Friday, January 13, 2017

I'm a believer . . . in schedules

I can't believe I just typed that phrase.  I realize this is day two of "my new leaf" but this one is worth continuing.  Have you seen the somewhat complicated charts for CM schools?   At first glance they look very detailed and overwhelming - honestly, I just have 2 kids (in school).  After spending lots of time playing with them and referring back to Sabbath Mood Homeschool's scheduling ideas I decided it couldn't hurt.  I had made up about four versions but hadn't even tried it once.  So this week we tried it!

Prior scheduling methods:  
I have tried some types of organization in the past.

The Notebook Method: In my version I just wrote out the subjects that needed to be accomplished every day and we tried to move through them during the day.  Often in little bits and unconnected.

Block Scheduling:  Here we had a set amount of work that had to be accomplished in a slightly longer time frame.  So, I might have Latin (30 minutes), Math (30 minutes), Science Reading (20 minutes) and set aside an hour and forty - five minutes for that.

At times these went together so he would look in his notebook to see what was to be accomplished during that block.

I realize now that my oldest saw all of these as points of contention and possible change.  He respects a clear schedule WAY more than I thought he would.  I was giving him too much responsibility and he needs more structure to move in the right direction and he seems okay with it.  I was surprised. (We listened to the Parable of Nature story that goes along with this idea this week - convenient and convicting).

First, the key principles I used to develop my CM inspired time table (mostly found here):

1.  Switch off subjects - math to reading, easy to difficult, active to sitting still.

2.  We start with math every day.  That just seems to work.

3.  I had to tweak A LOT because we are (maybe foolishly) a part of two co-ops so I have MUCH less time to work with.

4.  Short lessons have always been a staple of our work - but not in quick and organized succession.

4.  Think about who needs your help when - dictation (part of the time), math (as needed), if I want to read aloud that is full attention.   Plan accordingly.

Why I am impressed: 

1.  It actually helped my 4 yo the most.  Isn't that strange?  He wants to "do school" but he missed out this week.  He decided to throw a fit and when he calmed down, we had moved on to other things and he missed it.  This is one of the first things that has made him think twice about his behavior.  As CM says "one time is not as good as another" - this is a lesson my whole family needs to learn!

2.  Today a miracle occurred, the 4 yo and 2 yo played together NICELY for an extended period of time.  This has NEVER happened (in fact, normally the 4 yo is threatening said 2 yo).  However, I think he realized that she was his only option because everyone else was busy working.  I did NOT see this benefit coming.  It may not last - but one day was glorious.

3.  It does help my oldest to realize that nothing lasts forever and a lot can be done in a little bit of time with focus.  He has also whined significantly less. I don't feel like I am constantly prodding and nagging him to see what he has accomplished.  He was also pretty impressed with how much he did in a little bit of time and was excited that school was done by noon (there was normally something hanging around until after lunch in our former systems).  

4.  We actually did Spanish, handicrafts and painting this week.   You would have thought I was the MOST amazing mom the way my 7 yo praised my wise inclusion of painting in his schedule.  He was ecstatic.  My 10 yo explained to my husband tonight that he is a "plastic canvaser" - since that was the easiest handicraft for me to pull together and seemed like something we could be successful at accomplishing.

5.  Wow!  10 minutes is a LONG time for memory work.  I need to get that more organized.

6.  It made me sit and focus on school.  I felt like I was leading and kids were following. What a difference!

The rough edges: 

1.  Some similar subjects still ended up too close together.

2.  I put some things (like geography) on the schedule that I don't actually have "work" to do with it yet - so I need to find that to plug in.

3.  I need to learn about watercolor painting and brush up on my Spanish some more.

4.  There are a few kinks to work out to make sure I am available to kids as they need me. For a first run I think it went pretty well.

5. We will move the play/ songs to earlier in the schedule. (I learned that Amazon music has some good quality Spanish kids songs).

6.  I need to make sure we have enough time to complete assignments that have to be done for co-op.  Much of CM is about doing the next thing - you have some general idea of how much material you want to cover but it is about maximizing time - not page counts.  That's not the way co-op assignments are set up - but I think we can navigate that pretty easily.  They all fit in categories I have on the schedule.  

There are still a few things we need to better organize - afternoons, read aloud loops (in the car and at home).  However, we are making some strides in the right direction.  We did read much more this week than we have recently.

People talk about the freedom that a schedule brings.  I get it now!  I wasn't constantly juggling subjects in my head and wondering where we were in the day - I just looked up and did the next thing.  I did not have nearly the decision fatigue I normally have at the end of the day.  It also greatly reduced our battles because EVERYONE could see what the plan was - they weren't having to guess or wonder. This might be a life changing, leaf turning for me.

I resisted a strict and specific schedule for a long time.  Now I realize it was my loss.  We'll see how week 2 goes!

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