day 4: Brilliant Memory Work Hacks to Make Your Morning Time Transformative

 

Your Turn

Tell me your plans for memory work!!

Mwah

 

 

 

 

 

Click the picture to access the other 5-day posts!

5 Day Hopscotch iHN 2016

The Dirty Truth of The Time Required to Homeschool

This post may contain affiliate links. This does not effect pricing for you. At all. 

 

How much time is actually required to homeschool?

Nearly every time I mention I homeschool someone asks me a variation of this question.

When friends come to work with me to figure out how to get started homeschooling, this is one of their biggest concerns and questions.

 

The underlying fear:

Is this going to eat up my entire day?? Will this mean I can't do anything for myself? What if I don't have my day last long enough and ruin my children's lives? What if it's too long and I not only ruin their lives, but mine, and we'll hate homeschooling?

 

Dude. These are all valid fears and concerns.

 

How much time does homeschool really need to take? How much time do you spend worrying that you're not doing enough or you're doing too much? Let's get down to the real truth so you can get some peace. Pin this to help others in your same boat.

 

When I think of homeschooling, I probably think of it in a different way than would-be homeschoolers, new homeschoolers, and those that don't think about homeschooling other than to think of "those homeschoolers."

 

Homeschooling = life. Life-schooling.

 

How much time does homeschool really need to take? How much time do you spend worrying that you're not doing enough or you're doing too much? Let's get down to the real truth so you can get some peace. Pin this to help others in your same boat.

 

Sometimes, it's hard to separate homeschooling from life. You can have blocks of schooling, you can have bursts of schooling, but you know how life works.

 

Got a doctor or dentist appointment? Well, you go to that, and sometimes have to rearrange your routine or schedule to get it done.

 

Garbage! You don't have any food in the house except that expired can of tuna and some stale crackers. Well, you'd better hit the store before you all perish or get botulism.

 

Kids acting up? Someone wrote all over the walls, one kid dumped laundry detergent all over the floor... again. Another kid is in tears over times tables, and another is clamoring for some help with reading.

 

It happens, to everyone.

 

Do you see why I say it's nearly impossible to separate homeschool from life?

 

When you ask, how long does it really take, my answer will typically by, "oh, not long."  That's really just for those that aren't asking for application purposes.

 

Well, I may woo you into loving homeschool by telling you that it won't take long, or that it'll take as long as you'd like it to. Both aren't lies. They just don't involve the typical day-to-day road bumps.

WAIT!

Before you click out of here in a huff of disgust and disappointment, let me break down for you dirty truth of our homeschool day/life and let you see just how much time homeschooling takes for the Barlow family.

 

time to homeschool tweet 1

The BIG Breakdown of Time:

First, you need to know what curriculum we use, as it is a MAJOR factor in our day-to-day operations. My day will look completely different than someone else's day that doesn't use our curriculum.

We use Robinson Curriculum. It's pretty different than a lot of the stuff you'll see out there.

It's self-taught, simple, rigorous, and effective, with a very set schedule.

 

Time Doing Actual Homeschooling

 

Our day looks like this (in an ideal world):

7:00--  Wake up (breakfast, morning routine, quick clean up)

7:30 - 12:30-- School block (1 hour of writing, 2 hours math, 2 hours reading, 30 minutes of play/exercise)

12:30-- Lunch (eat, clean up, and a tiny bit of free time. Put down Teddy Bear for a nap)

1:30--  1 - 2 extra school items (Science, Tea Time, Geography/History, ASL, or Spanish). Done with Mama.

2:30-- The kids are encouraged to learn, explore, and do things on their own. There are no electronics (unless needed for their learning) allowed at this time.

There's also no cap or requirement to the time spent on this. I encourage them to do something. I may give them some free time first and then move back to this time allotment. However, that's dangerous because I may not always get them back on task.

 

For instance:

The Captain has a geography workbook and encyclopedia that he loves. He is obsessed with maps, and so he uses this to work on his map skills and learn all he can about them and reads his encyclopedia over and over again.

 

With RC they encourage you to do school on Saturday as well. At the very least, 2 hours of math. We haven't done this consistently, even less so since I've been so exhausted from pregnancy. We'll be picking this back up soon.

 

We have homeschool co-op once a week, that goes from 9:30 - 2:10, so that does take a whole day away from RC, so I think that I really need to do school on Saturday to make up for that entire day.  I do try to have them do an hour of math and an hour of reading after co-op, but sometimes, I just let them run around with scissors and matches instead.

 

time to homeschool tweet 2

 

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Time Spent Parenting

Isn't this really an all-day thing for every parent? Parenting is never done, unless we're all asleep and dreaming peacefully. Then, perhaps, we're taking a parenting break. Until someone decides to throw up all over their bed...

We dedicate 4 times a day to chores. Whoa Nelly! Four times!?!

Let me explain.

We have 15 minutes of chores after breakfast and lunch. Before dinner (really, before Mr. Barlow gets home) we do family chores. After dinner, we do the last bit of chores for the day.

How much time does homeschool really need to take? How much time do you spend worrying that you're not doing enough or you're doing too much? Let's get down to the real truth so you can get some peace. Pin this to help others in your same boat.

 

This way, there's not a ton of work to be done all at once and I'm not throwing death threats around just to get someone (Sweet Cheeks) to actually pick up that stinking toy after asking 8 times. Hypothetically.

Saturday is "Saturday Cleaning Day." Not my favorite. We'll wake up in the morning, and get to deep cleaning. If all goes well, we'll have it finished in 2 hours.

At least we are listening to music while we're at it!

 

Each Monday we have Family Home Evening. This is where we have a gospel lesson and activity and treat.

Each Sunday we try to have Family Council. This addresses any scheduling, any conflicts that have come up, and any behavioral work we'd like to focus on for that week.

Throughout the week we aim to spend one-on-one time with at least two kids.

Sundays we also make cookies or treats together. Sometimes we eat them and sometimes we share them with others.

Once a month we have a family activity we have picked to do. We'll either do this on a weekend or Monday night.

Discipline issues: I have been using the Love and Logic methodology for years and have loved it. I'm not always consistent, but when I am, life is sweet.

I've recently been introduced to The Absolute Quickest Way to Help Your Child Change, which is written by the man who wrote our writing curriculum, and also uses RC. I love this man and his wife. They're real, kind, loving, intelligent parents and educators. I'm in the middle of reading Fred's book and am really liking it. I'll let y'all know how it goes.

For discipline, my husband and I are take-no-nonsense kind of parents. We have high expectations for our children and believe they can live up to them. We teach them to be responsible, kind, respectful, conscientious, polite, reverent, and to work hard.

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How much time planning takes

The beauty of RC is that I don't have to plan. Practically at all. We have the books printed out (or as ebooks), the math curriculum ready to go, and lots of paper and pencils.

 

Each day they grab their math books (we use Math-U-See for now) or their flashcards and they get to work. They teach themselves and they correct their own work. Anything they miss they correct.

They can write based on the curriculum we use, The Writing Course, or they do copywork (youngers), or write whatever they feel like. They hand it to me and I make some edits on the papers. I hand it back to them and they fix them.

Reading is two-fold. They work on their vocabulary/spelling from their readings and they also read. There's a huge list of books they are to read. They're printed out and I have them on our readers and tablets. They read them. We talk about them at dinner. If there's a test that goes along with the book, they take that test.

