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Managing your schedule with multiple students.


sweetpea3829
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I have four children, ages 9, 8, 7 and 6.  Up until this past school year, meeting everybody's schooling needs was doable.  

 

But I'm having a heck of a time trying to figure out how to schedule our day for this coming school year.  I don't think I have enough time in the day to meet everybody's demands!  And honestly, the scheduling difficulties began about midway through the 2014-2015 school year!

 

Last year, my schedule went like this:

 

**Please note, this was a guideline schedule...the day would typically flow along these lines, but not necessarily.  

 

8:00-8:30      Morning chores, Breakfast, audio book

8:30-9:00      Bible Study, Awana verses

9:00-10:00    DS8 math

10:00-10:30  DS7 math

10:30-11:00  DS6 Kindergarten (this ALWAYS took more than a half hour, and included his phonics, reading AND math)

11:00-11:30  DS7 Language Arts

11:30-12:00  Lunch prep (and catchup if we were behind, which we almost always were)

12:00-1:00    Lunch, Audio book, and silent reading

1:00-1:30      DD9 and DS8 Language Arts

1:30-2:00      Independent work folder check-in

2:00-3:00      History (Oct-April) or Science (April-Oct)

3:00-???       DD9 math

 

 

Some of the problems with this include...children completing independent work and wanting it checked...while I am in the middle of teaching other children.  Children needing help/questions on independent work...while I'm in the middle of working with other children.  

 

Often, the time allotted for a given subject was not long enough. Another problem would be other things that need to get done during the day.  Chicken waterers being checked several times a day during the cold days, woodstove staying stocked, etc.  

 

Finally, it is preferable if our day is done by 3:30.  From October through March, my husband is home from work by 3:45 and as soon as he walks through the door, all attention is on him.  (Don't even get me started on his summer schedule, which has him off on Fridays).  

 

What I would like to do is schedule a block of 1:1 time for each child...probably an hour each.  During that time, we can tackle 1:1 lessons, check independent work folders, and work on difficult concepts he or she is struggling with.  That takes up a HUGE chunk of the day.  

 

Plus...there are direct instruction lessons that are group lessons...such as the oldest two with Language Arts.  And next year, the youngest two will be combined for language arts and math.  

 

So how do you folks with multiple students schedule your day?  How do you keep your students from interrupting other kids' lessons (this is a HUGE problem)?  My kids know that they are not to specifically interrupt but...coming and standing next to me and waiting for me is still an interruption.  

 

Some days I just feel so torn in all different directions and unable to meet everybody's needs!   There's only one of me!  I need a classroom assistant, lol.  

 

 

 

EDITED:  A few folks asked if I could move to something a bit more independent and less teacher intensive.  The answer is, unfortunately, not really.  My oldest child has some pretty significant learning challenges and it's looking like the middle boy may have as well.  They both require a lot of hand-holding.  The youngest still requires a lot of hand-holding because he's only 6.  But I do anticipate my life will get a bit easier once he's more independent.  

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:bigear:

 

I can't wait to hear the replies to your question.  I will have a 4th, 3rd, 1st, 4k, and 3 yr old this coming year.  When I just looked at time to teach math alone my head started spinning!  Then I realized all the other subjects I wanted to cover...I need about three of me...well four would be nice then one can cook and clean 

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:bigear:

 

I can't wait to hear the replies to your question.  I will have a 4th, 3rd, 1st, 4k, and 3 yr old this coming year.  When I just looked at time to teach math alone my head started spinning!  Then I realized all the other subjects I wanted to cover...I need about three of me...well four would be nice then one can cook and clean 

 

Yes....if I did all four individual math lessons, figure 45 minutes (particularly for the two that struggle with math)....that's 3 hours just for math!  This is part of why I'm combining the youngest two for math.  

 

And you'll notice that there is no time on my schedule for cleaning.  My house is a disaster.  I feel like I'm drowning just trying to keep my head above water with the day to day necessary things!  

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I have to re-work my schedule this year, as I am adding in a new student (dd4 will be in kindergarten).

 

My schedule is far from perfect, but I thought I would write it out here so that maybe it will give you some ideas of how to make a schedule that works for you.  And you may look at my schedule and say "I would never do it like that!"  That's ok.  Every homeschool is different.  That's part of the beauty of homeschool.

 

8:30 Wake up the sleepy-heads

8:35 Devotions with dd10, dd12, ds14

8:50 Current events (news) with dd12 and ds14

9:00 Breakfast

 

After breakfast, dd10, dd12, and ds14 go off on their own to do their assignments.  I usually write out their assignments on the weekend for the next week.

