Last week, I talked about choosing curriculum for teaching multiple ages. I mentioned some examples of curricula that are good for independent learning, and some that are designed for combining children. I also told of the necessity of balancing those types of curriculum with those that require intensive teacher involvement.
This week, I will give some guidelines for scheduling your homeschool day. I know, some people break out in hives at the mere mention of the word schedule, but there is a great deal of flexibility in scheduling. Many people have great success in making very specific daily schedules. Others prefer to have a general routine, without setting specific times to their activities.
To start building your homeschool schedule, first make a column for each child you are teaching. Under each column make a list of the subjects he will be studying, making a note of the resources you have selected for each subject. Also note if it’s an independent resource, requires help from you, or is a combined resource.
Math – Singapore 2A – Start with me, then independent
Spelling – Spelling Power – with me
English – Rod and Staff – independent
Bible – morning devotions – with me and Susie
History – Story of the World – with me and Susie
Science – Apologia Astronomy – with me and Susie
Then make a similar list for other students.
The next step is to combine everyone’s schedule. In this example, I would probably start the day with Bible with everyone. Then I could begin math with Johnny, while Susie does something independent. (Something like handwriting or copywork is good for younger students, but not so young that they need constant attention to their handwriting.) After going over the math lesson with Johnny, I would then move to help Susie on her math. Later, I would meet with everyone together for history or science.
This is a somewhat simplified example, but I hope it illustrates the thought process in making a schedule. Some additional ideas for independent time for children while you’re working with another child are silent reading, educational computer time, or playing with a younger sibling. Last year, I set up my schedule to include one meeting time with each of my two older students. During the meeting, we went over the math lesson, looked at the independent assignments and went over the instructions. This freed up more time for me to work with my younger son and cut down on the questions that interrupted me while I was working with another child.
An excellent resource for learning about making a schedule is Managers of Their Homes (MOTH). This book guides you through building a complete schedule for you and your entire family’s day. It does an excellent job of teaching you to think through your priorities and goals. In addition, MOTH includes a kit to assist you in physically making the schedule. Here’s a review of MOTH by a woman who is homeschooling her five children.
Another scheduling idea that has recently swept the homeschooling world by storm is Sue Patrick’s Workbox System. The basic plan consists of setting up a system of 12 workboxes for each student to work through every day. Each box contains only the assignment for that subject that day. When the assignment is complete, the box is removed, thus providing a visual encouragement to the student. Here’s a recent review of Sue Patrick’s workbox system that also contains many links to various blogs that detail their adaptations of the system.
Another unique scheduling idea worth considering is Loop Scheduling. The idea is to list the subjects in order. When time for school is done, stop work. The next day, you will begin with the subject that was next in the sequence. This is a neat idea to make sure that you get to all the great “extra” subjects that seem to get pushed aside due to fatigue and running out of time.
As you can see, there is great variety in scheduling methods. Hopefully, you now have some ideas on how to schedule your school day so that you can teach multiple children.