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Please help me sort out this mess! (Language Arts, working FT, schedule, etc.)


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I haven't been on the forums in probably 8 or 9 months with life being extremely busy and chaotic. But I'm back to get some feedback on the one homeschool thing we havent managed to iron out yet. 

Here's what things look like right now and keep in mind this is our first year with me working:

I go to work full time, days. Kids are home with dh who works from home and can care for the kids while working. His work is really low key. They do breakfast, morning chores, math (1 hr give or take), Bible (20ish mins), then science/geography/history student interest led rotating one subject per week (30 mins). All that takes up the morning with potty break, snack break, preschooler interruptions, and other random ADHD breaks. 

Lunch and playtime about an hour, chores 20ish mins, screen time 30 mins. Free time with whatever is left of the day. It's really hard for dh to get them to do bookwork in the afternoons. They are both avid readers and spend lots of afternoon time reading. Dd (11) also is very artistic and creative and spends lots of afternoon time on art, piano, crafts, sewing, crochet, and baking. Ds (8) does 3d puzzles, model ships and planes, etc. The boys play outside a lot. This is why we homeschool. We feel this time is invaluable. Please don't tell me to put my kids in B&M school! 😬

Now here's the problem: I'm supposed to do a language arts lesson and assign "homework" that they would theoretically do the next school day with dh's supervision when I get home from work. It's not happening. I get home, get a shower (a must after work), put dinner together, clean up kitchen, bathe kids, bedtime routine, then I sit down with my college classes before bed. How do we fit LA into this already exhausting schedule? 

For reference: 3rd grader has EIW, Spelling Workout, and McRuffy handwriting. 6th grader (ADHD, Dysgraphia, Dyscalculia and is behind grade level) has EIW, Sequential Spelling, McRuffy Cursive Handwriting, and she's dabbled in free online typing lessons, and we have, but never used, BW Partnership Writing. 

So what magic can you super smart and insightful people work on this hot mess? 🤣

TIA

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Workbooks from the Critical Thinking Company could supplement various language arts subjects - they have grammar, editing, root words, reading comprehension, analogies, etc.  You don't need all of it, but choosing a couple at the grade level of each student would be an easy plan.  Programs like Growing with Grammar/Winning with Writing are very formulaic, but they are written to the student and have a daily plan.  You could also multitask by having the students write (at an age-appropriate level - maybe a sentence or 2 for the younger and a paragraph for the older) about what they are learning - summarize science or history, write a book report, plan or describe their next craft project, etc.  You could make notes on the writing and have them sometimes make corrections or have them revise/recopy the next day, or you could check over it all on the weekend.  

If you want more time for discussion, would it be possible for the kids to start the bathing routine before you get home?  It gets dark earlier now, so this might work in the winter.  Back before our extracurricular schedule exploded (and even now on the rare days that we're home early) I sometimes try to have everybody clean and in PJs by the time I had dinner on the table so that we didn't have a big bedtime rush.  If you wanted to incorporate poetry, classic short stories, or literature read over time as part of your language arts, maybe  you could pick a book and read a small bit at the start of dinner, or have the kids read to you while you fix dinner or clean up, or read at bedtime, whatever would work for your family.  

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Since it's hard to do seat work in the afternoon, and it's just not realistic to do it when you get home, then that leaves doing LA in the morning. It may be as easy as just switching out that Social Studies block in the morning for LA, and then insert the Social Studies block into the afternoon, after lunch, before chores:

Mornings
breakfast, morning chores
math (1 hr give or take)
Bible (20ish mins)
LA (30 min)
[interspersed with potty break, snack break, preschooler interruptions, and other random ADHD breaks]

Afternoons
lunch and playtime about an hour
chores 20ish mins
science/geography/history student interest led rotating one subject per week (30 mins)
screen time 30 mins.

Free time
reading
art, piano, crafts, sewing, crochet, and baking
puzzles, model ships and planes, etc
play outside a lot

Evenings
I get home, get a shower
put dinner together, clean up kitchen
bathe kids
possibly: insert 15 minutes of some sort of LA support, or finish up what didn't get done earlier?
bedtime routine
I sit down with my college classes before bed. How do we fit LA into this already exhausting schedule? 

A few more ideas:
- I like ClemsonDana's suggestion of maybe having supplemental fun educational things that could be done in the afternoon
- I gave each of my 2 DSs a 30-minute educational computer game turn during school, while I worked 1-on-1 with the other one
- what if pre-schooler(s) went 3 mornings a week somewhere /or someone came in and entertained/taught) -- so daddy has all morning for very focused time to knock out virtually all school subjects by lunch? -- examples: pre-schooler(s) go to grandma's, or to a Montessori pre-school, or to someone nearby who does in-home child care, or a "retired" homeschooler came in as a helper during

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I think it is entirely unrealistic that a 3rd grader or 6th grader with ADHD, Dysgraphia, Dyscalculia who is behind grade level could more of less do all language arts independently.  

