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Help, I over scheduled.


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One thing I've found is that you don't have to do everything all the time. Even activities which you do on a short-term basis can have a positive impact on your kids and your family.

For example, I'm always kicking myself for not having my kids memorize poetry. Last year we got on a streak of working on that every morning, and it was a lot of fun. Then other things got in the way, and we stopped. I went back to kicking myself for not doing it, and I spent a lot of energy trying to create schedules which I did not follow.

Then recently I realized that both kids had actually gotten a lot out of the time we spent memorizing poems. They remember the poems we looked at, and they have nice memories of it. The same goes for some of the "picture studies" we did while following Ambleside. So, even though I haven't been consistent with it, it still had an impact.

I had always figured that consistency was the most important thing in schooling, but lately I'm thinking that it's not as simple as that. Maybe it's okay if some of the "extras" are happening just once in a while. For me, that idea is really liberating

 

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We don't follow any of the approaches you listed, so this may be irrelevant because I'm missing something important - if so, disregard everything i say.  🙂  

Is there a reason to do everything every day?  When we were in elementary, we did units, 2-6 weeks, on different history and science topics (and obviously any approach could wrk with the units themsevles).  We didn't start doing both science and history daily until middle school.  We are definitely eclectic and not rigid schedulers, so it may be that none of this fits your approach.  We'd do academics in the morning.  We'd do their particular math and language arts materials separately.  For the content subjects, we might do them interactively or independently - it depended on the subject - but we/they might spend 20 minutes to an hour on the material, depending on the age of the kids and their interests.  We also did other things in bursts - we might read poetry daily until we were through a particular book or until we got tired of it.  Then they might move on to using that time for literature (at my house, the kids would normally read it independently, but others use read-alouds)..  Then we might spend a few weeks on art history.  

My kids have a couple of time-consuming extracurriculars so I haven't put much effort into scheduled 'productive use of time' activities - they mostly just free-play.  But, there are seasons for the activities that are good learning experiences.  Garden work and the associated 'putting up' of veggies comes at certain times.  We had some unexpected nature study when we pulled up a yard feature and unearthed some frogs and several different kinds of worms.  One kid has taken up container gardening and has gotten to see what lives and dies under different conditions.  When it's rainy, I pulled out craft supplies and the kids might use those until they are tired of it.  Around Christmas, they often make tri-bead ornaments or woven pot-holders as gifts.  

One of my goals was that my kids not be rushed - people think we are very busy because our evenings are often full of sports practices and games, but except in the busiest of weeks my kids usually have a couple of hours of free time every day (even as middle schoolers).  My kids are pretty flexible, but I've found that both of them shut down when they feel rushed through school work.  One gets sort of panic-y and can't think clearly, making weird mistakes, while the other melts down in an angry puddle.  

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I hesitate to chime in as I certainly don't have it "all together" or have homeschool graduates that demonstrate that my ideas are valid, but perhaps my comments can be taken as a fellow traveller ....

First, you said :

On 8/14/2020 at 5:34 AM, alexandramarie said:

I give a lot of credit to you for doing your own thing.  I have always wanted to, but I feel it would be easier just to follow what someone else has planned. 

I think the bolded may be how you're feeling (perhaps some insecurity?),  but it isn't necessarily the truth of what would happen.  I think trying to follow someone else's plan is one of the hardest things to do .... IMO, that's why virtual, crisis schooling was so hard for parents last spring.  They were working someone else's plan (the teacher's) without being allowed input as to what would work best for their situation and the kid in front of them.

Second, you also wrote:

14 hours ago, alexandramarie said:

Thank you for this; you are right.  I know the things I don't want; I am not sold on a classical writing program, I do not want my kids memorizing facts without their informing ideas.  I want an education based around living books and for my kids to to be able to narrate, discuss, and notebook after reading those books.  We do enjoy Latin and I do see the benefit of it.  Where we just moved there are a lot Spanish people, so I do see the benefit in learning spanish for conversational purposes, we are doing this as a family.  I want good relationships with my children, and right now I feel that going from thing to thing is effecting the atmosphere of our home.  What draws me to the Latin Cenetered curriculum is the simplicity of it ( drew also suggests an hour a day of family reading and then working kids up to an hour a day of independent reading.)  I love the hoffman academy.  We love poetry, art, and music as a family.  I do not like the Charlotte Mason way of teaching my kids to read, but prefer phonics ( I actually like 1st start reading).  I enjoy talking about scripture each morning and singing a hymn as a family ( although my older two just started clocking out of hymn singing).  My kids LOVE nature, it is actually my goal to get them outside two hours a day.  With LCC I would not do study guides.  I like the rainbow curriculum because I like the idea of tutoring my kids each day in reading and math and then giving them individual book baskets and me possibly picking some read alouds.  I  guess I don't know what I want.  I want children that love Jesus and others and value relationships.  I want children that have read deeply and been shaped by what they have read.  I want children that can express their ideas well.  I love that my daughter loves sewing and can play the piano by ear and has made a quilt by the age of 8.5.  I love that my son catches every animal and bug he can get his hands on.  I love that my oldest son was reading the Golden Bible to my two year old today and explaining to him about what Jesus did on the cross.  I have read the Latin Centered Curriculum many times, I have read Charlotte Masons volume 1 and 6 at least twice a piece.  I listen to Charlotte Mason Podcasts, Sally Clarksons Podcasts, and follow Mom Delights.  So I guess I have so many messages I constantly doubt what I am doing.  Above all I want peace and the fragrance of Christ to reign in our home.....

