Saturday, April 9, 2011

Re-Orgainizing our Schedules - our update

"The answer is a balance between structure and non-structure. But this balance must be reached after a consideration of various factors. These factors include the age of the student, the learning ability, the best learning style for the student, the teacher-mother's ability, and the subject matter itself." Mary Kay Clark, Catholic Home Schooling

Flexibility with structure can be a difficult balance at times. While working with two different ages/stages and abilities it can be a tricky for sure~ after five years of homeschooling we have now found that balance and it is a wonderful feeling~

We had attempted this past year a more unschooling approach mixed with a bit of flexible structure built in to their weeks but we found this was not a good balance for them at all.   The boys explained they did not like unschooling, that it was not for them.  They enjoy more working on things and then being able to go off on a topic and work several days with that particular topic. ( I really saw in them the real benefits of working a more delight directed approach than an unschooling)

My younger son described it for him and "all floppy" ~ I had to chuckle since mama  also found it to be "floppy" and told him this was a great description!

We have homeschooling friends who unschool and that is all they have ever known and do VERY well with this approach. I suppose with my boys and our family this approach isn't a fit probably for a variety of unique reasons; they started out in public schools for their early learning, and I think they have found they both in different ways enjoy a bit of structure built into their days, my own health issues also plays a role and in keeping some sort of structure provides a bit of security and balance in the boys home learning.

We had gone back to a block schedule for my middle schooler right after the first of the year. He was very happy about that and really likes his schedule now and works very productively with it and it is very successful for him. I brought him back earlier since he was really struggling with the more unschooling approach.

My teen recently has gone back to the block schedule just this past week. We both agreed that a more block schedule would be the best for him.  There are several reasons for us to go back to a block schedule rather than a more public school or classical approach to his work;

1. he likes to work in depth on his subjects and not be rushed- a block schedule allows him to do that and I feel like where he is not going to be homeschooling for highschool he doesn't "need" to ramp up and do all subjects EVERY day.

2. he likes to have the flexibility in his learning where if he is working on something, he may want to explore and research something a bit more, with this schedule he can do that.

3. he has joined a few teen groups and is helping me in creating our own local homeschool group- this takes some time and we have been much more social and planning and out doing lots of things with other homeschoolers and so by using this kind of schedule he can be out and about having fun and not worrying about all his studies he missed for that day~ he has that "structured flexibility" to be able to work on his things as he needs to.

Learning Assignment Blogs 
Our new learning blogs help us to keep up with the goals for the week. Plans are laid out with lots of care and are unique to each child.  If we are not able to work on a particular something it will be there the next day or the next. ;) but it will be able to be completed by weeks end.  IF by some chance there is sickness or "life" decides to get in our way then we can just bring it over to the next week.

Our block schedules look like this -( a somewhat integrated approach )

Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays are our core studies day ( studies of discipline) Reading, Writing, Grammar and Mathematics.

Thursday  is our Science Day- we work Mathematics lessons and Science lessons on this day.
Note- our reading is from our science books and resources links, our writing is writing from science concepts and math is our regular lessons. ( so in actuality they really are working reading and writing just more on an integrated approach)

Friday is our History Day - we work this subject just like we do our Science Day incorporating reading, writing and also art on this day since it compliments history so well~ Our teen also works civics on this day as well, while our younger son enjoys lapbooks and projects/crafts in the time period he is learning about.

I have found that while working this schedule it takes the stress out of our days. It enables the boys to do things they wouldn't normally do- for example I was working with my younger son on division in his math notebook and we went over to the site Kahn Academy and watched a video on division. We chatted and my son wanted to see what other things were there on the site. We stumbled upon something my guy is always interested in.. MONEY - so we watched a video on Banks and how they work.  We plan on watching the next video in the series for our next math lesson. He LOVED it and discussed this information over lunch with Dad. Impressive yes, would he have been able to do this if he was worried or had to jump to the next subject on his "list" to check off? probably not. I suppose this is where my experience comes in with homeschooling and it is a really nice feeling. :)

Happy Scheduling!

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