If you are at work all day, and DH is supervising but not teaching the kids, then the necessary lessons simply must be fit into the evenings...or I suppose over the weekends?  What is DH doing in the evenings?  Your time is clearly pretty full between when you get home and bedtime, so could your DH do the Language Arts lessons?  Or could he take over dinner so you could teach the kids then?

Otherwise, what about the weekend?  Could you do a week's worth of writing with each of them over the weekend?  And then just assign spelling and handwriting to be done every day. 

Or what about early mornings?  Could the 6th grader sit with you while you get ready in the morning?  Then you could go over the day's lesson and assign her work for later that day.

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Thanks for your thoughts everyone! 

I think Lori D's schedule is what dh is wanting to try and some of ClemsonDana's suggestions for material might fit the bill there.

I'm just worried about giving dh too much to deal with. He's a typical guy, not very detail oriented, and not very nurturing. He's a mathy guy though so he's giving his all with math and dd has made huge strides in the last 8 months since he took over. I'm so proud of both of them and so impressed. I'd hate to rock that boat by putting another thing on his plate. 

As far as Wenyroo's concerns with dd's challenges, we've gotten to a good place with most everything. We've got some good routines and dialogue in place that is helping her be successful and she can tackle pretty much any curriculum we put in front of her with a few modifications that are second nature to us all at this point. It's just a matter of staying on top of things (read: hormones throwing some days out of whack) and catching up to grade level. 

And I have tried to do the LA the way we planned, it's just not been consistent. Any little thing that ruffles the schedule and the LA is the first thing that seems to get dropped.

Preschooler does go to grandma's one day a week and its helped so much that its prompted us to look into options for him for kindergarten.  We found a school that has a 10 to 1 student to teacher ratio and a 4 day week with Fridays off. We are not zoned for that school though, so we are waiting to hear back from the board if they will accept him as an out of district student. We will have to make the current situation work though, since that's not until next school year. 

What about summer? Dh did math with them all summer (with a few breaks for trips) to help them catch up so what if we did a Language Arts summer this year? Is there some educational/brain/retention reason that would be a terrible idea?

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I would use Christian Light Education for Language Arts. It covers grammar, writing, penmanship, and spelling. It is a workbook based curriculum that is designed for use in Mennonite schools. These schools operate a lot like one room schools so the teacher is often dealing with more than one grade level. The curriculum is designed to be self-teaching and used mostly independently by the student. It would probably take 30 minutes a day. This might be easier for your dh to implement because it is open and go and he just needs to be there to help if there is something that the child doesn't understand.

Susan in TX

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2 hours ago, MrsRobinson said:

Thanks for your thoughts everyone! I think Lori D's schedule is what dh is wanting to try... 


Also: DH could also shave a little off of the math time and add it to the LA time, so each runs 45 minutes -- especially if DC are doing some supplemental solo-working support materials in the afternoons. Another idea is while one DC is doing screen time, DH works 1-on-1 with the other DC.

Yes, all of this is more concentrated and focused time for DH to be actively doing school, but if he commits to getting the math and LA done in the mornings, and then does the 30 minutes of relaxed/all together Social Studies or Science right after lunch, and then rolls straight into any needed 1-on-1 time with first one child and then the other (while the opposite child has screen time)... He will likely be all done by about 1:30, and have the afternoon/evening for work.
 

2 hours ago, MrsRobinson said:

... What about summer? Dh did math with them all summer (with a few breaks for trips) to help them catch up so what if we did a Language Arts summer this year? Is there some educational/brain/retention reason that would be a terrible idea?


Absolutely a great idea -- year-round schooling is a great idea, especially when you have LDs and special needs in the mix, and/or can't do long days. 

BEST of luck in finding what best helps you all juggle your very busy schedules for schooling / working / family-ing. 😄 Warmest regards, Lori D.

Edited by Lori D.
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I agree with CLE suggestion for LA.  They can do the "we remember" independently and don't even need to do the new part beforehand.  Your DH can do the new teaching with one while the other starts the review section.  Then he can switch.  You can do targeted writing with them on weekends or summer to shore up that part.  Or maybe your dh will have time for that after implementing the schedule changes Lori mentioned.

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Ok, I looked at CLE and it does look very doable and like less book juggling than what we have going now, maybe. And the price is amazing! I'll show it to dh when he's home later and see what he thinks. 

Is there a lot of Christian content in the text? It's not a deal breaker, we are Christian but not a constant shove it down your throat family, if that makes sense. I'll see if I can find some YouTube reviews or something for a better look inside.

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8 hours ago, MrsRobinson said:

Is there a lot of Christian content in the text? It's not a deal breaker, we are Christian but not a constant shove it down your throat family, if that makes sense. I'll see if I can find some YouTube reviews or something for a better look inside.

 

I don't think there is a lot of Christian content in the text. It is most definitely not secular and would not work for someone who wanted no Christian content. It is not preachy though. The Christian content is mostly things like copying a Bible verse for penmanship and references to Bible stories. 

