Expressions from our Youngest

Expressions from our Youngest
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Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Mid-Year Evaluation of Schedules

Here is Bella...the new puppy addition to our household.  I've put her picture here to cheer you up while I get into my analysis of my homeschool schedule.  She has been such a good puppy so far...even with all our 'puppy interruptions' to homeschooling.

Homeschoolers know that we have to be flexible for the demands of family life.  My schedule is designed for a week when we do not have to go anywhere.  We all know...this can not always happen with family life.  The puppy has pushed our subjects back a bit during our studies.  That is o.k. though because I've designed the schedule to end at around 2:30 pm.  We have a couple of hours to play when necessities like this occur in our schedule.  We will be sure to complete the basics, history, journal writing, and reading today...even with all our 'puppy distractions.'

I am attempting to begin 1/2 an hour earlier in our schedule than I had originally planned at the beginning of the year - changing from 9:00 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. - for our Pledge, Devotion, and Prayer.  This will ensure that we complete 3 to 4 subjects before lunch time.  Often we average between two and three subjects before lunch.  Once we say our daily prayers and devotions, we set the momentum to pursue our morning studies.

The fact that we MUST begin each day with the Pledge, Devotion, and Prayer lets us put our faith as the priority every day.  It is so rewarding to think of how Our Lord leads us before we begin work.  When I had all five or four (or even two) kids homeschooling, we would say a Morning Offering and save our prayers and devotion until the afternoon.  It was beneficial then as it strove us to conquer our math lessons and challenging subjects in the morning when we (I - ha ha) had the most energy.  Our family needed mornings for this and, we looked forward to a quiet and peaceful prayer time in the afternoons.  This also enabled the older kids to play after work while babies napped, cuddled with mom, or received my full attention.  Every family changes and modifies their approach as their families grow to meet the needs of all.  This is just how our homeschooling day has evolved over the years.

In the schedule below, you will note that we have the choice between two to three subjects at certain hours of the day.  This permits us to devote more time to the subjects that require extra planning or materials or choose the subject with the highest need at the time.  We have to plan and gather materials occasionally for projects in history or experiments in science.  We also need to make sure we've chosen good library books for NOL Journal Writing beforehand.  All these things take extra time.  Therefore, time for these subjects will attempt to be between 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. and 12:00 to 12:45 p.m. each day. 

In reviewing the lessons for these three subjects, I may need extra materials to buy or books to borrow from the library.  Some days I will be able to devote this time to two of the subjects while I can purchase or gather the materials for the third subject in the evening for the following day.  It is important to know that these three subjects take the most time and planning and are scheduled during our most productive time to work with a lunch break in the middle of their execution.  Oftentimes, lessons are broken up during the week for these subjects:

1)  Science
2)  History
3)  NOL Journal Writing

Before accomplishing these three subjects, we will complete an important basic.  It has always been good for us to complete math lessons in the morning.  I think this comes from awful memories from my school days where it was hot and late in math class.  All I could do was think about the bell ringing to go home (I don't dare tell my kids this just in case they have math in the afternoons).  Therefore, I've devoted every day this year (M - F) from 9:00 a.m. to 9:45 a.m. to complete math for my first grade son.  We will occasionally look at our extra religion lessons from CCD class or Faith and Life series during this time too.  It usually takes my son around 30 to 40 minutes to finish math lessons.  His speed somewhat increasing or decreasing at times.  This gives us a guarantee to fulfill time spent on an important basic every day.

I've just picked up a Christian Light Education (CLE) Math in January.  We complete a CLE lesson along with an MCP Math page (front and back).  We are in the last quarter of MCP Math and the beginning of the book for CLE Math.  This gives us the best of both worlds as the beginning of many math texts or workbooks are often filled with some review.  Patrick is still learning new skills and at the same time reviewing past concepts.  Both of these curriculums are in workbook form and are very user friendly for first graders.  Therefore, we are not conquering tons of challenging  textbook material in both curriculums at this age.  By third or fourth grade, he will be ready for Saxon Math.

Another important basic for Patrick to complete is English.  He has a simple workbook this year so may average around 20 minutes to complete this subject beginning around 11:15 a.m.  We've been spending more time with Journal writing this year, but I still want him to finish his workbook.  This is one reason I am re-evaluating our schedule in ensure we cover everything we purchased at the beginning of the year.  It is just a matter of rearranging the initial schedule a bit to squeeze in the necessary time for subjects that have received less attention.

There are limited occasions when history, science, and/or journal writing get pushed into 'overtime.'  On these days, we will omit English and/or eat lunch a little later.  It all depends on the type of project or experiment we do that particular day.  There is about 1/3 of his English workbook to finish.  It may not be the same situation to make English so flexible in second or third grade because we start using the Voyages in English text and pick up Spelling.

Around 12:00 to 12:45 p.m. we will attempt to complete two out of three subjects.  They are:

1)  Catholic National Reader
2)  Library book w/ NOL Journal Writing (Sci or Hist)
3)  Religion: CCD Class / Faith and Life Series

Numbers 1) and 2) we will probably alternate between every day as they both always involve reading and writing (unless we need to finish up a project or experiment).  Notice that I can determine which subject requires the most time each week by choosing between two or three subjects at one designated time.  During some weeks, we have more religion because of the extended gathering time taken during our CCD or a longer project or experiment to conduct for completion.  NOL Journal Writing is always broken up and is easily manageable to fit in where needed.

Between 1:00 and 1:30 we will attempt to complete another two of three subjects.  The subjects are:

1)  Geography
2)  Phonics
3)  Handwriting

These subjects are all in workbook form.  We've saved the easiest subjects for the afternoon.

From 2:00 to 2:30 we will dedicate to reading good chapter books together.  We have 2 1/2 hours to fix dinner or catch up on loose ends.  This gives us flexibility if something gets started late or we want to venture out for some fun or an important errand.

Our schedule is below:

 8:30  -  9:00  ---  Pledge, Devotion, Prayer
 9:00  -  9:45  ---  CLE Math/MCP Math and or Religion
10:00 - 11:00 ---  History, Science, and/or NOL Journal Writing
11:15 - 11:30 ---  English
11:30 - 12:00 ---  Lunch
12:00 - 12:45 ---  CNR, NOL, (Sci or Hist), and Religion
  1:00 -   1:30 ---  Geography, Phonics, and/or Handwriting
  2:00 -   2:30 ---  Reading

This is my schedule in a perfect world.  Unfortunately, it is not a perfect world.  For example, the other day we were only able to complete three subjects because I had to pick my daughters up for 1/2 day of school, get two kids hair cuts, and bring Bella to the vet.  When I have a plan though, it helps me to have goals and objectives to strive for during certain periods of our day.  I wanted to document our plan here and share it with you if you can gain any insight from it for your own homeschooling.  I've been homeschooling for over twenty years now and it is helpful to learn from each other.  Keep in mind that I've only had to homeschool during the elementary and middle school years for my kids.  I credit this to the priority of their faith life and learning the virtues that come with proper actions and attitudes to doing their work.

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