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chilliepepper

I'm a taskmaster, and my 4yo is neglected.

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Long post, sorry…

 

(and I am working my way through another thread "Help, overwhelmed and frustrated" with interest because I think there is some overlap and I see some really good advice there)

 

I’m here to try to get some advice about my daily schedule with my kids (10, 8 and 4, all boys). I know there are lots of threads about schedules and I’ve read a lot of them and tweaked things a LOT since we started a year and a half ago…but I’m at a point where I just don’t know what else to remove from our days. And there are so many things we’re NOT doing that I feel we really should be doing!

 
My two main concerns are:
 
1. I feel like I’m driving, driving, driving my 2 older guys to the point that I’m killing their desire to learn…they are burnt out by the end of the day. In some ways, maybe it’s their own fault because if they would just DO their work, I wouldn’t have to heckle them all day. But is there a better way? The schedule, which I will list out below, looks reasonable but in reality things drag on and on so the day stretches out to be much longer than it should be. 
 
2. I don’t have ANY time to do ANYthing with my 4yo. Heck, I barely even have time to help him after he goes to the bathroom let alone do anything constructive. There are times that he can sit with us or be in the room with us and participate to some extent or do something with his hands while we work/talk, but there are MORE times that he is just a constant distraction and I’m always putting him off. And I know I should get him into the habit of spending some time playing by himself in his room each day—that would give the rest of us some focused school time—but so far that hasn’t been very successful. I don’t know what I’ll do next year when he’s supposed to officially start kindergarten.

So can a few of you indulge me by reading through this schedule (mind you, this is our current “ideal†schedule and often is not executed the way it is written out) and seeing if you can think of what I can do so that everybody gets the attention and help they need, including and especially my 4yo, and people don’t get as burnt out as they currently are? Advice can include schedule tweaking or changing up my approach to things…I’m open to anything!
 
(Disclaimer: I know there are some not-fans of Classical Conversations here, but as of now that’s what we’re doing and it has been really great for us. CC Foundations is the one thing that my guys actually LIKE to do, WANT to do…and we’re learning a ton from it and loving our community.)
 
9:00 - 10:00:
 

10yo works with me on CC Essentials work: IEW writing, copying/memorizing grammar charts, parsing sentences and/or talking through the weekly English grammar.
 

8yo works on his “morning packet:†One page of Pentime handwriting, Bible Study lesson, math facts drills via Xtra Math and a daily worksheet that I give them (both of my guys are a bit weak on basic calculations so I’m supplementing our main math curriculum), typing practice (typing.com).
 
4yo plays on an iPad or watches cartoons. :/
 
10:00 - 11:00:
 
This hour is for reviewing our weekly grammar (English, Latin, Math, Geography, History and Science) from CC and reading aloud together, mostly history and/or science. 4yo can join in but is not required.
 
11:00 - 12:00:
 
Beast Academy math for the older guys. Even though one is in 4th grade and one is in 3rd, they are both doing 3rd grade BA and it seems to be sufficiently challenging for both of them. I have to do it with them. If I turn them loose, they get stuck or frustrated or do it wrong and have to do it over.
 
4yo is free range at this point.
 
12:00 - 1:00:
 
Lunch and “recess.â€
 
1:00 - 2:00:
 

10yo works on “morning packetâ€â€”no longer morning but that’s what we call the independent subjects: Pentime, Bible Study, Math drills, typing practice and he also has piano practice which is a whooooooole nuther can o’ worms.

8yo and I do All About Spelling together and he reads out loud to me. These 2 things actually don’t really take an hour.

4yo is free range and/or begging people to play with him.

 

So it looks like we should be done by 2:00, or have another hour to do some science or something, but this never happens. We can’t seem to stick to the above schedule—things just seem to take a lot longer than they should. Math, for example. I’m trying to get through a grade level within the year, which means we should average about 3 pages in the Practice book each day that we are home (which is usually 4 days per week, sometimes only 3 if we do a field trip). It often takes well over an hour to get through 3 pages. Lunch/recess also often lasts longer than an hour, since the clock ACTUALLY does speed up during that time. So everything starts sliding.

 
If you’ve actually read all that and remained engaged, I thank you and would love to hear your thoughts.
 
Thanks!
 

 

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I found that giving my preschooler some time before I worked with my older kids helped. Often I'd help him set up a train track, or read to him, or spend some time with him outdoors. 

 

I also rotated older kids with preschooler. When one older was working on skills with me, I sent the other to do a puzzle or some such with little. Then they swapped. 

 

I also started read-alouds with something for the preschooler. He could then play with his trains or lego in the same room while we read books with the olders.

 

In this way he was with us, and getting our company most of the morning. He was also watched a little TV -  2 or 3 x 10 min episodes of non-commercial stuff. 

 

~

 

Getting though maths - I assign every second question. If the child needs all the questions, he generally doesn't understand the math well enough, so we work on understanding. 

 

I also try to get maths done 5 days a week - even if we have a class or a day out, it's better for me if we get maths done first. 

 

Lunch hour - set an alarm. 

 

 

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I think that you are probably doing too much.

 

If there are no special needs that would prevent it from being a viable option, then have you considered teaching the two oldest together as a group?

Maybe not every single thing, but the four most essential subjects could be covered while working as a trio, instead of doing 1 and then the other.

I have two boys who are close in skill level so I teach them together, I don't do one first, then the other/switch back and forth on subjects, that would take too long. They are NOT identical in math/writing abilities, but still, we do it as a group.

 

If I were you, I'd have both boys do those "morning packets" at the same. It seems like aside from Piano practice, they are doing the same thing in the morning packet. Can you have them sit down, pick up a pen and read out the instructions/question then orally answer it, then write the answer and just go to the next thing. EACH QUESTION/PROMPT must be read aloud.

 

Set a timer for however many minutes you want each page to take and stay in the room/at the table, redirecting their attention as needed. When the morning packet time is up, take the pages away and tell them that they have to finish those pages ON THEIR OWN TIME before anything fun.

 

Then do CC and Beast Academy, since those are done together anyway.

Maybe teaching them together/having the work on the morning packets at the same time can't work in your situation, but I say experiment with the idea.

 

Also, I'd start the day with some rigorous outdoor exercise for all 4 of us--obstacle course, laps around the yard, jumping jacks, run in place, whatever. A LOT of running. If you can't or don't want to run around, then stand out there and call the shots. You shouldn't underestimate the benefit of starting the day with physical exercise.

 

While your older boys are doing their morning packets, play an educational game/workbook/lesson with the 4 year old NEAR BY the older boys so you can redirect them as needed.

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I find that my 10-year-old is ridiculously independent. Are there things he can do on his own that you currently do with him? I have a 10-year-old, 9yo, 7yo, and 4yo.

 

Can your toddler be with you? I have a (literally) taped rectangle, about 7'x5' next to where I usually sit when working with my 7-year-old that my 4-year-old does his "work" in - blocks for 15 min, "reading" for 15 minutes. Then he goes to the living room for an iPad app. After that, he plays with the 7-year-old while they listen to Suzuki music together. By then he's pretty happy to play on his own. He also gets me up in the morning and helps me make breakfast, so that is time together before school.

 

I would love to crash afternoons but that is when my 4-year-old gets me. Today, after finishing school work at 2:30, I read 4 books to him (he choose). Then we did music together (sang and rhymed for 15 minutes using Making Music Praying Twice curriculum). After that he chose a game for us to play. Finally, we did a super-short math lesson. I set the timer for 9 minutes of math. So that was about an hour of one-on-one time after the big kids' school was done. Oh yeah, I let him "help" me make lunch, too, when we ate. We later read more books and ds10 did a puzzle with him.

 

Emily

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I think that you are probably doing too much.

