Last week, I helped you sort out the big picture of your school year. We talked about planning time off, and making an overview/pacing guide for all your curriculum. If you did that step, you should now have a spread sheet that divides all your school work down into a week by week workload.
When I do this, I don’t date the weeks- and I really want to encourage you to not be very uptight about it either. And here’s why:
That pretty schedule you have, is going to get really messy by the end of the school year. Kids will get sick. Plans will be changed. You may end up feeling burnt out….
So I want you to look at that pretty schedule right now and remember that this is flexible. It’s valuable to have a pacing guide, and it is going to help, but this is a best case scenario guide, to help you fit schooling into real life. The guide is to help you. It’s a tool. It is not the boss. YOU are the boss.
Using your yearly plan as a guide to pace your week
When you do your lesson, scratch it off the list. If you don’t do science this week, don’t scratch it off. And don’t panic either. Do it next week. Maybe do two science lessons if you have time. Do science on Saturday. Decide you don’t care about that lesson, and skip it.
(Shhh, I did NOT tell you that. But you know, sometimes public school kids watch Bill Nye and learn the earth is tilted that way, instead of from their teacher. Your kids will survive. Skip it if you need to).
Just don’t panic. Your pacing guide tells you pacing. Now you know you are behind in science, and exactly HOW far behind you are. No big deal. You are the boss.
Let’s talk about those pesky outside of the home activities
Now that we covered who the boss is, let’s talk about your week. This is another arena where you need to remember you are the boss. I hear a lot that people don’t have time to “fit it all in” and if you feel that way, then Mama, stop cramming it all in.
I’m talking about outside the home activities. We all worry a little about Little Peanut not being socialized. We fear that maybe, if we keep them home, they may never learn to be “normal human beings.”
I promise, you’re kids are normal. You don’t need to do everything. Look at the activities you have on your calendar, and see what purpose they serve. Are they worth your time? Are they important?
You may need to re-create this form with each changing season (I do) but this is the master form I use for regularly occurring weekly activities.
On it, I write down all the things I agreed to do. Kids sports, volunteer obligations, outside classes, social invitations, field trip Friday…. All of it.
Now that you have all your activities down, take a look at that bad boy. You didn’t write down schooling at ALL. How much time does it take each day to get schooling done? Some states have laws about how much time you spend.
Here, we don’t have any rules or regulations, but for Bug who does mostly third grade level work, I expect about 3 hours of seat work, and another hour or two of reading and independent learning. Mr. Man, my kindergartener, takes an hour or two of dedicated “Mama Time”. This means I need at LEAST 5 hours of school time scheduled in the day.
Where does your school time fit on your calendar? If you feel like there is no way to get it all done, it’s because you probably can’t. When you feel overwhelmed like that, it’s a sign that you are doing too much.
In our house, my rule is that we don’t have any obligations before noon. I need from 8-12 each day to dedicate to my children and their education. I also have a really hard time saying no, and this summer, I made the mistake of thinking I could also do park days, and co-ops and other fun, summery things in the morning. It didn’t take long for me to realize that I really couldn’t, and I became overwhelmed and frustrated.
Scheduling Schoolwork into the Week
It seems counter intuitive to have talked about “other” activities before we got into scheduling lessons, but I do this for a reason.
First, I know many Homeschool families are stretched too thin, and if YOU are one of them, I wanted you to see that, and think about fixing that before moving on.
Secondly, I wanted you to have a realistic idea of how much work you can fit into your week, so you can plan lessons in a way that won’t make it impossible for you to get work done.
At this point, you should be able to look at your weekly overview (which you made last week) and consider how you want to break down the assignments over the week. Let’s say you’re using Logic of English Essentials, and you have scheduled to do one lesson a week. Do you want to do that all on one day, or do you want to do it over 4 days? How about Science, twice a week, once a week for a longer chunk of time, or daily?
Some people do a little bit every day.
Others do the 3 R’s daily, and then Science and History 2 or 3 times a week.
Others do a block schedule, and do longer classes, less often (for instance, math three times a week for 1.5 instead of daily for 45 minutes).
Again, come up with a general idea of what you want to do, when. Plug that in on your master weekly schedule form.
(I draw a box around our “school hours” and write what topics are being covered that day)
Now for the Fun Part, the weekly planner that promises you will never fall “behind”
All your brain storming is done, and hopefully you’ve culled your outside responsibilities to make sure you have enough time to cover all the academics you need to teach. At this point, you’re done with the “big” planning, and you’re ready to start teaching.
A lot of people actually plan out what to do day by day, but I prefer to look at my whole weeks’ worth of obligations and just roll with that. I use the pacing guide to tell me what I need to get done this week, and use my daily planner to write down what we actually did AFTER I do it. When it’s done, and in the planner, it gets scratched off the master pacing guide.
If I am not planning out every day in advance, there is no such thing as being behind. There is flexibility. I have an idea of what needs done, but I get to play by ear when I do it. We do have a general routine (The 3 R’s first thing in the morning, with history on Monday and Wednesday, and Science on Tuesday and Thursday) but other than following my pacing guide, I don’t stress myself out with a detailed plan.
…because again, Life Happens!
Coming Next Week:
That’s it for scheduling your school week. Next week, we’re going to talk about getting the kids through their school days and keeping them focused. I have a couple really neat tools to share with you to help the kids (and you!) get things done and stay sane, so join the Conversation on Facebook, or subscribe by email so you don’t miss a thing!