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Finding the line....overreaching or underdoing?


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#1 CPSTAnne

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Posted 26 January 2018 - 06:02 PM

It seems my plans are always so much bigger than reality. I know part of it is just a learning curve of figuring out what you can reasonably do, but how do you find that line? When you look at your plans vs your reality, how do you determine what was asking too much of yourself and kids and let go and what you should still be doing and work at? 

 

I feel like we're doing enough in most areas and that we're having a pretty good year. But I'm also looking at the things not getting done and feeling a tad overwhelmed and not good enough. 

 

Or is this just January talking and I should chill? 


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#2 KeriJ

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Posted 26 January 2018 - 06:04 PM

Let me know when you figure it out, because I am always wondering this. 😊
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#3 freesia

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Posted 26 January 2018 - 06:14 PM

It seems my plans are always so much bigger than reality. I know part of it is just a learning curve of figuring out what you can reasonably do, but how do you find that line? When you look at your plans vs your reality, how do you determine what was asking too much of yourself and kids and let go and what you should still be doing and work at? 

 

I feel like we're doing enough in most areas and that we're having a pretty good year. But I'm also looking at the things not getting done and feeling a tad overwhelmed and not good enough. 

 

Or is this just January talking and I should chill? 

 

I think it's mostly January talking.  I also think that there is an ebb and flow to your years.

 

It's good that you are focusing on what is going well.  That is important, really important.  Don't beat yourself up about what isn't happening, evaluate, change if you need to  and move on.

 

Ask yourself:

Are you doing math, LA and reading every day?  great

Now ask--are you trying to get 2 or 3 programs for each done. You may laugh, but once, when my kids were your kids ages I felt like you and then I pulled back and realized that I was trying to do more than one of the main programs and it pushed out other things.

What, of what you aren't doing, do YOU love?  try to make that a priority.

Is some of what you are not getting done only what you think should get done bc some homeschool guru or someone here that you respect said everyone should do, but you don't actually like and most kids don't do it?

Are you not getting it done bc you belong to 2 co-ops? or your kids have a ton of extra curriculars.  Are the reason you are doing that bigger reasons than the reasons for wanting to get done what you aren't?

Put the extras on a loop schedule.  List them.  Then make an extra time 3-5 x a week.  Set an hour. Work through them extras checking them off, get done what you can and pick up where you left off the next time.

If it's science or history for your 9 year old--can you switch to a textbook she could do on her own.  If it

gets done it's better than being 'perfect".  Alternatively, a book basket on the topics that she reads from for 30-60 minutes on her own.

 

Yikes, I have to go, I'll come back and add later.


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#4 CPSTAnne

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Posted 26 January 2018 - 06:28 PM

I think it's mostly January talking.  I also think that there is an ebb and flow to your years.

 

It's good that you are focusing on what is going well.  That is important, really important.  Don't beat yourself up about what isn't happening, evaluate, change if you need to  and move on.

 

Ask yourself:

Are you doing math, LA and reading every day?  great

Now ask--are you trying to get 2 or 3 programs for each done. You may laugh, but once, when my kids were your kids ages I felt like you and then I pulled back and realized that I was trying to do more than one of the main programs and it pushed out other things.

What, of what you aren't doing, do YOU love?  try to make that a priority.

Is some of what you are not getting done only what you think should get done bc some homeschool guru or someone here that you respect said everyone should do, but you don't actually like and most kids don't do it?

Are you not getting it done bc you belong to 2 co-ops? or your kids have a ton of extra curriculars.  Are the reason you are doing that bigger reasons than the reasons for wanting to get done what you aren't?

Put the extras on a loop schedule.  List them.  Then make an extra time 3-5 x a week.  Set an hour. Work through them extras checking them off, get done what you can and pick up where you left off the next time.

If it's science or history for your 9 year old--can you switch to a textbook she could do on her own.  If it

gets done it's better than being 'perfect".  Alternatively, a book basket on the topics that she reads from for 30-60 minutes on her own.

 

Yikes, I have to go, I'll come back and add later.

I seriously just copied and pasted this into word and typed out answers to myself. Thank you, this helps.