 

If there are no special needs that would prevent it from being a viable option, then have you considered teaching the two oldest together as a group?

Maybe not every single thing, but the four most essential subjects could be covered while working as a trio, instead of doing 1 and then the other.

I have two boys who are close in skill level so I teach them together, I don't do one first, then the other/switch back and forth on subjects, that would take too long. They are NOT identical in math/writing abilities, but still, we do it as a group.

 

If I were you, I'd have both boys do those "morning packets" at the same. It seems like aside from Piano practice, they are doing the same thing in the morning packet. Can you have them sit down, pick up a pen and read out the instructions/question then orally answer it, then write the answer and just go to the next thing. EACH QUESTION/PROMPT must be read aloud.

 

Set a timer for however many minutes you want each page to take and stay in the room/at the table, redirecting their attention as needed. When the morning packet time is up, take the pages away and tell them that they have to finish those pages ON THEIR OWN TIME before anything fun.

 

Then do CC and Beast Academy, since those are done together anyway.

Maybe teaching them together/having the work on the morning packets at the same time can't work in your situation, but I say experiment with the idea.

 

Also, I'd start the day with some rigorous outdoor exercise for all 4 of us--obstacle course, laps around the yard, jumping jacks, run in place, whatever. A LOT of running. If you can't or don't want to run around, then stand out there and call the shots. You shouldn't underestimate the benefit of starting the day with physical exercise.

 

While your older boys are doing their morning packets, play an educational game/workbook/lesson with the 4 year old NEAR BY the older boys so you can redirect them as needed.

 

This year, their needs with regard to Language Arts are quite different. DS10 is in CC Essentials which has its own very specific workload that isn't yet required of DS8. DS8, on the other hand, is a horrible speller so he really needs extra help with that, whereas DS10 is what I believe is known as a natural speller.

 

You are right, I could have them do morning packets together and try to devote that time to DS4. Then, one of them could entertain him while the other did Language Arts, and then swap, since I have to work with them on that individually. We have done this at times and we actually all like that system better, until we look up and it's 3pm and we haven't even started math (because what used to take 2 hours now takes 3). It's a more relaxed schedule, but it takes longer---and, one thing I didn't mention is that on Wednesdays we are out all morning and don't get started with school till about 1:00, and Thursdays we have to be at piano at 2:30, so we really need to finish everything by 2:00.

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I find that my 10-year-old is ridiculously independent. Are there things he can do on his own that you currently do with him? I have a 10-year-old, 9yo, 7yo, and 4yo.

 

Can your toddler be with you? I have a (literally) taped rectangle, about 7'x5' next to where I usually sit when working with my 7-year-old that my 4-year-old does his "work" in - blocks for 15 min, "reading" for 15 minutes. Then he goes to the living room for an iPad app. After that, he plays with the 7-year-old while they listen to Suzuki music together. By then he's pretty happy to play on his own. He also gets me up in the morning and helps me make breakfast, so that is time together before school.

 

I would love to crash afternoons but that is when my 4-year-old gets me. Today, after finishing school work at 2:30, I read 4 books to him (he choose). Then we did music together (sang and rhymed for 15 minutes using Making Music Praying Twice curriculum). After that he chose a game for us to play. Finally, we did a super-short math lesson. I set the timer for 9 minutes of math. So that was about an hour of one-on-one time after the big kids' school was done. Oh yeah, I let him "help" me make lunch, too, when we ate. We later read more books and ds10 did a puzzle with him.

 

Emily

 

My 10yo is ridiculously NOT independent. I walk away for a minute and he is daydreaming, looking out the window.

 

What does your time with your 9yo and 7yo look like, that you're able to finish with them by 2:30? (if you don't mind sharing) because maybe that would be more like my 10yo and 8yo, assuming your 9yo isn't ridiculously independent like your 10yo.

 

I think your system with your 4yo sounds great, but I'm not sure mine would buy it. Just curious, does your guy do blocks every day, or do you mix it up? And what does he do for reading? I bought the AAR pre-reading curriculum, but he wants nothing to do with it and besides, it's pretty hands-on teacher intensive so not something he can really do while I'm working with somebody else.

 

I don't crash when I finish with the other guys, but by then (usually much later than 2:30) it's either time to go to piano, swimming or time for me to pick up the pieces of everything that's been left undone all day, check/correct their work, retool for the next day, all the while supposedly also making dinner. I would love an hour of one on one with my little guy, but the other demands hound me and I can't shut them up.

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Get a timer. Or three. Use them.

Since group efforts are enjoyed but time is wasted dawdling, then try and cut down on dawdling, set and use a timer. Nix as much dawdling as possible from their time doing "independent" work such as packets of worksheets by keeping them on task.

 

 

(Do you prep for math and CC in advance or are you looking at the material for the first time at that moment? If so, take some time and prepare in advance.)

After morning exercise start the eldest on Piano and middle doing his language arts with you.

Have them do their morning packets together and with minimal dawdling. While they are doing morning packers (without dawdling) you work with the 4yo (who should have participated in the morning exercise). After the bigger two complete their packets, they join you for CC and math. (with minimal dawdling.)

 

After math, your youngest two go play and your eldest does CC language arts with you.

 

Try and do math 5-7 days a week and by a timer. Set the weekly/daily goal by what makes sense. Some days math may be 20 minutes, other days 75.

 

 

 

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Get a timer. Or three. Use them.

Since group efforts are enjoyed but time is wasted dawdling, then try and cut down on dawdling, set and use a timer. Nix as much dawdling as possible from their time doing "independent" work such as packets of worksheets by keeping them on task.

 

 

(Do you prep for math and CC in advance or are you looking at the material for the first time at that moment? If so, take some time and prepare in advance.)

After morning exercise start the eldest on Piano and middle doing his language arts with you.

Have them do their morning packets together and with minimal dawdling. While they are doing morning packers (without dawdling) you work with the 4yo (who should have participated in the morning exercise). After the bigger two complete their packets, they join you for CC and math. (with minimal dawdling.)

 

After math, your youngest two go play and your eldest does CC language arts with you.

 

Try and do math 5-7 days a week and by a timer. Set the weekly/daily goal by what makes sense. Some days math may be 20 minutes, other days 75.

 

I like it. In other words, cut the cr8p and git 'er done!  :thumbup1:

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One thing I see is that maybe during that 10am slot, if you can get the olders to review their CC grammar/memory work together, without you (maybe using ipad/app?...or flash cards to drill each other?...not sure what method you prefer for review), then you can use that time to sit with your four year old and read stories or play.  Even if it's just 15-20 minutes of 1:1 time with you, he'll appreciate it and you'll feel better.  Then he can sit with you if he wishes for the read-alouds you guys do together during the rest of the hour.

 

That's just my thought!  Good luck!!

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My 10yo is ridiculously NOT independent. I walk away for a minute and he is daydreaming, looking out the window.

 

What does your time with your 9yo and 7yo look like, that you're able to finish with them by 2:30? (if you don't mind sharing) because maybe that would be more like my 10yo and 8yo, assuming your 9yo isn't ridiculously independent like your 10yo.

 

I think your system with your 4yo sounds great, but I'm not sure mine would buy it. Just curious, does your guy do blocks every day, or do you mix it up? And what does he do for reading? I bought the AAR pre-reading curriculum, but he wants nothing to do with it and besides, it's pretty hands-on teacher intensive so not something he can really do while I'm working with somebody else.

 

I don't crash when I finish with the other guys, but by then (usually much later than 2:30) it's either time to go to piano, swimming or time for me to pick up the pieces of everything that's been left undone all day, check/correct their work, retool for the next day, all the while supposedly also making dinner. I would love an hour of one on one with my little guy, but the other demands hound me and I can't shut them up.