This is a great description of what you want, what you've imagined as a result of listening to all the different podcasts and books you've digested!!!  To be blunt, I'd say turn off all the podcasts, stop reading the how--to books, and just make YOUR own plan of how YOU want YOUR school to look like in order to accomplish the goals that YOU want from this season of life.  Just like Pinterest and HGTV can make you dissatisfied with your dwellings, so can podcasts affect your homeschool life.

Remember that there WILL be holes in your kiddos' education, and that's OK.  It's not possible to teach them everything while they are with us, but we CAN help them develop a lifelong curiosity.

Thirdly, on a more practical note:

18 minutes ago, Little Green Leaves said:

One thing I've found is that you don't have to do everything all the time. Even activities which you do on a short-term basis can have a positive impact on your kids and your family.

For example, I'm always kicking myself for not having my kids memorize poetry. Last year we got on a streak of working on that every morning, and it was a lot of fun. Then other things got in the way, and we stopped. I went back to kicking myself for not doing it, and I spent a lot of energy trying to create schedules which I did not follow.

Then recently I realized that both kids had actually gotten a lot out of the time we spent memorizing poems. They remember the poems we looked at, and they have nice memories of it. The same goes for some of the "picture studies" we did while following Ambleside. So, even though I haven't been consistent with it, it still had an impact.

I had always figured that consistency was the most important thing in schooling, but lately I'm thinking that it's not as simple as that. Maybe it's okay if some of the "extras" are happening just once in a while. For me, that idea is really liberating

 

What about talking a broader view of your scheduling?  What about scheduling your feast per term rather than per day?  So for term 1, do poetry every day; for term 2, instead of poetry, do picture study every day; for term 3, do composer study ... every day.  Likewise apply this to your read alouds: for term 1, do nature lore & XYZ every day; for term 2, do ABC & DEF every day.  This still provides the necessary consistency, but without having as many "balls to juggle".  Also the kids don't have to retain for a week what last happened in "Our Island Story" etc.

I think that having a family schedule/routine that becomes engrained in the KIDS' head is necessary for peace, or at least MY peace--of--mind.  The kids should know *on-their-own* what comes next in the day without me telling them.  And, ideally, if it is simple enough that my kids can keep it in their heads, then I should be able to keep the routine in my head (and not need a checklist).  Granted, it may take until end-of--term for *me* because I keep losing bits of my mind with each placenta that gets expelled, but you get the idea ......  (And note that I say this assuming a non-puberty affected brain *eye roll* *eye roll* *eye roll*)

 

I think you've got a wonderful idea in your mind of what you want to achieve, and you've even got enough experience to know what tools/curriculum to use for your family.  You just need to silence the outside voices and just do it ... make it your own!!!  You don't want to get to the end of the homeschool journey and have regret for at least *trying* to go-on--your-own.  What's the worse that could happen?  Go on your own and keep it simple.  (You can always add more things/complexity later.  :D). You can do this!

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Thank you everyone again for your replies.  Just to clarify, we do school Tuesday- Saturday.  Monday is my husbands day off, so we spend that as a family or do doctors appointments.  The unfinished work may be someone that I really wanted to get to Saturday afternoon, but then for example we had a birthday party.  My SOn does not use his math time wisely.  So if he hasn't complete two pages a day, he has to do math on Mondays.  

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1 minute ago, square_25 said:

Is it possible he's actually having trouble with the math? 

or just need at-the-elbow attention ... which, because of the size of your family, might require it being done on Monday?  If it's just the need-mom-right-beside--me factor, maybe just plan on less independent work during the week and spread it out to include doing it on Monday.  This would avoid the punishment aspect and hopefully develop a good mindset about math ... but you know your kiddo and why he needs Monday math.  

Also - if it's the 10 yr old, it could be puberty brain starting to kick in ..... (did I mention *eye roll* about puberty brain?!?!)

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1 hour ago, domestic_engineer said:

I think you've got a wonderful idea in your mind of what you want to achieve, and you've even got enough experience to know what tools/curriculum to use for your family.  You just need to silence the outside voices and just do it ... make it your own!!!  

