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Checklist People: Can You Help Me?

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This is our first year of HS, and we have been operating more time-based than task-based. This has been good for both of us so far, but...


DS visited with a friend who is using a "box" program with a daily checklist, and my son was intrigued by notion of completing the tasks on a list and then moving on to free time. I am open to the idea, and can certainly see the benefits - more independence and perhaps he will learn more time management skills. I actually think that a weekly checklist would work better for us, and I have been working on that today. Been working on it ALL day, in fact.. :crying:


Here are the hurdles in MY mind :

  • We use hardly anything that is open-and-go. I have not been "winging it" thus far, but I do make a lot of decisions during the day / week...and I have not had to write them down. And, dare I say it...but I think I am kind of a creative teacher-mom who comes up with good ideas on-the-fly. How do I factor THAT into a checklist?!

  • I have spent the better part of today formulating checklists for this week. I confess that this is not my idea of fun. Researching and buying? Very fun. Lesson planning? Not so much. ETA: Actually, I do enjoy lesson planning quite a bit. What I dislike is my tendency to get bogged down in the details of writing it all out. Please tell me WHEN you make your plans & checklists, especially if you create your own science, history, etc. We travel whenever we take a chunk of time off, so I am pretty much left with evenings and ordinary weekends.

  • My biggest concern is that we will lose the organic, free-flow discussions that have been such a big part of our day. How do I keep from losing that? It is just the two of us here all day...scheduling a time to discuss history seems like overkill to me.

  • No way do I want to set DS up for failure by assigning too much work. But if I have to write. down. every. single. little. thing in advance, then I can assure you that I am the one set up for failure.

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I do something very similar to seekinghim. I print out my own blank schedule. When they were younger, I did much more freestyle stuff than I do now. I might plan a week or two in advance for some subjects, but then again, I might not. So on Sunday night (or Monday morning or whenever) I might plug in for Math the lesson number 44, 45, 46, etc. So the student knows where we are and that they are expected to do math that day. If I know I want student to do some history but I don't have anything particular in mind, I might place an X in the box for history for that day. And that might mean "go read one of the many history books I got out of the library" or "let's watch a documentary" or "come see me and we'll figure out what to do". Any "planning" I do is in pencil. I reserve the right to change any "plans" without notice. When the student has completed a task, we use a highlighter to cross it off. Not everything is necessarily crossed off.


This gives me flexibility, but it gives us all a sense of goals. I think you should easily be able to use this system while still "winging it".

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I use a spiral notebook. Each child has their own notebook. I write down the assignments for the week, some are vague and allow for flexibility, some are more exact. For example, I might write down that I want to do three days of Latin. How much Latin we do each day might depend on what else is going on. Or for something like Science I might just write Science but leave specifics blank. I don’t schedule anything as far as certain times or amounts of time that we are doing.


I’m pretty specific with Math, I’ll write down what pages I want to cover and most of the time what problems I want him to do. But if it’s a new topic and I’m not sure what he’ll need to do I might just write down four boxes to check to represent four days of Math and then each day I’ll give him an assignment for that day based on what he needs to do. I’m usually fairly specific with the LA curriculum (we use MCT and WWE) as I can predict what I’d like him to get done. For Science and History I am much less specific and he is much less independent. I typically will just jot down notes to myself but it isn’t really something for him to check off.


It’s useful for us in several ways:

1) For some assignments my 9 year old can do them alone. He knows that he can go and get the notebook anytime and work on the things he can do alone. I work outside the home so this is helpful when I am a bit late getting home in the morning. He can start school without me. Or if I am working with one of his siblings I can direct him to look at the notebook and see what he can do. Things he can do on his own are parts of our grammar curriculum, some Math, Latin, and any reading assignments.


2) He likes checking things off. I used to resist this a bit because I liked the idea that “learning is all the time†and I wanted him to get away from checking off a list. But I realized I like checking things off too. It’s just our personality. It makes him feel more successful. So it works for us.


3) He can see what my expectations are for the week and start to learn how to manage his time. A few weeks ago I told both boys that we could have a fun Friday if they could work on getting certain things done ahead of time. That week during free time or downtimes they would go and do a little extra work. I’ve tried that without a checklist but because it wasn’t visual I think they just felt like they were working harder without seeing the goal accomplished. This way they could easily see that, hey if I just do two more sentences today I’ll be done.


