Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Organized Homeschool Helps Independence Happen

Yesterday, I described in detail how I organize our school year. One of the things I love about this system is that it really helps my kids work independently, releasing me to spend my time on other tasks. I'm always available to stop what I'm doing to help...answering questions or giving an occasional, quick math lesson.

When I say my kids can work independently, I'm talking about the fact that I can tell them to get started on school and off they go, without help from me. They know that their work is in their binders. All they need to do is grab their notebook and a pencil and get started.

Part of being independent is the ability to do their work in whatever order they wish. Often, they'll just start at the first divider and work their way through the dividers. Other times, they'll jump around, working in whichever order they wish. I just have to keep an eye on Sam who will do math to the exclusion of everything else.

The kids know how much to do in each subject. For us, it's usually as simple as "do one side of a page each day" or "do one page, both sides, each day". They remember how much to do in each subject, and if they don't, they can look at how much is in the divider and figure it out. Another option is to add a sticker to the front of the pocket with a reminder of how much should be done in that subject. They also have the option of doing as much in a subject as they want, as long as everything is finished before the end of the week. They are not so good with that option.

The goal is to get everything done by the end of Friday. I don't really care how they get there, whether it is a little bit each day or all of a subject or two each day. On Saturday, any unfinished work is completed. It adds a little motivation to get it done, because the kids don't really enjoy spending their Saturday sitting at the table doing what they should have done during the week. Oh...and they get no breaks on Saturday...you work until it is done.

In the subjects that I've chosen to save for doing together, they skip those until I'm ready to sit down with them. Usually, this is history and science. Sometimes they'll remind me. Sometimes, I'll ask them if they are done and they'll tell me that everything except history is done, and that reminds me to sit down with them to do it. I won't penalize them for not getting this work done by Friday since it is often my fault that it isn't done. Instead, I eliminate some of the extras in these subjects, sticking with the basics to catch up.

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