 

I do think reading needs to be a bigger priority. We read some, but it takes us forever to get through our read alouds because we are hit or miss with those and I really don't want to be. DD9 reads a lot on her own and DD5 is only just beginning CVC words. 

 

Spanish, piano, and memory work...they all feel important to me, but I also just can't get worked up about them right now. :/ All also need consistency to be of any worth so I'm not sure if the loop will work or not. Maybe. Still thinking. 

 

I think we're actually rocking math, LA, science, and history this year. We're slightly behind where I wanted to be in some areas, but all due to extras or struggles that involved backing up, none because of missed lessons or inconsistency. 


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#5 Lori D.

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Posted 26 January 2018 - 06:59 PM

Probably the very fact that you are asking THIS question, and not asking a question that starts with "Help!" means you are doing great. ;)

 

From your signature, it looks like you still have younger children -- elementary and kinder ages. At those ages, the line pretty much shifts weekly, if not daily. That just mimics the way younger children learn: spurt and sprint ahead in one subject area (while other subject areas may sit in 'idle' since most of the brain energy area is going towards the 'revving' subject area). Or, children may suddenly get a passion for something and want to spend hours a day on it.

 

Just my opinion, but at your children's ages, as long as over the course of a month you can see that you are generally making progress forward in most subject areas, and if you are not having melt-downs from children "hitting the wall" with a subject or being pushed too fast into something they're not ready for, then I'd say you are in the sweet spot and are neither under-doing or over-reaching.

 

I know, that's not the sort of tangible, printable checklist you're looking for. ;) It sounds like "underachieving" is really not your problem -- it sounds like your plans are for more than what is realistic, so below I'm giving you a few ideas I used to keep from overdoing:

 

 

"overdoing" and "asking too much" -- ideas we used:

 

- in advance, mark things you are willing to drop

I made our own History and Science all through elementary/middle school grades, so I would have a "master list" of books, kits, experiments, videos, etc to work from, BUT, I would also star a few items here and there in order to "give myself permission" to drop things along the way, if needed. And if your students really get interested in a "bunny trail" or side topic, go for it -- and make room in your schedule by dropping a few more resources you had planned. Keep in mind the "big goal" 

 

- you drive the program -- don't let the program drive you

Be willing to allow a student to just do selected circled problems if they are getting the concept -- no need to over-drill, or make students do.every.last.problem.on.the.page. And sometimes it's fine to just do things orally -- really, the curriculum police will NOT knock down your door if your student does not have a written answer for every last question or problem in the workbook. ;)

 

- limited time blocks

Daily schedule: in advance set a limit on the amount of time for doing each subject or activity; if everyone is REALLY bummed out when the timer goes off, then allow yourselves another 5-10 minutes, but otherwise, move on. Remember, you'll be doing Math and Writing and Reading again tomorrow... and the next day... and the day after that... ;)

 

- leave people "wanting more"

If you find you're frequently telling people to hold on for "just 5 more minutes!" "just 1 more page!" "just a little bit more!", you've probably over-scheduled; cut the time down by 10 minutes a day for that subject, or schedule only 1/2 page in the workbook, or... other way of backing down a bit. It's always better on the psyche (on the daily basis) to leave something "wanting a little bit more" than to have to drag everyone forward with tears or wailing or sullenness. ;)

 

- enjoy some supplements as family fun, outside of scheduled school time 

We did a weekly "family movie night", and some of the movies were ones that specifically fit in with the History period we were studying -- I didn't make it a "big educational deal", but might point out something as we were watching: "Hey, look! Ben Hur is getting that Roman triumph parade we were just reading about last week!"

 

We also frequently had a family game night. Just be careful to not try and sneak in games that really ARE just Math drill into a fun time. In contrast, Shut the Bo and Yahtzee required adding, and Monopoly required money skills, but none of those "felt like school". ;)

 

- enjoy some activities over the summer

If you're having trouble getting to all of the hands-on or longer projects you had planned, you might save some bigger projects (esp. ones that are NOT so tied directly to a curriculum) for enjoying during your down time in the summer. For example, our DSs loved messing around with Science kits, so that did not feel like "school" to them to play around with gears and pulleys, or other similar activities. Sometimes we would do an interesting Art project in the summer, because we had more time and DSs were asking for something to do because they were bored. Again, be careful to not do activities that feel "too school-y" during stated breaks and holidays.