My 9-year-old is not at all independent. Sounds more like your 10-year-old! I sit with her for THE.ENTIRE.MEP.LESSON. Argh. And with the younger for the entire RightStart lesson. I shelled out $150 for a properly-sized table and chair for her two months ago and it has been a huge improvement. I also recently started requiring the kids to basically clear off their tables before bed except for their daily work calendars and 3-sharpened pencils. I don't enforce it every night (like today!) but it does help to be able to start in the morning without having to dig out their spaces.

 

We do start earlier (we start by 8:30 at the latest). Often 10-year-old has done some of his own work by then. My kids have been really motivated by checklists that I write on a white board and let them check off as they finish. They know playtime comes when everything is done. For some things that were taking too long, I started having them use checklists and timers. It looks like your schedule is set by CC, but I have more freedom with mine.

 

Some days we do work until 3:00. We don't really take much of a break except for lunch. I intersperse instrument practice (violin, piano, flute). DS likes to play piano if he wants to work with me and I'm not available. We aren't doing formal grammar this year. We did grammar last year and I don't believe in yearly grammar. I guess I'm much more Charlotte Mason. We'll do another year of grammar next year. 

 

Ds10 has really benefited from using hearing protectors because he finds the noise of other people in the room really distracting.

 

Ds4 can't read and I don't teach reading before 5 or 5.5, but he can choose three books and look at pictures. He's really a crazy, loud, run-around boy, but he's slowly adapted to being with us for at least part of the morning. I think it really helps him to be emotionally grounded. He can choose what to do (Duplo, Zoobs, train tracks, etc - today he choose pattern blocks and montessori solid blocks along with playmobil people, but almost every day he chooses Duplo). Dd7 has definitely taught him to use his imagination and he comes up with some really fun and crazy things to play. He turned 4 in December, so he's still a young four. Once a week he has a friend come over after lunch and play for a few hours. We get in extra focused work at that time while they destroy his room. :-P

 

I do think I'm lucky to have my 7-year-old because she plays so well with her brother that it really helps me. :-) So I can't offer you any advice about that! And of course he's going to be a terror tomorrow and our school will go until 5 pm because I dared to offer advice on how to keep your preschooler happy.

 

I'm going to add one more thing. I had a baby who died about 18 months ago and decided that one silver lining of that really dark cloud was the time I could spend with my then 2.5 yo. So for the last 18 months, I have made this relationship a priority that it otherwise wouldn't have been, and have treasured him in a way that is more purposeful. I was not as purposeful in relationships with my older kids at this age.

 

Emily

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8:00 (I know that's not on your list, but my boy gets up and going like that!) --4 yo gets his awesome things to do with mom while boys clean up breakfast and do chores

 

9:00 boys do their packets while you get time with 4 yo (if that didn't get done at 8)

 

10:00 all those awesome read alouds and group things

 

11:00 boys do math while you're within eyeball distance making lunch

 

12:00  lunch and run

 

1:00  quiet time for the 4 yo while you do things with the other two

 

I don't know, haven't taught three kids.  My boy is pretty high energy though, and for him the morning has to start with engagement.  I'd satisfy the 4 yo first (which is I'm sure what the others are saying), and I'd get to your fun group things EARLY to build momentum.  It seems like doing that CC stuff early for the 10 yo is possibly a statement of what interests *you* vs. what actually makes sense for schedules.

 

As far as CC, they may enjoy going, but it doesn't sound like they enjoy as much the review work the rest of the week.  I'd de-emphasize it to 30 minutes a day and start doing things they actually like.  Boys come pre-wired with enough energy, you can actually have a good time if you let them.  It's fine to do CC, just put some limits on it.

 

I'm not meaning to be harsh on the "if you let them" thing.  I'm just being straight and pointing out that I'm not seeing much of what they would choose if they were choosing things.  With my ds, gifted, tons of disabilities, we do k'nex kits and logic games and all sorts of amazing stuff.  Your boys are human and would probably like to do those things too.  That's why I'm saying you can enjoy CC but sort of put some restrictions on it and make it fit into your lives, not the other way around.  Make some time for things that THEY would want to do and call it school, let it be school, because it IS school.  Puzzles, programming, Snap Circuits, growing things, designing things, drawing things, whatever.  At least an hour a day.

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Try to ensure you're using your time efficiently, spacing things together so they flow well, and get things knocked over early. Also don't be afraid to do school outside typical school hours if it fits

 

If it was me the schedule would look a little more like

 

7am, wake up. Kids do chores while you make breakfast. They get to play for 20 minutes before school

8am, Older two work in beast academy first thing while they're fresh and somewhat motivated. 4yo plays with a special schooltime toy or amuses himself while he's still fresh and happy to be alone. 

9am, Weekly grammar work, and then both olders do their morning packets at the same time. 4yo gets dedicated mummy time, or kindergarten time, for the rest of the hour

10am, all three boys go out for a 'recess' or play break.

10:30am, Oldest plays with 4yo while you do AAS and reading with younger (you said this doesn't actually take the whole hour?)

11:00am Oldest does CC with you while younger goes back to playing with 4yo (these two time slots could, obviously, be swapped around or maybe even alternated each day to give both a chance at a 'long recess'

12:00am Serve lunch for the kids, and do your read alouds over the meal (this may mean delaying your own lunch or eating it quickly?)

 

I think that covered everything in your schedule? That would have the bookwork finished by 12:30 or so, with a happier, played with 4yo and the afternoon free. It's the same amount of time spent on work, but distributed differently and somewhat more efficiently.

 

About the early start, I personally found that the difference between starting at 8 or 9 was considerable, and so was the difference between starting with challenging subjects like math, and starting with less challenging ones like handwriting. Also, I am firmly in the 'bookwork finished by lunchtime' camp, if it's not done by lunch it doesn't get done here, but I am willing to begin school at breakfast time to achieve that. It's all about perspective of time rather than actual hours What constructive or useful activities happen between 7am and 9am? Usually not much, those end up being wasted hours because everyone is unfocused and just pottering around. Better to use those hours efficiently and have time to potter in the afternoon when we are free to relax or start projects without school looming ahead than to just have wasted time in the morning. My husband works 6-3 and feels the same, he much prefers getting straight into it in the morning than wasting time before work starts at 9 unable to do start anything useful. Would you rather have free, open ended time at 8am, or 2pm? Would you rather an hour in the morning and another hour in the afternoon, or two hours together in the afternoon? We choose the latter in both cases. We are not a get-up-at-5am family, I usually set my alarm for 7am, by which time the kids have been up playing quietly for a half hour, and have found we can get breakfast and chores and a little free play to wake up done in an hour once the kids are used to the routine. YMMV of course

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I don't know if this if helpful at all---

My 12 and 10 year-olds are close intellectually but 2 years apart skills-wise.  My 6-year-old is a bright whipper snapper who needs constant input.  My teen is mostly independent (sort, kinda). Ahem.

 

We do all our together stuff first thing, then we break off for independent/mom & me things.  This gives the kids more control over their own schedules (we don't have strict schedule, but we do stick to a routine). They know when they are done and if mom isn't available, they know what their next independent thing is and they know that when their stuff is done, they are done.

 

Once we break off from altogether things, the youngest gets my attention first.  The two mid sibs do their independent work (this would be your morning packets), while she gets my undivided attention for spelling, reading, math, etc. (30 minutes to 1 hour).  Then she plays (often it is with every single math manipulative we own).

 

Then the second oldest gets my undivided attention (this is usually for math).

 

Then the 3rd oldest gets my undivided attention. 

 

All the while the teen is coming down for food (I have regular checkpoints with him and try to do any one-on-one with him either very early or in the afternoon when I am done with the other kids).

