How Do You Organize Your Homeschool High School Week?

Stack of Literature Senior Year  

A reader asked:
Barb, I wonder if you would mind talking a bit more about how your son organizes his own day/week? Do you give him a list of assignments and then he just has to get them finished by Friday? I remember another post for your high school students where the times were all set down in a schedule. Which way do you prefer or recommend? Thanks so much,

How do you organize your homeschool week?
More than any other homeschooling question I receive on this blog, the one above is the one I find the most often in my inbox. Coming in a close second are questions about how I award grades for high school work.

Both questions are not an easy answer. I will try to be concise…which will take some thought. I am not big on working for grades or taking tests so my methods will vary from those that are aiming to build a high school transcript full of achievements in that direction. (You can see my thinking on grades and transcripts in these posts: Charlotte Mason Method and Grades.and High School Transcript Thoughts.)

  • Mr. A (graduated last year) needed more structure to his schedule and he liked having a time frame to his day…down to the minute. (This is the specific time schedule mentioned in the question above.)
  • Mr. B (16 year old Senior) is much more of a “whole to parts” learner than any of my other children. He devours any subject that I give him and then picks it apart to make it his own. I try to allow him lots of time to digest because he needs it and craves it. He works better from a list and spreads his work out over his day rather loosely. (This is the list of assignments approach mentioned in the original question. Glimpse his Homeschool Tracker assignment sheet in this post: Homeschool Planning Procrastination.)
How do you organize your homeschool week?

1. I Make a Goal: I find I need to do a lot of up-front work in order to make high school work. I need to have in my mind what I want to achieve from a subject and then try to think about how to offer it in a way that will allow for Mr. B’s need to digest things for himself. In the end, he gets more out of a subject than I can ever plan for which is a good thing but it takes time.

Planning High School Writing

2. I Gather My Resources: The next step is to gather the nuts and bolts that make up the goal. For example: This year I made a chart to organize my ideas for literature, poetry, and writing for Mr. B. I included art and music study in the last column because he does lots of writing in those subjects as well. This way I can see at a glance what he is going to be reading and writing in any one week. Since I am combining several different curricula together to make an overall plan, I find it valuable to have one chart that shows them all side-by-side. (Tapestry of Grace, American Literature from IEW, and Harmony Fine Arts)

  • For example, this was week 17. He was finishing his Lord of the Flies and Huck Finn essays, He started reading Langston Hughes poetry, and he wrote a piece on the Gothic elements in Poe’s Pit and the Pendulum

3. I Put it on Paper: Once I have in my head (and down on paper) what the goal and overall plan is for a subject, I am ready to fire up Homeschool Tracker. This gives me a way to take the break down the goal into bite-size pieces. I enter in the assignments for each subject, print a weekly assignment list, and put it in his planner. (I did a massive planning session over the winter break and got most of his assignments done for the rest of the year.)

Flip Side Notebook Page
Flip-side of his notebook page with the extra topics he researched

4. I Keep It Flexible:  Mr. B works from the assignment list generated in Homeschool Tracker. Ideally, he gets a day’s assignments done each school day but for Mr. B this doesn’t seem to work for him as well as I would like. He will get deep into a book or subject, researching topics of interest as he goes. So the daily checklist is not completed but lots of learning takes place. He will make up the assignments missed the next day or sometimes even over the weekend. I try to remind myself that homeschooling does not need to have strict boundaries. The traditional “school week” does not need to be adhered to and in Mr. B’s mind he is getting his assignments done in a way that makes sense to him.

  • For example, in his anatomy study he is using Simple Schooling’s Human Anatomy course. Mr. B will read his assigned pages and then fire up the internet to look more deeply into something he found interesting from his reading. I have learned to allow time for that extra research, knowing that this is where he is truly learning by asking his own questions and digging for the answers. I try to get him to write down somewhere in the text a note letting me know what he looked up. Usually he tells me some little tidbit he learned or shows me something that he found in his research. For most subjects, I ask that he flip his notebook page over and jot down just the main points he looked at online (usually he lists bullet points) so I have a record of what to ask him about at our weekly meetings.

5. How I Work With Deadlines and Diligence: Finishing a project by a deadline is a skill that needs to be learned. Being diligent is a quality we all need to develop. Although we worked on building both things in the younger years, my teens seem to solidly learn these skills and qualities as we work through high school. It would be much easier if they were in  place at the beginning of the high school journey but in reality they are things that constantly need to be honed. There is a time and a place for a deadline but I know if I enforced strict rules on what needed to be done with Mr. B that his learning would not be as living and breathing as it is now. He is capable of making a deadline and he will get things done by that deadline in most cases. It is what happens between the giving of the assignment and the deadline that I am more flexible with in high school.

In the end, I try to fit the shape of the schedule to fit the student, looking at the big picture and adjusting the format of the schedule which allows for learning and personality differences. The truth is that Mr. B is more of an unschooler than any of my other children. He just needs to be pointed in the right direction. He tolerates my need to have a schedule and list of assignments. It makes ME more accountable. I know he is learning and growing as a person because I am observing it everyday. He reads, writes, discusses, debates, draws, asks questions, researches, and more every day.

Honestly, I think he feels the schedule interrupts his learning.

High School Notebook Pages
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