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How do you know when you have too much "school" in your day?(long)

Alana in Canada

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I don't know if it's lack of sleep, poor parenting, or overscheduling, but since we started back at school "full-time" we have not been able to get to every subject I've scheduled into our day.


I posted our schedule back in the fall and many expressed concern it was "too long" and, now after having tried to implement it fully over the last six weeks, I'm inclined to agree. I just don't know what to do about it.


Here it is:

(for both at the same time except where indicated)


Copywork/recitation--while I prepare breakfast.

recitation consists of one Bible Verse, one poem and latin vocabulary.


Latin. 15-20 minutes a day using Lively Latin. I am keeping the daily chunks short and sweet as the kids built up a HUGE resistence to it when we used other materials last year.


Math (Singnapore for both) with one child while the other practices his or her instrument. Obviously, the child practicing may have some free time during this period depending....


Then we have lunch.


Spell to Write and Read. I was trying to do two lists a week, but that's about an hour a day--too much. Still, I try to do something everyday, though sometimes we have to drop it.


Then, Story of the World. This too has somehow turned into "something every day" as we fell behind our school year dreadfully this fall. The kids love this, though, and always beg me to do it.


Then we have Grammar with one child while the other practices his or her typing.


We've started a few things, but are not yet in a consistent rhythm for getting them done.


In the last few weeks we have done 1/2 lesson in Christian Studies (By Memoria Press) and our first lesson on the Human Body. I was hoping to get to the second, but it was such a bad day for tempers around here, I ended school after 4 1/2 to 5 hours.


We've also done one lesson in our Canadian History course. This is a HUGE priority for me as we are planning a trip to Montreal this Spring, and I want the kids to know "where" they are going!


I have Classical Writing to be implemented yet with my son. It's past time!


I have Bible Study, too, to do with my daughter.


And we have done a few art lessons with the evan-moor book, but it gets pushed to the bottom. I tend to pull it out on those days when it's too early to "quit" but we need a break.


Any ideas what I can do here?



(PS. there's other stuff, I'd planned to do too, but it's such a low priority at the moment, I'm not even going to take the time to type it out!):o

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For instance, I noticed you are doing SWR and grammar. Could you tie in some grammar with the SWR lesson instead of making it two different things? At their ages, it would probably suffice and be better than none.


Also, could you do some audiobook history? I have SOTW audiobooks and my dc's listen to them while I check work, plan, work with particular dc, etc. That way they are covering history and you can do AG together. Maybe even listen during lunch.


Could they do copywork from the history lesson? With four dc's, I have to combine to finish. Although it might not be as thorough, I find I can get it done that way. Just a suggestion...

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Thanks for the quick reply!


OH--Story of the World is done like this at our house:


Put on Jim Weise. Listen to one track while Mom finds the notebooks and AG, or does the lunch dishes or makes a snack or whatever....Recently, I've started writing vocabulary words on the board while they are listening so they know to use words like "caliph" and how to spell "Baghdad."


We do the "review questions" together from the AG, and then they each narrate on the chapter section. I hand them their dictations and they each copy them out. (I just started dictating the first sentences back to my son. This is a process that is just going to get longer and longer until he can do them on his own....).


Then, we do the mapwork, if necessary.

(They can do the colouring page, if any, while they listen.) Today was a slight deviation--we listened to two tracks, skipped our narrations (they weren't worth narrating in my opinion) and did the chapter tests for 6&7 as "discussion and review" instead.

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I don't think your load is too heavy at all. Maybe you're spending too long on some things or need to streamline? You're right that you want to be getting to your writing. It should NOT take an hour a day to do SWR, no way. Plan 15-20 minutes and do only what you get done in that amount of time. 5 minutes of phonogram or rule review (alternate days), 10 minutes to dictate new words, 5 minutes to review or play a game. That's ALL.


