Jump to content

Menu

Do you teach for time or completion?


Recommended Posts

Do you put a time limit on each subject each day, or just let things take as long as they take?  

As we approach high school, I'm noticing that certain subjects are starting to take significantly longer than they used to for my 8th grader. (I mean, obviously!) But the shift is tripping me up a little bit in some areas. (This is likely just something I need to mentally re-frame for myself, but I'm just curious to see if this has happened for others, too.)

For example, we've used Math U See forever, and all along, my children have easily completed two pages per day/one lesson per week. Now that my oldest is in Pre-Algebra, however, I'm noticing that completing two pages per day can take over an hour and a half. Not because my daughter is dawdling--I'm usually sitting right next to her while she's working, and she's working the whole time!--but just because the problems themselves are growing longer and more complex.

My question: Have you ever reached a point with a subject where you no longer work for completion of a particular page, but instead work for time? I'm beginning to think that 60-75 minutes per day of math is plenty, and that we should stop at that point, even if problems remain on the page. (I guess I'm just worried she won't get enough practice if she doesn't complete all the problems, but it's dawning on me that I'd rather have 60 minutes of perfectly executed math than 90 minutes of math where it starts to feel grueling and never-ending....) Would love to hear how others approach this. Thanks!

Link to post
Share on other sites

Neither completion nor time for non-credit classes/courses. DS15 needs more math practice than DS16 for mastery so he is just going to have to spend more time and complete more questions. DS15 however does not need more practice for physics or chemistry so he spent about the same amount of time. As for foreign languages (ETA: German, Chinese, Japanese), DS15 needed more time for vocabulary but not more time for grammar. Different kids different cutoffs for time and amount of practice.  

Edited by Arcadia
  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Working on a set time stopped being useful for my son when we reached middle school level material.

I try to stop each subject at a logical point after a set time has passed. My son goes down rabbit trails and discussions and on some days, 60 minutes would be taken up by just one difficult problem (it takes even longer now because DH is working from home and often pops in with his 2 cents worth into discussions). We set a goal for each subject, reach the goal and call it done. If a subject takes too long, then, I set a smaller goal for the other subjects in that day.

If I work based off of a timed schedule, it is in subjects that have less thinking and more "doing": e.g. memorizing vocabulary words for Foreign Language, using Quizlets to review concepts, worksheets to drill for some concepts etc.

  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites

I think both can be appropriate depending on the kid, the subject, and the circumstance and that a one size fits all answer won't usually address the issues.

I do think having a "we do one lesson" (or two pages or one chapter or whatever) per day mentality doesn't usually work as well as kids get older. Most programs aren't laid out that way as kids grow up. Topics are more complex, so it makes sense that sometimes they need longer. The rigidity of it is usually not a great approach in my mind for complex topics.

But also, if a program is designed to work that way and you never get it done, you have to ask yourself if there's an issue in understanding that's holding a student back, if there's a learning issue, if the program is just a bad fit, if the expectations of the program are too high... or what.

In terms of time, there's definitely a point after which there's diminishing returns and it's a bit pointless to try and grind away at hour three of a difficult math topic.

One of the shifts for high school for us was that instead of sitting there with my kids making work happen, we set deadlines for larger things - for a book to be finished, a paper to be completed, etc. So while I've helped them organize their time and budget out daily schedules to get things done, it's also just on them to finish a thing by the deadline.

  • Like 4
Link to post
Share on other sites

Neither. My kids were requires to put in a certain amount of time per day, but were free to divide this time among their subjects. (With the sole exception of daily 45 minutes of math for DS.)
There is a traditional canon in math and science which has to be covered to constitute a credit - but that does not mean a set amount of pages must be covered per day. We never worked like this, and we never used scripted curriculum that dictated what constitutes a "lesson".
For our humanities courses, I developed my own, and we simply learned as much as time would allow.