They are mostly self-taught and at least 75 percent independent.

 

Other than the independent work for the older three, most of our homeschool happens on my bed.  I sit in the middle, with one child on each side.  This would work at a table, but because of health issues I have a hard time sitting in a chair for more than 30 minutes.

 

9:30 Dd8 and dd7 come to do their work.  I combine them for science and history.  They have their own workbooks for math and language arts.  On some days I feel like a tennis ball bouncing back and forth, but it works pretty well.  I usually try to have one work on language while the other works on math so we don't have competing math problems going on.

 

They are usually done by 10:30 or 11.

 

My older children sometimes come in for help with a problem.  If it is not something I can help them with in one sentence or less, I tell them to come back when there is an empty spot on the bed.  There is only room for two students at a time.  (Which is about all my brain can handle.)

 

Dd12 likes to wait until the bed is clear to get help with her math.  Ds14 is the same way.  Unfortunately, I can only help one of them at a time with the more involved math.  Sometimes they race to the bed when they see it is empty.  Whoever loses ends up reading in their room until I can help them.  Or until lunch.

 

We used to have lunch at noon, which meant lunch prep at 11:30.  We have done much better moving lunch to 12:30 so I can homeschool until noon.

 

Dd7, dd8, and dd10 do not have homeschool after lunch.

 

Dd12 and dd14 sometimes have to complete their work after lunch.

 

Most of the dc's reading is done in the afternoon or evening.   Ds14 reads a lot of history books throughout the day.  Literature also often gets pushed to the afternoon or evening when the house is quieter.

 

Like I said, our schedule isn't perfect, but it (mostly) works for us. 

 

 

ETA:  We do read-alouds or flash cards (states, presidents, Spanish) during lunch.  Because of my food allergies, I often eat a different lunch than the dc, so I prefer to eat after they're finished.

 

Also, we have family devotions every night before bed.

 

 

Edited again:  for clarity

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Does your husband have the energy and interest to do some of the group things (Bible, history/science) with the kids after he gets home? That would take that time out of your day, and give you time to yourself for a break and/or cleaning while they do that. Then you're also working with the desire to be with Dad when he comes home instead of against it when your day runs long. Other than that, I think the only options are to combine them more and/or have more independent curriculum.

 

For the interrupting, maybe if they have something they can definitely do on their own, you could tell them that if they need help, switch to that until you have a minute? You would have to be good about letting them know when you do have a minute, maybe even set a timer while you're working with someone so that both you and they know when it's question time.

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I have all my kids do math at the same time, and just rotate between whoever needs help.  They practice math facts on the computer, so that's independent, and new math concepts usually only take a few minutes per kid to explain.   Then they spend 20 to 30 minutes working on a couple of pages in their math workbooks.  (We do Singapore at a good pace, followed by a yearly review with selected pages from Math Mammoth).  I also combine my older four kids in spelling using Sequential Spelling.  It's a bit too easy for my oldest, and a bit too hard for the youngest, but it's worth it to save time.  I know they learn more spelling in their copywork and writing practice, anyway.  One year when my twins were difficult to manage, my oldest did English nearly entirely independently using Climbing to Good English.  I was amazed at how much she learned.  

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Can you switch up some of your curriculum to make it less teacher intensive?    My DD8 is mostly pretty independent in her Math & LA I check she understands the directions and than she does it, If she really doesn't understand than she silent reads until I can help.   We have also usually had 1 subject each on the computer to free me up to help the other I don't do anything flashy the free Mobymax, Sequential Spelling.  We use the timer a lot when it goes off you are done if you've been working the whole time.

 

 

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Does your husband have the energy and interest to do some of the group things (Bible, history/science) with the kids after he gets home? That would take that time out of your day, and give you time to yourself for a break and/or cleaning while they do that. Then you're also working with the desire to be with Dad when he comes home instead of against it when your day runs long. Other than that, I think the only options are to combine them more and/or have more independent curriculum.

 

For the interrupting, maybe if they have something they can definitely do on their own, you could tell them that if they need help, switch to that until you have a minute? You would have to be good about letting them know when you do have a minute, maybe even set a timer while you're working with someone so that both you and they know when it's question time.

 

I wish.  I love him to pieces but educating the children is not up his alley.  Not even close.  He has a school phobia...lol.  I asked him once to sit with our eldest daughter and help her with a math word problem and next thing I knew, he's saying..."Well this is the stupidest thing I've ever seen!  Half the guys at work couldn't figure this out!  What kind of stupid math is this???"   It was a first grade Process Skills in Problem Solving!  

