Our Homeschool Scheduling Method

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It has been a struggle to craft a homeschool scheduling system that all four of us can agree on. When I say “it has been,” I also mean: “And it continues to be, so make mine a double.” In the past eight months, our trial and error record is littered with triumphs and failures — more latter than former. However, I think we are closer to a solution that works for our family.

Homeschool Scedule

Our Homeschool Scheduling Method

When we started out, we had set times for classes and activities. Basically, we tried to keep both kids on (approximately) the same activity at (approximately) the same time. When it was math time, they both worked on math, when it was writing time, they both pulled out their journals, and so on. Our problem was obvious: we were not giving enough individualized instruction. S is an eleven-year-old boy, and M is an eight-year-old girl.

They have different learning styles, different interests and very different personalities. It should have been glaringly apparent that trying to keep them on similar tasks for the same amount of time was a bad idea. However, Keiko and I foolishly plodded on for months doing this. Then we flirted with unschooling — a knee-jerk reaction in the opposite direction. That didn’t work either, although it’s quite possible that we didn’t give it enough time (I haven’t abandoned the idea).

Our homeschool scheduling

Now, however, we feel like we’ve hit upon something that I see working for us. It seems so basic that I feel odd sharing it, but feel that I should. Despite my love for gadgets, our new homeschool scheduling system is now pencil and paper…graph paper, that is. We basically write up a weekly chart for each kid. On the top axis are the dates for one week: Sunday though Saturday. Along the side axis are all the topics we want the kids to cover.

  1. Japanese Reading
  2. Japanese Writing: Kanji practice
  3. Math: Japanese workbooks
  4. Math: Khan Academy
  5. Math: Time4Learning
  6. English: Reading Rainbow app
  7. English/Current Events: News-O-Matic
  8. English/Free reading time
  9. Writing: Journal
  10. Spelling: ClicknSpell
  11. Social Studies: Time4Learning
  12. Science: Time4Learning
  13. Guitar Practice
  14. Personal Projects

Japanese

For Japanese reading, writing and math, we rely on materials we brought from Tokyo and books that they bought in Osaka (Japanese bookstores aren’t great in Penang). As you can see, we also rely heavily on apps and programs like Khan Academy and Time4Learning. English free-reading time can be any books that they choose (within reason of course, but we haven’t said “no” so far).

English and Project

For their journals, they dictate one or two pages to me, which I write down, explaining the grammar, spelling and punctuation as we go. They then must copy it into their own journal, which I check. Soon they’ll start writing the journal on their own.

As for #14, Personal Projects, these are things that don’t fit in the above categories, such as drawing, cooking, creating videos and horticulture (we have some vegetables on the veranda). These project ideas are just beginning to take shape with the time they have. After all, they also have chess, soccer, swimming and computers classes around town, and we also want them to have some down time.

And before you ask, of course they don’t cover all fourteen subjects every day — they average about three hours of work on weekdays, with less on the weekends.

Let kids create their own schedules

The kids create their own schedules, working on what they choose, when they choose, for the most part. They can also take breaks when they like, as long as they don’t take them too often. iPod games and video breaks are allowed within reason.

Monitor the process

Keiko and I observe what they’re covering as they fill in the chart with how much time they’ve worked on something — 20 minutes per session is the minimum. If one subject or activity seems to be ignored, we nudge them in that direction. Keiko and I will work off these charts, plugging their engagement time into a spreadsheet to track exactly how much time they spend on each activity, and steering them toward adjustments if we see deem them necessary.

I’m sure our homeschool scheduling will change and evolve as we move forward, and that’s ok with me. As long as we learn from earlier disasters and the kids are happy,  learning and dealing with the occasional bout of boredom, I’m sure we’ll work it out.

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