 

Anything else we do, the extra stuff is the part that takes planning.

We are using Apologia Science: Flying Creatures this year, along with the Notebook and the Junior Notebook.

We also are using their Around the World in 180 Days and workbook. This means, I need to make sure we have the supplies for the experiments and the books and resources from the library.

For art, I just need to make sure we have supplies and ideas. I'll pop over to my Pinterest art board, grab a book from the library or bookstore, or use our drawing book.

Tea Time happens once a week. I just grab a family read aloud, a poetry book, and a picture of a piece of art. It doesn't really matter which ones, I just grab it and go.

ASL, since I teach this already, I go ahead and teach it. I sometimes use my own videos, or I just sit them down and work on it.

Spanish, we are trying out a new curriculum this year, since my kids begged me to learn Spanish as well. I'm pretty excited about it, and I'll tell you all about how it's going for us really really soon! (Look forward to that post!)

Seriously, it couldn't be easier and more stress-free. It probably takes me around 20 minutes total to go through each subject for the week and write down what we need.

I try not to plan much in terms of what we'll be doing, I just focus on moving to the next part so I don't get caught up in planning since planning makes me feel like I'm choking on a hippo.

 

That's a real thing.

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Time in Outside Activities

The Captain and Little Miss are in a Homeschool Co-op. They meet once a week, it does take up a whole day (9 - 2), but it's been great for them to make friends.

Little Miss is in dance, that's once a week, for an hour.

The Captain is in basketball and that's twice a week, with a game once a week. The great thing is, Mr Barlow is his coach!

The Animal will be starting soccer next month and that's once a week practice with a game once a week as well.

The Captain wanted to be in gymnastics again this year, but I don't know why we never enrolled him. I'm not sure what to do now. If we enroll him once basketball is over (this month), will it be worth it if we can't keep it up over the summer? Summertime is usually our tight-budget time since my transcription work is only during the school year.

We don't have any other outside activities beyond that. I'll be teaching them piano (just need to paint and bring it out of the garage), and I would like to have them learn a string instrument (I know piano is a string), but goodness, the money!

My goal: each kid in a sport and musical instrument. With 6 kids, I'm going to need to start doing something illegal to make that happen!

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The BIG Summary (but not really big, big):

You can see that our time spent homeschooling technically takes up 6 hours of our day. However, add in all the other goodness, and it's your whole day.

I do have a part-time job (early in the mornings, 5 - 9 am), I blog, and I run an ASL course. I am also a volunteer at my church, working with adult women. I am always doing something with or for them each week and hold a monthly activity as well.

I have a loving husband that I try to spend as much time with as possible. I am also pregnant with #6, and that zaps my energy, along with the hashimotos and adrenal fatigue I deal with.

It's possible to homeschool AND...

  • Be YOU and pursue your goals and dreams
  • Take naps
  • For your days to be shorter than mine
  • Work
  • Cope with various health issues
  • Have a crazy life
  • Have a new baby
  • Be pregnant and throwing up constantly
  • Enjoy life

 

The dirty truth:

How much time does homeschool really need to take? How much time do you spend worrying that you're not doing enough or you're doing too much? Let's get down to the real truth so you can get some peace. Pin this to help others in your same boat.

 

How long does homeschooling take your family? What is your ideal day?

 

time to homeschool tweet 3

 

HomeschoolingTimeTakes

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Can't Keep Up? 12 Ways to Simplify Your Homeschool Day

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I'm all about keeping homeschool simple.

Well, I should say, I am NOW all about keeping homeschool simple.

When I first started many moons ago, I pretty much made it as complicated as can be. Unfortunately, that seems to be my natural inclination.

I plan, plan, plan some more, and then over-plan on top of that. I dream big, plan big, and then fail big.

I'll get exhausted from planning, preparing, buying the materials, prepping and organizing them that when it comes to Get-It-Done-Day I'm tapped out and taking a nap. For a month.

 

Then I feel like a failure and the cycle begins again.

No bueno. No bueno at all.

 

Now, I keep it simple and my life has never been easier and happier. In fact, sometimes it feels too easy and I get that panic feeling deep inside until I remind myself that no... this is right. Let go of that need to try and be all and do all and plan all.

 

When we find ourselves worn out, exhausted, and tapped out when it comes to homeschool, something has to change. Here's 12 ways to simplify so you can breathe and enjoy homeschooling once again. Click through to find easy actionable steps for you to take

The 12 Ways to Simplify Your Homeschool

I want the same thing for you. Let me share with you 12 simple tips to keep it simple and let go of the homeschool day bloat and planning overwhelm.

1-- Get Real

Don't lie to yourself. Don't self-sabatoge, don't set such ridiculous expectations on yourself that you can't possibly succeed. That's not fair.

Get real. What can you do today? What isn't going to happen? Tackle today and then move on to the next tomorrow.

If you find yourself regularly having to ditch some things it's time to re-evaluate.

  • Is there a way to make things easier? Brainstorm some solutions and implement one at a time.
  • Is there something that needs to be dropped? Drop it and don't look back.
  • Is there something that you need to make sure happens that's not? Look at what's keeping you from accomplishing that item. Try a new approach.
  • Is it that you need to prep ahead of time?
  • Do you not have money in the budget or time to buy all those little supplies you need (this was me with Unit Studies... good grief, that was a lot of little stuff, feathers, walnut shells, sand shakers??)?
  • Do you lack motivation?
  • Are you trying to cram too much in one day?
  • Are you trying to do it at a time where you're worn out, burnt out, hungry, or tired? Pick a different time to do it at.
  • Do you just hate that subject?
  • Is there someone else that can help you tackle it?

Take an honest look at your days, evaluate and get real.

 

Drop the idea that you're going to be Wonder Woman + Mrs Beaver + Mrs Brady + Batman + Albert Einstein + Emily Dickinson + Vermeer + Bach + Inspector Gadget all rolled into one.

I've already filled that position: it's not up for grabs.

I kid, I kid. I know, it wasn't funny. It was a lame joke, but hey, that's what happens when your only audience is a bunch of children who think everything is funny. Your comedy routine suffers.

But at least they think I'm funny. My mom gave up on me years ago.

2-- Focus Up

 

When we find ourselves worn out, exhausted, and tapped out when it comes to homeschool, something has to change. Here's 12 ways to simplify so you can breathe and enjoy homeschooling once again. Click through to find easy actionable steps for you to take

 

Sure, you may have found amazing things to do with your kids. Those crafts, those experiments, those projects, those printables, those games, those those those those those... brain explosions.

xspld

 

What is it you want for your child? For yourself? For your home? Really think about it. Drill down to the most important things (use a paper and pen) and cross off those things that would sure be nice, but aren't really fitting in to the main idea.

Whenever you are making a decision about your schedule, curricula, plans, and extras pull out that list. Does it fit the big picture? If so, do it, or plan a time to do it at another date. If not, drop it and don't look back.

DON'T look back.

3-- Stop Looking

We Homeschool Mamas have a major weakness: looking for new things to use to teach our children.

We look at what Suzie, Joanna, Amy, and Trina are doing and what their kids are accomplishing and think... "maybe my kids would do XYZ if they had LMNOP too."

We think to ourselves, "sheesh, they're really struggling with math, what other resources are out there to help me help them?"

This quickly snowballs and all of a sudden we've got a new set of books, several sets of manipulatives, more extras, and a membership to a practice site.