 

I figure that my youngest hasn't had me for as long as my older kids, and so I try to make that time a priority. 

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I have an 11 yo, 9yo and 4yo twins. We are also in CC so we do essentials and memory work. Here is how I've worked our schedule:

 

8am - bible together at the table twins get coloring sheet

 

8:30 - Veritas Press online 11yo, 9yo reads I work with twins (reading books, workbooks or playing, whatever they are in the mood for)

 

9:00 - Girls switch 9yo Veritas, 11yo reads I stay with twins

 

9:30 - Spelling/ Vocab / CC Review girls, twins free play

 

10:15 - Art we do this with everyone, I love having all 4 kids together working in something

 

11:00 - One girl does math while the other plays with twins then we switch

 

12:00 lunch

 

1:00 IEW (twins get 1hr tv)

 

1:30 Essentials

 

2:00 Done with school twins get a nap and I get to clean

 

This is our perfect day that of course doesn't ever happen but I always give the morning hour to the twins, I (pretty much) always do art with all of them and we always switch off for math so the girls spend time with their brothers. There are things we've had to change and cut out because it doesn't work for our family and I've found the best curriculum is one that I have the ability to implement which isn't always my first choice. We do veritas press self paced because it gives me time with my twins. We do art because it is the only thing we can do together as a family.I don't really enjoy nor am I good at art but my kids like it so we continue.

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I have similar ages, plus a 2 year old... My 10 year old is fairly independent. Have you tried checklists (I use the sprial notebook idea) plus timer? I tend to do my day in blocks. So, for example, I have a school block of 9-11am, during that time from 9-9.30 I'm directly teaching oldest while 8yr old plays with toddler and 5 year old does some activity (I actually like to get him to make a snack for everyone), then oldest continues on her own and at 9.30-10 I'm directly teaching 8yo while 5&2yo have snack and activity (playdough or something). Then 10& 8 yo keep going until they're finished while I work with the 5yo at 10am, and toddler gets a toy rotation box. When we all finish I'll go over what the older ones have done with them then we take a break. I also try to do the same subject in the same block for everyone, easier to keep track of items and easier for my poor brain!

That looks complicated written like that...

 

3 blocks like that get us through everything. With checklists and timers. And patience and luck.

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As someone who struggles with boundaries, I say this lovingly : Let go. It seems like in the schedule you provided, you are the keeper of all the responsibility. You are everywhere for everyone. One mommy cannot do that! You need to be making yourself obsolete. Actively be working yourself out of a job.

 

You do not, in anyway, need to supervise a ten year old for short durations of packet work.If he dawdles, implement consequences. Not you being the police. When you are the police, he has no responsibility to learn. You take over the need for him to self monitor and be self aware. There are obviously going to be bumps, but in general a ten year old should be able to do thirty minutes of sustained work. Right now, there is no need for him to even try. If he doesn't do it CC is going to not be very enjoyable for a bit. Let him fail. Let him look like a complete duphus. If he doesn't get his packet done in the reasonable amount of time alotted, he gets to go with an unfinished packet and explain why.

 

Unless there is an actual learning disability, a ten year old will catch on really quickly to a timer and consequences. That might mean skipping problems he does not know, you having him redo work that is sloppy, or in general asking him to be responsible for himself, but that is far from insane - it is age appropriate. If he does not learn this now, when the consequences are relatively minor, there are real problems looming ahead as consequences start to get bigger. The 8 year old will learn from the ten year old that being responsible means fun stuff and dawdling doesn't look too favorable.

 

If they are doing the same packet and the same CC stuff, then have them work together, help/quiz each other, and in general take that responsibility off of you.

 

Piano practice usually does need to be monitored initially, but if he is just not doing it then let him fail. My son had two rather abysmal weeks with our piano teacher (and she is not cheap!). She was honest with him: practice or quit. There are no two ways about it. She would help, demo what practicing looked like, give him a schedule, answer questions, anything, but he had to put in the work. If he just wasn't getting it, that is different. My son was just not being responsible.

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CC fans and Essentials tutor here!  Our day looks nothing like that but we are thriving.  I think you are doing way too much (and pretty much all is very parent-intensive).  Keep in mind that you have all summer to do things like typing.

 

My kids are 9.7,5,2 and the 5yo is in preschool 3 days per week from 9-noon.

 

9:00 9yo does TT math, 7yo bums around

 

9:45ish 9yo babysits 2yo while I introduce singapore lesson with 7yo and read with him.  7yo finishes lesson on his own with me popping into help.

 

10:30ish: 7yo babysits 2yo while I do Essentials for 30 minutes with 9yo*.

 

11:00 outside for 30 minutes.

 

11:30/12 lunch (we review CC during lunch).  

 

After lunch and quiet time (around 2) 7yo does copy work, edits a sentence, and reads a chapter to himself from a fiction book.  I do spelling (Spelling U See) with 9yo.

 

Then we're done.  

 

For history we listen to SOTW in the car.  For science we read library books.

 

For CC review I grab the guide book and just start firing questions their way.

 

*To keep Essentials to 30 minutes, I do a chart orally (or copy using dry erase on a page-protected blank page), then task sheet, then writing for 15 mins.  

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I'm going to add one more thing. I had a baby who died about 18 months ago and decided that one silver lining of that really dark cloud was the time I could spend with my then 2.5 yo. So for the last 18 months, I have made this relationship a priority that it otherwise wouldn't have been, and have treasured him in a way that is more purposeful. I was not as purposeful in relationships with my older kids at this age.

 

 

Thank you. I like a lot of your ideas and will be thinking about what I can learn from them...but for now I just want to say oh my gosh. I am so very sorry about your loss. I'm sure that casts a whole new light on your relationship with all your other kids. To avoid slipping into ignorant platitudes I won't say any more, but know that I'm praying for you at this moment. Hugs!

 

It seems like doing that CC stuff early for the 10 yo is possibly a statement of what interests *you* vs. what actually makes sense for schedules.

 

As far as CC, they may enjoy going, but it doesn't sound like they enjoy as much the review work the rest of the week.  I'd de-emphasize it to 30 minutes a day and start doing things they actually like.  Boys come pre-wired with enough energy, you can actually have a good time if you let them.  It's fine to do CC, just put some limits on it.

 

I'm not meaning to be harsh on the "if you let them" thing.  I'm just being straight and pointing out that I'm not seeing much of what they would choose if they were choosing things.  With my ds, gifted, tons of disabilities, we do k'nex kits and logic games and all sorts of amazing stuff.  Your boys are human and would probably like to do those things too.  That's why I'm saying you can enjoy CC but sort of put some restrictions on it and make it fit into your lives, not the other way around.  Make some time for things that THEY would want to do and call it school, let it be school, because it IS school.  Puzzles, programming, Snap Circuits, growing things, designing things, drawing things, whatever.  At least an hour a day.

 

Well...doing the 10yo CC stuff early is really just my desire to knock it out while we are still both reasonably fresh. It's probably the least favorite thing for both of us, but I do see the value in it and it must be done. However, I'm thinking through a new order of events based on some other replies...so maybe we'll stop doing it first thing.

 

They both really do enjoy the other CC stuff we do at home. They look forward to this time because they can lounge around on the sofa (or jump up and down if they want) while I drill them orally. But I do limit this to 30 minutes per day (the rest of that hour is readalouds), just to keep things moving.