 

*sigh*  

 

 

As for the interrupting....I so wish I could hard wire a stop light to the back of my head.  Green if its ok to approach mom...red if not.  Yellow if mom can answer a real quick question.  

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:lurk5:  I have 5 kids and I feel like I'm on the Titanic.  I've been searching for large family blogs and stuff online, but I can't find anything helpful.  I'm thinking organization, minimizing the number of subjects (less is more) and a set schedule are key.    

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What I would like to do is schedule a block of 1:1 time for each child...probably an hour each.  During that time, we can tackle 1:1 lessons, check independent work folders, and work on difficult concepts he or she is struggling with.  That takes up a HUGE chunk of the day.  

 

 

I've been doing this for years.  It does take up a big chunk of time!   But, we would fall apart if I didn't sit down with each kid individually.  Even if they know how to do something on their own, mine need the social interaction to discuss what they're reading, work on problems together, etc.  They lose their motivation if I don't discuss things with them.

 

Edited to add:

 

I'm not sure how much time each kid will need this school year, but it seems like I'm spending 2 hours with the 10 yro and 7 yro together.  1 hour with the 12 yro and probably 2 hours with the 13 yro (she's kinda needy with schoolwork).  So, that's 5 hours a day.

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:lurk5:  I have 5 kids and I feel like I'm on the Titanic.  I've been searching for large family blogs and stuff online, but I can't find anything helpful.  I'm thinking organization, minimizing the number of subjects (less is more) and a set schedule are key.    

Titanic:  I LOL'd at that.  Been feeling that this past year with four including a new baby.  Finally feel like I've got a handle on things now.  :-)

 

OP:  Can you take baby steps toward your goal of a one hour 1on1 time?  Like, start with 15 minutes each, 2x per day and see how that goes and tweak, then work your way up to 20-30 minutes per kid, 2x per day?  

 

I am saying 2x per day so that they don't get so bogged down with questions that they stop moving forward, and so the kid who gets the first time slot still has a second opportunity to ask questions as they come up again throughout the day.  

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OP:  Can you take baby steps toward your goal of a one hour 1on1 time?  Like, start with 15 minutes each, 2x per day and see how that goes and tweak, then work your way up to 20-30 minutes per kid, 2x per day?  

 

I am saying 2x per day so that they don't get so bogged down with questions that they stop moving forward, and so the kid who gets the first time slot still has a second opportunity to ask questions as they come up again throughout the day.  

 

That's a really good idea!

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I'm trying to think what we were doing when my oldest 3 were 9. 8, 7, and my fourth child was 4.

 

1. I sat everyone down to do independent work together first thing in the morning. A friend complained about sitting down so long while homeschooling. It wasn't my experience. I walked around, and around, and around the table helping with a problem here, handing out a new worksheet, and keeping everyone on track.

 

2. Each child had 30 minutes of tutoring time with me. We ran a Mangers of Your Home type schedule. The kids rotated who played with who, while I sat down to tutor a child.

 

3. History, Science, and Art were done last, either in the late morning or early afternoon, together.

 

4. We had a 1-2 hour quiet time every day, usually from 1-3, for children to read quietly.

 

 

 

 

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This might sound crazy...but we get up at 6 am. Everyone works so much faster and thinks so much more clearly in the morning. We can normally get done by lunch (1 pm) because after lunch brains turns to mush here. Not sure why.

 

We also rely in independent work in academic skills for all fluent readers. I have my children circle things they need help with and we tackle that during our one on one time. I do NOT mark anything during the day, that has to wait for afternoon/evening.

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This might sound crazy...but we get up at 6 am. Everyone works so much faster and thinks so much more clearly in the morning. We can normally get done by lunch (1 pm) because after lunch brains turns to mush here. Not sure why.

 

We also rely in independent work in academic skills for all fluent readers. I have my children circle things they need help with and we tackle that during our one on one time. I do NOT mark anything during the day, that has to wait for afternoon/evening.

 

Do they wake up wanting breakfast first thing?  I would love to get them up early (mainly because they might go to bed earlier as a result, and the baby might sleep a bit later while we worked...) but I'm afraid if they eat at 6, they will want a snack at 9, and then I'd struggle to get them back to task...

 

Though the more I think on it, the more I'm liking the idea...  Hmmm...  

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:lurk5:  I have 5 kids and I feel like I'm on the Titanic.  I've been searching for large family blogs and stuff online, but I can't find anything helpful.  I'm thinking organization, minimizing the number of subjects (less is more) and a set schedule are key.    

