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Weekly checklist–cross that off the to-do list

August 1, 2009

I asked each of the boys if they would come have a “school interview” with me.  C looked at me funny so I asked him if he knew what an interview was.  He said, “Yeah, it’s what you always have in the middle of your orchestra concerts.” 

Intermission–interview–it’s all the same.

I asked them all what they liked about school this year (everything) and what they didn’t like (can’t think of anything.)  What they would like to do more of (everything) and what would they change (nothing.)  Apparently we have the perfect homeschool!  Seriously though, A said he loves history, would like to do more science experiments, and in general just wants to learn more “stuff.”  He craves knowledge.  Oh, and maps–more maps are always a good thing.  I foresee a National Geographic Atlas of the World under the Christmas tree this year.

C didn’t want to sit long enough to add any details, he just wanted to get back to reading his book.  And D just wants to do more school, which is a good sign, or else he was just having a very agreeable day.  He loves his number book and his letter book and loves Five in a Row, and likes history and science and art.  At least in theory.  We’ll see if he wants to actually sit down and participate more this year than he did last year.  Most days, they do all enjoy what we do schooling-wise.  So a lot of our curriculum is staying the same as last year (and full details will be forthcoming.)   

The main thing I want to change this year is our organization and accountability in our school work.  I never feel like I’m as effective as I could be with our time and I frequently lose track of time.  I have our basic outline for the year and have a vague idea what we should be accomplishing each week to stay on track, and how many times each week I think we should do each subject, but I’m constantly feeling like we could do so much more if…I’d just get with it.  I’ll freely admit, the problem is mainly me, although I won’t get into all my personal issues and bad habits here (at least not today.)

Our biggest issue is lack of a schedule.  I’ve developed quite a few to-the-minute school schedules only to toss them about a week later as things came up that threw us off the schedule almost daily.  I also hated watching the clock so much and we like to switch the order of things around just because we can.  So last winter I started writing a daily list of subjects to complete based on how the rest of the week had gone.  A really liked it (he’s a box-checker just like me) but I felt like C thought I was always making him do so much work.  I know how much needs to get done in a week, but it does nobody else any good when it’s all in my head. 

So, while it’s not all that pretty, I finally came up with a weekly checklist for each child.  One day I’ll get more high-tech and figure out how to link an actual document for perusal (as if anyone else cares.)

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I’ve seen some just beautiful charts out there (this is a great time of year to read homeschool blogs!) with columns for each child and one for Mommy so everyone can see at a glance that when Child A is working on math, Child B is reading with Mommy, and then Child A moves to independent reading, while Child B does math, and Mommy can give personal attention to Child C on something or another.  I CANNOT wrap my head around a schedule like that.  I’ve tried and tried and I just can’t figure out who should do what when so that I don’t have three of them vying for my help and attention all at the same time.  Somehow we just muddle through and make it work.

But I did finally figure out the above checklist.  I took each subject, decided how many times per week (ideally) it needs to be done, and plugged them in across a 5-day workweek so everybody can see what should happen in a week’s time.  Things that can be done independently are in color and you can choose the order!  (My children are very particular about being in charge of things like that.)  Group subjects are in black and specific times are not attached.  I know C and D will need me for just about everything, at least to get them started, but the goal, in the next five months especially, is to get everyone to be more independent and accountable for what’s on their checklist, without me having to direct them every minute of the day and remind them they still haven’t done any math.  They can all see it for themselves.  Everybody can see it.  Daddy can see it and keep up on their progress as well as help keep them going if need be when Baby comes. 

I know A will thrive on this.  He loves to cross things off.  We’ll see if it helps C feel more like he’s in control of his week rather than feeling like I just make up work to torture him and deny him playtime.  And I already feel some of the pressure gone from being the constant daily activity director.  So much of our lives depends on how the Mom is functioning and the past 7 months or so have not been my best and everything around here has suffered, schoolwork included.  Now hopefully, even if I’m having a bad day, everyone will know what should be happening and can get to work.  These boys are really quite responsible if I would just give them the chance to be responsible for something.  I’m slowly learning how to do that! 

I’ve also learned from past experience not to copy off 36 weeks’ worth of an initial plan.  So we’ll try this for a few weeks and while I’m sure we’ll tweak things as we find out just how realistic my planning was, I’m hopeful.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. August 1, 2009 7:13 am

    I love check off sheets too. Such a feeling of accomplishment, lol

    For A with his mapmaking…The K’s made cookie maps last school year that turned out to be a LOT of fun. Katie did Africa, and Kayla did a farm. http://laughlivelearnlove.blogspot.com/2008/09/cookie-maps.html There’s a clickable photo or two plus directions on my blog. It might give you another idea for mapping since A likes mapmaking so much. 🙂

  2. August 2, 2009 7:47 am

    I have the Wonders of Old timeline book and love it.

    Looks like it will be a full and fun year for you all!

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