 

Yes---I do want to allow more time for them to do the "fun" stuff. These replies are helping me figure out how to do that! One thing I've found, though, is that I have to keep it a secret that I'm calling those things "school." The minute they find out I'm counting something as school they lose interest in it entirely.  :banghead:

 

Try to ensure you're using your time efficiently, spacing things together so they flow well, and get things knocked over early. Also don't be afraid to do school outside typical school hours if it fits

 

If it was me the schedule would look a little more like

 

7am, wake up. Kids do chores while you make breakfast. They get to play for 20 minutes before school

8am, Older two work in beast academy first thing while they're fresh and somewhat motivated. 4yo plays with a special schooltime toy or amuses himself while he's still fresh and happy to be alone. 

9am, Weekly grammar work, and then both olders do their morning packets at the same time. 4yo gets dedicated mummy time, or kindergarten time, for the rest of the hour

10am, all three boys go out for a 'recess' or play break.

10:30am, Oldest plays with 4yo while you do AAS and reading with younger (you said this doesn't actually take the whole hour?)

11:00am Oldest does CC with you while younger goes back to playing with 4yo (these two time slots could, obviously, be swapped around or maybe even alternated each day to give both a chance at a 'long recess'

12:00am Serve lunch for the kids, and do your read alouds over the meal (this may mean delaying your own lunch or eating it quickly?)

 

I think that covered everything in your schedule? That would have the bookwork finished by 12:30 or so, with a happier, played with 4yo and the afternoon free. It's the same amount of time spent on work, but distributed differently and somewhat more efficiently.

 

About the early start, I personally found that the difference between starting at 8 or 9 was considerable, and so was the difference between starting with challenging subjects like math, and starting with less challenging ones like handwriting. Also, I am firmly in the 'bookwork finished by lunchtime' camp, if it's not done by lunch it doesn't get done here, but I am willing to begin school at breakfast time to achieve that. It's all about perspective of time rather than actual hours What constructive or useful activities happen between 7am and 9am? Usually not much, those end up being wasted hours because everyone is unfocused and just pottering around. 

 

Your suggested schedule is good food for thought. I'll be chewing on it more. :) The elephant in the room here is that I do let my guys have some video game time in the morning. Ahem...an hour. (shields face) We've tried countless variations on if, when and how much with screen time, and I can't say our current practice is the best, but it is what it is for now. So the morning routine is that they get up around 7:00 (or sometimes 8yo gets up later), do their chores, and then get their hour of bliss. If I save it for afternoon, it's like it's hanging over our head all day and it's all they can think about. So these days I'm just letting them get it out of their system in the morning, for better or worse.

 

As someone who struggles with boundaries, I say this lovingly : Let go. It seems like in the schedule you provided, you are the keeper of all the responsibility. You are everywhere for everyone. One mommy cannot do that! You need to be making yourself obsolete. Actively be working yourself out of a job.

 

You do not, in anyway, need to supervise a ten year old for short durations of packet work.If he dawdles, implement consequences. Not you being the police. When you are the police, he has no responsibility to learn. You take over the need for him to self monitor and be self aware. There are obviously going to be bumps, but in general a ten year old should be able to do thirty minutes of sustained work. Right now, there is no need for him to even try. If he doesn't do it CC is going to not be very enjoyable for a bit. Let him fail. Let him look like a complete duphus. If he doesn't get his packet done in the reasonable amount of time alotted, he gets to go with an unfinished packet and explain why.

 

Unless there is an actual learning disability, a ten year old will catch on really quickly to a timer and consequences. That might mean skipping problems he does not know, you having him redo work that is sloppy, or in general asking him to be responsible for himself, but that is far from insane - it is age appropriate. If he does not learn this now, when the consequences are relatively minor, there are real problems looming ahead as consequences start to get bigger. The 8 year old will learn from the ten year old that being responsible means fun stuff and dawdling doesn't look too favorable.

 

If they are doing the same packet and the same CC stuff, then have them work together, help/quiz each other, and in general take that responsibility off of you.

 

Piano practice usually does need to be monitored initially, but if he is just not doing it then let him fail. My son had two rather abysmal weeks with our piano teacher (and she is not cheap!). She was honest with him: practice or quit. There are no two ways about it. She would help, demo what practicing looked like, give him a schedule, answer questions, anything, but he had to put in the work. If he just wasn't getting it, that is different. My son was just not being responsible.

 

Yes! Amen! Especially the first thing you said! Some of how it fleshes out isn't exactly as you say, but in general yes. I want to work myself out of my job as the homeschool police.

 

That being said...

 

This guy, the 10yo...I can't count on him being motivated by an aversion to failure because a) he's bright enough that in general, he *won't* look like a doofus at CC even if he doesn't try very hard (the packet is not for CC, so not getting it done doesn't have repercussions at CC, it's just an assortment of things that I require), and b) as of yet, he does not value excellence. He's more than content to turn in a half-baked IEW paper that is clearly inferior to those of his peers. And, he's completely happy to go to his piano lesson and not show improvement (this is something I need to take up with the teacher. She needs to require more of him).

 

As for the two guys quizzing each other while I do something with the 4yo, it's a nice idea but I know they will not do it. The minute I turn my back they will be horsing around---and the natural consequence of not knowing the material very well really isn't a negative in their world. They are both bright enough that when the next CC day comes, they will know it well enough to skate through, but 6 weeks later they will have forgotten it. I want them to know it better than that...so I think I have to keep the CC review part as something I do with them. Since we all enjoy it, I don't think anyone will mind.

 

BUT. What I CAN do is save all the packet (independent) business for last in the day. That way, if they WANT to work on it while I'm helping someone else individually, more power to them and they'll finish school earlier. Otherwise, they do it last and it takes as long as it takes and I'm free to cuddle with DS4 or retool for tomorrow or whatever. Win!

 

CC fans and Essentials tutor here!  Our day looks nothing like that but we are thriving.  I think you are doing way too much (and pretty much all is very parent-intensive).  Keep in mind that you have all summer to do things like typing.

 

My kids are 9.7,5,2 and the 5yo is in preschool 3 days per week from 9-noon.

 

9:00 9yo does TT math, 7yo bums around

 

9:45ish 9yo babysits 2yo while I introduce singapore lesson with 7yo and read with him.  7yo finishes lesson on his own with me popping into help.

 

10:30ish: 7yo babysits 2yo while I do Essentials for 30 minutes with 9yo*.

 

11:00 outside for 30 minutes.

 

11:30/12 lunch (we review CC during lunch).  

 

After lunch and quiet time (around 2) 7yo does copy work, edits a sentence, and reads a chapter to himself from a fiction book.  I do spelling (Spelling U See) with 9yo.

 

Then we're done.  

 

For history we listen to SOTW in the car.  For science we read library books.

 

For CC review I grab the guide book and just start firing questions their way.

 

*To keep Essentials to 30 minutes, I do a chart orally (or copy using dry erase on a page-protected blank page), then task sheet, then writing for 15 mins.  

 

This looks good. My day will be somewhat longer because there's no way DS10 will get ANYWHERE on an IEW paper in just 15 minutes per day...same with EEL, the suggested schedule (somewhere in the EEL guide) is 15 minutes on charts and 15 minutes on sentences, then 30 on IEW...not that we have to follow it to the letter but for us, I don't think we can get Essentials done in less than an hour total.

 

So based on what y'all have shared, here is what I'm thinking and I think it just might work:

 

9:00 DS10 does BA math with me, DS8 and DS4 goof around

 

9:45ish DS8 BA math, DS10 and DS4 goof around

 

10:30ish: DS10 Essentials EEL, DS8/DS4 goof around

 

11:00 DS8 AAS/reading, DS10/DS4 goof around

 

11:30 Scripture & CC Review

 

12:00 Lunch
 
1:00 DS10 IEW, DS8/DS4 goof around
 
1:30 DS10 & DS8 packets, I do stuff with DS4 for at least 30 minutes or up to an hour
 
And whenever the big guys are done with their packets, they are done.
 