 

I totally get it.  I feel like I'm playing tennis, or racquetball.  One kid arrives, I attend to his/her needs and send him/her away.  30 seconds later...here comes another kid.  Attend to his/her needs, send him/her away.  30 seconds later...here comes another kid.  Lather, rinse, repeat, all while I'm trying to give one specific kid 1:1 lessons! 

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Titanic:  I LOL'd at that.  Been feeling that this past year with four including a new baby.  Finally feel like I've got a handle on things now.  :-)

 

OP:  Can you take baby steps toward your goal of a one hour 1on1 time?  Like, start with 15 minutes each, 2x per day and see how that goes and tweak, then work your way up to 20-30 minutes per kid, 2x per day?  

 

I am saying 2x per day so that they don't get so bogged down with questions that they stop moving forward, and so the kid who gets the first time slot still has a second opportunity to ask questions as they come up again throughout the day.  

 

 

Actually, I really like this idea...because one of the things I was grappling with was that whole issue of sitting with a kid for their allotted hour and it a) being too much time...to the point where I lose his/her attention and b) that same kid needing more assistance later.

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I only have three and my youngest is only 6, so I should be asking for your advice! :)  For what it's worth, some things we found to help last year with three kids in the "official" rotation...the kids have chores - tidying their rooms, sweeping, dishes, folding clothes, etc.  We don't have "set" chores, I've tried (am still trying) to instill a sense of responsibility so that when they see something that needs doing that they do it.  My youngest, especially, needs a lot of direction still. For my part, I have had to step back and tuck my perfectionist tendencies safely away. LOL  The clothes may not be folded how I like, the bed sheets may not be securely fastened...but the house is somewhat in order and that's the main point! :)   

 

On the schooling end, last year we covered social, science, art, computers and health in blocks of about 2 months.  This worked relatively well - better than rotations and such we've tried in the past.  We covered topics as we could squeeze them in during the day.  Sometimes using holidays or weekends.  I think we covered a lot more ground that way.  During months when we weren't covering social or science, I would make sure to take out library books on various topics, just to keep their minds working in those subjects and expose them to more topics, etc. 

 

We also have a strict "no interruptions" rule.  It still doesn't work.  Maybe it's an age thing??  LOL

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This might sound crazy...but we get up at 6 am. Everyone works so much faster and thinks so much more clearly in the morning. We can normally get done by lunch (1 pm) because after lunch brains turns to mush here. Not sure why.

 

We also rely in independent work in academic skills for all fluent readers. I have my children circle things they need help with and we tackle that during our one on one time. I do NOT mark anything during the day, that has to wait for afternoon/evening.

 

 

I'm up at 5 with the hubby...lol.  Except Fridays...and then *I'm* up at 6 while he sleeps in.   :glare: (To be fair, he did let me sleep in this past Saturday...but that was because I was up till 4:30 AM just trying to keep my head above water with things to do!)

 

To be honest, I am not a good morning person.  It doesn't seem to matter how early I get up, I putz around.  So I let the kids sleep until they wake up, which is usually right around 8:00.  And, I rather enjoy that period of quiet solitude around the house.  I have found that time to be most beneficial for getting meals prepped for the day.  I often try and tackle other household requirements like the chickens and woodstove during that time, too.  

 

I do think I'm going to try and get the kids up for 7:00 though...I think the extra hour will be quite helpful.  

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I am reading with interest...I have a 10, 8, 5, and my nephew who is 16... I made a schedule for the younger 3 this week, stared at it and simply said "there is nothing peaceful, restful, or beautiful about this" -- so now I am back to the drawing board with things!

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Do they wake up wanting breakfast first thing? I would love to get them up early (mainly because they might go to bed earlier as a result, and the baby might sleep a bit later while we worked...) but I'm afraid if they eat at 6, they will want a snack at 9, and then I'd struggle to get them back to task...

 

Though the more I think on it, the more I'm liking the idea... Hmmm...

Yes. We wake up, so breakfast and getting hair and clothes ready (4 girls), do basic chores, then school. We have a substantial snack and break at 10, no way would they make it until 1 without one (especially all my preschoolers). They do go to bed earlier ;). With much less bickering, I might add!

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I completely feel your pain!

 

This year my schedule includes ages 12, 10, 8, 6 year old kids (oldest 2 are in a charter high school).  I have schooled 5 at a time, but that was insane.  Small pieces of wisom:

 

Think one room school house:

Short lesson (10-15 min) with similar aged/skilled kids working together--send kids to work on assignment alone, move onto next kid.