 

Stick with what you've got. Give it a good solid go for a good length of time. If something is not working, first, look to see how you can use what you have, either in the actual curriculum or with the materials you have laying around your house.

After a good college try (more than a week) with that goodness, if you don't have success, then start to look at other resources.

Just set a limit before you begin to research.

 

Find a different approach to the problem and use what you have at hand. Don't let curriculum hunting be your hobby.

When we find ourselves worn out, exhausted, and tapped out when it comes to homeschool, something has to change. Here's 12 ways to simplify so you can breathe and enjoy homeschooling once again. Click through to find easy actionable steps for you to take

 

4-- Keep looking*

Okay, I just said *don't* look for a new curriculum. I may or may not have lied to you.

Well, I didn't really. You do need to stop shopping (I see you clicking around over there).

However, our homeschool life changed when we found a ultra-simple yet ultra-effective curriculum. It fit our lifestyle, it fit my homeschool priorities, it was quality, it was self-teaching, and it was super duper simple.

Like, I can wake up and not have to think about what we're going to do every day. It's just there, ready to go, always.

*If you can find a similar solution for yourself, do it. Otherwise, put the internet away and get back to homeschooling.

5-- Cull Your Schedule

Take an honest look at your schedule. Make it work around your family's natural rhythms and not someone else's.

 

I love Confessions of a Homeschooler, but I really really can't do their schedule no matter how hard I tried at first. Not that Erica advocates for us to use her schedule. I just really wanted to be her. Or at least have her homeschool.

Set a designated time for your school. How long do you want your day to last?

We use Robinson Curriculum, so we have a very set schedule that really really works for us: 2 hours of math, 1 hour of writing, 2 hours of reading. Then they have the rest of the day for chores, play, and extra learning they're interested in.

This way of doing school has really been freeing for me and the kids. We get our boundaries and our flexibility. We have a routine and schedule without feeling like we're set in cement and dying.

 

Oh... wait, that's just me.

frg

 

Find what works for you, then for your kids. Then cull the rest. Keep your schedule simple. Don't over schedule yourself; don't micromanage yourself.

You don't need to assign every minute a task. Especially if you're a person like me that loves the idea of a schedule but dies inside the minute she has to live it. Then you rebel and the guilt/shame cycle renews. But hey, you're free now.

Here's a way to schedule if you need some ideas on where to start. 

6-- Drop the Excess Planning

You're a planning maniac that has literally turned into a literal maniac. Why are you creating extra work for yourself when all you really need to do is just not... do that?

ngry

Can we just take a second to point out how freaky her eyes are? Yikes! Make it stop.

 

Is what you're using currently helping you or is it causing more stress/anxiety/work? If so, let's find a new method.

Look at #8 and use the same thing for yourself. Find a planner that speaks to you. I've used the Weekly Homeschool Planner with great success.

I love that it is blank, customizable, and there's no distracting colors. I love cute things, but gosh, they clutter my brain fast.

I can change that planner to be anything I want it to be and only print out what I need.

I also write in pencil and use post-its on it so I can move things around without stressing myself out.

Now that I use RC I don't really need this whole planner anymore. I just do our 5 hours, add in a few extras here and there and call it good. It's beautiful and thorough.

7-- Clean it Up

Make your chore time simple. Here's a chart I recently made that we're trying out:

When we find ourselves worn out, exhausted, and tapped out when it comes to homeschool, something has to change. Here's 12 ways to simplify so you can breathe and enjoy homeschooling once again. Click through to find easy actionable steps for you to take

(TC 9yo, LM 8yo, TA 6yo, SC 4yo)

It seems complicated, but it's really not. I've broken up the chores into different times of the day to spread out the workload and have chore time faster. What used to be overwhelming to the kids at the end of the day is now manageable and a lot less painful. It makes for a simpler day because of its ease, speed, and a lot less tantrums (myself included, of course).

 

Make sure you realize I said we're TRYING it out. If it doesn't work, it doesn't work and we move on. I expended 20 minutes of time making that schedule and hanging it up on the fridge. I didn't even use colored ink.

8-- Spirals

Ditch the cute checklists, the over-thought, over-complicated ways of giving assignments. Pull out a spiral notebook for each child, write their assignments in it the night before and they check it off as they complete each assignment. They can also retrieve their own materials.

Here's some great information on how to pull this off

 9-- Ditch It

I tried workboxes. I hated them. I felt like it was a ton more work for myself, plus, half of my stuff wouldn't fit in the daggum things. Annoying much?!

If I forgot to fill them, it just ruined my day or delayed my day, which could very well ruin our homeschool day if I let it. Some days, I did let it.

 

I tried different systems and I found one that semi-worked for us.

I wound up, in the end, just having a magazine holder for each kid and putting their stuff in it. They also had a locker basket with some of their supplies in it. Each was color coordinated to match a child. They grabbed their stuff needed and did what matched their spiral notebook assignments, materials at the ready.

 

So basically, not workboxes.

 

If you find that workboxes don't work for you, don't despair. Here's an interesting solution that actually combines the spiral notebooks with the workboxes. I thought you might like it.

 

When we find ourselves worn out, exhausted, and tapped out when it comes to homeschool, something has to change. Here's 12 ways to simplify so you can breathe and enjoy homeschooling once again. Click through to find easy actionable steps for you to take

 

Otherwise, find or make up your own solution, or ditch it all together. Some people find workboxes simplify their day, and some don't. No biggie.

10-- Pre-Make

You've heard of breakfast stations right? Or making ahead your lunches so they're ready to go? Now, this takes some pre-planning and prep work, but in the thick of the day, it can save your bacon (I totally said that cliche on purpose).

If your baby is extra fussy and needs some lovin', your kids can head to the kitchen and grab their own breakfasts. Then they can get going with their day without waiting for mom to feed them before they starve to death... meanwhile, said baby is breaking the sound barrier with her cries of agony from an unknown origin.

Lunch time rolls around and you're caught up helping a kid with his reading and you don't want to stop the momentum you have to feed the rest of the kids.

Does that sound really mean? Whoops.

They can head to the kitchen, grab the pre-made lunch and wham-o, problem solved. Kids are fed and CPS isn't banging on your door for not feeding your kids lunch at the right time. Not that they do that... but still... you never know nowadays.

Here are some resources you may find helpful:

10 Make Ahead Lunches Done the Lazy Way

Make Ahead Cold Lunches (A Week's Worth in a Day)

Make Ahead Lunches

Self-Serve Healthy Snacks for Kids

DIY Breakfast Station

       Follow Rochelle Barlow's board School Lunches and Snacks on Pinterest.

 

11-- Create Procedures

Dude, Pam is a genius. She came up with a procedure list idea to plan how to use her various curricula. She takes the resource, lists out the steps to use it and in the order of operation. Now, each time she pulls out that resource she knows exactly what to do without having to re-think the process out each time. What a great use of brain power and time. I'm all about efficiency.

Pam breaks it down even more for you, if you're interested, along with a great example.

12 -- Just the Essentials, Ma'am

Did I say this one already? Whoops. But not really.

What is it you want your children to learn? List them in order of priority. Do the essentials, cut the rest. Or at the very least, keep the non-essentials at a manageable, simplified version.

