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  1. #1

    Default Struggling with scheduling, need advice about *timing*

    So I've chosen my curricula, scheduled our extracurriculars and decided on a start date and length of our "school year." I've even figured out roughly how many days per week (and lessons per day) I'll need to teach each of my two older girls (5, 7) each subject.

    But here's where I'm lost......Figuring out at what time in the day to teach each thing to each kid since I can't teach them both together for *most* of the curriculum choices I've made. It's not because I "can't" in the sense that they're on different levels (though that's part of it), it's more that my eldest needs a LOT of hand-holding. Where most kids can be given some direction then left for a little while to do some work on their own while attention shifts to another child, and then a few minutes later switching back ,etc...My eldest will literally disengage if I'm not paying RAPT attention to everything she's doing. So I've intentionally chosen work that needs a lot of interaction from me (lots of classical and hands-on unit-studies type stuff). But I added it up, and I'll have to spend roughly standard school hours with her just to get it all done! I thought maybe it was too much, but really, for 2nd grade, and given where she needs work, it's NOT!! I can't think of anything I'd just "let go," yk?

    My kindergartner will need half a day from me to get through what I've picked for her and she can--if she wants--join us for science class (though a lot of it will be repetition from her own curriculum, just at a higher level), and let's not even talk about my precious 3 year-old who's going to be all alone it seems like, unless she can quietly work her way into our lessons or color/draw/play nearby....Gulp....

    How am I gonna do this??

    Other considerations is that they both need to do about 20 min of Rosetta Stone each day (Chinese) and we have one computer. But that's the only sharing they have to do, the rest is offline. Also, my youngest will be going to preschool outside the home two mornings a week so I'll have more time to do academics with the older two without interruption. Luckily, drop off and pick-up won't take more than 15 min ea. start to finish b/c the school is across the street from my house

    The middle is a morning glory, the eldest has to be roused from her bed using C4, some mornings more like a bunker-buster. All of our extracurriculars are after 2:30 pm. So that leaves me most days the hours from 9-2 to do school. Are there better ways to toggle between two kids that I'm not considering? Should I do same-subject teaching even though they're at different levels and just sit between them and go back and forth so both girls feel attended to? (Of course I'll feel like I'm at a tennis match) When do I read to them from their different books? I have to read SOTW to my eldest and picture books to my middle child. Should I read the STOW as bedtime reading to the eldest and just do the activities during the day? Maybe same with the middle? Is that leaving too much time between the reading and the activity and they'll forget what they heard?

    Any tips for how to handle this?

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  3. #2


    What I've found helpful is to schedule subject by subject. First week, you worry about maths. Try out different times and ways of working. When you've found something that suits, add in LA and do the same. Keep adding subjects in once you have a good idea of where the previous subject sits.

    For example, can you do maths with your middle child in the morning, before eldest wakes up ? Then have breakfast all together with an audio book playing. Send middle off to play with little while you tackle maths with eldest.

    Have you considered easing your load with your middle child and schooling her a shorter week, including the days youngest is at preschool. Buddy the two youngest up the rest of the week and do the really intensive, hand-holding stuff with eldest the other days ?

    Car schooling ? If you are driving a lot to other activities, can you have CD's for stories, maths drills, biographies, music etc ?

    Another idea is to hook subjects to something that happens daily. For example, listening to music at breakfast. Story books after bath. Science after lunch table gets cleaned up. SOTW chapter at morning tea time, activities after morning tea.

    Can you homeschool on weekends when your dh is around ? Spread the workload over the 7 days ? Yo-yoing between young children is pretty exhausting. If they can't school together, because of content/skills differences and they can't school apart, because eldest needs you right there all the time, I'd be trying to adapt my program to the circumstances, in the knowledge that things get easier as children get older ( mostly ) and there is plenty of time to add more content in.

    Your schedule sounds really busy!
    Last edited by Stella M; 07-06-2011 at 11:20 PM.

