View Full Version : What do you consider "bare minimum"?

02-28-2012, 07:08 PM
Life has been very stressful lately, with a death in the family + dealing with the estate/extended family drama, health issues, and more. I've been having a hard time getting out of bed most days, truth be told. Needless to say, the schooling isn't up to my usual standards. Keeping my dd motivated and on track is a full time gig, and I'm just not up for it. I have to maintain some sort of structure - my little Aspie requires it - but for my sanity it needs to be minimal. Suggestions?

02-28-2012, 07:28 PM
I'm not sure I have any suggestions, but wanted to send my condolences to you and your family.

02-28-2012, 07:30 PM
First of all, I'm sorry for everything that you're dealing with at the moment. We've hit a rough patch, too, with a confirmed diagnosis I didn't want and a big ol' flare of said diagnosis. I understand how hard it is to slog through each day.

Our "must do" subjects are math, language arts, social studies and some kind of physical exercise. On our challenging days, Zack does yoga or rides the stationary bike, practices Reflex math drills for 20 minutes, does one or two lessons of Teaching Textbooks, a chapter of Story of the World, and a page each in Word Roots, Daily Six-Trait Writing, Daily Language Review, Daily Grammar and Daily Geography. Then I point him toward our well-stocked homeschooling library and computer and say "Go learn, child." He will happily toodle around educational sites or sit down and read a Kids Discover magazine or become engrossed in a book for the remainder of our homeschool day. Lately I've had to supervise from the couch, but we're making it work.

I hope things get better for you soon!

02-28-2012, 07:30 PM
Assuming my child wasn't behind on something, my absolute bare minimum in normal times to me would be math and reading in some form or another. At my son's age I probably would request he write something, anything, too just because it isn't completely fluid for him yet and I think it is important to work on often.

Sorry you are going through so much, I wouldn't really consider those normal times! If she doesn't demand too much of a routine, maybe you could take your spring or summer break now and pick up the rest during what would have been those times originally? Or some educational DVDs? That might be what I'd do. I hope things improve for you.

02-28-2012, 07:38 PM
Assuming my child wasn't behind on something, my absolute bare minimum in normal times to me would be math and reading in some form or another.

Ditto. I would throw in some journal work here and there, and consider it done.

Hope things get better for your family soon.

02-28-2012, 07:38 PM
My go-to minimum is math, free reading (one fiction and one non-fiction book that is interesting), and writing in a journal. If your dd needs more, maybe pick up one of the "Xth grade" workbooks and have her do a page from each section. DOes she like coloring? Dover puts out some intricate themed coloring books, such as:

Does dd know how to knit? Or make potholders? Some easy, repetitive craft might provide some consistency/comfort to her without requiring much input from you.

02-28-2012, 07:52 PM
If I had to cut our schedule down to two hours a day, it would be math and reading.
The rest is extra.

02-28-2012, 08:39 PM
Math and reading here too. That's often ALL we get accomplished lately, and I DON'T have any other issues going on. Life's just hectic and the days get away from us. That doesn't mean they're not learning, just means it's not mom-led ;) They can learn ALOT from the right websites, so that can count as school too...

02-28-2012, 10:34 PM
I'm so sorry to hear your family is going through so much right now. I can only imagine how difficult things are for everyone.

Bare minimum at our house is reading and math. Because we too have had our fair share of struggles this year, I signed both the girls up for Time4Learning. If push comes to shove, they do a couple language arts and math lessons on there, read to me at some point throughout the day, and we call it good.

Hope things get better for you soon. Take care.

02-29-2012, 02:17 AM
Well, I would call it "emergency homeschooling" or "crisis homeschooling." We had been going through that for what feels like a long time - and it stinks. But sometimes you just have to do triage. And what I have discovered - is that when I removed all of the review because of the summer brain drain - I am not nearly as far behind as I thought.

My kids are younger. So I would just give a math worksheet and do some story book reading. Send them outside to play. My main goal would be to keep some sort of routine or rhythm so that we could pick up again later.

At 10 your daughter is probably more capable. So maybe you could get some books at the library to read. If she is doing a math workbook - then she could keep doing that. Make her go outside for a while.

I know plenty of homeschoolers who are unschooling. Perhaps she has some ideas for things she could do to keep the work off of your shoulders. Part of the beauty of homeschooling is its flexibility. You need to take a break right now. That is OK. You can make up for it later - or maybe you already have because you are ahead. And she is learning about life experiences right now.