Edited by regentrude
  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites

Sooooo, I have had two kinds of high schoolers so far. One is the kind that can work for a set amount of time per day and get everything done within the set timeframe (one semester, one year) & the other is the kind that doesn't. I made the latter finish in the summer. I let the former have that time "off" once they were finished with a year/semester's worth of material.

This is true with everything except math (and sometimes foreign language). We work for a certain amount of time a day (plus homework on some days) on math. When we finish a math book, we take a week off, then start the next book. This is true if we finish quickly (never happened) or take 1 1/2 years to finish a book. (One of mine took one school year & most of two summers to finish geometry.)

IMO, you start to get an idea how long something will take a particular kid and adjust each year. Some can read faster. Some will go down more rabbit trails. Some need more monitoring. Some need more review. Occasionally a kid will change things up one year & throw everything off (by getting lots more efficient or suddenly needing to redo old material because it has flown out of their brain).

  • Like 3
Link to post
Share on other sites

For the most part I have identified the work to be done over the semester or year, but then I make sure it divided up into a reasonable weekly workload to keep from totally overwhelming anybody.

I spend time coming up with a suggested master schedule for my 3 dc and myself. I don't care if the older two follow it particularly, but it outlines when I am available to have groups discussions - can't talk to you all about history when I'm giving a spelling quiz. The schedule also provides a suggested amount of time a week that I think subjects should take.

For dd this is great, all she needs to get it all done. Ds needs me to check in more frequently, at least Fridays to see where he is at on anything that doesn't have outside deadlines. Even when I check in i have to be on the look out for vague statements like, "I think I'm doing ok on the schedule." That means something different to my ten boy than it does to his mother!

  • Like 3
Link to post
Share on other sites

I will follow up & say these three things are the biggest factors in making a subject take longer than it should:

- me not having materials ready and/or taking forever to grade stuff (They are waiting on me)

- procrastinating kid or not spending the recommended time per day on the subject

- reluctant writer -- I have had a slow reader who is not afraid to get a rough draft down finish a course faster than my fast reader who can't get themself to put fingers to the keyboard.

There is also underestimating how long something will take or planning for more material you can cover in a reasonable amount of time, but that hasn't been a huge problem here.

  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites

I've usually worked for time with DD8, but we're starting to switch to working for completion, because some days, she doesn't really put in the effort and the work still needs to get done. 

I think it really depends on the kid and the circumstances. If things are taking too long, you can also just call a different amount "completion," right? 

ETA: Whoops, I see my kiddo is way too young to answer this question in some sense. She does do middle school and high school level math, but she's little. 

Edited by Not_a_Number
  • Like 1
  • Haha 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

This is going to vary so much.  We did a combo.  I had a rough idea of how much time would be spent on each subject each day but we would deviate from that as progress rate varied.  So, for example, I might have planned to spend 60 minutes on math each day but found one month into a school year that we were not making enough progress to finish the subject that year so then adjusted to 90 minutes per day.  Even on a day-to-day basis, if dd ripped through a math lesson in 20 minutes, we would move on to the next one rather than call it a day.  And it was not at all uncommon to have a math lesson that should have been "one day" take an entire week to solidify. 

Now that dd is taking mostly college classes, she now does this calculation herself, on a weekly basis.  There can be an entire week where she spends little time in one subject while spending hours each day on another....only to flip the next week.  Based on what I saw in the university classes I have taught over the years, I think some college students struggle with this so it is a good skill to learn.

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

I think the answer is both.  You have to find that sweet spot!  Some kids cannot do 1.5+  hours of math per day!  Mine gets 45-1hr of math.  After that, there is no purpose in attempting bc she is brain-fried!  We try to get a full lesson done, but as we move further into Algebra 2, I'm changing that to evens one day, odds the next- but we will still cover the entire book eventually- it may take 1.5 years snd that's okay.   She understands better by a shorter lesson, so thats what I do.  Same for science.   I use a textbook, but I go through on the weekend and see if I can cover each section in a day, or if I need 2 days.  If my goal is understanding,  then I need to move at a pace that is enough, but not too much.  Often in public schools, the teachers do not cover the entire textbook- they pick and choose the chapters to cover in full.  I try to arrange my topics so thar I can cut parts if I need to, bu the end of the year.  