On your math, how long are you spending? I see breakfast, 20 minutes of latin, then only math till lunch. 30 minutes for a 7 yo and 45 for the 10 yo is plenty. Even if you did them back to back, you'd still have time to get in SWR and CW before lunch. I wouldn't eat till math and LA are done. You don't get things done unless you have a goal and stick to it.


Does that copywork/recitation time go well? I don't ask my dd to do anything using her brain until I've fed her. They haven't eaten all night and their blood sugar is at its lowest. I'd give them chores or something no-brainer, eat breakfast together, do your first subject (math or SWR), THEN the copywork/recitation, then go back to the other heavy subject. If they like latin, then I'd save that for last, after math and LA are done, their treat. Don't put the candy first. ;)


You aren't trying to do too much, but you can't necessarily do all the gravy stuff (canadian history, science, etc.) every day. If you focus on each thing two days a week and let them do their fun reading for it on the other days using a bookbasket, that gives them the every day effect with less time input from you. In other words, only PLAN two days a week for each of those, then you can still get it all done, even when you miss a day.

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It sounds like you might need an earlier start to your day. You are only accomplishing latin and math between breakfast and lunch. Also, you do not need to do everything every day. Maybe you could do grammar and writing on alternate days. Also, an hour for spelling is definitely too much. 20 minutes should be fine. History, art and science can definitely be done on different days. We do history twice a week, science once and art once.

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Yes, SWR is such a sticking point.


The kids are, frankly, out of control. If I dictate "sea" they will start to sing "A sailor went to sea, sea, sea...." for example. (Coming across "nauta" as one of our first vocab words in Latin didn't help, either!)


It takes forever to get through those 20 words...never mind the sentence making (which they love) and the "quiz." I've actually had to move the "quiz" to the next day, but it kills me to do it. But IF I did, then that would be the time for phongram drill/bingo (something we'd got away from) and entering the new ones on the chart. I *could* still do two lists that way and do a big test on Friday of both lists.


OK, OK, so I'm not supposed to be making the work load more efficient--not necessarily.


We're only on H2--I feel so preassured to get it done!

Copywork is a lovely, gentle way to start our day. I've tried starting with either Latin or math, but my daughter complains her brain isn't "awake" yet.


We haven't been starting early enough in the day, but I think that's changing, fortunately. I was teaching school after supper there for a while, just because we were so time shifted. (Admittedly, that's when we got science and AG projects and our Canadian History project done!)


Maybe I should actually plan to do that for the two evenings a week we are all home!

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Hi there,


We sometimes do history/geography/science in the evening . . . simply because it's the fun stuff.


If we do Copywork, Math, Latin, SWR/GWG in the morning, then I'm fried and finished.


We take the afternoon to play, connect with friends, field trips and then, for an hour before bed, we might play together with "school stuff" -- the Human Body book is an easy sell for a before bed together time, as is A Child's Geography. Even SOTW as a read-aloud and map work is gobbled up here. (Narrations are another story . . . that is definitely fresh morning work!)


Someone here used the phrase "caught, not taught" about Bible study times. Turning Bible into "school" didn't fly here at all . . .




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Hi Alana!


I certainly hear what you are saying about SWR... We're doing Spalding (as you know) and it does take a VERY long time. It bothers me, because it sounds so quick and simple, yet it can take so long to do the daily quiz, get those words into the notebook, do the sentences (I have dd6 write them so she is using them as her creative writing for the school board) etc. etc. Even my TM says it should be 1 to 1-1/2 hrs per day for LA. I struggle with how to shorten it too! Sorry... no suggestions there, but I know what you mean!


As for the other subjects... one thing that really helped me out is enlisting DH to teach art once a week. He either does in on Tues. evenings or we'll do it as a family on Sunday afternoons. Nothing to fancy here- we do one topic in the Evan Moor Teaching Art to Children, then one activity from another art book. If I can get it squeezed in, I'll add one "lesson" from Child-sized Masterpieces. Knowing that art will get covered at some point during the week really lessened my stress load each day as it was a subject that I really wanted to teach the kids but never seemed to get around to it.