I'm sorry you are going through this. I know someone who is in a similar situation. Her grandmother died unexpectedly in September. It's been really hard for her. She is using a Waldorf curriculum - so she mainly told stories that were needed for his heart and let the rest go. He is reading books like crazy though and now they are picking it up again. It will be fine in the end. I am sure that if you take a break for a while, you guys will be fine too. It is so important to take care of ourselves!

02-29-2012, 03:15 AM
I'm so sorry :-(
For us, bare minimum means reading, writing, math. So- Journal entry, story time, and either math games on the computer, or one workpage.

02-29-2012, 03:19 AM
Well, if I were VERY BUSY or wanting to float under the radar...I'd give the kids a PROJECT. This way it's not actually skipping school or extending breaks and it's not "at random", either. If you searched "THEMATIC UNIT" at Amazon, you'd get a huge listing of these:
The Greeks,
The Civil War,
The Environment,

Recently, I did a Health Unit with my 9yo...the wonderful part is that after it is over..the subject keeps popping up--magazines, websites, videos on Netflix, nutrition aspects, etc..Of course, I didn't buy a unit..but if it were an emergency--I certainly would. It'll keep your child entertained for 2 wk - 2 mos depending on what you buy as most are 4wks. (cost $5-10 and you don't have to buy them on Amazon..as a matter of fact, nearly every one I've seen on Amazon, you can get at Curr-click-downloaded, right away for the same price or less)

Sure, you can make her do a page or two of math. If you do, I'd suggest word problems or some kind of review. Although, my daughter likes The Complete Book of Brainteasers--It covers Math, Science, Social Studies, Creative Arts & Language Arts. There are variants like Brain Games and other logic/analytical type books. By all means, get her reading some books from the library and computer online games and such, if you use this.. if not, card/board games and things like that.

You could also ask her to list her 10 most interesting people and announce that for the first few days of each month you'll read, study, research about that famous person and write a page about them--as in creating her own book. (of course, you'll want to encourage scientists, women, presidents, inventors, explorers and such--maybe she'd like a famous designer or cartoonist or zoologist?) (if people sound totally yuck to your daughter, perhaps countries? would work)--You want to pick something that has more than 100 or so because the idea is that between now and high school, she creates this really cool book of interesting people (or places)...like a scrapbook-all her own way--just give her a guideline (like d.o.b/family life--type of government/environment) by you to keep in a folder or wherever so she stays consistent throughout. It would be a treasure (hopefully) and you wouldn't feel like your "skipping school". And then, as the rest of the year moves on, use this as your "planning period" for the month. Obviously, being the first one, it will take her longer, right? Should buy you a solid 7-10 days.

Good luck & best of health to you during this time!

02-29-2012, 05:53 AM
Aw Skrink, *hugs* and sorry things have been so stressful. Life happens and, yes, sometimes you need to take a break or do the "bare minimum" of homeschooling. For us, it's reading, writing and math as well.

That translates to one math lesson a day, 4 days a week, either a lesson from our grammar curriculum or a chapter from "assigned" reading 5 days a week, and handwriting practice one day a week.

I also like findemerson's suggestion of a project. You could easily do just a little bit of work each day on that specific project/unit.

It's also perfectly acceptable to take a mental health holiday. :)

02-29-2012, 08:09 AM
There are so many great ideas here, I don't really have anything to add. But I do want to send my condolences. Like others have said, don't worry about taking the time you need, though I do understand that some routine is necessary for your daughter. I love the project idea for independent work.

All the best. (( ))

02-29-2012, 08:48 AM
My experience with independent projects is that, even though ds is supposed to do it on his own, he needs to consult me a lot, and I end up having to help a lot.
So I don't know if it is the best thing when you have so much to deal with. Silent reading and math practice sounds easier to me. And maybe some copywork?

02-29-2012, 09:31 AM
Thanks, everyone, for the well wishes and for the ideas. (And Ginny, I'm sorry about the unwanted diagnosis - hugs to you, too.) I'm grateful for the support. I will consider a unit in a high interest area. If I can get her hooked, well, that's more than half the battle. Like Gabriela's son, my dd doesn't often work independently for long periods, but if she's really into it? Maybe.