Related: 11 Tips For a Peaceful First Homeschool Year

Can't Keep Up? 12 Ways to Simplify Your Homeschool Day

Can't keep up? 12 Ways to Simplify Your Homeschool Day

Can't Keep Up? 12 Ways to Simplify Your Homeschool Day

Your challenge:

That's a wrap for our 12 ways to simplify your homeschool day! I would really love two things.

1) For you to pick one of these and use it in your homeschool. Don't let it stress or freak you out, just give it a whirl.

2) I'd absolutely love to hear your ideas on how to simplify your homeschool day. I may be all those amazing people rolled into one (har har), but I still don't know everything. Where I have found to simplify my day, that's great, but there are other areas that probably could use simplifying that I hadn't thought of yet.

Share and share away!!

Mwah

 

 

 

 

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Top 10 Tips For Homeschooling A Large Family: Tips 2 & 1

Did you have a tear slip slowly down your cheek too? Yeah, I know. It's the last day of the top 10 tips for homeschooling a large, and awesome, family.

Either you're crying with sorrow that it's over, or you're crying with joy because it's over (and now you can get to work... not that you were suffering, right?).

 

ten tips large family 5 header

 

The tips were so hard to put in order of importance. In a week, they could change. However, these last two tips were the ones I needed most to go from stressed and overwhelmed to feeling like a homeschooling supermom.

I'm even wearing my Wonder Woman T-shirt today to prove it.

#2

Your plan is set, that picture in your head is almost 100% clear. You ask yourself, "what will the day-to-day be like, though?"

Set your daily and weekly schedule to fit your personality and lifestyle.

This is best done by picking the scheduling method that suits you and gleaning from excellent examples, without copying.

Schedule Types

Set time schedule

You wake up and are ready at the same time, reading is always at 10 AM, lunch is always at 12:30, etc.

Robinson curriculum is similar to this. You read 2 hours a day, math 2 hours a day, and writing 1 hour a day. Without fail. It's encouraged to do this bright and early in the morning and be done at lunch.

Routine

Routine is that you do certain things in an order, but you don't care what time you do it at. reading could be at 9:23, lunch at 11:45, and history could have gone on for a lot longer than normal.

Block Schedule

Your school times are in chunks of time. You do your core subjects (3 R's) in the AM block, have lunch at a set time, and then do your other subjects after lunch.

When we were using Konos (unit studies) this is what we did. The 3 R's in the morning, and then our Unit Studies in the afternoon. I later switched it to Unit Studies in the morning and then the 3 R's in the afternoon because I was more consistent with them this way.

Rhythm Homeschooling

This is fairly new to me, but it's a different thing each week. Basically, you have a small set schedule and you have goals for each day and you allow those to dictate where you're going and what you do that day. It's got boundaries, yet it's completely flexible.

 

plan to be flexible quote

 

In her book, Plan to Be Flexible, Alicia goes much much more in-depth and she might be unhappy with me for not explaining it well. Don't punch me!

This book really resonated with me, her story and mine seem so similar and her pains are mine. She's got it figured out and I don't. This is a book I'm going to have to read twice and take better notes in to figure it all out.

Loop Scheduling 

This is where you list out all the curricula you use, how frequently you need to use it and then you put it in a rotating order. You can have it for a whole week, month, or quarter. So you go down the list and check off each as you complete them and move to the next item.

For instance: 

  1. Science 12x/quarter
  2. Art 6x/quarter
  3. History 12x/quarter
  4. Music 10x/quarter
  5. etc

You'd make your list: science, art, history, music, science, history, music, science, art, history, music, etc

You'd go science, and when you were done, you'd move to art, then history. This is so that if you do history and it takes all day Monday, it didn't ruin any plans, you will just do music on Tuesday and continue from there. You may do lots that day, or you may do one. This just helps you keep on track without feeling the burden of being "behind." There's no such thing.

I'll explain this one more another day. :)

 

In the end, you pick one of these, or any other you've heard of, that meshes well with your personality. As much as I wish I could live by a set time schedule, I immediately feel trapped and stifled and crazy.

You can do a combination of the two. We'll be doing a routine/loop schedule this year. As I read more of rhythm based homeschooling I'll move over to that.

Schedule Resources

Weekly Homeschool Planner -- I've been using this planner since the beginning of time. It's fantastic!

Family Homeschool Planner 2015-2016 -- I just found this one via the Omnibus sale, and I absolutely love it! I love all the extras it has.

#1

It's so easy to let things get in our way or self-sabotage our greatest efforts and plans. Your mental mindset is the final piece. Be reasonable, yet firm, with yourself and your family. Create support, accountability, and a backup plan.

ten tips large family 5 pin

Expectations.

Be realistic, but don't be milquetoast. If something's not working, figure out why. Maybe it's YOU (or your child) that needs a reset or encouragement.

Set expectations for yourself, not unreasonable ones though. Decide what you expect out of yourself and what you expect from your children. Do not budge.

Be flexible.

Tweak when necessary, change after evaluation, and let go of impossible standards.

[Tweet "Tweak when needed, change after eval, and let go of imposs standards. #homeschool"]

When you set expectations that doesn't mean that you need to be super homeschooling mom. That doesn't mean your children are all going to win the Nobel Peace Prize. This also doesn't mean you have to do what Suzie at Iamthebesthomeschoolmomintheworldandyoullnevermatchme.com is doing.

Let go of days that just didn't go how you wanted or planned or expected. Count all the victories, no matter how small. They do count. If something isn't working out, figure out how to make it work for you, not you working for it.

Be persistent.

Be consistent. Push even on those days that are killing you. Push a little more before you call a "day off" of homeschooling.

Those days are good to have, just don't let it become a pattern or that automatic backup plan. Have other strategies in place first.

Find someone to reach out to for you to be held accountable. This is helpful during those times when homeschooling is the last thing you want to do that day.

In summary

Tip #2: Routine + schedule + rhythm

Tip #1: Expectations + Flexibility + Persistence

[Tweet "Know that you've got this! #homeschool #tips"]

You have got this!

 

What has been the most helpful tip for you?

 

 

 

 

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Our Switch To The Charlotte Mason Method

It's hard to admit it, but I have a bit of a problem. I love ALL the homeschool methods. I can't pick just one I love.

I have that Shiny Curriculum/Method syndrome. I want to try it all. Now.

Can you relate? Or am I alone...? *sniff sniff*

switch to cm

Last December I decided Charlotte Mason was our official, and final way to go.

 

I had seen Charlotte Mason in my early research of Homeschool methods and thought, "oh, that’s nice...," but I was determined to do Classical and ignored everything else.

Then classical didn’t work out for us.

That's a long, boring story. I still love the Classical Method though.

Then we switched to Unit studies, using Konos.

I really did enjoy using Konos. There were great things about it and things I didn’t like about it. Mostly, it came down to three deal breakers:

  1. Too much work upfront for me.
  2. Too much money for gathering up supplies.
  3. Too easy to fall behind.

Also, the kids were using me as a crutch.

Back to the research arena. Truth be told, I love and live to research.

I don’t even remember what brought me to Charlotte Mason, probably a fleeting thought, a touch of inspiration.

I loved learning about Charlotte Mason. Mr. Barlow says I only switched to it because Charlotte was British. If you didn’t know, I’m obsessed with England.

Not so, but it was a faint check in the pros column.

What was it that I loved about Charlotte Mason?

