“In the first place, there is a time-table, written out fairly, so that the child knows what he has to do and how long each lesson is to last. This idea of definite work to be finished in a given time is valuable to the child, not only as training him in habits of order, but in diligence.”
— Charlotte Mason, from her Original Homeschooling Series, vol. 1
Probably the biggest challenge in homeschooling for me has been the schedule. Figuring out how to make it all fit together for four (sometimes five) people so that I am available to read lessons to the younger ones who need it, or to explain a math lesson to one who’s having difficulty, or to listen to a narration of one who has finished her reading — this takes patience, perseverance, and I might add, brain power!
Up until recently, I let each child work through his or her studies according to their own pace. Everyone was doing something different from everyone else at any given time. This created a feeling of chaos, more so in my mind than anything else, I believe; but then, if my mind feels chaotic, I have a hard time acting calm and peaceful!
I ran across a clever idea on a homeschooling mom’s blog (I forget which one, sorry) that I have since implemented in our home. It fits perfectly with the Charlotte Mason idea of short and varied lessons. We all do the same subject at the same time.
Now not everyone is learning from the same lesson, but when the schedule says history, then each child gets his book, finds a comfy place to read, and reads one chapter. I read aloud to Jefferson, who’s 7. I allow 30 minutes for each subject. Most of the time a chapter can be read in 15 min. or less, but my 7th grader sometimes needs almost all of the 30 minutes for a couple of her books. The remaining 10 or 15 minutes for that subject are spent listening to narrations in turn.
Then when the next half hour rolls around, all the kids get out their math books and work through a lesson. We use Life of Fred Math, (more about that in a future post) which is a self-taught curriculum, but again, I read through the lesson with my 7-year-old, and then take questions from any of the other kids before moving on to the next subject. When one is finished with his lesson before time for the next subject, he has the remaining minutes for a break!
“This possibility of letting the children occupy themselves variously in the few minutes they may gain at the end of each lesson, is compensation which the home schoolroom offers . . .” —vol. 1
We’ve been following this particular scheduling style since Christmas break, and it is working very well for us so far. I’ll write next time more about how our preschooler fits into all this. 🙂
How about you? I’d love to hear your ideas, so feel free to share them with the rest of us in the comments.
Our curriculum is a mix from the free curriculum guides offered at these two websites:
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