The math I have pawned off to dh. I was always good at math, but I am terrible at teaching it. He's got the knack. Unfortunately, his work hours have been nutso lately so maybe some good online games will get us through. I'll see what I can find. Reading we've got covered.

I have had the hardest time giving myself permission to let go of my expectations for now. I keep thinking I should just man up and gut through. One of the moms I know casually has 2 boys on the spectrum and 2 girls who will most likely be diagnosed soon. One has been in and out of the hospital in the past few months. They live way out in the sticks and spend many hours each week in the car, going to and from activities. And this mom - she organizes everything, volunteers for everything, and manages to blog (with photographic proof!) about the amazing things they are accomplishing in their schooling. I look at her and think "why can't I do that?". Fruitful exercise, yes? :) Yeah, and I'm the one doling out advice on how to handle perfectionism...

02-29-2012, 12:19 PM
When sil died and later when my mother died it had a impact on how we homeschooled.
With sil's death we took more time off. It wasn't ideal to do that but I was grieving, dh was grieving, and things were chaotic. It just took a month or two to get our household more normal again. We started homeschooling year round and I think that helped me feel easier about days we only did one thing or did nothing.

When my mom died the routine of homeschooling was more helpful than not doing it. We still did less for awhile but we took less time off.

In difficult times at a bare minimum I would aim for one day of math, one day of history/reading, one day of science and one day of language arts per week and feel good with whatever we finished.

02-29-2012, 01:27 PM
I just wanted to chime in with another thought. If your dd has a difficult time staying engaged without your attention maybe a temporary subscription to T4L would be of help.
My dd craves interaction- mostly with people, but when no one is available she enjoys getting that interaction from the computer. She just doesn't work by herself for any length of time- with the exception of reading a book. Last year we tried T4L as a supplement. My dd loved it. We discontinued it because it was too expensive for 2 kids just as a supplement. If you forsee your situation not changing for a couple of months or more, it could be a good solution. For ~$20 a month the subscription includes LA, math, science and ss- a full curriculum. Maybe it would lessen your worries. I'm sorry your life is so chaotic right now. I hope things settle down soon for you. :)

02-29-2012, 01:42 PM
Skrink, try not to play the comparison game with yourself right now. You know, hurray for that mom who is managing to juggle so much, but don't beat yourself up over it. And if she has a blog, stay away from it! :) You are doing the very best you can with what you have on your plate and it's enough right now. Big hugs.

02-29-2012, 10:46 PM
My experience with independent projects is that, even though ds is supposed to do it on his own, he needs to consult me a lot, and I end up having to help a lot.
So I don't know if it is the best thing when you have so much to deal with. Silent reading and math practice sounds easier to me. And maybe some copywork?

That's kind of funny, because my dd is the opposite. I have to sit right beside her and coax her through the math, but if I say "go do any project you want" she will go crazy with art projects, crafts, writing stories, etc... I hesitate to give her directions, because the stuff she comes up with on her own is usually vastly superior to whatever I had in mind.

03-01-2012, 09:41 AM

I would do very little.... very very little.

rough patches happen, and I do realize that your child needs routine, but the routine doesn't even have to be homeschooling.

I would skip lots of one on one, I would spend the one on one just snuggling and talking.

My children ar 6 & 7 they wake up each morning and have their own routine. I think that they read and watch videos on their ipod. Then when we have a rough patch, I do nothing. They just hang out and play.

So let her play but set it up as a structured activity or timed activity. Who really cares about Math and reading in the long run they will learn how to do it. Especially if you give yourself 3-5 months to grieve hang out and get better. But if you prolong your process then it will prolong the rough patch for everyone. So dig in deep, heal yourself, and allow your daughter the freedom to learn in a new way. Structured but with new and varied items. Khan Academy, Magic School Bus videos. A chapter book, a new pretty journal.

I am an only child and while maybe not Aspie, I was quite capable of spending an entire day alone and enjoying myself. Maybe set week long goals rather than daily. For example, read BOOK A by Friday. Or make a book with construction paper.

Get how things work, some other big book about a lot of things, have her pick one item and google other stuff about it. Have her make presentations. That she works on in the morning and presents to you after lunch or something.

Give yourself time in the morning and in the evening, especially if you have to cook and do all that stuff too. Make lunch the biggest meal, husband can fend for himself if he needs too.