  • Short lessons
  • Narration
  • Classic, living books (Previously I would snort at that term. Living books? Get real.)
  • Nature studies.
  • Music
  • Art
  • Handiwork
  • Time set aside each day for their own projects and self-led learning.

It was a rich lifestyle that my family dearly needed.

Fast forward a few months and I started to really focus on getting my health under control. I had no idea what it was, something with my thyroid, at least. It could’ve been cancer (there was a nodule), it could’ve been hypothyroidism, or hashimotos, or worse. Well, cancer is pretty bad, obviously,

I wanted to keep homeschooling, but my energy and motivation levels were dropping rapidly. I was wiped out and worried. That’s not a fun place to be in. We were entertaining the thought of public school.

Which made me sick sick sick to think about.

our switch to cm method

To sum it all up… we are still homeschooling, but with some big changes.

We’re still going to do as much Charlotte Mason as my health and our lifestyle allows, but we’re going to be doing a lot more independent, self-taught learning.

I’m a big believer in self-teaching and independence.

I re-found Robinson Curriculum. I remember seeing it years back and thinking these people had lost their minds. Oh, what a silly girl I was… am.

Robinson Curriculum is where you focus on the 3 R’s - Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic.

You are given a HUGE ginormous reading list for all 12 grades. They start at the beginning and get to reading. You dedicate 2 hours every day to reading, 2 hours to math, and 1 hour to writing. After that, you can add in whatever you want, within reason. He doesn’t encourage a lot of extra stuff.

You work up to that time, and younger kids don’t get that large amount of time to work.

Now, Charlotte Mason believes in short time chunks and build up to larger time chunks. This is going to have to be let go of.

What I’m NOT going to drop:

  • Nature Studies
  • Fine Arts
  • Self-Led Learning Time (including handiwork)
  • Narration

What Our Day Will Look Like

7:00  Wake and Breakfast

7:30 Writing

8:00 Math

9:00 Read

10:00 PE + Snack

10:30 Math

11:30 Read

12:30 Lunch

1:30 - 3:30 Extras/Self-Led Learning

We’ll meet up each day for Circle Time.

Circle Time:

  • Calendar
  • Pledge
  • Prayer
  • Memory Work (scripture, poem, and song)
  • ASL (practice/review outside of lessons)

Once (or twice) a week we’ll have Tea Time

Tea Time:

  • Poetry
  • Classical Music
  • Artist Study

Here's more on Tea Time

Once a week we’ll have Nature Study.

Nature Study:

Walk or hike somewhere and examine nature and draw a picture in our nature journals.

 

After that, they’ll work on piano and anything else they’d like to work on.

Electronics are limited to 1 hour a day.

We’ll be doing 1 hour of math and 1 hour of reading on Saturdays.

Robinson Curriculum says to do a full day of school on Saturdays, but I am not sure if we will do this.

We do have co-op for the older two on Mondays that lasts all day, so they won’t be able to do their extra stuff those days.

 

We’ll be tweaking the schedule a bit as we start it up, so look for that post later. But, since we’ll be short on time for Mondays we’ll definitely do some work on Saturdays.

 

I love Charlotte Mason. With five young kids it’s hard to do since so much of it has to be read aloud. It was becoming overwhelming and my throat hurt by the end of the day.

 

The thing I love about Robinson Curriculum is that you sit with your children as they learn. I don’t go off doing my chores while they’re working. I sit there and model proper behavior and work. This works perfectly for my blog and business as well. I can blog, create ASL materials, and transcribe while my kids are hard at work.

Plus, it allows for me some freedom to work quietly with Sweet Cheeks and play time with The Baby. Which is always awesome.

My kids are early risers so they’ll be done by lunch. After lunch they can do their own thing, plus any extras we have. It’ll leave us time for chores, cooking, exploration, and fun.

I’m excited to be able to marry the two needs we have: a quality education with greater independence and responsibility from the kiddos.

Win-win.

Now I've got some major planning and scheduling and prep work to do before we start up school again! Yikes! I feel so behind, even though, it really is only July.

Plus, we're starting Year Round this year so I need to figure out the final schedule for our terms and weeks off.

What method do you use? Do you use any bits of Charlotte Mason? How do you help your kids be independent learners?

Mwah

 

 

 

 

The Homeschool Omnibus is here! Grab the 90 Creative Resources to Refresh Your Homeschool

 

 

 

Homeschool Wars: Year Round vs. Traditional Schedule

  In the first edition of HOMESCHOOL WARS we have an epic battle.

hs war year round vs trad

 

Epic may be a little strong, but it's a battle, nonetheless.

Which is better? Which is right for you? Let's see the two fight to the death and see which one survives. Mwahahahahaha

 

That is so therapeutic.

Here are the Homeschool War Guidelines:

  1. They'll each have three rounds to prove themselves. That's it. If they're knocked out early, they're knocked out early and they dead. Dead dead dead.
  2. I'll leave the declaration of the winner up to you! You each get a chance to vote for the winner at the bottom of the post. The winner will be announced at a later date (TBD).

Let's not sit around anymore, let's do some stretches, wipe the sweat from our brow, guzzle some water, and get the bandaids ready.

Homeschool Wars: Year Round vs. Traditional

Round One: Benefits

Year Round Homeschooling:

  • Avoid forgetting school material over the summer
  • Move ahead faster
  • More practice for struggling learners
  • More breaks (flexibility) for life
  • Avoid burn out by having longer set breaks throughout the year + more prep time
  • Not worrying about falling behind or catching up

Traditional Schedule Homeschooling

  • Coincide with public school siblings and friends
  • Easy to schedule
  • Long summer break
  • Long time in the summer to prepare for the coming school year
  • Distinct grade/level changes

 

Whew... things are getting serious 'round here. Are you getting scared? Pumped? Who are you rooting for?

Now now... you've got to be unbiased!

 

[Tweet "Watch this epic #homeschoolwars battle unfold! Year Round v Traditional Scheduling. Who will win? "]

 

Round Two: Drawbacks

Year Round Homeschooling:

  • Tricky to schedule
  • Doesn't go along with public school friends and family
  • Smaller summer break
  • Harder to figure out grade/level changes

Traditional Schedule Homeschooling:

  • Less flexibility
  • Easy to fall behind, harder to catch up
  • Summer Slump = forgetting over the summer = more review time
  • Can get burnt out easily

Homeschool Wars: Year Round vs Traditional

 

This is it... don't get scared now.  - Kevin M.

Round Three: Final Argument

Year Round Homeschooling:

I give you FLEXIBILITY!!!!

Traditional Schedule Homeschooling:

I give you EASE!!!!

Bonus Round: How To

Homeschool Wars: Year Round vs. Traditional

Year Round Homeschooling:

Let's set up the schedule. You've got a multitude of options.

On = Doing school

Off = Break

Option #1:

Have 6 terms with each term consisting of 6 weeks on /1 week off (aka Sabbath Schooling, that's what the cool kids call it). You have a remainder of 10 weeks left to take breaks, no more than 2 - 3 week at a time.

Option #2

12 Terms with 3 weeks on/1 week off with 5 extra weeks to scatter around the year.

Options #3 - #5

  • Do 45 days on/15 days off
  • 45 days on/10 days off (more available for summer)
  • 60 days on/20 days off

I could go on and on and on... but then you'd want to do battle with ME. I don't like getting punched.

This is the tricky part: you have to pick which schedule will work with you and your family.

Now what?