This. 

You don't need to try to fit yourself into someone else's box. There is nothing wrong with getting inspiration and ideas from different curricula/methods and putting them together to make something that fits. That is what I have done. I only wish I had done that sooner rather than wasting time and energy trying to follow one particular way of homeschooling. 

Susan in TX

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 8/12/2020 at 5:42 AM, OKBud said:

Yes, stop doing all of those things 🙂 

Alternatively, hire a governess! 

Do not schedule their leisure time, simply make things available and teach them how to be alone with their own ideas. And to clean up after themselves.

Cut until you're down to what you think is most important... probably math, piano, learning to read/reading, and some minor language arts for the little ones and beginning (just beginning in the CM paradigm) written narrations for your 10 year old. Then combine to your heart's content! Let everything else go. Let it go all the way. Once you're down to the studs for a good, long while, you may wish to hang some pictures on the wall, as it were. 

Oh my GOOD-ness!  

I'm going to have to print this out.  Made me laugh.  Thank you! Especially:  "Let it go all the way. Once you're down to the studs for a good, long while, you may wish to hang some pictures on the wall, as it were."

Recovering perfectionist here and, after spending the first several years of homeschooling in a completely stressed out way, because of trying to to everything all the time (similar to OP's link...right down to the Ambleside Online recs), I'm now finding my / my kids' happy spot in "less is more".  

P.S. I still love Ambleside, and reference it often, but I don't try to follow all of it.  IMO, and said with gratitude and respect for its creators, it has its "holes" too.  Better to piece together things that are just right for our family and to enjoy each other and the journey.

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On 8/12/2020 at 2:50 PM, Lori D. said:

JMO 😉 : There is no reason why all of those things can't be in the free choice basket as part of 30-min. time block at the end of formal academics. For example: in my schedule above, block #8 is followed by free time -- so children might select something from the free choice basket in that time block #8 -- and keep on working on it out of personal interest right on into their free time which immediately follows. They might really get absorbed in their choice of handcrafts or nature work or leisure reading and keep going after the "scheduled" time.

No reason that you have to oversee all of these Charlotte Mason extras, or that all these extras MUST be done. You are providing learning opportunities in many areas for self-discovery, while overseeing the core subjects that really DO need to get done. That is the best of both worlds -- children learn how to learn through self-discovery, and you expend your limited supply of energy wisely on the core subjects that are necessary -- and no one is burned out/over-extended trying to check off every single book and activity on the Charlotte Mason list. 😉 

I would like to add that I have one child who adores some of the things listed on AO by CM: along the lines of origami (listed as "paper folding"), knitting, embroidery, dollmaking, sewing, clay-making, drawing, etc.  If it's crafty, she'll love it.  She taught herself how to knit during the COVID lockdown.  Totally un-prompted; just a desire from within.  She only needed the used knitting needles and leftover yarn that was given to her by a friend, and it helped to have a free PDF booklet I found online and printed.  Otherwise, I had nothing to do with her learning to knit beautifully; I don't knit, never have...don't have any intention of doing so / no desire / no intrigue. 

I also have another child who really isn't interested in any of these "handwork / handcraft" types of things. She has other gifts / talents and just doesn't find joy in these skills.  All of the materials have always been available; she just isn't interested.  Very no-nonsense / non-frilly personality.  She'll do them and persist for a little while, but there just isn't a spark of joy.  She really doesn't see the point and has other, more important things to get on to (playing outside, gardening, working on outdoor projects, reading, cooking, etc.)...  not crafty / handworky things.

Just posting as (hopefully) an encouragement to OP: There is value in all of those handcraft skill sets for everyone, I think...to some extent, maybe? (depending?).  I just can't see certain people in my life taking up knitting, LOL.  Or, they'd do it and just chafe at it the whole time, LOL.  

Lori phrased it very well. 

You might end up (likely with 6?) with some children who will just dive in and self-direct on these extras...and others who could really care less.  It might be more fruitful for you (and for them) if you could rest more in the afternoons, let your children connect with you in joyful ways, let them discover their own paths and show you what they come up with...and give you a break from all of the overscheduling / path of "too much".  

You'll find a new way and it will be great!

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In my house we do around 30 min of math and 30 min of language arts everyday. We have 2 days for science, 2 days for history and 1 day for geography per week. That can take us from 30 minutes to 1 hour if the kids are really interested and if we have related science projects. Altogether it takes us 1h30 to 2 hours and we finish well before lunch time (and we don't wake up very early...) Anything else is child led and optional. Just leave it as an option. I have kids doing all sort of things in their free time, from programming and robotics to drawing, piano, etc. Just make sure it's available. I don't know, maybe I'm a little too unschooler for a classical education forum 😅

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