If I had to describe the way I organize and plan our day/week/year, I would have to use these words: organized winging-it. They seem to contradict each other don’t they? I’ll try to explain what I mean— and maybe, just maybe one of you might be a kindred organized winging-it person too!
1. At the beginning of the year I sit down and plan a daily schedule. This is the ultimate ideal schedule— you know the one where kids–err I get up on time, no disruptions, everyone is working on-task etc. Even though I don’t follow this to a T (or even at all on
some most days), I make it so that I know what to do with my time and know how to arrange teaching subjects. With 6 kids, juggling subjects can be tricky at times!
2. Next I plug in places we have to be/online class times into my On the Go planner. That way when I have to make appointments etc. I can easily schedule around possible conflicts.
3. This year I am trying something new. I am typing up weekly schedules for each of my kids and filing them in folders by week. I have use The Homeschool Planner by Jolanthe for this. Since I tend to have a bit of the winging-it attribute in my blood, I find that I easily forget to finish things and I move onto new things too soon. Each lesson just has a week on it, not dates. That way if we do a whole “winging-it” week, I can just move the unused lesson plan to the next folder. Also included in the folder are any hand-outs, worksheets etc. they will need for that week.
On Sunday evenings/Monday mornings I meet with each of my older children to go over past assignments and to give them the new week’s assignments. They have their own student planners this year to help them stay organized. So far it is working out very well for my high schooler. The other two need to get in the habit of actually using their planners. This is “training” month for them.
So once I get everything planned, here’s how it all plays out:
Time to Get Started:
Ideal schedule says 7:30 am — reality is 9:00am. Honestly, mornings are not my strong-suit. I am trying to get started earlier, but our family tends to be a late-night family. Plus, right now I’m not sleeping well at night. Everyone eats breakfast together. Older kids move on to independent subjects.
While the older kids are working, I try to do a couple of activities with my younger 3. We might all work on a chore, read a book, or do a lesson. It really depends on the day. A couple years ago I wrote in more detail how I plan for the younger children: The Art of Winging It: The Preschool Edition.
I also spend some 1 on 1 time with my kindergartener during the day. We’ll usually do one or two more academic activities together. Right now she is loving math and has just started her new writing curriculum.
In the afternoons I usually do group teaching or family read-alouds. If I can, I try to pair more than one kid in the same curriculum. That’s one reason why Mystery of History and Illuminations is a perfect fit for our family— all ages can use it.
I’m often asked what do my toddlers and preschoolers do while I am working with my older children. I do have specific activities for them to do on their own, plus they now have a playroom. Honestly though, they tend to make messes. I’ve just learned to readjust my thinking and not stress out about it. My goal is to minimize the mess-making opportunities. So in order to do that, I limit the amount of toys/manipulatives they have access to for that day and I try to teach in the same room where they are playing. After I am done, I have them clean up anything they have messed up during that time.
I look like I have everything scheduled and planned dont’ I? Well, the truth is,I stink at sticking to schedules.
If we get caught up in a book and read 2 extra chapters, I’ll just skip something else for the day. Or if it is nice out and it seems like we’d do better on a outdoor excursion, we’ll do that instead. If I find out it’s International Ice-Cream day and I had no idea, we might work on ice-cream related projects for the day. My schedule is a flexible frame-work. It keeps me pointed in the right direction while giving me room to change course when needed.
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