  4. #3


    Thanks! That is all helpful actually. I hadn't considered using weekends, but now that you say it, it makes sense. It will take some adjustment on my husband's part b/c he's so attached to "time-off" with the girls on the weekends and has already instilled in them the expectation that weekends are for non-stop FUN (don't get me started...), but it might be the only way. Also the idea of lightening Kindergarten even more. I think that feels right. I didn't do that much with my eldest for Kindergarten and she did fine the following year (well, with the exception of her behavior ). I also like the idea of doing a subject day rather than trying to do all subjects in each day. That could work out the BEST actually b/c one thing my eldest has said is that she dislikes it when every day is the same. What better way to mix it up, and it might give me more time to really delve into a subject too. We could get more work done in one day that way too so it would seem on paper as though we'd done a week's worth in one day.

    What do you think about math and foreign language though, things that typically require more immersion or consistency to really learn? Is that a myth at this age? Or overstated? Could I get by with a longer once a week (or twice) math lesson vs. a little every day?

    One good thing is that they have some separate extras after school, and I thought one solution could be to use the time my younger two are at dance class to work with the eldest on something that travels well (a book we're reading, math, grammar, writing workbook, etc...) and vice versa when the eldest is at drama and the younger two have to wait for her. That would free up some time during those days for more "free" time/play.

    I'd also thought about combining all "writing" related work into one day, but again, wondered i not having writing each day would hurt them. Any thoughts here?

  5. #4


    I'd do less maths but every day. Short but consistent. Same with writing.

    You could probably get away with a a couple of language sessions a week rather than everyday, with just conversational practice in between.

    I like the idea of using the extra-curricular time to get work done. I've done that a lot, and as long as you're prepared, it can work well. Sometimes we only work for half of the class time if it's later in the afternoon, as the attention flags then.

    I think you have to get creative with scheduling when there are multiple factors at work - younger kids, full schedule, other needs.

  6. #5


    I don't want to sound all negative here and Melissa has given some great positive ideas, but I could never ever do what you are proposing. I know some can but not me....Ive been blogging some about our past four years just recently, my link is my sig if you are interested in reading some of the things I've tried.

    It sounds to me like you will be spending your days bouncing between kids, is anyone going to be happy like that?

    I think you never really know what is going to work until you start, so in some ways these things will just sort themselves out as you all find a groove of working together you know.

    I realise everyone is different, but I have learned to lower my expectations greatly, whilst I have a toddler and one learning to read ..... We simply cannot do everything I wish we could and trying to was making me miserable.

    My focus would be on essentials and then try to do the other things together as much as you can.

    Our Blog - Our Worldwide Classroom

    Eclectically Home Schooling 3 Kiddos Down Under ~ DS 14 ~ DD 11 ~ DS 7

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  7. #6


    Wow that seems overwhelming! I know you think you can't scale back at all, but that really does sound like a lot. We just finished up Kindy here and can't say we ever spent more than an hour a morning at the table. We do lots of hands on, literature based, and game based learning here though.

    I would honestly try to break it down to the "must haves" at first, and then as you get into a groove, start adding other stuff in. Stuff like science or history can be once or twice a week at that age. Reading and math are biggies to me and I prefer them at least 3 days a week. 15-20 minute is a more realistic expectation for that age when it comes to attention span though. With breaks in between to burn off some energy, get a snack, etc.

    Start with what you feel are the "absolute essentials" like math and reading/phonics - whatever. Schedule them 15-20 mins 3-5x a week. Then add in the other stuff like science and history with all the kiddos together. Work with the early bird first while the other is sleeping. Then work with the eldest later in the morning. Use their natural schedules to your advantage!

    Also maybe you can pair the older girls up with the baby while you are working solo with one of them? Like having them play, read, do art projects, etc together. Great way to practice reading aloud. You can get a TON of learning in using games and art projects - I am all about the sneaky learning approach educational movies/shows like School House Rock, Electric Company, etc are great too. Lots to choose from on Netflix. Plus there's a ton of great online resources - games to reinforce whatever they are learning about. Or their Chinese program.

    SOTW has the audio book/MP3s - well worth the investment!! We use this wayyyy more than the book. DS reads the book on his own - but he begs to listen to the CDs. In the car, over breakfast, during play time - he just loves it.