I know bossy, didn't you see that I am an only child!

But to answer your question.....

For me the bare minimum is playing. I have no doubt that children learn to read, write and do math as they need it. If I am feeling bad then I trust that they will learn something, and I find that they're happier when left to their own devices. But, I can also see where they like being with me. And for that we do read alouds.

Good luck, and go easy on yourself. Sorry for your loss and your rough patch.

03-01-2012, 02:18 PM
Lakshmi - that was lovely (in a special bossy sort of way!), and kind of exactly what I needed to hear today. Thank you. :)

03-02-2012, 01:27 AM
You're welcome. I'm really good at giving permission to do nothing. So anyone out there who wants to do nothing, just ask me. I will say it is ALLLLRIGHT!

Also, I had a dear friend tell me that if I did nothing but "throw a book" at them from time to time they would learn.

03-06-2012, 06:09 AM
We have faced a similar issue this year and expect to have "school" most of the summer.

MAth and REading of course but I changed the reading around to reading books that would be helpful to learn other things. So we are using lots of Magic Tree house collection and the "who was" series. The "who was" series deals with not just historical figures but has interesting tidbit placed in the books to help learn about the times as well. For instance in the [I]Who Was George Washington [I]book they also discuss how battles use to be fought and how different battles were fought in the Revolution and the talked about how tabacco was an export crop while corn was a cash crop etc.. The book who was Sacajwea follows much of the lewis and clark issues as well as tell how to make salt and preserve food.

So what I am saying is Math and reading but you can make it very practical so you get more bang for the buck.

03-09-2012, 12:23 AM
Math and reading, but sometimes that means baking cookies or flipping through a toy catalog, not necessarily workbook stuff.
I'll second PE. Getting up and out sometimes does wonders to deal with stressful days. Good luck to you.

03-09-2012, 01:09 PM
For us, it means doing some reading, some math, some writing, and something related to whatever topic we're studying, just so we don't lose the thread of it. If it's a long-term enough situation that we aren't going to get back to the unit topic for several weeks, then I'd drop that too. But for one-off days or sick days, we do "bare minimum." Like today, when I'm at the office doing taxes that need to get done pronto, I gave DD a very quick round of homeschooling. This morning, we had only 1 hour together and then she's with the sitter, when conventional schoolwork doesn't get done well in my experience. Arts and Crafts is a strong suit for the sitter though. So today, she did:

Math--10-15 minutes (geometry, adapted mind, online)
LA--15-20 minutes of reading (Headsprout, online)
Topic--15-20 minutes of Ancient Civilizations work (we read a book about Ancient China)
Writing--10-15 minutes of writing (she wrote out what she wants her puppets to wear/what people wore in Ancient China-silk, colors, etc.)
"Homework"--making "Ancient China" puppets with the sitter

It took us about an hour, and half of that was mostly independently on the computer while I was gathering everything for work.

I think the most important part of it for us, is sitting down to read together, because it provides connection and education both. If I had an extended issue, I think I'd do 20 minutes of reading together, maybe on a particular topic, maybe not, and make the rest of the homeschool day self-directed projects around the same topic. One day she can make a math worksheet for you or dad to do, using what you read. One day she can paint a picture of her favorite scene. One day write an alternative ending, etc.

03-09-2012, 08:50 PM
Well, as it's shaking out right now, we're doing Daily Grams, typing, and piano practice during the day, with dh handling math in the evening and science experiments on the weekend. The rest of the time dd is reading, playing on Brain Pop, watching Bill Nye or other science videos online, or just doing her thing (usually drawing/crafting/legos). She's been resisting being read to, so couch time together has been minimal. :( With nicer weather on the horizon I'm hoping to get us all outside more. We could both use more exercise and fresh air.

Probably the best thing I've done is to cut way, way back on our outings. In some crazy fit of I don't know what, I had signed her up for every field trip, class and program under the sun, and it was just too much. Life is much saner when we're not living in the car.

03-12-2012, 11:50 AM
My minimum depends on age

0-5 - Nothing, play games, read books, go to parks
6-7 - Work on counting to 100, learning letters and how to read
8-10 - One page of math, read a book about history, science, geography, or a person..., write a 1 paragraph summary of the book
10-13 - One page of math, read a book about history, science, geography, or a person..., write a 3-5 paragraph summary of the book, work up to a 3 page research paper