Friday, July 23, 2010

A New Year Starts - And A New Schedule Begins~

I have talked often about our schedule we use for learning at home and over time this has changed in little bits and pieces and sometimes in big ways as well.

I first began trying to "fit everything in" so I had worked on a block schedule for us, whereby two days a week we would work on History and two days we would work on Science. This has probably been the best thing I could have done.On these days the primary focus is on that particular subject, while still doing our core studies as well. It works very well.

Towards the end of our school year this year we were having a kind of struggle with figuring out just how we want to work our new year of studies. For several reasons we have decided that we are going to school year round.  I had been leaning toward this over this past year and mulling things over. I sat back looked at our last three years of home learning and how our summers had gone and it wasn't exactly what I and the boys had hoped for.

Simply put, we are not BIG on summer heat - sorry but we are not. My boys have sensory processing issues and the heat really makes them ill and does them in, so we end up on most days when everyone is out enjoying the summer heat and surf, in our home hibernating in air conditioning. Also I noticed since my surgery and my illness I don't manage as well in the heat as I used to.

All of this in mind, we ended up sitting down with the boys and figuring out "just how" WE wanted to homeschool throughout our whole year  without it being a drag for all of us.

We found a way and here is how we are doing it over this next year. If this works well we will continue on with this schedule for good.

{Each child of mine is very different and the two of them both had their own perspective on how they needed to work, so I listened and we came to a real understanding and compromise}

13 Year Old: Will work his regular studies starting this year in September and will work one month on and one month off. On the month "off" he will be doing Unschooling ( for us this means Delight Directed, sports, volunteering, and following his passions)~ and we will have a morning "pow wow" each day to see what his activities and plans are and he will document his learning in his OneNote. - With this child when left up to his own, he can be a real self starter and motivated with his passions. At this age, where he is almost 14 next month, (and having other boys who are now in their twenties I can see BEYOND the books to what is really important in these special years of growing) I want him to be able to have time for self discovery as he moves into being a young adult. He is twice exceptional, gifted in many ways so this will really help him - our compromise was that Math still needed to happen if he was to soar in the areas of Science ( an area of real passion for my guy) and he agreed whole-heartedly so he will continue doing his math lessons. I think at this point he really understands the  importance of certain things. He tends to be very mature for his age, probably due to his older brothers and insight from them. Reading always happens with him so this is never a concern for me.

Having explained all of this his schedule looks like this:

September: formal studies  - October: unschooling - November: formal studies -December: unschooling
January: formal studies - February: unschooling - March: formal studies - April: unschooling - May: formal studies - June: unschooling - July: formal studies - August: - unschooling.

{you may notice the way the months fall for him and his schedule that Fall and Spring are more unschooling this will be great for trips to the lake, beach and outside play etc.. skateboarding, basketball.. etc.. he was happy he would be able to finally see more of Monday night football! LOL it works out very well. }

11 yo ( a very different sort of learner, I think he could do school every day and be a happy camper! he didn't want a schedule he just wanted to go back to his studies~ lol, I explained how at times mum and he needed time to relax and just kind of let things go~ with folded arms he started to listen and we worked out a schedule of his very own, concocted by him of course! )

He needs much more consistency in his learning right now and he knows this so he will not be working like my teen and his schedule. Here is his:

July (yes this July 2010)- back to studies for the rest of the month (formals studies) working one one one with mum.
August - formal studies (except second week in August for our family ( much needed vacation get away)
             then after vacation it is back to studies.- formal studies
September- formal studies ( on really great days we do plan some beach days in here)
October - unschooling for the month (math and reading only) and delight directed.
November - unschooling for the month (math and reading only) and delight directed.
{these two months off are helpful to me since I have shows and work for the holidays and these two months are my guys FAVORITE time of year to be OUTSIDE and not doing traditional school work}
December- First two weeks in formal studies, while last two weeks are off completely to enjoy the Season.
January- formal studies
February - formal studies
March - formal studies
April - formal studies
May-unschooling ( again with math and reading only and delight directed)
June - unschooling ( math and reading only, delight directed)
July - formal studies resume