 

Mom stays in one location, kids come to her with books--saves time getting "set up"

 

I check work the next day, with the kid sitting beside me.

 

I schedule my Youngest kid to work on a specific subject with a specific older sibling--busy work for olders, helpful for keeping younger on task!

 

Focus on the 3 rs.  

 

Extras after lunch.We are lucky if we get both history reading and a read aloud done in the same day!

 

Or, I put the thing that is most often forgotten at the first of my day--for example, history reading and activities or Writing projects.  If we start the day with that, it will get done.  And then I don't let the kids go until the rest (easier for me to get motivated to do) is completed.

 

Preschoolers don't NEED to learn to read--if they aren't interested, don't waste my time.  They will learn to read in half the time at an older age!

 

If we all worked on Math, Reading and Writing, we done good!

 

Everyone on the same language arts lessons--pick something in the middle grades or maybe two groups.  Work on writing, capitalizing, sentences, etc. I use Bravewriter for this purpose.  We do a lesson from the Arrow, or something I picked, sometimes dictation for the older kids and copywork for the youngers. Our writing comes from the Partnership writing lessons and I help more for the younger kids

 

Embrace Busy Work--I use things like: Spelling City, Reading Eggs, Coloring Pages, SOTW on CD, online math games, hands on math games I prepare in the summer, calculadders, book basket reading, personal study (Lego robotics, stop motion animation, artpacs--anything they like, as long as it's independent) Busy work is good because it helps my kids stay engaged and keep them from checking out of school mode.  They work on something on their own and then are less distracting to the other kids.

 

This is why worksheets and textbooks were invented--can you use them anywhere?

 

Pick a "special" focus: history or art or science--never all three at once!

 

I'm using Dictation Day by Day--a really old one room schoolhouse book I saw mentioned here.  There are sentences and spelling words and memory work all in the same book.  I give the kids those spelling words to study (spelling city, writing on paper, quiz each other, etc.) then they come do dictation with me (over sentences with same words)  They must do this work in their best handwriting! We go over mechanics rules afterward and bang!  Spelling, handwriting and mechanics done in one fell swoop!

 

Anything there you could use?

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Yes I completely empathize with you *sigh*

 

Mine are 10, 8 and 6. I have tried so many different schedules and ways to get school done. Here is what works for us at the moment:

  • Wake Up, Breakfast, Chores
  • Oldest starts independent work, sometimes my 8 yr old will as well (I finish off chores for the day, sometimes with DD6 helping me)
  • Bible time altogether for 30mins ( I give them all a five minute warning so they are prepared to stop what they are doing)
  • Singapore Math - 15 minutes approx. teaching with each child, I take all of our maths books and manipulatives to the dining table and start with my youngest and work through each one til we are done with math. I am usually there for 1 hour.
  • Then I will work for 30mins at a time with each child, starting with youngest. This is to cover Language Arts and anything else that pertains to that child. Most of LA is done at my desk, right next to their desks as we have our spelling board there and my teacher manuals.

We usually have lunch at the same time every day, where I do poetry and read alouds there. Then we rotate again, working one on one with each child. The youngest always finishes first :)

 

I always have to have snack time in the morning somewhere so that takes between 15mins and 45mins. If we started school early that day, they are entitled to a play outside during morning snack time. Otherwise, that play time is in the afternoon. 

 

During a 30min time slot, we don't have an order. We just start with something they or I feel like, or that we haven't gotten to the day before. Each of them only have two half hour sessions and this seems to be getting all of the basics done :)

 

I used to go with times but found that too stressful, always looking the clock, so this system is working for us now :)

 

 

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Thanks for sharing your ideas, folks.  

 

I like the idea of "block scheduling" the day so, for example...from 9-11 will be for math and I can work with everybody specifically on math.  11-1 for lunch prep, lunch, and quiet reading.  From 1-3 can be for Language Arts.  Where to put history/science?  LOL!  

 

I have enjoyed letting them get their work done and letting them go play or go outside as they finish....as that gives them incentive to actually work and not fool around (usually).  But perhaps its time to move to a different way of doing it.  

 

Some of the suggestions are things we already do...such as rotating science and history, the kids do chores to help out (and it really does help...when they do them correctly of course).  

 

It seems like schooling 3 was so much easier.  It was just starting to get challenging...mostly because the youngest would be upstairs by himself while the middle boy was schooling.  But once I finished "Kindergarten" with the middle boy, he'd go upstairs and the two boys would entertain each other for a good long time...and those two rarely fight unless the "instigator" (DS8) is around.  