 

- enjoy family read-alouds outside of school hours

DSs here loved hearing read-alouds. When they were pre-school and early elementary grades, I'd read to them while they were in the bathtub.  :laugh: And we'd do a lot of our fun family books (not anything tied to the curriculum) as our pre-bedtime "cuddle up on the couch or the bed" read aloud. Some families really enjoy listening to their history curriculum as audio books while driving in the car!

 

I think the big key here is the word I kept using in my suggestions: "enjoy". If NO one is enjoying it, then it's probably too much. (I did have a DS with mild LDs requiring we do a certain minimum of work per day, and who always hated anything having to do with formal school, so if you have a student like that, then chuck the "enjoy" idea, lol.)

 

 

BEST of luck if finding the path that moves forward with learning, but in a way that doesn't kill the students' or teacher's interest or motivation to learn. ;) Warmest regards, Lori D.


Edited by Lori D., 26 January 2018 - 07:04 PM.

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#6 wendyroo

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Posted 26 January 2018 - 07:24 PM

I always plan whole to parts instead of parts to whole.

 

By that I mean, I START by thinking about how I ideally envision each child spending the 24 hours of their day.  I think about my highest priorities and start subtracting off available time.  So, how much sleep do I think they need?  How much time do they realistically need for eating and hygiene so that I am not constantly frustrated by their pokiness?  How much free time do I think they should have?  How much time should they devote to family chores?  How much time should they spend on structured physical fitness?  What about art and music, or other extracurriculars?

 

Obviously, if I run out of time before adding in academics, then I have to reevaluate.  But normally I end up with a reasonable amount of school time which I can then start subdividing into subjects.  Once I see in black and white exactly how many minutes each subject is allotted (leaving an ample cushion of transition time), then I can more reasonably plan what I hope to cover.  Is it worth trying to squeeze two resources into a subject that only gets an hour a week?  Maybe yes, maybe no, but at least if I decide to tackle both resources, I won't be surprised when we move very slowly through them.

 

And then, because I am a scientist and engineer at heart, every couple months I do a time audit.  For a couple days I record exactly how many minutes we actually spend on each subject.  Are some subjects chronically running long?  If so, maybe I need to adjust my goals and expectations or drop a resource of some activities.  By actually timing things it keeps me honest and prevents me from trying to cram more and more into the available time...and then wondering why the kids and I are so stressed and frustrated.   :glare:

 

Wendy


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#7 SusanC

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Posted 26 January 2018 - 08:25 PM

I do something similar to Wendy's approach. How much time per day or week do I think we should spend on each subject I'm interested in covering. Can I got that into the 1hr per grade time that I think school should not exceed?

I don't teach piano to my dc, but I also try to stay out if practice time. They go off and practice while i work with a sibling.

Memory work gets directed by our Anki app, so again, my involvement is minimal.

Spanish at the younger ages was often watching Muzzy or Salsa or reading a story as a group with me pausing occasionally to explain grammar or vocabulary.

It sounds like my dc are older than yours, but perhaps some of those ideas can help squeeze in the subjects that you aren't getting to regularly.

#8 MerryAtHope

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Posted 26 January 2018 - 11:03 PM

Probably time to chill :-). Easier said than done! 

 

Three things that helped me:

 

One, I chose a priority and a passion every year. A priority subject that I wanted to focus on to help my student improve in specifically, and a passion my student wanted to pursue. Were we regularly working on our priority and passion? That's success.

 

Two, I came up with a one-page yearly guide for each subject. On that I listed out the books, resources, and activities I hoped to do. I put an asterisk by the ones that I felt were most important--the ones that I thought we absolutely *had* to do, versus the ones I just really wanted us to do. If I had to, I could skip items without asterisks and simply cross them off my list, making sure that we got to all of the most important items. (Also on this one-page list, I listed a number of things as optional. Sometimes I found we could work in something optional--or that partway through a year, I might want to swap an item for something optional. Having it on my plan made that easier for me to do.)