Susan in TX

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14 hours ago, Susan in TX said:

 

I don't think there is a lot of Christian content in the text. It is most definitely not secular and would not work for someone who wanted no Christian content. It is not preachy though. The Christian content is mostly things like copying a Bible verse for penmanship and references to Bible stories. 

Susan in TX

Preachy! That's the word I was looking for! Lol! Thank you! 😂 

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10 hours ago, Ktgrok said:

CLE can be pretty advanced - so definitely do a placement test.I would not jump right into level 6 with a kid who has dyslexia and not much grammar background. 

Yes, dh and I looked at it and did the placement tests with them, well we tried with dd, she cried. She doesn't like change. She cried when we showed her Math U See, too. Guess what? She's still doing Math Mammoth, lol. 

After talking with the kids and looking at all the suggestions here, we decided to order a few Critical Thinking workbooks. Dd has done one of the word root books in the past and enjoyed it. I completely forgot about it but she recognized it right away. I'm also looking at Evan Moore workbooks but I haven't decided if they are busy work or not. Hopefully these will help ease the burden a little bit. We are also going to start a notebook for each of them to turn in some written output for the content subjects.

And we are starting a notebook for book reports. I'm really iffy on this because when I was a kid, I loved reading just like they do and I hated when I had to "turn it into schoolwork" so to speak with a book report or project. It really sucked all the enjoyment out of it for me and I started to not like reading. I'm thinking I may try to assign a book I want them to read and require a book report but the books they choose for their own enjoyment get to stay fun free time reading. We may tweak this part of the plan as needed based on their responses.

The idea with the current plan is building off of what we are already doing. Things like typing lessons that aren't fitting into the schedule will be on hold until summer and we can add those in as well as flesh out Language Arts a little more since they will be on break from their other subjects.

We've also told them that if they don't get on board with the new plan, we will be getting an all-in-one like CLE. Back when we told dd that if she didn't stop the daily math meltdowns, she'd be switching to MUS, she got it together. The meltdowns are just weekly now, rather than daily, lol. So hopefully they are motivated to cooperate.

Thank you all so much for your helpful suggestions. This has been the last big hurdle in a year of huge changes and my brain is just fried. I could not "see" any solution. You guys are the best! 💕

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I would stick with your gut feeling and not assign book reports. Of all writing, it is probably has the lowest priority. Could you select or buy a something for copywork assignments for your 3rd grader? Writing through modeling is an effective means when they are that young. Could your Dh discuss what they both like about the paragraph whether it is word choices or specific sentences, etc? For your 5th grader, could reports on science or history be given instead of book reports? Or outlining a page from a text? Outlining a text looking for broad topics and supporting details would be a long-term beneficial skill that leads toward note-taking and complex writing.

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Getting the right program should help streamline and make the best use of their time... but I do think that in the end, someone - whether it's you or your dh - will need to actually sit and work with them. I think writing is the one thing that just always requires a human for kids to really advance and learn. Always. So no matter what you implement, I think you should just keep that in mind. Kids can sit and soak in a science or history documentary or book without you. They can play around with STEM and art kits mostly solo. They can practice math facts and watch helper videos alone and then get your interaction on the tricky parts. But so much of writing takes you actually sitting and going over things with them. I think it's the subject that needs us the most.

I was going to add... for your 11 yo, there might be some short term online grammar or "fun" writing classes with a teacher that might suit her. And looking ahead a couple of years down the road, that might be where you want to be headed if your schedules stay more or less the same.

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On 11/8/2019 at 7:06 PM, Susan in TX said:

I would use Christian Light Education for Language Arts. It covers grammar, writing, penmanship, and spelling. It is a workbook based curriculum that is designed for use in Mennonite schools. These schools operate a lot like one room schools so the teacher is often dealing with more than one grade level. The curriculum is designed to be self-teaching and used mostly independently by the student. It would probably take 30 minutes a day. This might be easier for your dh to implement because it is open and go and he just needs to be there to help if there is something that the child doesn't understand.

Susan in TX

This is exactly what I would recommend.  I think they have placement tests, so don’t worry about grade level. My friend who went this route when her Dh had a long medical emergency, added daily 6-trait writing for more writing.  It is very easy to implement and the all in one nature will make it easy for your dh.

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Yes, I know that we have to actually teach writing.  I have been doing so the entirety of their educations. This has just been a tough transition with me going to work. Dd being behind grade level probably sounds worse than than it is. I think that I still think of it from a place of rock bottom, which is where we were a year ago but she's made so much progress since then and I think it's hard for me to shake that terrifying feeling of "being behind and learning challenges will make it impossible to improve." Needless to say, I've learned and grown a lot, too! 😊 

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I know you said you just left Master Books (I'm assuming that was what MB stood for?) but Language Lessons for a Living Education is very streamlined and easy for the student to do on their own, just asking for help a they need it. Short lessons, with good implementation. 

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