 

But moving from 3 to 4 students as been a heck of a ride.  

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Okay. I don't have this situation, yet. I can only reply as a former tutor. When I was tutoring for one company, we regularly worked with three different children at the same time, often on three different levels of math or English. (Usually we only taught one subject at a table at a time, though, so all English or all math.) You give two children a review page, and teach a concept to the first. After a bit, give him/her a practice page, then turn to the second, and so on. Interruptions are part of this, and it might not be as "perfect" as teaching one on one, but it is a perfectly respectable way to teach. 

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These are really challenging ages. There is not much that any of them can work on independently.

 

One thing that I notice about your schedule is that you have an hour devoted to math for each child.  I am assuming that you are using the same math curriculum with all your children, so you have taught it to the oldest one. I have always done an hour with my oldest, then have been able to go a bit faster with my younger children. Last year my 4th and 1st grader got 1/2 hour of my time for math. The 4th grader went first (6th grader started her math independently at the same time). After teaching my 4th grader, he would do his assignment close by. I checked in on my 6th grader to see if she was having problems, then brought over the 1st grader.  Your ages are different and you will not have anyone ready to start their math lesson independently, but I think you may be able to rotate them through a little faster. (I use RightStart which is pretty teacher intensive.)

 

The same for language arts. Could you shorten that to just 15 minutes for the youngest two?

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My plan for this year re interrupting is that I have made a list of things to do while you are waiting for mom. You could include checking chicken waterers on that list possibly for oldest? And then consistently enforcing the rules, so that if standing beside you and waiting is not okay, then redirect to the list of productive things they could be doing-- like go onto the next thing, logic games, math drill, etc.

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These are really challenging ages. There is not much that any of them can work on independently.

 

One thing that I notice about your schedule is that you have an hour devoted to math for each child.  I am assuming that you are using the same math curriculum with all your children, so you have taught it to the oldest one. I have always done an hour with my oldest, then have been able to go a bit faster with my younger children. Last year my 4th and 1st grader got 1/2 hour of my time for math. The 4th grader went first (6th grader started her math independently at the same time). After teaching my 4th grader, he would do his assignment close by. I checked in on my 6th grader to see if she was having problems, then brought over the 1st grader.  Your ages are different and you will not have anyone ready to start their math lesson independently, but I think you may be able to rotate them through a little faster. (I use RightStart which is pretty teacher intensive.)

 

The same for language arts. Could you shorten that to just 15 minutes for the youngest two?

 

 

Oh how I would love it if they were all doing the same math curriculum...lol.  We have Singapore, MUS, Beast Academy, and a mix of Singapore/MUS, depending on which kiddo we're talking about here.  

 

I haven't quite found a Language Arts that I love just yet...we have mostly winged it.  

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With four kids that close in age, you may need to simplify for your own sanity..and so that you have time in your day for fun. Consider doing one math curriculum, or starting spelling and grammar in 3rd grade. 

 

It is a balance between meeting their needs for academics, play, and having a mom who is available for a game/bike ride/making cookies/etc. 

 

With a day like yours when my kids were a little younger, I would have been a mess.  I needed the afternoon for friends, the park, museums, errands. 

 

Sorry if you didn't want this kind of advice.

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With four kids that close in age, you may need to simplify for your own sanity..and so that you have time in your day for fun. Consider doing one math curriculum, or starting spelling and grammar in 3rd grade. 

 

It is a balance between meeting their needs for academics, play, and having a mom who is available for a game/bike ride/making cookies/etc. 

 

With a day like yours when my kids were a little younger, I would have been a mess.  I needed the afternoon for friends, the park, museums, errands. 

 

Sorry if you didn't want this kind of advice.

 

 

Thank you, your advice is well taken!  We have tried to simplify as much as we can but remember, we are dealing with at least one significantly LD kiddo, one that looks like he may be traveling that path as well, and a kiddo that is considerably advanced.  It would be very difficult to find a math curriculum that meets everybody's needs.  Luckily, we have had more success in combining Language Arts...and this coming year will be the first where the youngest two boys are combined for that.  

 

Honestly, by the end of the day most days...I AM a mess!  Which is why I'm here, lol.

 

I have gotten some great advice and have some things to think over and roll around in my mind over the next couple of weeks while I hammer out this schedule.  Thanks a lot everyone!  