#1  [wc_highlight color="yellow"]Bust out your good ole friend, the calendar.[/wc_highlight] Grab some highlighters, a pencil with a good eraser on it, and some blank paper.

I like to have a blank calendar in front of me with the whole year in mini version with just the numbers, no boxes. I need as little clutter as possible to be able to think it through.

#2  [wc_highlight color="yellow"]Grab your[/wc_highlight] family, work, and any other  [wc_highlight color="yellow"]calendars[/wc_highlight] you need and use.

#3 On that mini calendar [wc_highlight color="yellow"]mark with highlighter the dates[/wc_highlight] that are already designated holidays and vacations that you will take off from school.

#4 [wc_highlight color="yellow"]I mark the time period[/wc_highlight] that I usually get [wc_highlight color="yellow"]burnt out[/wc_highlight] from homeschooling. I just put a little dot in pencil by those dates.

No, you can't mark the whole thing with a burnout dot.

#5  [wc_highlight color="yellow"]Pick your routine.[/wc_highlight] 6 weeks on 1 week off? 3 or 4 weeks on 1 week off?

You’ll be able to place those extra weeks in as you go, but first, let’s get a loose skeleton going.

#6 Then I kind of  [wc_highlight color="yellow"]pick a start date[/wc_highlight] that I might like and work towards the first holiday.

Are you starting now? Next week? Mid-August, first week in September? First of January? It doesn’t matter when you start, just so long as you start and that works for you.

If you started out your year with the traditional school year calendar it doesn’t mean that you can’t switch to year-round homeschooling until the next school year. You can start right away.

I want two weeks off for Christmas, so I try to make my schedule meet up so I can have that break then. It may help to work backwards.

Use pencil!!

#7 Play around with the dates. [wc_highlight color="yellow"]Sprinkle in your break weeks[/wc_highlight]  here and there.

Make sure to schedule your vacation weeks. For instance, a week off for Thanksgiving, or two for Christmas. A vacation planned for the summer, or the holidays, sports camps, or summer camps.Plan around these times.

You may want to save up some of your extra weeks for the summer and have a month off if you need to.

You’ll have 10 extra weeks to work with (if you did 6w/1w). I recommend that you don’t schedule all of those 10 weeks right away. Maybe leave yourself an extra week or two to plug in here and there where you need them.

You can move things around. What if your whole family gets wiped out with the flu in the middle of your 6 weeks? Well, no worries, that was your week off and now you can pick up where you left off and use that sick week as your off week.

Admittedly, that’s not really a fun way to spend your break. That’s why I suggested to leave an extra week or two for those what-ifs.

You may get sick for a few days. You may need an extra break. You may have a vacation or work trip come up unexpectedly. You may want to join the circus. It’s really just whatever you want to do with it. But you’ve always got that cushion.

If you don’t use it during the school year, you’ve got a few extra weeks of vacation before you start up again. Or heck, just roll right through them and save them up for next year. It’s like rollover minutes before those became obsolete.

Finished!

Homeschool Wars: Year Round vs Traditional

Traditional Schedule Homeschooling:

It's time to figure out your schedule.

#1 [wc_highlight color="yellow"]Go to your local school district's website.[/wc_highlight] Go clickety-click on their calendar for the upcoming school year. Print it out if you can, or make notes on the important dates.

What are the important dates?

First day of school, last day of school, holidays and breaks, teacher work days, etc.

#2 [wc_highlight color="yellow"]Grab that mini calendar[/wc_highlight] I was telling you about, your highlighters, your pencil and eraser. Maybe some scratch paper.

#3 [wc_highlight color="yellow"]Mark the dates[/wc_highlight] the school year begins and ends. Mark the holidays and vacations you will be taking off.

#4 [wc_highlight color="yellow"]Decide[/wc_highlight] now if you'll take the [wc_highlight color="yellow"]school vacations[/wc_highlight] with them: teacher inservice days, random holidays, or half days.

In Oregon they are super weird and every Wednesday is a half day. And every other Monday is off. I think it was due to budget cuts and the still fudging the required number of days. That's another post for another time.

Mark the dates you'll be taking off with them. Leave the ones you will keep schooling unmarked.

#5 Next, you need to [wc_highlight color="yellow"]fill in any dates[/wc_highlight] you know ahead of time that [wc_highlight color="yellow"]you will be not doing school work[/wc_highlight]. Pre-planned vacations, conferences, work commitments, etc.

#6 Figure out [wc_highlight color="yellow"]how you will make up for them.[/wc_highlight] Are you going to add an extra day for each missed? Will you double up on school work on the days before and/or after the missed days? Will you skip some planned breaks, add on extra time at the end of the school year, or will you just ignore those missed days and forge ahead?

Don't forget to decide what you'll do for your sick days as well.

#7 Get it all [wc_highlight color="yellow"]in your calendar[/wc_highlight], pencil it in, just in case, and that's it.

You're all set and ready to go into your next phase of planning: adding in curriculum plans.

To sum it all up

No matter which one you choose, the most important thing to remember is that the schedule should work FOR you. YOU are not working for the schedule.

If you want to try Year Round Homeschooling but find that it's just lame-sauce, then scrap it and switch back to Traditional Scheduling. If you try Traditional Scheduling, but want to give Year Round Homeschooling a whirl, then start. You can make that switch at any time.

I do not recommend switching methods every other week, or month. Sorry, Charlie. I'll give you a pass for two times a school year.

What screws us up the most in homeschool

Two last things

#1 Are there any benefits or drawbacks that I missed? Share them in the comments!

#2 Vote. It takes two seconds to pick the winner. After a certain period of time... I don't have all the answers, people, I will announce the winner! So you've got to vote.

Don't worry, no one is going to hold you to your answer. You can change your mind later.

P.S. What do you want to see battle it out in the next HOMESCHOOL WARS??

Vote by clicking one of these fun tweets!

[Tweet "The #homeschoolwar is over. Year Round Homeschooling is the winner, no contest! "]

[Tweet "The #homeschoolwar is over. Traditional Scheduling is the clear winner! Take that!"]

 

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The Zen of Tea Time

The Zen of Tea Time | RochelleBarlow.com

Before I go into zen mode talking about tea time, let me give you some background.

Recently, I was having a discussion with myself. That’s what I do. I discuss things to myself, by myself. I’m awesome like that.

I thought, "I really just feel like there’s something missing in my homeschool."

I wanted something more, but I wasn’t really quite sure what that “more” could be. What else could I possibly add to my list of ought's and should's and must's without winding up in a padded cell with a muzzle?

Well, in order to keep myself from paddling up guilt river (so unproductive), I tried to be logical about it. What was I wanting my kids to learn in our homeschool?

I made a list.

It was all that book-learnin’ stuff. I analyzed it. It wasn’t quite what I was looking for. So I made another list.

I want them to see the beautiful things around them and appreciate them.

To slow down and breathe.

To connect to the arts.

To connect to each other.

To appreciate one another.

As I was searching for other things, while keeping this list in mind, I found the perfect solution.

Bonus: it’s not overwhelming.

Too often we want to add these things of importance, but find ourselves adding a million things to the "important list," that we truly lose sight of the real important things.

I catch myself adding things to the list that I think I ought to make important. Or that I think others think are important.

Who am I trying to please here? The wrong people. That’s who.

