I have had several requests over the last few months for me to share our daily schedule. I have hesitated to do so for two reasons. First of all, I know that many of you have younger children and what I do with my high school age children is far different from what you are able to achieve on a daily basis with children who are not reading on their own yet or need daily help with math and spelling and so on. Also, I know that each family is different in their goals and desires for their children so it is hard to compare what we are doing to someone who has completely different goals. My husband and I decided a long time ago that college was not going to be the only outcome from our homeschooling. We wanted our children to feel as if they had the choice to decide against going away to a university right after graduation. We also wanted them to have a little freedom to try out different things before coming to a final decision on a career. We were not going to push our children to take subjects just because a university thought they needed to cover the material. Please keep those ideas in mind as you look over our daily routine. I have also tried to instill in them the desire to self-educate by finding things they are interested in and then pursuing them on their own. My husband and I pick an overall focus or two for the school year and try to make sure to keep track of our progress. Last year we focused on writing skills and the boys did lots and lots of writing of various types each week. This year we are focusing on working diligently and completing assignments in a thorough way for all subjects and extending the subjects by finding areas of special interest and then completing research independently. These sorts of things you won’t see by looking at our daily schedules.
Above is our schedule for high school on Mondays. Each day is a little different and unique in its own way. I included Friday’s schedule below. They have breaks at 10:15 am as well as a lunch break at noon.
Monday is dedicated to starting off our week well with a history meeting going over the themes for the week and what is expected from them as far as reading, oral narration, and written narration. I have used Homeschool Tracker for a number of years now and I find it is a great tool to let the boys know what is expected and to keep track of their weekly progress. I get them started on history and they are on their own pretty much the rest of the week until Friday when we spend a good portion of the morning going over our history assignments for the whole week. Literature study depends on the week. Sometimes we discuss and preview the material on Monday mornings and then they complete the reading on their own. Other weeks we either read together and discuss the material or they read and give me summaries of the pages each day. Currently we are reading Much Ado About Nothing and it works better to read together and discuss as we go along. I have thoroughly covered how we go about our history and literature with my previous posts about Tapestry of Grace. Basically they read the material and respond in some way with either oral or written narration. I encourage them to use additional sources if they find a topic within the theme that they are interested in learning more about.
They use Teaching Textbooks for Geometry so they are very self-directed by watching the CDs on their own and working through the lessons but I still am available for help if they need it. We alternate geometry and algebra 2, completing one chapter in geometry and then switching over to Saxon Algebra 2. It is a crazy plan but the boys are the ones that came up with the idea. I say as long as both books are covered and they are retaining the information, I am all for it. The long range plans are to have them complete any math beyond these two courses at the community college in their junior or senior years. This way they will receive dual credit for their work and I will be off the hook for the more advanced math that I don’t feel as qualified to teach on my own even with the help of a math curriculum.
We are working through Apologia Marine Biology this year and this has been such a joy to share with the boys. They are very self directed and the lessons themselves do not take more than the 30-45 minutes planned on the schedule. They usually finish early and they use the time to look things that interest them up on the internet and/or color the pages in the Marine Biology Coloring Book. They are expected to keep up the study guide questions, thoroughly complete the lab reports, and they are taking the tests at the end of each module. Every day has been filled with, “Hey Mom! Did you know…..?” I love that when it happens because I know they are making this subject their own.
Both boys play musical instruments and have daily practice Monday through Thursday. They have their weekly practice schedule and I for the most part listen and enjoy as I do other things. They both have been playing their instruments for about nine years so they don’t need as much input from me as they did in the beginning, especially my Suzuki violin child.
Spanish has been accomplished using The Easy Spanish until a few weeks ago when we finished the book. The boys are still working on Rosetta Stone Spanish until I can come up with a plan for the rest of the year. My daughter Amanda speaks Spanish so she is their tutor and teacher for things like grammar and working on reading and speaking fluently.
I have shared previously our art and music plans to go along with our history study in Tapestry of Grace. This is probably our favorite time of the week. I keep it very relaxed and very child interest driven.
Physical education is based on our family’s goals of keeping fit. The boys have been working on meeting the President’s Physical Fitness goals for a number of years now. I test them at the beginning and end of every term to keep track of their progress. Each week we try to include one larger activity which is usually bike riding on the bike trail, taking a hike, or when we have some snow, going snowboarding or skiing. We have lots of informal physical education during the week with big brother and with dad, mostly basketball, weightlifting, and frisbee.
On Wednesdays they have an afternoon period of time to work on the robotics course that I put together using the Lego Mindstorms kits and books. This has worked out very well for the boys and they really have learned so much already this year. I am currently pulling together next semester’s plans.
You will not see several things officially on the schedule because they just get done in between all the rest of the stuff as we have time or the opportunity arises. These things include Sketch Tuesday, Outdoor Hour Challenges, Nature Day one day a month, extra physical education time for early Friday morning bike rides, or any shop sort of activities that they complete with their father. These are very informal but I do keep track of them as the year goes by as part of their high school credits. They also are expected to do some of their literature reading outside of the school day as well and this is not on the daily schedules. One of my sons is working towards getting his pilot’s license someday and he reads extensively on his own time about anything to do with aviation. The other son is learning to make Lego animated movies with our digital camera and some pathetic software that I have on the computer. He learns more by trial and error than anything else.
So much of this is not applicable to families with younger children or children who do not read fluently yet but I think it is valuable to know what you can work towards in the future. I take each year as it comes and this year is a double-edged sword sort of year. The boys are very independent but I have to be on top of what they are covering to some degree so I can keep track of their progress. It takes some effort on my part to read up on their history topics and some of their literature. I need to brush up my geometry and algebra 2 skills as well. I need to be diligent about being available for questions and informal oral narrations.
Our daily schedule has room in it for me to have some time for my household chores and my business needs. When they were younger, I did those things outside of school time. I honestly think that using Homeschool Tracker has helped me in a few ways that I didn’t think about when I started with it. It helps me to plan faster. I can put in lesson plans and then copy and paste to one or both boys with a click. I can make lesson plans and save them for the next year when the younger son is ready to complete them. I also can see in black and white whether I am putting too much into the weekly plan. When I enter an assignment, I give it a time value. If at the end of planning the week I have scheduled more time than we have alloted for school overall, I know I need to eliminate something. It has made my life so much easier.
Whew. That entry took quite a bit to pull together. I hope someone benefits from seeing the particulars of our school day.
Barb-Harmony Art Mom