{These schedules can get quite confusing as you may have noticed so I thought to make basic copies of a calendar and hi-lite their schedules by the month so they could visually see what they are doing and when.}

*A friend had e-mailed me and commented, that she thought I was the only person she knew who "schedules" unschooling, lol perhaps I am, but we are different as I keep saying, we do what works for US, not anyone else, ( smile)* ( personally I think she is right I have never heard of anyone doing this either) :)
I suppose you can see how different both boys are, but this allows me to work better with them one on one and for a long haul as we have ahead very workable.  There will be snow days for my guys with skiing and sledding and such, we have to have those days for goodness sake. My youngest loves the snow, working one on one with him means more done so that the rest of the day is his to have fun in the snow also :)

As we jumped right back into our formal studies with him this past week he did absolutely wonderful. We work till lunch time and we get a ton done~ it is great and I still have time to get up to my Studio to work.
Big brother has been learning more about finances as he is going to be working for me over the summer doing inventory and basic odds and ends, making phone calls etc.. He also has been researching unschooling and will be doing an essay about it so that when someone asks him what he "does" he can explain it thoroughly.

Among other things he has recently learned about the Do-Do bird becoming extinct in the 1700's and where it comes from and learning more about the Tasmanian Tiger among other "strange" things, lol He wakes up and hops right on the computer, running over to show me things ( I may not want to see before coffee, lol ) - it has really awakened something new in him.

What about structure and those dreaded video games?
For my older son structure squashes him in many ways. With his specific LD's in mind certain structures are just not warranted, there needs to be a balance for him and this is a good balance for my learner. (perhaps not for all but for mine it is)
Some have asked me about Video Games and things like that and aren't I concerned he might just sit in there doing this all day? I really don't regulate this. Before you gasp, I will explain a bit. At first, when we had limits on our videos, when we first got the new PS3, that was interesting because he constantly wanted to be on it so I used it as a motivator, setting up times he would be able to go on and be uninterrupted with his friends online.

Now that the newness has worn off (he now only plays for an hour or two at the most) and other things have taken his interest, ( his new laptop for one- well not entirely new, he has my old one, mom got the new one, lol ) but for him this is great! He loves it and is a real research guy, he plays all kind of educational games, does research etc.. and it is very productive.

I think the morning meeting I plan is helpful also, knowing what he is going to be up to, what is on his mind and even maybe helping him to succeed in a few things he is interested in. :)
I found also this has given more time for him to dive into his interests with coordinates and the stock market.. etc.. he has been exploring lately neurology and is totally engrossed in this specialty of medicine.. not too bad for topics to study for our hot summer, month of July. I can tell you I never would have thought of him studying Neurology would you?


Jen said...

This is a great schedule, I love how you have worked to accommodate both boys. I completely get the scheduled unschooling too! More and more I am seeing how interest led learning can really fit into our day, even with a bunch of littles. Thanks for sharing.

Learners at Home said...

Jen, I am glad you find it helpful. I think we are so lucky because we have the flexibility to do things like this. It sounds a little crazy but I really think will work well. It has certainly taken off with a great start.
I really love this idea and what is the really best part is the delight directed learning I can incorporate with this kind of "schedule" and that they actually thought of much of this on their very own, how cool is that? :)

Diane said...

All sounds very interesting. Scheduling unschooling for every other month would be a great way for a family to get their feet wet if they had the desire to unschool but were still feeling unsure about it. If you are schooling year round you would have the best of both worlds and get to see which would work better for you.

Learners at Home said...

I can certainly understand how this wouldn't be a schedule for everyone. But I really think for us it will really work well. So far things have been excellent, better than I had anticipated.
I had been learning and dabbling in the method of unschooling last year and saw such wonderful results and successes.
As for us, if we see this works well we will be happy to stay with it and of course if not, we will certainly change things if they are not working. :)
I will try and keep posting and sharing things we do and discoveries we make as we move along. I so enjoy reading how others do things and it teaches me so much, we have so much to gain by listening and learning from eachother~ I hope my experiences might help others as well ~ :)


CherylinMA said...

I had never considered unschooling for a month. We usually do about three weeks of school during the summer, mostly field trips but I like the idea of using that time as unschooling time to see where they would go with it.

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