Even with my own list of have-to’s I can get overwhelmed. I just want to breathe and enjoy my days with my crazy-awesome kids. We don’t get any do-overs. (boo)

How in the world am I going to do this? What the heck was my solution?

Tea Time.

Now now. I’m being serious. Maybe you think I’ve lost my mind. Or read too many Regency Romances (not possible). Maybe you’re like, dude, this is old news. N’er you fret, my dears.

Let me explain.

My kids beg for tea time. Yes, even my oldest boy who thinks doing anything girlie is a sin. I didn’t tell him that. Oi, that’s a post for another day.

The Zen of Tea Time | RochelleBarlow.com

They beg for tea time.

It has brought peace to our afternoons. Tea time has given my kids an appreciation for the arts and for our time together.

I joke about the zen it brings, but it truly is a magical hour of the day. I'm not rushing around freaking about what needs to get done. The kids aren't arguing, making messes, shouting across the house.

It's an intentional quiet time. A time of reflection, peace, and calm. I did say magical right?

As in, swaying grass, a dripping weeping willow, fireflies zipping about, crickets singing, frogs croaking, warm sticky breeze, moon glowing magic.

[Tweet "Discover the magic of tea time. You may just be transported to another place. #homeschool http://ctt.ec/xbpH9+"]

Well, how can you bring this zen magic-ness to your life?

Speed version: we listen to classical music, look at a piece of art, read poetry, have tea and a treat, and read aloud.

Let me walk you through what our typical tea time looks like.

Ours is typically at 3 PM.

  1. I pull up Spotify, and play some Beethoven while we set up.
  2. Boil some water in our tea kettle. (2 min.)
  3. Put out a table cloth, set out the tea cups, put out a centerpiece. (1 min.)
  4. I have a tray with herbal teas and apple cider packets. (30 sec.)
  5. I put some snacks on a tray. (2 min.)
  6. We sit down, listen to the music and pour some tea. Or apple cider. (3 - 5 min.)
  7. We serve the snacks. (1 min.)
  8. I turn off the music and pull out the book of poetry we’re reading. I skip around and read some poems. I have my readers pick a poem to read, too. (10 min.)
  9. After they’ve finished round 1 of the tea and treats, we pull out the art piece. We do what’s called a picture talk, or picture narration. They each study the picture until they can describe what it looks like without seeing it. Starting from youngest to oldest (me included) we build on the narration. We don’t interrupt each other. We don’t critique the art. (10 - 15 min.)
  10. Then we serve round 2 of tea and treats. (2 min.)
  11. I pull out the book we’re reading aloud together and I read until I don’t feel like it anymore. Maybe it’s half a chapter, maybe a chapter, maybe more. (20+ min.)

No matter what, tea time is no more than an hour.

How often do we do this?

I was super ambitious when I first heard about it and said, we’re going to do this every day. Life just laughed in my face. Nice try, Rochelle.

So, now we do it once a week. If I can, I’ll do it more, but once a week is the standard.

Here’s what you need:

  • tea cups/mugs/cups
  • books
  • music
  • art book or pictures of art

That’s it.

The Zen of Tea Time | RochelleBarlow.com

If you want Level 2

  • tea cups
  • treat (homemade or purchased)
  • poetry
  • book
  • classical music of one artist
  • art book or pictures of art
  • table cloth
  • center piece

Level 3

  • all of the above, but homemade treats that you made together.

Don’t say, I can’t do this without this this and this. I can’t do this without a special treat. I can’t do this without fill in the blank.

I said those same things too, I know how it is.

Just pick a composer, pick an artist, pick a poetry book. You don’t even have to do the read aloud if you don’t want to. That’s just what I added.

You could work on manners while you serve tea and treats.

You could just talk about what you’re learning, what you’ve been doing lately, or anything your kids want to talk about. It’s such a relaxing and safe way to connect. You’re taking time in your day to slow down, stop what you’re doing, and enjoy one another’s company.

The Zen of Tea Time | RochelleBarlow.com

I say make it your own. To heck with what I do.

You just need something to nibble on, sip on, and some great kiddos around the table. You’ve got that, haven’t you? Nibble on a slice of bread if that’s all you have. The most important part is you and your family.

Just make it happen and show it the reverence it deserves. When the kids feel how special it is, they’ll engage in it and show it equal reverence.

Go forth and drink tea!

(too cheesy? oh well)

[Tweet "I'm bringing #teatime back! Join me if you need some zen in your life.  http://rochellebarlow.com/the-zen-of-tea-time"]

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How to Schedule Without Screaming

You know that dirty word? Schedule.

Don't you just want to slap someone (maybe me) when they say in a nasally condescending voice, "you need to have a schedule, Shelly."

I didn't say it.

 

How are you going to schedule your days?

It's not as tricky as you might think.

It's not wax-your-nether-regions painful either. (Yes, I did just say that Mama, sorry).

schedule without scream

 

Okay, you might be doing a bit of juggling and some hard-core thinking. We're in it together! *whistles kumbaya*

 

Are you a routine or a schedule type of person?  I'm a bit of a combination of the two. I'll show you what I mean in a minute, but first we've gotta get to the nitty gritty.

 

1. List Priorities

List out the things that are most important to you. Then put them in order of importance. Keep that handy when you're blocking out your time.

 

2. List Scheduled Activities

Co-op classes, club meetings, sports, music lessons, dance lessons, family items, etc.

 

3. List Out Curriculum Frequencies

Remember in our planning we said to figure out how often you're going to be doing your lessons. Are you doing spelling 2 or 3 times a week? Math 4 or 5 times a week? And on and on.

 

How many days of the week are you going to do school? 4 days or 5 days?

 

4. Get Your Work Schedule Out

Do you work outside the home? In your home?

What is your work schedule? Do you work certain days of the week? Certain times of the day?

 

5. List Outside Commitments

What are your outside commitments? What do you have going on each week? Each month? Do you have exercise classes? Training for a marathon? Book club? etc.

 

Get out a piece of paper and write time out in 30 minute increments. Use pencil!

sched 2

 

6. Fill in Items From Steps 1 - 5

Fill in all that stuff. Dance Tuesdays at 3:30, Cello lessons Friday at 1:00, Lego Club Friday at 2:00, Book Club 3rd Thursday at 7:00 PM. You get the idea.

For the once or twice a month items I will fill it in a spot at either the top or the bottom of the day of the week it happens on. So I'd put Book Club at the top of Thursday that said 3rd Thursday at 7 PM. Then later I can fill in my calendar as needed.

Don't forget to schedule in travel time!!

 

7. Best Times

Is your family early risers? Late risers? What time of day do y'all work best at?

Put the harder subjects, reading and math at the freshest times of the day. Whenever those times are for you and your child.

 

8. Meal Times and Cleanup

When do y'all eat? When do y'all want to get chores done?

 

9. Chunk Your Day

This is how I work in my routine. I put the 3 R's for the morning time. We do it in the order we feel like that day, but we do it in the morning when the kids are alert and fresh. When I am motivated and fresh. Then in the afternoon we do our remaining subjects, whatever those may be for that day. We have a checklist of things that need to be done after lunch. School, chores, exercise, cooking, dinner, free time, practice, family time, etc.

 

If you're not a routine type of person then you just schedule in when you want to do each subject.

 

10. Be Realistic

You've got to be real with yourself. How long does it take to do each item/subject? Schedule breaks, schedule free time. You can't be going going going all. day. long. or you'll crack. Don't stuff your day to bursting. You can't do everything in one day. Schedule in time for real life.