Thanks all for your feedback! This has been super helpful!

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I'm really enjoying this thread. Thanks.

 

This might have already been stated, but what about getting the 10 year old (or both) up early and doing CC work before anything else. So...

 

CC

Breakfast and video games

The rest of school how you best see fit

 

Also when you take the video games away until after school how long have you done it? I wonder if you do it for 3 weeks if they'd get used to it.

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9:00 - 10:00:

 

 

 

10yo works with me on CC Essentials work: IEW writing, copying/memorizing grammar charts, parsing sentences and/or talking through the weekly English grammar.

 

 

8yo works on his “morning packet:†One page of Pentime handwriting, Bible Study lesson, math facts drills via Xtra Math and a daily worksheet that I give them (both of my guys are a bit weak on basic calculations so I’m supplementing our main math curriculum), typing practice (typing.com).

 

4yo plays on an iPad or watches cartoons. :/

First thing I notice is that this is a very long time for you to work one on one with a 10 year old. 10 minutes of parsing, reviewing memory work should be plenty. He should be able to do the IEW writing on his own at least part of the time. He might need the checklist adjusted if he can't do it mostly on his own. The rule of thumb is "easy" plus one more.

 

 

 

10:00 - 11:00:

 

 

This hour is for reviewing our weekly grammar (English, Latin, Math, Geography, History and Science) from CC and reading aloud together, mostly history and/or science. 4yo can join in but is not required.

Could this be split into 2 half hour times with a recess in between?

 

 

11:00 - 12:00:

 

 

Beast Academy math for the older guys. Even though one is in 4th grade and one is in 3rd, they are both doing 3rd grade BA and it seems to be sufficiently challenging for both of them. I have to do it with them. If I turn them loose, they get stuck or frustrated or do it wrong and have to do it over.

 

4yo is free range at this point.

If they need you to lead them through it, consider a new program. You have too much parent intensive curriculum for someone with a young child who is not getting enough attention. Sometimes we do need to make sacrifices b/c of our family set up. There are lots of good math programs where you can give them a 10 minute lesson and they can work independently (Horizons, CLE)

 

12:00 - 1:00:

 

 

Lunch and “recess.â€

 

1:00 - 2:00:

 

 

10yo works on “morning packetâ€â€”no longer morning but that’s what we call the independent subjects: Pentime, Bible Study, Math drills, typing practice and he also has piano practice which is a whooooooole nuther can o’ worms.

 

8yo and I do All About Spelling together and he reads out loud to me. These 2 things actually don’t really take an hour.

 

4yo is free range and/or begging people to play with him.

Here is where 4 year old has a quiet time in his room for an hour--audiobooks and free play.

 

notes in quotes.

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Posting again so you can see our schedule. My kids are different ages, but I do have one younger. When she was 4 she did spend an hour watching PBS with the next oldest while I have meetings with the other two.

 

8:00 everyone: CNN news,prayer, out for exercise

8:45 quick breakfast for anyone who didn't eat before 8.

 

9:00 10 minute session with dd 6 (we do 10 minutes of any of her work)From now on through the day I grab 10-15 minutes to work with her as she does better with short lessons

9:10 meet with dd13-Mental Math exercises, intro new lesson; check grammar, oral grammar; assign new lesson(she reads from Rod and Staff and does it independently)

9:30 meed with ds10. In about 40 minutes we intro new math, new grammar, go over his writing assignment (he does IEW Ancient History)--sometimes this is making sure he has all the requirements; and we do a parent intensive spelling lesson.

Then he has snack and outside time.

Around 10:30 I meet with ds10 and dd6 to do any read aloud history (we do SOTW, but he also has independent history reading), memory work, and spanish. I try to keep this to 30 minutes.

At 11 or so we have specials: sometimes art, sometimes music, sometimes an extra history project.

 

Ds10 likes to do most of his independent work in the afternoon. His typical day will have a lit reading assignment (1-2 chapters), math, 3x a week he has grammar, Bible reading (on years we don't do it as a family), xtra math, typing for 15 minutes, writing, and science reading. He is usually done by 3, sometimes earlier.

 

We do lit read alouds before bed.

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Your suggested schedule is good food for thought. I'll be chewing on it more. :) The elephant in the room here is that I do let my guys have some video game time in the morning. Ahem...an hour. (shields face) We've tried countless variations on if, when and how much with screen time, and I can't say our current practice is the best, but it is what it is for now. So the morning routine is that they get up around 7:00 (or sometimes 8yo gets up later), do their chores, and then get their hour of bliss. If I save it for afternoon, it's like it's hanging over our head all day and it's all they can think about. So these days I'm just letting them get it out of their system in the morning, for better or worse.

 

 

 

My son loves Minecraft, and he gets half an hour per day.  He can't play until his chores and school are done.  Part of the reason is it is a carrot.  He works towards being able to relax and play games.  It is hanging over his head, but it's just a non-starter to ask mom if he can play if everything else isn't done.  I don't even entertain the question.  The other reason is that I find he zones out when he plays and isn't good for much concentration after zoning out on a video game for half an hour.  We don't allow TV before school for this same reason.

 

I think this is where I'd switch up the routine.  They must finish school before doing video games.

 

Or, if they are playing games for an hour, is this the time you can play with the 4yo and give individual attention like reading books, doing a craft, generally giving him a good dose of mom time?

 

I get you saying "it is what it is" so if you don't want to change of course that's your prerogative (advice from internet strangers not withstanding :)), but I think this is having a significant impact on the whole day if it's how they are starting things off.

 

Just my .02 as the mom of two kids who love video games.

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Yeah. You may well be right. I'll give it some thought. It will be a tough pill for them to swallow...maybe that's what I mean by "it is what it is..." I haven't wanted to deal with the drama of changing it. BUT I can see the benefits, definitely. What I've done in the past is said "no game time till after 4pm." Otherwise, they are asking me all day "am I done am I done am I done" and trying to rush through their work too much.

 

DS4 often doesn't even get up till around 8:00, and between 8:00 and 9:00 I'm pretty frantic getting breakfast, drying my hair, getting DH out the door etc.

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Can you split that video game time in half? My boys get two 20 min video games a day. They play one before school work while I'm getting ready/waking up. It helps to get that out of their system but they also know that when work is all done they get a second time to play. They are required to be dressed, teeth brushed, beds made before that first game is played.

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You've gotten so many good ideas, I'll just add a few of my thoughts.

 

While boys do independent work together, you can be playing with 4yo.  

 

Some toys should be only for school time, and be table toys- play dough, kinetic sand, etc.  My 4yo loves to play with the math manipulatives as well.   

 

Play with 4yo first thing in the morning, while the others are on video games. 

 

I didn't see any family read-aloud time, but I'd find a way to work that in.  If you choose pictures books, you can read them or the pleasure of your 4yo, then outline the plot with your older kids, so that it is doing double-duty.  

 

Change your 8yo's read-to-mom time to a more casual "Can you read me a few pages while I'm cooking breakfast/lunch/dinner?"  Unless he is a struggling reader, this should be enough to help him with fluency.  

 

If you need more time at lunch, then slot in more time.  It's better to be honest about what is realistic up front, then spend each day feeling like you are "failing" at an impossible schedule.  

 

We don't have CC, but I try to run my day in what I call "modules":

 

Module 1 (1.5 hours approx)

English Spelling (7yo and 9yo combined)

9yo independent German (duolingo), 7yo math

9yo math, 7yo German (duolingo)

Content Subject (science, history, geography)

 

Module 2 (1 hour approx)

French spelling/grammar/dictation (combined as lesson for 7yo and warm-up for 9yo) (this is our local language)

French lesson for 9yo

Current Read-Aloud plus table top activities (play dough, drawing, sand, etc.)

