Wednesday, September 8, 2010

How We Structure Our School Days-Time

Since my kids tend to thrive on the predictable, we try to keep a basic structure on school days. The subjects change but the time spent doing schoolwork tends to stay largely the same.

A typical day starts between 8:15 and 8:30 with a short task.  It's usually something that the kids can accomplish mostly on their own while I get breakfast ready. This gets us thinking in "school" mode. It also gives us the chance to "cross something off our list".

I usually try to teach one of the subjects we do together (religion, science, history) while they eat breakfast. It's often something they listen to and then we discuss. They're a captive audience and we're together anyway.

After breakfast we'll do any writing or activities that accompany the breakfast lesson.

Then we'll usually split up for one-on-one subjects. I'll assign one child to a "center" activity, folder work, or something on the computer that can be completed with little or no help from me. The other child and I will work on a subject like math, language arts, or handwriting that is best done without outside interruption. After I'm done with one child I'll switch and work with the other.

Depending on the day, this is a good time for a little break. I try to gauge this based on the intensity of the work already completed or whether any of us seem to have a real need for it at this point.

Some days we'll also come back together for a "morning meeting" which is another subject we do together. I try to make this subject something less academic, since at this point we've already put in a significant amount of time working. Playing Spanish vocabulary bingo, doing an art project, or reading together fit this theme.

After this, the kids enjoy a well-deserved break. Someday I'll figure out how to squeeze a break in here for myself, too. For now I'm usually cleaning up, putting away the morning's tidbits, and making lunch.

There are often a few assignments leftover for the afternoon. These are usually accomplished without too much complaint, since they are followed by free time. It's also the time of day we'll watch any videos that would accompany one of our academic subjects.

I'm a big fan of active, physical, (hopefully) outdoor time. We all try to get out as a family each day in the evenings. (Besides the health benefits, the obvious benefit is having kids who are tired enough to get to sleep at a decent time!) We also like to squeeze some active time in during the school day.

I'll address the questions of "What are we doing today?" and "Are we done yet?" in another post.

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