There are moments when I wish I could figure out how to be five places at once. This way when I am homeschooling my kids, I could stand by each one of them and help them with their needs. (Why five places when you only have four kids, you say? I would be sitting on my husband’s lap, having a fun conversation about his latest piece of artwork.)
While it may be summer time and school won’t “officially” start until August, this might be a good time for me to sit down and figure out an easier way to balance my kids’ schoolwork; since being in five places isn’t logically possible and being in one place can be stressful enough without trying to be in five!
The first thing I want to do is list all of the core curriculum that needs to be covered. Each of the kids have a certain amount of schoolwork per day. It helps to list each person’s work separately and then compare. For example:
Trinity – Bible, Spelling, Language Arts, Arithmetic, Geography, History & Science
Noel – Bible, Spelling, Language Arts, Arithmetic, Geography, History & Science
‘Lina – Bible, Spelling, Language Arts, Arithmetic, Geography, History & Science
Joseph – Bible, Spelling, Handwriting, Language Arts, Arithmetic, Geography, History & Science
Just looking at the list above, I can see that most of the subjects are the same, it is only the level of work that will change.
The second thing I want to do is figure out which subjects can be taught as a group. Having the kids come together on a subject cuts down on my teaching time and on my stress level. I usually make a point of doing Bible, History, and Science together. We do the initial lessons together and then work is handed out to each child based on their skill level. The other subjects I will need to balance.
The third thing I want to do is put my curriculum in order of how it will be taught. It always helps to know what direction I am heading in and to set up a routine; it is good for me and the kids. This will also help me figure out the pace at which each of my children will progress. For example, I know that Noel, Trinity, and ‘Lina will be working on Spelling at the same time, but JAG will start with Handwriting. This will make him slower at getting to Language Arts than his sisters, which will buy me some time. Between Trinity and Noel, Noel’s Spelling list is shorter, so I know she will progress to Language Arts faster. Knowing how fast they progress will help me to determine the order of the subjects and how much “bouncing around” I am going to have to do.
The forth thing I want to do is add in my electives. On top of my core curriculum I often have electives that either I or my children would like to cover. Our family has chosen to add Typing, Spanish, Piano, and Coding. Our electives are done in what I call “rotations”. Each of my children will be at a “station”; any one of our three computers or the piano. They are given a certain amount of time at that station and when they hear Mom call out “Switch!”; they know it is time to change.
The last thing I want to do is make sure I schedule in breaks and lunches. Once I know what needs to be covered and the general order of how it will progress, I need to make sure that I start figuring out where to give my kids some breathing room. Schooling is necessary, but having scheduled breaks gives them something to look forward to and a chance to reset their minds for more learning. Our schedule usually goes something like this:
Breakfast and Short Free Time Bible, PE, Spelling, Language, Arithmetic, Geography
History & Science
Lunch Time and Short Free Time
Notice that I don’t put down a time for each of these. Our family works on a routine, not a schedule. If we start at 8am, great! If we don’t start till 9am, no sweat! My kids don’t have a certain amount of time per subject, they are only told how much needs to be done. How quickly they work through it is entirely up to them. The faster they work, the sooner they get done, and get to have free time.
While our routine isn’t perfect; it certainly works for us. With much prayer (and much trial and error), we have finally come to a place where the kids are learning at a wonderful rate and Mommy isn’t feeling like a rubber ball.