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It has been quite a while since my five were as young as yours but I sure do remember the sinking feeling! I will give you a bullet point list of what worked around here - but remember, it is going to be a busy, chaotic time any way you slice it. That's OK. It's just important to try and enjoy the ride  :laugh:

 

  • Wake up earlier - it's amazing what 30-60 minutes of extra morning time can allow you to get done.
  • Have simple/easy things prepared ahead of time for breakfast (frozen waffles, hard-boiled eggs, crock-pot oatmeal, muffins, breakfast casserole, smoothie packs, etc.)
  • Teach during breakfast - for years we have done Bible, memory work, and read-alouds at breakfast time. They are still kinda sleepy and willing to sit still and listen.
  • Stagger chore time - Right after breakfast send one off to do chores and have the others stagger independent work or time with you. Keep rotating the kids through chore time until they are all done. My kids really work during their chore time - vacuuming, sweeping, emptying or loading the dishwasher, laundry, dusting, watering plants, wiping down counters/sinks, etc.
  • Have a place for them to put their work that needs to be checked and then get to it in spurts as you have little bits of time throughout the day. I like using a pretty basket that they can plop their workbooks/papers into. Just don't leave it all until the day is done or it won't get checked (voice of experience here!)
  • Have a 30-minute mid-morning PE time - we used to spend 30 minutes from 9:45-10:15am every morning riding bikes, scootering, running around the block or jumping on the trampoline. This gives them that much-needed exercise and fresh air and gets the wiggles out.
  • Follow this PE time with a protein-rich snack while you read aloud. (apples with peanut or almond butter, almond milk smoothies, cheese and crackers, etc). This will re-invigorate and get them through to lunch.
  • Understand that interruptions are natural and normal for a household of small children. See them less as interruptions and more as the natural rhythm of the day. I don't mind if a child with a question comes and stands quietly next to me until I can give them my attention. Ask the child you are working with, "Work this problem/label all the nouns/practice memorizing this definition, etc while I help your sister for a minute." Or, if I am at a place with child A that an interruption would be detrimental I ask child B to move on to the next problem/sentence/whatever until I can help them. It is unrealistic to expect an "interruption-free" block of time with kids whose ages are in the single-digits.
  • ALWAYS make time for one thing every day that is enjoyable (reading aloud, playing outside, baking, painting - whatever it is for you and yours.)
  • And lastly, I will echo Goldilocks advice above. Simplify. Really. She said, "It is a balance between meeting their needs for academics, play, and having a mom who is available for a game/bike ride/making cookies/etc." Yes and yes! A frazzled, harried mom who is meeting all of the perceived academic needs of her children and making herself crazy doing it (again, experience talking...) is missing the boat. Less is more. Depth not breadth. However you want to describe it - you have YEARS left to meet their academic needs. Don't miss out on the fun and wonder and enjoyment of meeting the needs of your small childrens' hearts where they are right now. Now that I have graduated one and am about to graduate a second, I find it is not the academic needs beingmet along the way that stand out in our homeschooling journey. Those are great, but it is all the other interactions that truly warm my heart and theirs.

Good luck, God bless, and may you find your perfect balance.

 

 

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Thank you, your advice is well taken! We have tried to simplify as much as we can but remember, we are dealing with at least one significantly LD kiddo, one that looks like he may be traveling that path as well, and a kiddo that is considerably advanced. It would be very difficult to find a math curriculum that meets everybody's needs. Luckily, we have had more success in combining Language Arts...and this coming year will be the first where the youngest two boys are combined for that.

 

Honestly, by the end of the day most days...I AM a mess! Which is why I'm here, lol.

 

I have gotten some great advice and have some things to think over and roll around in my mind over the next couple of weeks while I hammer out this schedule. Thanks a lot everyone!

I missed that about the LDs.

 

Good luck!

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  • 2 weeks later...

I am always so grateful for the advice of experienced homeschooling moms!!  Thank you, Nancy!  And others!

 

 

As for scheduling, I don't know if getting up earlier interested you…or another poster…but something that has worked well here is having just ONE child get up early for her tutoring time.  It works very well for my me and my oldest to get up before everyone else and knock this out.  We can accomplish a lot without the interruptions.  I LOVE that Nancy reminded us all to view the interruptions as just a normal part of our day.  LOVE that reminder!!

 

I am sitting here pondering how to be creative with our scheduling as well.  I just cannot do it all.  And trying makes me a really unhappy mommy.  And then, yes, I miss the boat.

 

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I am always so grateful for the advice of experienced homeschooling moms!!  Thank you, Nancy!  And others!