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

I think a lot depends on the kid, but mostly I have them work to completion.  If I did it for time, I know two of my kids would have just dawdled and not actually put in the effort.  They have a set start time in the day.  We do some combined subjects first, until they are done, and then they are free to do the rest of their work for the day on their own and are done when they are done.  I will work with them on changing up how much is expected in a day if they show me that it is taking too long or they just need a mental break from a subject, but that is not usually a problem.

  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites

yes.  We did both.  I had planned out what needed to be covered to complete the program.  I also had planned out what I'd like to get covered.  The "needed" was mandatory.  The "like" would be nice, but would not affect the program if not complete.  So, we knew from the start that we needed to get from point A to point B.  We outlined what that should look like, but realized there would be changes.  Some sections went fast, some needed more time

  • Like 3
Link to post
Share on other sites
On 2/1/2021 at 5:08 PM, Farrar said:

 

One of the shifts for high school for us was that instead of sitting there with my kids making work happen, we set deadlines for larger things - for a book to be finished, a paper to be completed, etc. So while I've helped them organize their time and budget out daily schedules to get things done, it's also just on them to finish a thing by the deadline.

 

On 2/1/2021 at 6:21 PM, regentrude said:

Neither. My kids were requires to put in a certain amount of time per day, but were free to divide this time among their subjects. (With the sole exception of daily 45 minutes of math for DS.)
There is a traditional canon in math and science which has to be covered to constitute a credit - but that does not mean a set amount of pages must be covered per day. We never worked like this, and we never used scripted curriculum that dictated what constitutes a "lesson".
For our humanities courses, I developed my own, and we simply learned as much as time would allow.

Pretty much sort of both of these. 

I have notebooks that I write down weekly assignment in. My high schoolers figure out how they want to do the work in order to get it done. There are times we sit down and check-in or learn together but I don’t have a set amount of time they have to spend on anything. I find that a lot of times they get into one thing and then want to finish it. So one day might be a lot of time on Math and no Writing. Another day might be a little Math and a lot of time on an essay. Now with my senior, he pretty much has all classes that are outside except for a humanities course with me. So I basically check weekly his class websites to make sure he is on track and see how is doing. He keeps up with what he needs to do when. 

I have more regulated that they are spending time on the things they don’t like or that are hard for them. My now senior would happily spend all day on Math and never write a single word. My 9th grader is the opposite. So for each of them I have taken a more hands-on approach to the subject they would rather avoid. With subjects that are hard for them or they don’t like I am much more likely to focus on effort/time/masterythan completion of a certain amount of work. My senior wrote very few essays in terms of numbers in 9th grade because it was torture for him. So I allowed him to spend just a little bit of time regularly on writing. Now, he hates to write but he can write an essay in 30-45 min when he has to for a class (he has twice a week timed essays for one class). On the other hand, my 9th grader took 1 1/2 years to complete Algebra 1 and will likely take a similar amount of time to complete Geometry. I am much more concerned with him understanding the material than finishing it in a set amount of time. So I ask him to work every day, but it’s ok if it’s slow. If I asked him to keep up with the syllabus for the course he uses, he would absolutely rebel. 

 

  • Like 3
Link to post
Share on other sites

My two homeschooled high schoolers were totally different.

Middle Son needed very specific "do.problems 1-28" guidance and NEEDED to be done after that whether it took 45 minutes or 1.5 hours. 

Youngest prefers to be given a goal (finish chapter 4 this week) and left to his own devices on how it applies. 

Either of them, on a meltdown-y I hate this sort of day, I switch as say " set a time for 45 minutes and keep working til it goes off"

  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

×
×
  • Create New...