I do NOEO for science and chose to do their 4 day schedule so we must do science every day if I have any hope of getting through their 36 week school year! Sometimes, the science books become our daily read aloud or lately, I have been encouraging dd to read them out loud to me as her reading practice. They are above her reading level but she seems able to comprehend enough to come up with a decent narration in the end. The part that kills me about this is that she has to draw a pic to go w/her narration. Since she dislikes drawing, it can take her FOREVER to illustrate her narration. To get around this, I do science just prior to lunch so she can take all the time she wants to draw while I am cooking.


I find my big problem lately is trying to get extras done in my school day- for example, adding in a science project like a lapbook for the 5 senses or doing a poster to compare the habitats that we studied. They take forever and chew up the time I had allotted for my other subjects!

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As my dc's have increased and more have entered into the mix of the education day, I have had to make some choices. I received advice early on that it is impossible to do all subjects perfectly but each person should really decide which subjects you feel require complete mastery and let the others fall into the category of exposure.


Once I read LCC, I realized this is exactly what he is saying. In other words, look at your schedule and decide which subjects you feel need to be mastered. These are different for everyone. For me it is Bible, math, latin, reading and writing. If I can incorporate history and science into these, so much the better. If not, well I just expose them and let their interests take off.


One such example is art. I want my children to do this but it just doesn't fit into our day. So, I leave markers, pencils, drawing books and paper out and, guess what, they pick it up themselves. Although they are not really following a detailed instruction plan, they are doing some.


Hope this helps in some small way. Also, if you are really sold on the SWR method, make that a priority. Otherwise, go with something less time consuming. I have SWR but switched to Sequential Spelling because I couldn't justify the time SWR took.

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Could you start earlier?

It doesn't seem like you are accomplishing a lot in the morning. Maybe an earlier breakfast or limiting breakfast to quick and easy items like cereal, muffins, or bagels with fruit.


Can your 10 year old do more work independently?

I'm thinking about math and grammar specifically. With my 8yo, I spend at most 10 minutes covering the math concept in Singapore and then she does the workbook exercises independently. Grammar is usually a 5 minute lesson and then independent exercises. Depending on your 7yo, it's possible that she could do some of her math work independently as well. This would free up time for you to be teaching the other student. For example, have your 7yo do her typing while you teach the math concept to your 10yo. Later have your 10yo do his typing while your 7yo is giving you her history narration.


Can you alternate some subjects?

We only do spelling and grammar 3 days a week. We do Latin in 3 days, but could easily manage it in only 2. History could be done in


We also use a MOTH schedule to help us stay on track during the day. It helps keep me focused on school when it's time for school (as opposed to running around cleaning up a bit here and there). It also structures are time so that in general no one has to wait on me to be able to accomplish their school work. Finally, it keeps me in check so that I don't go overboard in school time.

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Oh, yes, how remiss of me.

Everyone has been extremely helpful. For some reason, though I kept having responses that start with, "Yes, but..." so I wanted to analyse what's wrong with me before I responded. But, I should at least have said "thank you."


Today went extraordinarily well.

My son got up before my daughter. Instead of letting him watch something until she awakened, we did grammar (since we didn't get to it yesterday) and his math. (I fed him during grammar). Then, as he took the dog out, I had my daughter do her copywork and recitation and grammar.


Then, we did what? I don't remember how it all proceeded, but we got Canadian History done (with narrations and map work) our spelling test, grammar done for both, finished lesson 1 in Christian Studies (done orally--it took 20 minutes!) My daughter did her math--without me--in about 1/2 hour. And she got 100%. My son and I also did dictation and some math drill. Oh yes, and they both practiced their instruments.


I wish I knew why everything went so well. We didn't do SoTW or Latin or Science--but I plan on doing Science this evening. But we started about 10 and finished at 2:30.


I want all my days to go this well.

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