 

 

As for scheduling, I don't know if getting up earlier interested you…or another poster…but something that has worked well here is having just ONE child get up early for her tutoring time.  It works very well for my me and my oldest to get up before everyone else and knock this out.  We can accomplish a lot without the interruptions.  I LOVE that Nancy reminded us all to view the interruptions as just a normal part of our day.  LOVE that reminder!!

 

I am sitting here pondering how to be creative with our scheduling as well.  I just cannot do it all.  And trying makes me a really unhappy mommy.  And then, yes, I miss the boat.

 

 

Mindy, that's a fantastic idea, and I know precisely which kid I'd do that with, too.  Or...keep him up a little later than the others (though I could see the others getting angry over that).  

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Mine don't work well at night.  We can do read alouds, but actual work on something like math or LA, especially if affected by LDs, goes right down the tubes after about 6 or 7pm.  Literally, I had an assignment once that we started in the afternoon and tried to finish after dinner which had probably twice the mistakes during the evening hours compared to the portion done earlier. It wasn't a matter of forgetting the material either, I'm talking more about handwriting, spelling, and general retention...the motivation was there to finish it that day, but the quality is better in the morning as long as the kiddo has had time for breakfast and waking up.

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I have four children, ages 9, 8, 7 and 6.  Up until this past school year, meeting everybody's schooling needs was doable.  

 

But I'm having a heck of a time trying to figure out how to schedule our day for this coming school year.  I don't think I have enough time in the day to meet everybody's demands!  And honestly, the scheduling difficulties began about midway through the 2014-2015 school year!

 

Last year, my schedule went like this:

 

**Please note, this was a guideline schedule...the day would typically flow along these lines, but not necessarily.  

 

8:00-8:30      Morning chores, Breakfast, audio book

8:30-9:00      Bible Study, Awana verses

9:00-10:00    DS8 math

10:00-10:30  DS7 math

10:30-11:00  DS6 Kindergarten (this ALWAYS took more than a half hour, and included his phonics, reading AND math)

11:00-11:30  DS7 Language Arts

11:30-12:00  Lunch prep (and catchup if we were behind, which we almost always were)

12:00-1:00    Lunch, Audio book, and silent reading

1:00-1:30      DD9 and DS8 Language Arts

1:30-2:00      Independent work folder check-in

2:00-3:00      History (Oct-April) or Science (April-Oct)

3:00-???       DD9 math

 

 

Some of the problems with this include...children completing independent work and wanting it checked...while I am in the middle of teaching other children.  Children needing help/questions on independent work...while I'm in the middle of working with other children.  

 

Often, the time allotted for a given subject was not long enough. Another problem would be other things that need to get done during the day.  Chicken waterers being checked several times a day during the cold days, woodstove staying stocked, etc.  

 

Finally, it is preferable if our day is done by 3:30.  From October through March, my husband is home from work by 3:45 and as soon as he walks through the door, all attention is on him.  (Don't even get me started on his summer schedule, which has him off on Fridays).  

 

What I would like to do is schedule a block of 1:1 time for each child...probably an hour each.  During that time, we can tackle 1:1 lessons, check independent work folders, and work on difficult concepts he or she is struggling with.  That takes up a HUGE chunk of the day.  

 

Plus...there are direct instruction lessons that are group lessons...such as the oldest two with Language Arts.  And next year, the youngest two will be combined for language arts and math.  

 

So how do you folks with multiple students schedule your day?  How do you keep your students from interrupting other kids' lessons (this is a HUGE problem)?  My kids know that they are not to specifically interrupt but...coming and standing next to me and waiting for me is still an interruption.  

 

Some days I just feel so torn in all different directions and unable to meet everybody's needs!   There's only one of me!  I need a classroom assistant, lol.  

 

 

 

EDITED:  A few folks asked if I could move to something a bit more independent and less teacher intensive.  The answer is, unfortunately, not really.  My oldest child has some pretty significant learning challenges and it's looking like the middle boy may have as well.  They both require a lot of hand-holding.  The youngest still requires a lot of hand-holding because he's only 6.  But I do anticipate my life will get a bit easier once he's more independent.  

 

 

When my boys were about your kids' ages, I came up with the idea of a Loop.  Here's my first post about it; I know it's become popular since then.  http://larsonboysacademy.blogspot.com/2008/04/loop.html

 

Also, when they were younger I gave each boy a laminated card with the word Help on it.  I attached clips to them, and since my boys have always been color coded, I color coded the cards.  When they had a question, and I was working with a brother, they would clip the card to my sleeve and then move along to the next thing.  You can see them a bit in the bottom picture here:  http://larsonboysacademy.blogspot.com/2010/07/updated-school-room-pics.html

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