Getting a grip on homeschool scheduling

We’re in our 6th year of homeschooling.  For all but the first year, we’ve done Sonlight.  One of the big bonuses of the Sonlight curriculum is that they schedule out, day-by-day, their program in their invaluable Instructor’s Guides.  However, Sonlight is only part of what we do, and I’ve found that I need to schedule out my oldest son’s work (he’s 10 years old, in 5th grade).  Part of that is so that nothing gets left behind, and part of it is because he does so much of his work independently, and he needs a paper to look at and say, “This is what I need to do today.”

I’ve found it wise to schedule out no more than four weeks at a time.  Invariably, something within those four weeks pops up — he needs more dictionary work; the math that he’s been flying through suddenly screeches to a frustrated halt;  he becomes very interested in a subject, and I decide to have him do a report on it, etc.  In addition, there’s always some subject (or two) in which we fall behind.  “Fall behind,” though, is something of a misnomer, because the only standard to which he falls behind is my own, i.e., the schedule I’ve created for him.  So, at the end of the four weeks’ schedule, we almost always now have two-three weeks of unscheduled work — both extra work, and catching up on the undone assignments from the previous weeks.  So, I end up with weeks 1-4, then weeks 7-11, etc.

In addition to the Sonlight schedule, which I re-do on his personal, weekly schedule, we include

  • Bible Study — currently, a study on Giant Killing, revised from a teaching I received at a recent retreat I attended (this is instead of SL’s suggested daily readings)
  • Latin — Latina Christiana I (w/ the DVDs this year — what a fantastic help that’s been!!) 
  • Trumpet Lessons & Practice — weekly lessons from my stepdad
  • General Music Lessons — all three boys receive weekly general music from my stepdad, a mostly-retired elementary public school teacher 
  • English — Rod and Staff
  • Math — Singapore Math 
  • Science — currently, The Geology Book and study guide, with which we’re almost done

I find it pretty much impossible to keep up with the SL schedule *and* fit in everything else, so I spread the SL a little more thinly than they suggest, taking about three weeks to do two of their weeks.

I’m really happy with the balance we have right now.  Ethan is working hard, but is not overwhelmed.  I used to berate myself that I wasn’t scheduling out every single one of his weeks, i.e., that we needed those two-week interims of unscheduled work.  However, I’ve come to the realization that that really works for us, and I’m totally at peace with it.

Now, if I could just get every other area of my life to a place of contentment, like I feel with our schooling.  8)

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About Karen Joy

I'm a partially-homeschooling mother of six -- 3 boys ages 19, 17 and 15 years old, and three girls: 11, 8, and 3. I like birding, reading, writing, organic gardening, singing, playing guitar, hiking, the outdoors, and books. I very casually lead a very large group of homeschooling families in the Phoenix area. I have a dear hubby who designs homes for a local home builder and who is the worship pastor of our church. I live in the desert, which I used to hate, but now appreciate.

Posted on January 16, 2008, in Books for children, Get Organized!, Homeschooling, The Kids. Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.

  1. Sounds like you’ve got a great plan going! I schedule out what my kids do each day too. I have a spreadsheet that I made and I do three weeks at a time. Sometimes at the end of that time we have to bump things back a little because it didn’t all get finished but for the most part it works really well.

    My daughter is doing Latina Christiana 1 this year too. We are in a co-op and the class is through that and she’s really enjoying it. 🙂

  2. Yeah, this year is a re-do of last year. I felt like Latin was really beneficial in loads of ways, but it was hard for me to stay on top of it. We only got through week 5 last year. This year, there have been a few weeks where we’ve had to drop it, but overall, we’ve been able to mostly keep up, and that’s ALL due to the DVDs. They rock.

  3. They use the DVD’s in the co-op too. I can’t imagine trying to do it without! 🙂

    You’re right – there are so many benefits! The main reason I wanted us to do Latin is because of how much it helps with English vocabulary. So much of our language was derived from Latin so learning those words makes it SO easy to determine what an English word means simply by looking at the word itself! It’s awesome! 🙂

  4. Keep up the good work with Latina!

    We’ve made it to lesson 16 in LCI so far, and although my kids wouldn’t say they LOVE it, they sure have learned a lot from it!

    One thing they do enjoy, since they’re so competitive, is the flashcard competitions. That’s helped tremendously with their retention, and they practically beg me to do it. We just use the flashcards, and each kids has a white board and marker. I flash the English, and the first one to say the Latin correctly, AND spell it correctly on the board, wins the card.

    The “winner” is relieved from one chore for the day; the “loser” does the chore instead. Although in the grand scheme of things, there really aren’t any losers since they’ve both increased their Latin retention (sneaky, sneaky!).

  5. OHH! I am so with you on that!

    I wound up chucking the SL IGs and creating my own (figured I was doing most of it anyway, with math, science, languages, art/music. . . )

    The only bummer is that I’m now doing this for 4 boys. . .

  6. MLBAH & Joy ~ The Lingua Angelica just arrived in the mail a few days ago — my freebie from Memoria Press. It looks GREAT! It has a music CD, and it basically expands Latin vocabulary and usage by going over traditional Latin/Catholic hymns. Have you seen it? I’ve already decided to do it after LC1, before we start LC2.

    Christine ~ Hey! Welcome to the blog. Thanks for the comment. I do still use the IGs. I really love SL’s content, and the consistently choose books both that I adore, and ones I never would have thought of, but am so happy to have read them, after we’re through w/ them. KWIM? My brain is just not that organized enough to completely craft three (let alone four!) lesson plans. I do better taking someone else’s ideas and altering them to fit my own — from recipes, landscaping plans, vacations, to lesson plans!!!!

  7. No, Karen, I haven’t seen that. I’ll have to check it out!

  8. Jennifer Adsitt

    I was looking up help with homeschool scheduling, and I came across your blog! We are in our second year of homeschooling – first year with Sonlight. Saturday was exciting – box day! However, after all the excitement and liking through everything, I opened up my instructor’s manual…overwhelming!! My weak point, unfortunately, is scheduling. I need help! Any advice on how I can schedule our day to day? I have a 2nd grader, a preschooler, and a 1 year old. 🙂 Our preschooler will be attending a First Learners Progran at our church on Tuesdays and Thirsdays, so that throws another kink in! Any thoughts or ideas would be greatly appreciated!

    ~ Jenn

    • Jenn, the best thing I can suggest when you are starting a new program is: TAKE IT SLOWLY!! Start with one or two subjects the first week, like read-aloud and math (or whatever). The next week, add in science and history. Or whatever works for your schedule. I find that it is fairly easy to catch up on weeks where you’re “behind”, and it is well-worth your sanity to get used to things gradually, rather than berate yourself for learning an entirely new “platform” all in one fell swoop. If you try to “get it” all at once, it will not only overwhelm yourself, but it will overwhelm your 2nd grader. 🙂 So, truly: Take it slowly. And, at the end of the year, even if you only get half to 3/4 of the Core done, your 2nd grader will have learned WELL beyond what conventionally-schooled second-graders have for that year. 🙂

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