 

Three, I used time limits and workboxes to help us hit subjects regularly (most of them daily) and to be consistent and accountable to working on things. If I swapped something (like working on a science fair report instead of that day's English assignment), it made sense and we still worked on the subject area if possible, and I knew I could feel good about us hitting everything, even if we went off plan here and there. 


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#9 rozes

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Posted 27 January 2018 - 02:20 PM

nm


Edited by rozes, 31 January 2018 - 02:55 PM.

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#10 PeterPan

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Posted 27 January 2018 - 05:10 PM

With my dd, she was ABLE to do so much that i was easy to keep piling it on. The only way to stop that was to define enough, which I did by assigning times to the work. If the work got done faster, didn't matter, we had done enough. If she was slow or drifting or floating away, that was her problem. But defining enough was by time values and to that I put MARGIN. 



#11 vonbon

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Posted 01 February 2018 - 02:02 AM

It seems my plans are always so much bigger than reality. I know part of it is just a learning curve of figuring out what you can reasonably do, but how do you find that line? When you look at your plans vs your reality, how do you determine what was asking too much of yourself and kids and let go and what you should still be doing and work at? 

 

I feel like we're doing enough in most areas and that we're having a pretty good year. But I'm also looking at the things not getting done and feeling a tad overwhelmed and not good enough. 

 

Or is this just January talking and I should chill? 

 

I could write this post every year.  ...Probably more like many days of the year!  

 

If we finish the day early and without a little stress, I wonder if I'm "letting them / us off easy" and if I should expect more, push more.  Am I fooling myself into thinking that what I'm providing is rigorous?  What if I don't even know what "rigorous" really looks like?  (BTW, "rigorous" would be my label / goal--not saying it's yours, OP.) 

 

If the day is stressful and we don't accomplish everything, I realize I've planned too much and sucked the possible joy out of things...

 

It's a difficult balance.  

 

I'm an idealist and tend to plan "the best" (whatever that is -  :001_rolleyes: - does "the best" exist?) for each subject area and then proceed to feel overwhelmed and realize that it can't all be accomplished...at least not in one year!  

 

When my kids take assessments or I see them in various settings, I realize that they're probably doing just fine, and, in various ways, doing really well.  I should probably enjoy them and our time together more and stop stressing so much.  

 

I'm not really posting with advice--  Just to say that you have company in your pursuit of balance.  There are some good posts here!  


Edited by vonbon, 01 February 2018 - 04:43 PM.

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#12 vonbon

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Posted 13 February 2018 - 06:25 PM

 

- limited time blocks

Daily schedule: in advance set a limit on the amount of time for doing each subject or activity; if everyone is REALLY bummed out when the timer goes off, then allow yourselves another 5-10 minutes, but otherwise, move on. Remember, you'll be doing Math and Writing and Reading again tomorrow... and the next day... and the day after that... ;)

 

- leave people "wanting more"

If you find you're frequently telling people to hold on for "just 5 more minutes!" "just 1 more page!" "just a little bit more!", you've probably over-scheduled; cut the time down by 10 minutes a day for that subject, or schedule only 1/2 page in the workbook, or... other way of backing down a bit. It's always better on the psyche (on the daily basis) to leave something "wanting a little bit more" than to have to drag everyone forward with tears or wailing or sullenness. ;)

 

Hi Lori D.!  I used these 2 little tips today and it worked really well!  Cut my K'er off with reading, both a read-aloud and her reading aloud to me...wanting more.  In trying to cram more in each day, I'd forgotten to keep the joy alive and to leave them wanting more! 

 

I also have a tendency to add more math in or more [whatever] in if things are going well.  Why not make things more amazing?, LOL!  My DC are compliant, but I could see where it would grate against them.  So I set a time for math work today and cut it off when I said I would, even though it was going well.  I don't want to provoke them to anger by not keeping my word in terms of wrapping things up! 

 

THANK YOU!!!


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