We started puppy training classes this week with Harvey, our four month old cavalier spaniel/bischon frise cross. The classes are on a Wednesday morning and take out (for the next few weeks) one of the six half-days we actually spend at home. Of course all of us, not just Harvey, are learning at the classes, but it is putting a bit of a squeeze on our week!
The solution, it occurred to me, was a schedule! (Colour-coded, naturally.) Don’t you just love the beautiful dance between structure and free-wheeling that is homeschooling?! At the start of September (all those many – er, weeks – ago) I happily shared with a good homeschooling friend that we were taking a fairly autonomous approach this term. She said that her family were doing the opposite, and had begun the new school year with a very structured timetable. At the time we laughed, and said we’d each probably be doing the opposite before too long. And so here I am, colour-coded schedule proudly in hand. 😀
I wrote a few weeks ago about how we’ve been using the big rocks time management system to prioritise project-based learning around the good maths and English habits we already have in place, and that’s still working well as a guiding principle. But recently my left-brain had begun to get a bit antsy about how weeks were slipping by without Cordie doing any copywork or dictation, and then she decided to try a new approach to learning maths, which was great but required a bit more planning … and my free-wheeling right-brain decided it was time to take a back seat for a while.
And guess what? Just like when I move around the furniture to the exact same position it was in 6 months earlier and declare joyfully that it looks “So Much Better!” – we’re getting so much done!
On Thursdays we only have until 1130am at home, but by the time we left the house this morning we had done a stack of English and maths, Cordie had had her project time, the children had enjoyed plenty of time playing in the garden, and we’d even done some history notebooking and had the paints out making Anglo-Saxon coins!
Here’s how a schedule works best for us:
In short bursts. Once it’s helped us find our groove, I’ll happily let the schedule itself fall by the wayside. It’s served its purpose. “Tools, not rules” as my friend Sarah and I say. I can always create a new schedule when the need arises again. (And that colour-coding is so much fun :-D)
A schedule saves time spent arguing about “who goes first” with mummy in the morning. Even though both Cordie and Jasper enjoy their one on one time with me, tearing themselves away from their book/lego/trampoline and getting around to actually starting is a different matter.
I see a schedule as a set of goals rather than a strict timetable. Although there are times written on our schedule, I rarely look at the clock. The timetable just serves as a rough guide to who does what next. There’s plenty of leeway for following rabbit-trails and spending a whole afternoon doing projects or partnership writing a long story if the mood takes us (right brain satisfied), but the timetable helps me remember what else I’d like us to cover in a week (happy left brain). Win win. 🙂
Where are you at right now in the scheduling/free-wheeling dance?