    Right now, I feel like my biggest responsibility is to develop/support a love of learning. The rest comes in time, but first a child has to want to learn and enjoy learning. It has to be meaningful to him/her. I try to make learning as fun as possible (hence all the games) and it amazes me how much DS picks up that way! And how much he explores on his own as a result of his love of learning. He is much more willing to do difficult tasks now than he was last fall, cuz he feels satisfaction at completing and mastering something.
    Last edited by naturegirl7; 07-07-2011 at 03:23 AM.
    ~ Michelle
    Momma to one crazy fun, super silly, kind-hearted, high-spirited little boy. We've strayed far from the beaten path but are really enjoying our crazy off-roading approach to life and learning.

  8. #7


    Trial and error is the best way of learning what works for our particular families, don't you think ?

  9. #8


    I agree about the weekends! Great time, especially since you have Daddy around to help out!

    Also what about weeknights? Some kids are too tired to learn after dinner but that might be a good time for some 1-1 time. Daddy can take the other kiddos and you can get some 1-1 time in there. DS often will ask to do school work while I am cooking. He sits at the kitchen table and works on whatever - or we prep dinner together and then sit together and work on something with the occasional stir/taste breaks.
    ~ Michelle
    Momma to one crazy fun, super silly, kind-hearted, high-spirited little boy. We've strayed far from the beaten path but are really enjoying our crazy off-roading approach to life and learning.

  10. #9


    Quote Originally Posted by MelissainOz View Post
    Trial and error is the best way of learning what works for our particular families, don't you think ?
    Oh yes!! I tried to create "school at home" and it was a disaster LOL Backed off a bit and let it take its own course and WOW! It amazes me how much we can get accomplished when I let go. For example, I would NEVER have considered math drills. So not up DS's alley. But he invented a game that is his own unique, on the move version of math drills. And begs to do it. He loves setting the timer and running around the house or jumping on the trampoline while I call out the problems on his MM worksheet. LOL We can breeze thru 1-2 sheets in under 10 mins, when it could take 10mins sitting down at the table to complete 3 problems off the same sheet. :P

    Gotta love outside the box kids and how they take their education into their own hands sometimes
    ~ Michelle
    Momma to one crazy fun, super silly, kind-hearted, high-spirited little boy. We've strayed far from the beaten path but are really enjoying our crazy off-roading approach to life and learning.

  11. #10
    Senior Member Enlightened lilypoo's Avatar
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    Apr 2011


    I have to echo what some of the others have said here. It all sounds really overwhelming--on the parent level and child level. Spending a normal school day's amount of time while home schooling? Doesn't that somewhat defeat the purpose? I'm not trying to rain on your parade but I feel as though you might be setting yourself up for some problems and disappointment because it sounds like flexibility is going to be difficult at best with so much going on...and in my experience it's the key toward peaceful home schooling.

    It seems like your 7yo may need some de-schooling? At some point you'll beed to teach her how to work a bit more independently and no time like the present, right? Giving her the rapt attention she demands, in my opinion, is more than likely going to encourage her to continue requiring that degree of your attention and at what point will she learn to work without that attention? I think you'd be doing her, yourself and your younger two kids a favor if you worked on this with the oldest. I speak from 12yo had that issue and I gave him what he wanted for many years and it made getting him past that issue very, very difficult on both of us. I am not saying it's a situation you can fix overnight--it will be a process--but I think it's worth starting on from the beginning of home schooling.

    What I'd suggest as far as working with them would be to seat yourself at a table with both and alternate giving each direct attention/instructions. They will each learn the reads to me, gets me started, then works with sister while I work by myself for a few moments, then mom comes back to me and we discuss what I did, etc. Once you get the rhythm established you can let one of both sit away from you and have them come to you if they need input or another activity, I don't think there are enough hours in the day to spend 5-6 hours with one child, half a day with the other, from 2pm on for activities some days...and where does the 3yo fit into this? LOL

    Good luck, I'm sure you'll figure it out. Just remember the cardinal rule of home schooling: Be Flexible
    Michele, home educating since 2003

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Struggling with scheduling, need advice about *timing*