 

Be flexible. Don't be a slave to your schedule. If it's not working change it. Re-evaluate at regular intervals. Check back in with yourself maybe once a quarter or once a semester. Again -- be flexible!!

 

Now that you've got your schedule sketched out fill in your official schedule.

Here's a printable I found that I liked -- It's from DuoParadigms.com

 

Here's my schedule from last year:

schedule 1

 

We haven't officially signed up for sports and I am not sure on club meetings this year. When we get our official schedule lined up I'll do a post on it.  But my tentative schedule is as follows:

 

5 AM - 9 AM: Work (TW Transcribing, TW, Blog, Write)

8:30 AM: Kids up and getting ready on own.

9 AM: Breakfast and morning school work (Calendar, Spiritual stuff)

10 AM - 12 PM: School (the 3 R's)

12 PM - 1 PM: Lunch

1 PM - 4 PM: School and outside commitments

5 PM: Chores and Free time

6 PM: Dinner

7 PM: Chores and Free time

8 PM: Bed time for kids

9 PM - 10 PM: Work (TW, Blog, Write)

Sometime around 10 or 11 go to bed (ha!)

 

This is just our basic skeleton of a schedule, and not including scheduled activities and such. Plus, as the first few weeks unfold I'll probably tweak it a bit. I'll know more about how much time I need for each activity.

 

Do you have any scheduling tips?

Share away my friends, I love to learn from others!

♥ Rochelle

 

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Can't Keep Up? Streamline Your Writing Time

You have this grand idea, this story, this thing living inside you (not an alien), yet you aren't getting it out of you the way you envision.  

You can't stop thinking about it.  So, why isn't it coming to fruition?

 

What's missing?

 

A schedule.

 

 

Now, before you roll your eyes and throw your pen at your screen, hear me out.

 

Yes, a schedule is what you're missing.

 

But, but, but Rochelle!  A schedule doesn't work for me!

 

Okay, dearie, we'll talk about it.  Just give me a second and I need you to put your big-kid undies on.

 

I understand, I really do.  I'm one of those people that take on way more than they can actually do all at once.  I love it.  And then I crash and burn.  I'll map out this dream-world schedule and then never look at it again.  That's lame.  Here's what I've figured out since then.

 

Why it's important

You do know why it's good for you, right?

 

If I want to write a great novel, or a great blog post, or a great book about marsupials then won't I need just the tools, the know-how, and the desire?  You do need those.  But if you're just trying to do it all when you're struck with inspiration or have a bit of time in your busy day, then you won't write consistently, and you won't be where you want to be in a month or a year's time.  Then you'll scowl at yourself and throw a tantrum like my children sometimes do (not pretty) and no one will be happy.  Not you, not me, and not anyone near you when this tantrum is taking place.  Then you'll regress into this cycle of self-loathing and resentment.  But I have a cure for that!

 

There's my son, right about to go into a full-blown tantrum. Take cover!

 

 

[Tweet "Scheduling writing time prevents tantrums."]

 

But schedules are so rigid and unfeeling

That's very true.  If you are a fly-by-your-pants type of person then you may find schedules to be too binding.  I tend to be that way.

 

You've probably heard of routines.

 

They are lovely.  I do these in many aspects of my life.  For working, cleaning, home schooling, writing, and any other obligation I have.

 

What's the difference?

 

A schedule looks like this:

7 am: Wake

7:15 - shower and get ready

8 - breakfast

8:30 - leave for work

etc.

 

A routine looks like this:

  • Wake up
  • shower, get ready
  • breakfast
  • chores

 

You can do most of these out of order (except you have to wake up first).  You just have blocks of time that you need to accomplish these items, or they could be just do it sometime today.

 

Pick whichever one works best for you.

 

I am a hybrid.  I need a schedule for certain things and a routine for the rest.  The things I really don't want to do I have to put into a routine or I'll never do them.  Like cleaning.  Ugh, I hate cleaning. If I say I have to do wash the dishes and sweep the floor and start a load of laundry right after breakfast I'll punch someone in the throat then I won't clean until someone is coming over next month.  If I say, you have these to do as your morning routine then I can do that because it feels less like my mom is forcing me and more like a choice.

 

A hybrid would look like this:

7:30 - wake up

Morning Routine

10:30 - calls to Jones and Montoya

11:15 - email Martin and Johns

12 - lunch

Afternoon Routine

5:30 - make dinner

6 - eat dinner

6:30 - clean up dinner

7 - family time

Evening Routine

 

You list out the items that would be in each routine block.   Or you could have one routine for the whole day and then just do those as you go.

 

I have fiddled with my writing schedule/routine and think I have what I like.  I am still tweaking it a bit here and there.

 

[Tweet "Schedule or Routine? Which do you prefer?"]

 

 Time of day

Now you need to pick the best time of day for writing.

 

clock

 

When do you have a moment to yourself?  Never!?  Well, you'll need to make one then.  Can you wake up earlier?  I can't, so this is a no-go for me.  This would be a quick trip to failure land.  Have time free at lunch?  In the afternoon?  After everyone is in bed?  Hey!  Right after dinner you could take off and write and let everyone else clean up the mess!  Yes!  Perfect.

[Tweet "When is your favorite time of day to write?"]

 

How long?

Well, how long are you going to write for?  5 minutes, 10, an hour, two hours?  Make it realistic and attainable.  If you're swamped every day then don't put in a 3 hour block.  Perhaps you have a really long Tuesday, but your Monday and Wednesday is more open.  Schedule 3o minutes on Tuesday and then 1 - 2 hours for your Monday and Wednesday.

 

You need to schedule some time every day, no matter what.  But you don't have to set yourself up to fail with something that's never going to happen.

 

If you're a word count kind of person, then set a word count goal for each writing session.  Again, tailor it towards your time available.

 

One or chunks?

No, I'm not talking about tossing your cookies.  That's no fun.

 

Would it better if you schedule one writing time per day or a few different times throughout the day?

 

Now, I know I just said you need to schedule time every day, and I do think that's true, but I have heard of some people that schedule marathon sessions over the weekend instead of shorter sprints throughout the week.  That's what works for them.

 

schedule combo

Here's my schedule/routine.  My green blocks of time are when I am transcribing live University classes which means that is a set schedule. Mealtime is scheduled but can be flexible, depending on my children's appetite that day.  My blocks of Home Schooling are a set time, but it is a routine and not an exact scheduled out block of time.  Sometimes that block might be science and history, sometimes art and math.  Just depends on what we're doing that day. I have times dedicated to blogging and writing, but when I have a moment otherwise I'll either be napping or fitting in more writing time.

 

The orange blocks say Blog, but that also includes Writing. I think this schedule that I took a screen shot of just didn't have the blocks filled in with writing and I'm too lazy to go back and screenshot a different day with the correct heading in the orange blocks.  I see the color orange and know that means to get out my laptop, notebook, and pen and get to work.

 

What's clear to me is that I need to give something up to make way for a little more free time!

 

In the end

 

You need to find out what works best for you.  Don't do what I'm doing or what Speedy Gonzales  is doing, or Betty Boop is doing.  Do what works for you and your lifestyle.  If you don't it'll never work for you, no matter how color-coded and pretty you make it look.

 

What kind of schedule or routine do you use?  When is your favorite time of day to write?

 

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