 

Break (outside if possible, lots of mommy-baby time while the oldest 3 play together)

Lunch with audiobook 

Break (with 10 minutes iPad educational games for each of the 3 oldest, put baby for nap)

(1.5 hours total approx)

 

Module 3 (45 min x 3 = 2.5hr approx)

Silent Reading Time (I do a reading and math lesson with 4yo)

Writer's workshop- we all sit at the table and I either give a writing or literature lesson, or we just write (4yo practices letters or draws or dictates a story to me)

Project Time (time for constructive projects inc. research)

 

Luckily my 4yo and baby are both pretty independent and also play well together.  Maybe you should just haven another baby to keep the 4yo busy?  JOKING!  

 

 

 

 

 

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Yeah. You may well be right. I'll give it some thought. It will be a tough pill for them to swallow...maybe that's what I mean by "it is what it is..." I haven't wanted to deal with the drama of changing it. BUT I can see the benefits, definitely. What I've done in the past is said "no game time till after 4pm." Otherwise, they are asking me all day "am I done am I done am I done" and trying to rush through their work too much.

 

DS4 often doesn't even get up till around 8:00, and between 8:00 and 9:00 I'm pretty frantic getting breakfast, drying my hair, getting DH out the door etc.

 

Yes, that was a problem for a bit here too.  My oldest son has a checklist so he can see visually how much work he has left for the day and knows if he has something left or not.  We use Memoria Press so it has it's own checklist, but last year I just used a spiral notebook and made him a list each night.  That way he's not asking me over and over again, he just looks at his list.  For a few days he asked, but I always just told him to look at his list.  Also, rushed work that is sloppy is not considered "done".  So we matter-of-factly go over everything as he finishes and he makes corrections on the spot.

 

I'm sure this all sounds terribly punitive and harsh, but in practice it really isn't, it's more just how the day goes and expectations are very clear.  What it has shown me is that he is able to sit and concentrate and do his work well and it doesn't take nagging.  At first I was worried that it would be a problem that he was only doing the work for the video games and what kind of work ethic that would establish, but this school year especially he has gotten into the habit of doing his best work the first time through and it has eliminated a lot of my "task mastering".  Of course it took a few weeks to get to this point, but it's made our days a lot more bearable.

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Replying within quote...

 

 

Play with 4yo first thing in the morning, while the others are on video games. 

 

That's when I'm usually making/serving/eating breakfast (and DS4 often doesn't even wake up till 8)...but yeah, I'll keep trying to see if I can work that in.

 

I didn't see any family read-aloud time, but I'd find a way to work that in.  If you choose pictures books, you can read them or the pleasure of your 4yo, then outline the plot with your older kids, so that it is doing double-duty.  

 

Oh yeah. We have family read-aloud time before bed. Although...the books are more targeted for the older guys, and DS4 usually has to leave because he's too disruptive. Sometimes he wants to leave. Need to find a better balance of stories that will engage him as well as the other 2 but it's the age old dilemma of So Many Books, So Little Time! I often then go up and read him a story or two in his room after finishing with the other 2, or DH does...but once again I feel like he's getting the short end of the stick. :/

 

Change your 8yo's read-to-mom time to a more casual "Can you read me a few pages while I'm cooking breakfast/lunch/dinner?"  Unless he is a struggling reader, this should be enough to help him with fluency.  

 

He's not exactly what I would call a struggling reader, but he's not an accurate reader. He has some weird issues and because of that I need to look at the text with him to make sure he is actually reading all the words, and reading the correct words.

 

If you need more time at lunch, then slot in more time.  It's better to be honest about what is realistic up front, then spend each day feeling like you are "failing" at an impossible schedule.  

 

True. It's amazing how fast an hour can fly by!

 

Luckily my 4yo and baby are both pretty independent and also play well together.  Maybe you should just haven another baby to keep the 4yo busy?  JOKING!  

 

Oh man. Don't think I haven't thought about that! But...no. I had to negotiate pretty hard with DH to get Number Three...no way he's going to sign on for another one! Besides, I'm what would be known as an "Old Mama." :)

 

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Maybe for your evening read aloud time, you can start with the youngest first, rather than last.  Our evening routine is pretty bizarre, but I'll post it for what it's worth.  

 

Betimes: 18mo-7pm, 4yo-7:30, 7&9yos- 8:30ish 

 

First, DH reads or plays with baby after dinner.  Big kids are doing whatever.  I then take him at 6:50 or so and put him to bed.  

 

While I'm putting the little guy to bed, DH is reading with 4yo dd.  I usually do dishes at the point... or go to WTM.  :-)

 

At 7:30, I get 4yo into bed.

 

At 7:30, DH reads with 7yo dd, 9yo ds and I chit chat or read or he reads on his own.

 

At 8:00, DH reads with 9yo ds.  I get 7yo ready for bed and read or chit chat with her.

 

At 8:30, both big kids are in bed and can read for another 15 minutes or so.  

 

I know it's a bit crazy, but with the staggered bed times, DH gets to have 1-on-1 time with each kid (so do I, but not as much), everyone is getting an age-appropriate amount of sleep, and everyone gets an age-appropriate book.  

 

 

 

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I don't have the preschooler experience so not much help there. I do have 2 girls a year apart, though. This is what we do... everything together! Lol. We read books popcorn style and use RSO for science, SotW for history, and IEW for writing. All these accommodate an age range. Their levels are a little different for math, but they do it at the same time. I just float so I'm available for whoever needs me. Grammar, spelling, and phonics we do at the younger grade level because that just works best for us. Unless there is a dramatic difference in their abilities, I'd do everything together. On a good day, we do school from 10-3 with an hour for lunch. On days that they are draggy or difficult, it might stretch to 4 or 4:30. They are in the 4th and 5th grade. We started homeschooling in 2nd/3rd grade.

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I have three girls, ages 10, 7, and 5. What we started this year (as injanuary, so not long. Which means take this with a grain of salt lol) is I go into the basement (school room, 'living room' and play room, and set up 'stations'. Each station is about 15-20 minutes, except math with my oldest, which is two station times. Our stations are

*Work with mom-math for all, reading aloud to me for the 7 year old, and phonics and handwriting work for five year old. I put all those books down on a mat on the floor.

*Independent work-spelling, writing, grammar for the oldest, language arts, ETC, and cursive for middle, and mazes, worksheet, cutting and pasting activity for the littlest. This is at the desk, in the same room I am in, so I can quickly answer questions and keep them working.

*iPad with educational games and headphones, also in that room. I pick the games that reinforce what we are working on.

*Reading station-I have a kiddie pool with pillows and blankets and a bed tent thing hanging over it. This is in the living room area. Oldest reads her history, middle reads books that are easier for her to her little sister.

*Math/science station-independent 'fun' activities. I set up two, one geared more towards upper elementary or middle school and one for lower elementary. This can be physics/engineering puzzles, balance with unit blocks, Lego challenge sheets, simple experiments, nature journaling, tangrams, geo boards, roominate kit, science wiz kits, magnet set, magnet blocks, kepla (?) blocks, circuitry set, ect. Basically all those fun things we never used to get to because we were so focused on getting through curriculum. 😳 This is at the coffee table in the living room area.

*Art/music station-this happens once or twice a week instead of the math/science station. I have a lot of art/artist books, so I set one of those out (usually I can tie this in with the history we are studying, but sometimes it's random) and some simple art supplies. I also have plenty of composer books/materials, so I can download some music on my phone and let them listen to that while they read.

*Sensory therapy-my littlest has SPD, and needs lots and lots of sensory activity. This looks like fun, so they all join in and help her get her 'therapy'. We have a gorilla gym with various attachments, rody pony, bouncing ball, balance board, stretchy band, balance beam, octagon mat, gym mats. This happens in the play room.