4) For things that are more flexible, like Science or Art or History or other projects, it’s just a way to remind myself that I want to do it. I find that I often end up not getting to certain things in the week because we’re putting off all the extras until Friday. This way I can see what I want to do and rearrange our days to make it happen.


5) It actually helps me plan. On Friday as we finish up subjects I just turn to the next page in the notebook and write down what I want to do in that subject the next week. Also, if we don’t get to something I can just carry it over to the next page and somehow put a note to myself that it’s a priority for the next week. Sometimes, on Friday I get distracted so I end up doing the planning on the weekend but having everything we did written down makes it faster for me to figure out what’s next. I like to plan and this also helps me not to plan too far ahead. I sometimes tend to be better at planning than implementing. I do still plan a bit ahead so I can get library books or supplies we need but this system has helped me not to stress as much about being “behind†some artificial timeline I imposed on us months ago.


I think the big thing to remember is that it’s a tool. It might not be a tool that you use exactly the same way someone else does. Maybe you have a checklist only for certain subjects. And also, since it’s just a tool, it’s ok not to check everything off. If something happens mid-week that’s ok, you can reserve the right to be flexible.

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yeah, i use cozi to make checklists, so the teen can access it on line and i can print for the younger. the younger one mostly has vague assignments. So 'spelling' means he has to do spelling with me. he still gets to check it off, but he cant do it independently. Science is just reading, so he can do that alone. the teen's work is all spelled out


for stuff i schedule myself (the teen mostly) i work through the lesson plan and put it in order on a spreadsheet. each morning i put the next assignment on his checklist.

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I think having a checklist for my kids keeps me on track as much as them. Here is one I developed for an entire week. It's flexible because you can list whatever you want to be accomplished whether it's for school or home. Each weekend, I fill the checklist out based on planning I've already done and how things actually went the week before. I don't schedule times for subjects, and I let my kids choose the order the assignments will be done. This is dependent on my own schedule, though, so it's a cooperative thing. Each weekend you could sit down and just think about which lessons you would like to finish in math, what pages in history or of a fiction book, etc.


An important thing I do is look at our outside activities and obligations such as dentist appointments. I schedule less work on those days and more on the days we will be home all day.

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Was he discontented with your approach BEFORE he visited this friend? It's not at all uncommon for a dc to visit a friend's house, see how efficient said friend's school work is (grass is greener syndrome) and want to try that method. If you weren't having problems before, I'd be very careful about changing things, personally. If your ds is going into a "just let me get it done and get out of here" mode, you're correct that you could feed it with the checklists.


One thing you can do is only write certain things on the checklist and not EVERYTHING. That way he has the expectation that there's more that you do in life (discussions, etc.). You probably already have some kind of routine about how your discussions happen, so you can put that routine into the checklist as part of the process. Do you tend to discuss your history over dinner, as you're hanging out, or otherwise informally? Then don't even put it down. If you tend to discuss it after he does assigned reading, then you simply put *discuss* and a box beside it after the history assignment. That way he knows sometime during the day he's supposed to get with you to discuss.


Some kids need more structure than others. I wouldn't mess up what is working for you. It's not like mom-created checklists are the ONLY way of working together. You might do way awesomer, given his age, to let HIM make his checklists frankly.

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You might do way awesomer, given his age, to let HIM make his checklists frankly.

OK, THIS has potential :) Care to elaborate?!




I have had a kid in a B & M school since...yikes...1996. Over the years, I have dealt with all kinds of teachers. For the most part, we have enjoyed the super-organized ones. The ones who posted the homework on the website by 5 PM, just like they had said that they would at back-to-school night. The ones who had crystal-clear expectations and assignments. Vague teachers drove me batty. They drove my kids batty. Of course, HS and classroom management are very different. Clear as mud, yep.


While I do think that DS does want to become a wee bit more efficient, neither one of us is or has been actually discontent. We are just open to doing things differently, while keeping that grass-is-greener-syndrome in mind. We have not been at this long enough to be set in our ways, kwim? I think that I will see how this week goes. My checklists certainly LOOK pretty awesome - I put them in OneNote and synced them to DS's laptop.


Edited with an attempt for clarity. Turned out to be a somewhat failed attempt, though :)

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