*Game and puzzle station-also in the playroom. This is when I'm working one on one with one of the older two, the other older sister plays with the littlest. I set up sight word zingo, a human body/countries/solar system puzzle, Brain Quest game, ect. This is mostly for my little two girls to do while my oldest works does her longer math/writing stations.

 

Generally, I start working one on one with the littlest. Middle does LA at the desk, and oldest reads. It suits their personalities...some of mine are more demanding of my attention, some are self starters and independent, and some are slower to start.😉 After the first station, it varies. Sometimes the littlest needs to get her wiggles out, so she does therapy. Sometimes I see that math for my oldest will be a bit more challenging so I get her in with me early, I just feel them out and call out everyone's next station. The rule is they have to stay at their station until I call a switch. If they finish their 'work' they can play quietly or read. Since math and writing with my oldest takes a bit longer than one station, the two little girls use that time to do a game/puzzle or therapy/play station. We generally work from 9-12, and then break for lunch. While I make lunch the girls take the dogs for a walk. They walk our backyard, which takes about 20 minutes. During lunch I read aloud, we work on memory work, or geography together. I do outsource science for my oldest at a coop, so that is the only subject I don't 'do' with her, curriculum wise, though we do DO lots of interest led science.

It takes a bit more planning for me, setting up different activities and tying them into reinforcing skills or content we are working on, and at times it can be a little like keeping a three ring circus going, but their feedback has been positive. They are no longer waiting for me, I don't feel like I'm constantly neglecting the littlest, or asking her sisters to play with her. The school day wraps up nicely and in a timely manner. We are actually DOING all those extras, the fun kits I've bought, the activities that cement the book work, the art and music and geography. I am able to stagger a harder, more focused subject with a lighter, fun subject for brain breaks. I am not running between three kids, I sit on the mat the entire time helping one child. I have found that *I* can not concentrate with three people at different levels at one desk (initially I thought we'd all be working on math or writing or whatever, so I bought one of those semi circle desks that we could all sit at together. Disastrous. For all of us lol) and my kids can not focus that way either. Because I am able to work with them one on one, their work gets done faster and better.

I will say, most of the time, oldest did still has something to work on after lunch, and the two little girls are content to play together for a while, so I can work with her. I try to leave our 'project work' fort his time, because she really enjoys that, and I see how much she devotes herself to it, so I want to be supportive and attentive to her. Currently she is working through the Adventures in Fantasy book and working on writing a fantasy book. We are able to have deeper discussions regarding the theme and character development, do fun things like making scrolls or maps for her book, sketch her characters, look up information online, ect.

 

Like I said, this is a relatively new thing for us, but so far, everyone is really liking it. Hope that helps some!

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I can definitely identify with having an "ideal" schedule and then having it drag on and on. Here is what I did!! I just figured this out recently and I hope it will help you, too! It involves watching the clock more. You aim to spend certain amounts of TIME on the tasks you have on your list. And nix any that you don't really need to be doing. Be honest. Does it really matter if they learn typing this year? Maybe that one can wait until the summer, or next year. Figure out how much time your tasks *should* take, and allow a little buffer time because even if they are working diligently, it will always take a little longer than you think. Make sure you CAN get it done in the time slot you give it. Then announce how much time you have to do it. For example, "It's 8:30 and we have a half hour to get spelling done. At 9:00 if you don't have it done, you'l have to work on this later 'after school'." Personally I think I was having this SAME problem you are (the day dragging on) because the kids have no concept of how much time they are using (wasting!) by putting around. They don't have a concept of how long it should take and aren't *trying* to get it done in that amount of time. But if you give reminders like "we have 10 more minutes, so finish this up" they will realize.. wait, if I don't get this done in the next 10 minutes I will have to do it later! NOOOOooooooooo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  This is how it worked for my kids. Also, this keeps you moving through your schedule. So if spelling wasn't finished, too bad. Set it to the side and move on to math (or whatever). I give myself / my kids 1 hour and 45 minutes for math. This allows for the usual interruptions by my 2 yr old, and also I'm accomplishing a math lesson, plus the math "homework" all in one shot. In public schools they spend an hour on math lessons IN school, and then, 45 minutes or so of math homework at home. So it made sense to me when I realized it took us so long to accomplish all that at home. Again, if they don't get it all done, then they have to stick around "after school" to finish all the unfinished stuff. This is a motivator for you AND them. Keep watching that clock. 

 

I also combine the kids for whatever I can, and we all are working on about the same subject at the same time. So from 8 - 8:30 it is "writing/grammar" time. All 4 'students' are at the table with me and everyone gets out their writing books. I take time at the beginning to get my two youngers (7 & 8) working in their respective workbooks. I require one page a day, and read the instructions to them and explain if necessary. Then while they get working I can focus on the two older kids. I give a short lesson and they are working in their books until 8:30. I sit and help with any questions. I remind them of how much time is left a couple times. 

 

This also really helps my stress-level all day because I used to have 4 kids doing 2-4 different subjects at the same time and so they were asking me questions about math, grammar, spelling, and what have you ALL at the same time. :willy_nilly: I felt like I was losing my mind because I couldn't focus on one subject at a time. So when ALL kids are doing the same thing, it helped me help them better because I was in "math mode" or "spelling mode"... even if they weren't all doing the same exact book, they were at least all asking me math questions!

 

I read a long time ago that Sarita Holzmann (co-founder of Sonlight) said that she had her kids all finish by around noon, but whoever wasn't finished had to stay and finish it before they could play, and this was incentive to get it done in the time period allotted. I never understood how she did this because, like you, if someone was way behind, we were ALL way behind schedule. I'm not sure if she practiced something like I explained here, but it's the only way I have personally figured out how to not let school drag on. I despised being done with school at noon on some days and at 4 pm on other days. How long does school take? I didn't even know. It depended on the day! But with my new "time period" method (a lot like in school - Duhhhh - It took me 7 years to try this!), I can say that our day ends between 2 and 3 every day. I leave the things for last that can be let go if we have to get somewhere or if I am running out of steam. This schedule also allowed me to schedule "independent reading time" in the block right before lunch time so that I could have some quiet time after our task-oriented morning to make lunch without all the kids running around, AND without everyone needing help from me. If you have a child who still really needs you to sit with them while they read, they could do something else on their own during this time. When you start thinking about consolidating the school work into these blocks of time where you are focusing on ONE general subject area at a time, it starts to come together like a puzzle.

 

Once you put the new time schedule into practice you may have to tweak it a few times as you realize obvious mistakes or ways you could make your life easier. I tweaked mine every day for a few days until I got it right. For instance, I only allowed 1 hour at first to do math and then I realized that even when we were diligent, it just takes way longer to get through math for us (allowing for the lesson AND the work). 

 

OH, also, I realized that although I was afraid there would be a ton of leftover work everyday (which would not settle well with me being task-oriented), there really isn't because a) the kids hate when the time is up and they didn't get it done because they know they have to do it later, and b) when the kids and you get used to looking at the clock it really helps everyone budget time wisely instead of putting around, and c) *this is the important one* whenever someone gets done with a subject a little early... say they have 10 minutes to spare... well that is a perfect time for them to finish the other subject that they didn't have time for earlier! And they are motivated to use these little chunks of time to get the "leftovers" done because they don't want them hanging out until "after school time" when they will otherwise get to play and be free!

 

Anyhoo, if anyone tries this, let me know what you think! I don't hear this suggested much at ALL (I don't know if I've ever heard it) which amazes me. But it really saved my rear this year when I felt like I couldn't take it anymore.  :tongue_smilie:

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